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Basketball Daily Dose

Health and safety protocols sideline Holiday

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: February 10, 2021, 5:07 am ET

Monday’s eight-game slate didn’t lack for action, and unfortunately that meant injuries for some of the league’s most important players. Milwaukee was forced to play without Jrue Holiday due to health and safety protocols, Anthony Davis sat in L.A., and D'Angelo Russell and Kyle Lowry left their games early due to injuries. Below is a look at some of Monday’s major happenings, beginning with Holiday’s absence in Denver.

Monday’s Scores
Hornets 119, Rockets 94
Wizards 105, Bulls 101
Raptors 128, Grizzlies 113
Mavericks 127, Timberwolves 122
Spurs 105, Warriors 100
Suns 119, Cavaliers 113
Bucks 125, Nuggets 112
Lakers 119, Thunder 112 (OT)

Holiday sits, opening up a spot for Forbes: Bucks guard Jrue Holiday was unable to play in Monday’s win over the Nuggets due to the league’s health and safety protocols. This meant that Bryn Forbes would start, and this will likely be the case again Wednesday night in Phoenix (Holiday won’t travel with the team, so he’s already listed as out). Providing 8th-round value over the last week, Forbes finished the win with 15 points, five rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Managers in deep leagues looking for 3-point production, especially in the short-term, need to strongly consider picking up Forbes.

Khris Middleton, who has been a top-25 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats all season long, stands to be a more prolific set-up man with Holiday sidelined. In 36 minutes he tallied 29 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists and three steals, more than making up for his 0-of-5 night from beyond the arc. Playing alongside Holiday this season, Middleton has an assist percentage of 23.5%. That number jumps to 33.9% when Holiday isn’t on the floor, and that’s with there not being much of a difference in Middleton’s usage (22.7 with, 23.8 without).

No Wall or Gordon, Oladipo expected to sit Tuesday: Houston was down two key contributors Monday night, as John Wall and Eric Gordon were given the night off. With their loss to the Hornets being the first game of a back-to-back, this decision came as no surprise. Danuel House moved into the starting lineup, filling in for Wall, which also shifted Victor Oladipo into the point guard role. House had a decent night, tallying 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes played. As for Oladipo, who isn’t expected to play in Tuesday’s game against the Pelicans, he played 34 minutes and posted a line of 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. House should get another start Tuesday night, and he’s worth streaming with Oladipo due to sit.

Another Rocket worth considering on Tuesday is Ben McLemore, who shot 4-of-7 from three and accounted for 15 points and two rebounds in 18 minutes. Fantasy managers looking for a more balanced line would be better served going with House, while McLemore offers a little more potential when it comes to 3-pointers. Neither has been consistently productive enough to merit sticking on fantasy rosters regardless of what happens with the Rockets’ mainstays, however.

Lakers play without Davis, Caruso: Anthony Davis (sore left Achilles) and Alex Caruso (strained right hand) were held out of Monday’s win over the Thunder, with the former’s absence being of far greater impact when it comes to fantasy basketball. Usually it’s Kyle Kuzma who slots into the starting lineup in scenarios like this one, but Frank Vogel decided to go with Markieff Morris instead. Appearing in a game for the first time since January 28, Morris played 26 minutes and finished with six points, four rebounds and one 3-pointer.

Kuzma didn’t have a great night shooting the basketball, going 5-of-16 from the field, but he did post a line of 11 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 23 minutes. Whenever Davis has to sit, Kuzma is the player to target in most leagues. The Lakers and Thunder meet again Wednesday night, and it’s possible that Davis will be available. Prior to the game, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said that the Achilles issue is “nothing to really be concerned about.”

Caruso’s absence meant that fellow reserve guards Wesley Matthews and Talen Horton-Tucker were left to divvy up the available minutes. Matthews (16/3/1/2/1 with four 3-pointers) played 26 minutes, and Horton-Tucker (8/5/1/2/2) 27, with both posting full stat lines. For the season THT, who’s rostered in 5% of Yahoo leagues, is providing top-200 value in 9-cat formats. That isn’t good enough to make him a player worth rostering, and the same can be said for Matthews and Caruso as well.

