Loading scores...
Basketball Daily Dose

Pacers win but lose Domantas Sabonis

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: January 26, 2021, 10:01 am ET

Monday's nine-game schedule didn't lack for action, and there were some major happenings on the injury front. Indiana lost its All-Star center during the first quarter of a win over the Raptors, while Philadelphia didn't have its All-Star pivot at all. Out west, injuries robbed Portland of two starters, the Clippers learned that their two starts will be sidelined, and Golden State made a change its starting lineup. Below is a look at what happened, beginning with the NBA having to postpone another game.  

Monday’s Scores
Pistons 119, 76ers 104
Pacers 129, Raptors 114
Magic 117, Hornets 108
Nets 98, Heat 85
Lakers 115, Cavaliers 108
Nuggets 117, Mavericks 113
Celtics 119, Bulls 103
Warriors 130, Timberwolves 108
Thunder 125, Trail Blazers 122
Kings at Grizzlies, Spurs at Pelicans postponed

League postpones Spurs/Pelicans matchup: Unfortunately the NBA had to postpone another game on Monday, with contact tracing measures prohibiting the Spurs and Pelicans from playing. According to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez, the issue was that a non-team member who was a part of both teams’ travel parties may have been exposed to COVID-19. As a result, neither team was able to meet the minimum requirement for available players (eight). San Antonio is scheduled to host Boston on Wednesday, while New Orleans is scheduled to host Washington (which played the Spurs on Sunday in its first game in nearly two weeks) that same night.

Leonard, George don't travel due to protocols: The Clippers will begin their road trip in Atlanta Tuesday night without their two best players, as neither Kawhi Leonard nor Paul George made the trek due to the league's health and safety protocols. In total three starters will miss that game, as Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness) didn't travel, either. So who should fantasy managers look to grab off the waiver wire? Nicolas Batum and Serge Ibaka have been the most productive among the Clippers who are available when it comes to fantasy basketball, as both are top-100 player in 9-cat formats. That being said, Lou Williams and Luke Kennard stand to see their opportunities increase significantly Tuesday night. They're currently rostered in 44% and 15% of Yahoo leagues, respectively. Picking up either -- or both -- really isn't that much of a gamble given the circumstances. 

Pacers lose Sabonis but manage to win anyway: Indiana managed to exact a measure of revenge on the Raptors Monday night, getting a split of the back-to-back between the two teams. But the win may have come at a cost, and a high one at that, as Domantas Sabonis left the game during the first quarter due to a left knee injury. He was able to walk back to the locker room under his own power, and an MRI is scheduled for Tuesday. To this point in the season Sabonis has been a top-50 player in 8- and 9-cat formats, performing slightly better than his Yahoo ADP (48) in both.

So what happens if Sabonis has to miss additional games? For one, Myles Turner see a significant increase in paint touches. Averaging 1.5 3-pointers per game on the season, Turner didn’t attempt one Monday night as he finished with 21 points (5-of-9 FGs, 11-of-16 FTs), 10 rebounds, one assist and three blocks in 33 minutes played.

Jeremy Lamb’s fantasy profile would improve as well, and in 33 minutes he was responsible for 22 points (7-of-12 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. He feels like the obvious choice to fill the void in the starting lineup, and Lamb is currently rostered in 47% of Yahoo leagues. With Lamb providing sixth-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats, he makes for a good pickup even if Sabonis is given a clean bill of health.

76ers play without Embiid: Philadelphia was without its best player for Monday’s rematch with the Pistons, as Joel Embiid was sidelined due to back tightness. The 76ers are scheduled to host the Lakers Wednesday night, and on paper that game appeared to be more difficult than Monday’s matchup with one of the league’s worst teams. Hopefully Embiid is able to play on Wednesday, because Philadelphia really missed him in this one. Dwight Howard started the game but didn’t offer much in the way of production, finishing with five points, four rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot in 24 minutes.

On most nights, the strategy of plugging Howard into the lineup to account for an absent Embiid pays off for fantasy managers. Even if he isn’t doing much in the way of scoring, the rebounding/defensive stats can be valuable. That wasn’t the case for Howard on Monday, and Doc Rivers decided to go with Tony Bradley in the middle to start the second half. Bradley, who isn’t in the rotation when Embiid is healthy, accounted for 12 points, nine rebounds and one blocked shot in 23 minutes. He still isn’t worth rostering, regardless of league format, but it was good that Bradley was ready for his opportunity to play rotation minutes.

