There were six games on Monday’s schedule, which began with a showdown between two of the East’s top teams and ended with a game headlined by the best team in the West. In between the Raptors outlasting the Heat and the Lakers wrapping up the top seed in the West, Shake Milton redeemed himself, Michael Porter Jr. went off, and T.J. Warren put forth another virtuoso performance. But before getting into the games, Tuesday’s Dose will begin with a couple notes on the Nets and a change to the NBA’s COVID-19 testing protocol.
Brooklyn’s win over Washington on Sunday gave Jacque Vaughn’s team some extra breathing room, and that may have impacted the thinking regarding the status of three of the team’s starters for Tuesday’s game. Caris LeVert (thigh), Joe Harris (back) and Jarrett Allen (rest) have all been ruled out, with Allen having played 38 minutes (a career-high for a non-overtime game) on Sunday. Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee is the first of a back-to-back (Boston on Wednesday). Rodions Kurucs and Tyler Johnson are two players I like for Tuesday. Jamal Crawford (conditioning) is listed as questionable, so there’s a chance that the 40-year old makes his Orlando debut against the Bucks.
— The NBA updated its COVID-19 testing protocol for inconclusive results
Last week there was a situation with the Sacramento Kings, in which a player’s COVID-19 test produced an inconclusive result. The unnamed player had to quarantine for two days before he was ultimately cleared for Friday’s game, and on Monday the NBA made a change to its testing protocol with that situation in mind according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. If a player whose initial test comes up inconclusive tests negative in an immediate retest, and then return a second negative reading with 60 minutes of tipoff, he can play in the game. The change is that instead of having to wait 48 hours, the player would now only have to wait for 24 hours. This change occurred due to fears that such a scenario could leave a team down a key player for a playoff game.
Raptors 107, Heat 103
I sincerely hope that Toronto and Miami meet at some point in the postseason, because that would be an incredibly fun series. But that’s a subject for another time. As for Monday’s matchup, the Raptors essentially went with an eight-man rotation (Terence Davis and Matt Thomas played a total of five minutes) with four starters playing at least 33 minutes. Fred VanVleet played 42 and with good reasons, as he posted a line of 36 points (8-of-16 FGs, 13-of-13 FTs), five rebounds, four assists, one steal and seven 3-pointers. Miami had no answer for VanVleet, who will be a free agent at the end of this season. Pascal Siakam (22/6/3/1 with four 3-pointers), Serge Ibaka (15 points, six rebounds and one 3-pointer) and Kyle Lowry (14/8/5/1/2 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures for the reigning champions.
OG Anunoby is more valuable as a defender than a scorer, and Saturday’s 23-point outburst against the Lakers was the exception rather than the norm. He went 1-of-5 Monday, finishing with seven points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. Use him for the defensive stats (rebounds, steals and blocks), and just be grateful whenever he provides double-digit points. Marc Gasol (6/6/1/1 with one 3-pointer) played 22 minutes to Ibaka’s 26 at the center position, with Norman Powell played 29 minutes and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 11.
Chris Boucher was a healthy scratch, and the only thing that may get him back into the rotation is Toronto locking up the 2-seed with games to spare. With Monday’s win the Raptors lead Boston by four games with six to play, so the champs are well on their way to doing that.
Miami went with a nine-man rotation, with three starters (Jae Crowder, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo) and reserve Kelly Olynyk playing between 31 and 34 minutes. Olynyk picked up where he left off in Miami’s opener, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and finishing with 17 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes. His play, combined with the decision to move Crowder (16/6/3/1 with four 3-pointers in 34 minutes) into the starting lineup has removed Meyers Leonard (DNP-CD) from the rotation. Derrick Jones Jr. played a few seconds (seriously, seconds), and he appears to be out of the rotation as well, albeit a spot higher than Leonard in the pecking order.
Butler (16/7/5/2/2) and Adebayo (10/8/4/1/1) did a little bit of everything. Rounding out the rotation were Goran Dragic (25/5/5/2/1 with three 3-pointers in 28 minutes), Tyler Herro (12/5/3/1 with two 3-pointers in 25 minutes) and Andre Iguodala (2/2/5 in 19 minutes). Herro’s minutes were slightly higher than they were in Saturday’s win over Denver, as both Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson struggled against the Raptors backcourt. The rookie out of Kentucky should get a good 20-25 minutes per night off the bench, with the play of fellow rookie Nunn and Robinson determining whether or not a few more get thrown his way. Nunn and Herro can provide a little more in non-scoring categories, but Robinson’s elite shooting ability makes him a fantasy asset as well.