Cavs’ Nance undergoes finger surgery, out 6 weeks: Cleveland was also down a starter, as Larry Nance Jr. underwent successful surgery to repair a broken finger on his left hand Monday afternoon. Somewhat surprisingly, coach J.B. Bickerstaff went big in hopes of accounting for the loss of Nance on the defensive end of the floor. Jarrett Allen started alongside Andre Drummond in Phoenix, playing 34 minutes and finishing with 14 points, five rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. Drummond was just 1-of-5 from the foul line, but most fantasy managers expect to punt free throw percentage when rostering him. The overall line was solid, however, as he tallied 15 points (7-of-12 FGs), 14 rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks in 36 minutes.

Cleveland could afford to start Allen and Drummond together Monday night, as Phoenix had Deandre Ayton and Frank Kaminsky III in its starting lineup. And with Wednesday’s opponent, Denver, having a more conventional power forward/center tandem in Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Allen and Drummond got another shot at starting together. With Nance set to miss at least six weeks, Taurean Prince is worthy of a long look, especially in deeper leagues.

In 25 minutes off the bench, he finished with 13 points, six rebounds, one assist, one block and one 3-pointer. Rostered in 11% of Yahoo leagues, Prince is providing 12th-round value in 8-cat and 13th-round value in 9-cat formats over the last week.

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Suns play without Paul (hamstring): Phoenix played Monday’s win over the Cavaliers without their starting point guard, as Chris Paul was sidelined due to a sore right hamstring. Phoenix is scheduled to host Milwaukee Wednesday night, so hopefully Paul will be cleared to return for that one. Hamstring issues can be tricky, however, so keep an eye on this injury in the coming days. E'Twaun Moore made his first start as a member of the Suns, and coach Monty Williams got his money’s worth out of the veteran guard.

Moore played a team-high 40 minutes, shooting 7-of-10 from the field and finishing with 17 points, one rebound, four assists, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer. Given his lack of playing time for most of this season, that’s a very good line for Moore. He would be worth streaming if Paul is ruled out for Wednesday; otherwise, leave Moore on the waiver wire. CP3’s absence also impacts Devin Booker, who spends more time as the Suns’ primary playmaker in these situations. He finished Monday’s win with 36 points (14-of-27 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), five rebounds, eight assists, five 3-pointers and four turnovers in 35 minutes.

Booker, who had a Yahoo 9-cat ADP of 14, sits just inside of the top-100 in 9-cat formats this season. While that isn’t what fantasy managers were hoping for during the draft process, it wouldn’t be fair to assume that he’s struggling.

Kerr holds firm on Curry’s workload: Stephen Curry had another good night, pumping in 32 points (10-of-17 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), seven rebounds, six assists, one steal and six 3-pointers in 36 minutes in a five-point loss to the Spurs. Given his excellence, and the Warriors’ struggles as the team is now 12-12, some fans are clamoring for Curry’s workload to be increased. Don’t count on that happening anytime soon, based upon Steve Kerr’s comments after the game.

“I'm into the long game,” Kerr said. “We're counting on having Steph here for a long time – for many, many years ahead. And I'm not interested in grinding through this season, which is already a very difficult season, given the COVID regulations and just the nature of the games themselves. These eerie, empty stadiums.

“For me, for our organization, we're not throwing Steph out there for 40 minutes to chase wins.”

From a fantasy standpoint, sure it would be great to see one of the game’s best talents play even more. But that approach wouldn’t make much sense as far as the Warriors are concerned, so expect Curry to remain around 36 minutes on most nights. Golden State, which faces San Antonio again on Tuesday, had a chance to tie the game late but a wild Draymond Green miss (he anticipated the Spurs, who were up three at the time, giving a foul) put an end to that. Green posted a line of seven points (3-of-11 FGs), 10 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes.

Grizzlies’ Bane, Valanciunas move into starting five: In his second game back after missing an extended period of time due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Jonas Valanciunas returned to Memphis’ starting lineup. And he wasn’t the only change either, as rookie Desmond Bane made the first start of his career. Valanciunas made franchise history during Monday’s loss to the Raptors, as he became the first player to tally at least 18 points and 14 rebounds in a single half. He ultimately played 34 minutes, accounting for 27 points, 20 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Safe to say that Valanciunas is “back,” and when healthy he is one of the top centers in fantasy basketball.

As for Bane, he finished with 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes. The absence of De’Anthony Melton (shoulder) means that the rookie has one less person to compete with for minutes, which should give his fantasy value a slight boost in the short-term. But the Grizzlies also have Grayson Allen, who in 21 minutes put up 12 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and three 3-pointers. Bane, who’s rostered in 4% of Yahoo leagues, hasn’t offered much in the way of fantasy value for the entire season. Both he and Allen, who’s rostered in 2% of Yahoo leagues, are streaming options at best.

Bigs Xavier Tillman and Gorgui Dieng returned to the bench, and neither offered much in the way of production. The matchup may have been the issue, as Toronto boasts a mobile backup center in Chris Boucher that does a lot of his damage on the perimeter. But with Valanciunas back and playing well, Tillman and Dieng look like automatic drops in most leagues.

Russell returns but leaves due to sore leg: After sitting out Saturday’s loss to the Thunder, which was the second game of a back-to-back, in order to rest the right quad injury that has nagged him in recent weeks, D'Angelo Russell was back in the starting lineup on Monday. Unfortunately for Russell and the Timberwolves he wasn’t on the court for long, playing just six minutes before being pulled due to a sore left leg. With Jordan McLaughlin inactive since he’s on a two-way contract, Ricky Rubio was left to log heavy minutes at the point. He played 34 in the loss to the Mavericks, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two 3-pointers.

Should Russell have to miss additional games, with the Timberwolves scheduled to host the Clippers Wednesday night, Rubio would be the obvious play. McLaughlin should be active for that one, but he doesn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value. Jaylen Nowell is a name worth filing away for later this season, especially if the Timberwolves continue to careen towards the draft lottery. He put up 18 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 21 minutes, shooting 6-of-9 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line. An extended absence for Russell would free up additional minutes for Nowell, and he made the most of his opportunity in Dallas.

Russell wasn’t the only Timberwolves player to be limited by an injury Monday night, as Naz Reid (six points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal) tweaked his right ankle and only played 21 minutes. As long as Karl-Anthony Towns (health and safety protocols) remains sidelined, Reid has the potential to give fantasy managers solid production on most nights. He’s still rostered in just 43% of Yahoo leagues, but managers may want to exercise a little caution in grabbing Reid off of the waiver wire due to the ankle situation.

Murray’s struggles continue: Nuggets guard Jamal Murray had another tough night, shooting 4-of-17 from the field and finishing the loss to the Bucks with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes. Banged-up for much of the season, most recently sitting out Saturday’s loss to the Kings due to a sore knee, he’s struggled to find a rhythm on most nights. And as a result, Murray’s fantasy value has suffered. Boasting a Yahoo 9-cat ADP of 37, he currently sits outside of the top-80 in both 8- and 9-cat formats.

With Murray back in the lineup, Monte Morris returned to the second unit. Morris played 30 minutes, finishing with 12 points, three assists and two 3-pointers. Rostered in 12% of Yahoo leagues, he’s providing 12th-round value over the last week. Morris isn’t a must-have in standard leagues but, given Murray’s assorted injuries, the Nuggets backup point guard is worth keeping an eye on.