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Nuggets 121, Thunder 113 (OT)
The day that Oklahoma City knew was coming arrived on Monday, as Dennis Schroder (birth of child) departed the Orlando bubble. The plan at some point was to make sure Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played more minutes as the lone point guard on the floor, but that did not come to fruition in Saturday’s win over the Jazz. It was trial by fire for him in that regard Monday, with the second-year guard playing 8 1/2 of his 17 first-half minutes as the lone point guard.
His third-quarter run in that role lasted no more than a few seconds, with SGA being whistled for his fifth foul with 6:51 remaining. Overall he put up a nice line, finishing with 24 points (6-of-13 FGs, 9-of-11 FTs), five rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers, but he’ll have to get used to spending more time on the floor as the sole lead guard.
Due to Gilgeous-Alexander’s foul trouble Hamidou Diallo (2/7/4/1 in 24 minutes) spent some time on the ball late in the third when Chris Paul (who re-entered the game) took his end-of-period breather. Diallo was one of the first players off the bench Monday (with Andre Roberson and Nerlens Noel), and he led the reserves with 24 minutes played. Roberson played 10, and even though Schroder’s absence opens up a couple minutes for him it won’t be enough to turn him into a fantasy factor. CP3 finished with a line of 23 points, two rebounds, eight assists and two 3-pointers in 39 minutes, with Danilo Gallinari (20/3/2 with four 3-pointers), Abdel Nader (13 points, three 3-pointers) and Luguentz Dort (10/2/1/2/1 with one 3-pointer) also scoring in double figures.
Diallo (assists) and Dort (defensive stats) are worth keeping an eye on when it comes to the statistical impact of Schroder’s absence, with Nader being a points and threes guy. Mike Muscala left after just one minute of play, as he was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms due to hitting his head on the court. He wasn’t a fantasy option when healthy, so nothing changes should he miss any games moving forward.
Denver was once again without Jamal Murray (hamstring), Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip), which was the bad news. The good news: Michael Porter Jr. had the best game of his NBA career to date. He scored established new career-highs in points (37) and rebounds (12), shooting 12-of-16 from the field and 9-of-9 from the foul line. He filled out the stat line with one assist, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in 44 minutes. Porter Jr. is worth rolling with, especially with it not being known when Denver's injured trio will be back.
Nikola Jokic (30/12/10/2 in 39 minutes) posted a triple-double, with Paul Millsap (17/6/2/1 with one 3-pointer) and Monte Morris (17/4/4/1) also scoring in double figures. Denver went nine deep but didn’t get much production from the bench, with Jerami Grant (2/4/2/2/1) and Mason Plumlee (3/5/2 with one block) putting up the best stat lines. Grant played 34 minutes and Plumlee 19, with P.J. Dozier getting 18 minutes and Troy Daniels 10. Grant is worth considering as a low-cost roster filler, but that’s about it for the Nuggets reserves. That will change whenever Murray, Barton and Harris are cleared to play.
Pacers 111, Wizards 100
After lighting up Philadelphia for 53 points on Saturday, what would T.J. Warren do for an encore? Well, after a slow start he put up an other excellent stat line, scoring 34 points (14-of-26 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs) with 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals, four blocks and one 3-pointer in 40 minutes. Warren shot just 1-of-6 from three, but a 13-of-20 afternoon inside of the arc (and no turnovers) more than made up for that.
It’s worth noting that Indiana was once again without a rotation player, as Victor Oladipo (rest) was given the day off, so there were still plenty of looks available to Warren. But given how he’s played in the Pacers’ first two games in Orlando, it may not matter who’s on the court: he’s getting his. Pick him up every day that Indiana is in action.
Malcolm Brogdon (neck) made his return and replaced Oladipo in the starting lineup, and he was supposedly on a minutes restriction. Brogdon played 35 minutes, finishing with 20 points (6-of-18 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. He’s had better days shooting the ball, but the all-around stat line is one that you’ll take. Aaron Holiday (17/2/2/1/1 with one 3-pointer) and Myles Turner (17/9/2/2 blocks and two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, while JaKarr Sampson (8/3/1/1/2) played well in his 17 minutes off the bench. Goga Bitadze (knee) remains out, but even if he returns it’ll be tough to completely remove Sampson from the rotation. T.J. Leaf did not play at all after getting nine minutes — and dunking on Joel Embiid — in the opener.
Justin Holiday was a productive rebounder, finishing with eight while also blocking a shot, but he didn’t provide much of anything offensively (1-of-3 FGs, two points). A full rotation and move back to the bench may actually make him a more enticing fantasy option, because the move to the first unit hasn’t been great for Justin in Indiana’s two games.
Washington was already facing a tough road to force a play-in for the 8-seed in the East, and Monday’s loss dropped them 7 1/2 games behind Brooklyn (3 1/2 games back to force the play-in). With that being the case, we may be seeing Troy Brown Jr. start at the point sooner than later, as Scott Brooks said that he would like to make that lineup change for at least one of the Wizards’ remaining games in Orlando. Brown played 31 minutes against the Pacers, finishing with 10 points (4-of-11 FGs), seven rebounds, eight assists, two 3-pointers and three turnovers.
As for the actual point guards Ish Smith replaced Shabazz Napier in the starting lineup…and Napier had the better day. Smith tallied 12 points, two rebounds, four assists, two 3-pointers and two turnovers, with Napier going for 16 points, two rebounds, four assists, one block, one 3-pointer and three turnovers. Both played 22 minutes, which left open a couple minutes for Brown to ply his trade on the ball. Jerome Robinson (17/3/2/1/1 with two 3-pointers in 29 minutes) shot 7-of-18 from the field, and moving Brown to the point would likely result in more minutes for him. Thomas Bryant (20/11/1/3 blocks and two 3-pointers) played well, shooting 9-of-12 from the field, while Rui Hachimura (9/7/6) and Isaac Bonga (8/5/3/3 with one 3-pointer) were relatively quiet offensively.
Pelicans 109, Grizzlies 99
The biggest storyline whenever New Orleans takes the floor is Zion Williamson’s workload, with the team making the decision to use the rookie forward in five-minute bursts. That’s how Williamson was used in the first three quarters Monday but the approach changed in the fourth. He played the first five-plus minutes, coming out for a break that lasted two game minutes with 6:21 remaining. That rest did the trick for Williamson, who looked winded walking off the floor, as he was fresh enough to finish the game and help lead the Pelicans to the win. The final line: 23 points (9-of-23 FGs, 5-of-10 FTs), seven rebounds, five assists and two turnovers in 25 minutes.
If he’s allowed to play into the mid-20’s minutes-wise, Williamson is worth using in DFS because teams have a very hard time keeping him from getting into the paint. And with the win getting New Orleans back into the race for the 8/9 spots, Zion getting well over 20 minutes should not be a concern moving forward. Brandon Ingram (24/7/5/2 with two 3-pointers), J.J. Redick (16/2/2 with three 3-pointers), Jrue Holiday (15/4/3/1 with one 3-pointer) and Josh Hart (15 points, seven rebounds and two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, with Hart being a player that Alvin Gentry singled out after the game. He’d like to get Hart more minutes, especially down the stretch, and that would give Hart’s value a nice boost if that happens.
Derrick Favors (13 rebounds) and Lonzo Ball (four rebounds, six assists, four steals and two 3-pointers) didn’t have great scoring nights, but those “other” stats allowed those who rostered them to salvage something. Eleven Pelicans saw action but only eight received credible rotation minutes, with Redick (29 minutes), Hart (25) and Nicolo Melli (20) hitting double digits.
Ja Morant had a night to forget shooting the ball, as he was 5-of-21 from the field (1-of-10 3-pointers) and did not attempt a free throw. He did account for five rebounds and eight assists with just one turnover, but the off night shooting the ball hurt. Jaren Jackson Jr. (22/2/2/1/2 with two 3-pointers), Dillon Brooks (15/5/3 with two 3-pointers) and Jonas Valanciunas (13/13/1/1/4) joined Morant in double figures, as did reserves Grayson Allen (17/1/2/1 with five 3-pointers) and Brandon Clarke (10/8/1/1 block). Allen played very well in his 31 minutes on the floor, and he along with Clarke and De’Anthony Melton round out the Grizzlies rotation.
But for as well as Allen played, I wouldn’t use a back-end roster spot on him right now. I’d like to see some consistency before buying in. Anthony Tolliver played nine minutes, but that’s not enough for him to have any kind of impact.
76ers 132, Spurs 130
Saturday was a bad day for Shake Milton, who went scoreless in a loss to the Pacers in his first official start at the point. He was a lot better Monday night, putting up 16 points (6-of-9 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), five rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. And his 3-pointer in the final seconds gave the 76ers a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, as Jakob Poeltl’s layup attempt was rejected by Tobias Harris. Harris (25/6/4/1/1 with three 3-pointers) and Joel Embiid (27/9/5/1) led the way offensively for Philadelphia, and Josh Richardson (19/1/2/1/1 with three 3-pointers) also bounced back from a subpar effort against Indiana.
The absences of Mike Scott (knee), Glenn Robinson III (hip) and Kyle O’Quinn (missed COVID-19 test) free up a few more minutes for Alec Burks, but not enough to make him any kind of factor within the rotation or in fantasy. Al Horford (9/6/3/2 blocks and one 3-pointer) played 32 minutes off the bench, with around 17 of those coming alongside Embiid (11 in the second half). A big reason for that was the foul trouble encountered by Ben Simmons (8/2/5/1/1), who was limited to 25 minutes before fouling out.