Lowry sidelined by back spasms: Toronto played the majority of Monday’s win over Memphis without Kyle Lowry, who left the game after just eight minutes due to back spasms. Following the game, Nick Nurse said that his starting point guard’s back tightened up after he made two floaters, and the decision was made to shut him down for the night. Of course, Lowry’s absence meant more heavy lifting for Fred VanVleet (32/3/9/3 with four 3-pointers in 39 minutes) and Norman Powell (29/1/1/1 with six 3-pointers in 37 minutes) in the backcourt.

But it also freed up additional playing time for reserve DeAndre Bembry, who played 26 minutes and posted a line of six points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Over the last two weeks, the versatile wing is providing 10th-round value in 9-cat formats (12th-round in 8-cat). Toronto visits Washington Wednesday night, so we’ll have to see if Lowry can get back into the lineup then. If not, Bembry would be worthy of a look in deep leagues as a streamer.

Struggling Bertans moves into starting lineup: With usual starting forwards Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura struggling mightily on the defensive end of the floor, Wizards coach Scott Brooks made a change to the lineup ahead of Monday’s win over the Bulls. While Davis Bertans has also struggled defensively, the decision to split up Avdija (who moved to the bench) and Hachimura proved to be a wise one. Bertans shot 4-of-11 from three, finishing with 12 points, three rebounds and two steals in 38 minutes.

Hachimura (19 points, 10 rebounds and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes) tallied his first double-double of the season and, while he didn’t shoot the ball well, Avdija chipped in with career-highs in rebounds (10) and steals (three) off the bench. Following the game, Brooks praised Avdija for the way in which he handled being dropped out of the starting lineup. Bertans and Hachimura are rostered in 56% and 53% of Yahoo leagues, respectively, while Avdija is way down at 10% even though he’s been the most productive of the three as far as fantasy numbers are concerned.

Also worth noting in the Wizards rotation was Alex Len getting another chance to start after he was torched by Charlotte’s Cody Zeller on Sunday. And to his credit Len bounced back, finishing Monday’s win with 13 points, seven rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 21 minutes. Backup center Robin Lopez (8/5/3/1 block) played 27 minutes, while Moritz Wagner was a DNP-CD. None of the three have been particularly effective this season, ranking well outside of the top-200 in 9-cat formats, with Len only joining the Wizards last month. But he’s worth a look in deep leagues, due primarily to his potential as a shot-blocker.

Raul Neto started for Russell Westbrook, who was given the night off, and he finished with six points, one rebound and four assists in 17 minutes. Ish Smith (6/6/7/1) played the other 31 minutes at the point. Westbrook will be back for Wednesday’s game vs. Toronto, which erases the fantasy values of both Neto and Smith.

Some Notable Stat Lines

Dejounte Murray: 28 points (10-of-19 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), 10 rebounds, four assists, eight steals and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes.

Pascal Siakam: 32 points (11-of-18 FGs, 5-of-7 FTs), five rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers in 39 minutes vs. Memphis.

Kristaps Porzingis: 27 points (10-of-19 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), 13 rebounds, four assists, six blocks and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes vs. Minnesota.

LaMelo Ball: 24 points (7-of-18 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), seven rebounds, 10 assists and seven 3-pointers in 32 minutes vs. Houston.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: 30 points (11-of-23 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs), nine rebounds, three blocks and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes vs. Denver. (His first game without an assist this season)

Nikola Jokic: 35 points (13-of-26 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), 12 rebounds, six assists and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes vs. Milwaukee.

Malik Beasley: 30 points (10-of-21 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs), nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and six 3-pointers in 34 minutes vs. Dallas.

LeBron James: 28 points (11-of-22 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), 14 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 43 minutes vs. Oklahoma City.

Bradley Beal: 35 points (10-of-24 FGs, 14-of-15 FTs), five rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes vs. Chicago.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 29 points (10-of-25 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), seven rebounds, 10 assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 42 minutes vs. LA Lakers.

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.