The Horford/Embiid tandem would spend 10-12 minutes together under more favorable circumstances, a setup that gives the former a better shot at putting up a fantasy-friendly stat line.
Furkan Korkmaz contributed 12 points, three rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers in 21 minutes, with Matisse Thybulle (5/1/1/1/1 with one 3-pointer) and Raul Neto (8/1/1 in 11 minutes) bring more modest contributions to the table.
Spurs veterans DeMar DeRozan (30/5/3/1/2 with one 3-pointer) and Rudy Gay (24 points, four rebounds and two 3-pointers) led the way offensively for the Spurs, with Derrick White (20/2/3/1) knocking down four 3-pointers, Keldon Johnson (15/3/1 with one 3-pointer) tallying a career-high point total and Dejounte Murray (13/6/2/2) also scoring in double figures. The aforementioned Poeltl had a tough night, as one would expect given his assignment (Embiid), finishing with four points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 25 minutes before fouling out.
His foul trouble and the matchup meant more minutes for Drew Eubanks and he was solid, putting up a line of six points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 19 minutes. Marco Belinelli (ankle) missed another game, with Patty Mills (8/4/2/1 with two 3-pointers) and Quinndary Weatherspoon (3/2/3/1/1 with one 3-pointer) playing 19 minutes apiece off the bench. Gay, Johnson and then Mills in that order is how I rank the Spurs reserves when it comes to potential impact. Despite the loss the Spurs remain in the thick of the race for the 8/9 spots in the West, two games behind Memphis and tied with Portland (the Blazers hold the edge due to overall win percentage).
Lakers 116, Jazz 108
Two days after he attempted just seven shots in a disappointing effort against Toronto, Anthony Davis was back to his old self against the Jazz. In 39 minutes Davis racked up 42 points (13-of-28 FGs, 12-of-15 FTs), 12 rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block and four 3-pointers. That’s the AD we’re all accustomed to seeing, and this matchup was a good one for him. When sharing the floor with either JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard, Davis didn’t have to deal with Rudy Gobert directly, and there was even a possession when he was guarded by Juwan Morgan. Yikes.
LeBron James, who was also off against the Raptors, finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. The rotation went ten players deep (Jared Dudley and Quinn Cook played three and two minutes, respectively), with Howard (11/5/1 steal/1 block) playing 17 minutes in the middle to McGee’s (one rebound) 11. Alex Caruso, who struggled with a back injury upon arriving in Orlando, took a hard fall in the fourth quarter but was able to remain in the game. He finished with three points, three rebounds and five assists in 23 minutes, with Kyle Kuzma (9/1/1 with two 3-pointers) playing 25 minutes and Dion Waiters (7/3assists/2 steals) 19.
With the Lakers having locked up the top seed in the West, those three could see even more playing time in the team’s remaining seeding games. Kuzma would be the best option of the three if forced to choose one, but Caruso and Waiters aren’t necessarily bad choices, either.
The trio of Gobert (16/13/2/1 block), Donovan Mitchell (33/5/4 with four 3-pointers) and Mike Conley (24/2/8 with three 3-pointers) led the way for the Jazz, as we’ve come to expect at this point. But getting consistent shooting from a fourth option remains a problem. Joe Ingles (5/2/5/1/1 with one 3-pointer) is more of a facilitator, which has freed up Conley to be a bit more aggressive as a scorer. That leaves sixth man Jordan Clarkson to do what he can to fill the void left by Bojan Bogdanovic, and he struggled Monday.
Six points on 2-of-13 shooting from the field, which included a 1-of-9 effort from three, with no other statistical contributions. I’d continue to use Clarkson, for the simple reason that Utah really doesn’t have anywhere else to turn in its search for consistent scoring beyond Mitchell, Conley and Gobert.
Royce O’Neale also struggled with his shot, going 2-of-7 from the field, but he made up for that in other areas. Thirteen rebounds, five assists, four steals and one 3-pointer in his 34 minutes, and given his role within the Utah starting lineup O’Neale is a safe bet to get you some of those non-scoring numbers. Points and 3-pointers from him should be viewed as a bonus. Georges Niang (three steals) and Tony Bradley (five rebounds, one block) complete the rotation, but neither provides a whole lot from a fantasy standpoint.
Tuesday's Schedule (all times Eastern)
Brooklyn vs. Milwaukee, 1:30 PM
Dallas vs. Sacramento, 2:30 PM
Phoenix vs. LA Clippers, 4 PM
Orlando at Indiana, 6 PM
Boston vs. Miami, 6:30 PM
Houston vs. Portland, 9 PM