MPJ continues to make waves in return: The most-often discussed topic when it comes to the Denver Nuggets is that small forward position, as Michael Porter Jr. won the starting job during the preseason but a case of COVID-19 opened the door for Will Barton. Who starts the games isn’t a concern for coach Michael Malone however, as he’s focused on who is on the court to finish games.

“Everybody gets caught up who starts. It’s such a big thing. For everybody. I don’t really understand it,” Malone said after Monday’s win over the Mavericks. “If you have a chance to close the game, that’s more important than hearing your name before a game in an arena with no fans. Anyways, I digress…"

Porter Jr. had one of his best games of the season in Monday’s win over the Mavericks in Dallas, shooting 10-of-18 from the field and scoring 30 points to go along with eight rebounds, two steals and six 3-pointers in 28 minutes off the bench. Barton didn’t shoot the ball well, making just two of his nine field goal attempts, but he did supplement his six points with seven rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes played. The good thing about both is that they can be used in tandem, so there are enough minutes to go around.

Porter Jr. offers the higher ceiling, both within the Nuggets rotation and in fantasy basketball, as he’s providing top-15 value in 9-cat formats for the season. He’s rostered in 94% of Yahoo leagues, and with good reason. Barton, on the other hand, hasn’t been a top-100 player and is available in 52% of Yahoo leagues.

Editor’s Note: Drafting is only half the battle! Get an edge on your competition with our NBA Season Tools that are packed with rankings, projections, a trade evaluator, start/sit tools and much more. And don't forget to use promo code HOOPS10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!

Tatum plays well in return to action: Boston was without Kemba Walker in Chicago, as he was given the night off in the second game of a back-to-back. But they welcomed back another of their stars, as Jayson Tatum played for the first time since January 8 due to a case of COVID-19. There were no limits placed on him either, as Tatum played 31 minutes and posted a line of 24 points (10-of-21 FGs), four rebounds, five assists, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers. Boston will have its three stars, Tatum, Walker and Jaylen Brown (26/5/2/2 with two 3-pointers in 30 minutes), available for Wednesday’s game in San Antonio (if the Spurs have enough available players). And with that being the case, the question to be asked is who sits in order to make room for Walker.

The answer to that question, on paper at least, appears to be Tristan Thompson. He didn’t attempt a shot in his 17 minutes Monday night, but he did grab a team-high ten rebounds. Daniel Theis brought more to the table offensively, scoring 19 points and dishing out three assists, and he was also responsible for three rebounds, three steals, three blocks and one 3-pointer. Marcus Smart (13/5/11/2/1 with one 3-pointer in 26 minutes) is another possibility, but he’s been a fixture in the starting lineup all season long. I’d bet on Thompson, who’s rostered in 21% of Yahoo leagues, being the odd man out. While his rebounding can be useful for fantasy managers, the veteran power forward/center hasn’t brought much else to the table thus far.

Looney replaces Wiseman in starting lineup: Following losses to the Knicks and Jazz, Golden State’s starting lineup received a lot of attention from fans and media members alike. The focus of many of those conversations has been the offense, with Kelly Oubre being the player that many (myself included) felt was destined to move to the second unit. However Steve Kerr’s focus has been on the opposite end of the floor, and prior to Monday’s game against the Timberwolves he made the decision to go with a more experienced hand at the center position.

James Wiseman was moved to the bench, with Kevon Looney replacing him in the starting lineup. Looney didn’t offer much offensively, scoring two points on 1-of-4 shooting while also accounting for five rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot in 19 minutes. His value to the Warriors’ rotation outweighs his fantasy value substantially, so there’s no reason for anyone to roster Looney even if he sticks in the starting lineup. As for Wiseman, he played 16 minutes and tallied 13 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.

The rookie’s fantasy value has decreased considerably in recent games, to the point where he ranks outside of the top-200 in 9-cat formats. And if Wiseman plays in the teens minutes-wise moving forward, that would be bad news for those who have him rostered.

"Development doesn't equal playing time or vice versa,” Kerr said after Monday’s win. Development is something that's tougher to define. Sometimes you can learn observing. We're figuring out creative ways to teach him between games. His development is happening all the time.”

Golden State will play three more games this week, so it’s best to hang onto Wiseman for the time being as he remains in the rotation. But keep a close eye on his minutes.

Maledon replaces injured Hill in starting five: With George Hill ruled out due to a right thumb contusion, Thunder rookie guard Theo Maledon made the first start of his career in Monday’s win over Portland. He played 22 minutes, accounting for six points, four rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers. Even with Hill sidelined, Maledon isn’t worth rostering regardless of league format. In addition to his lack of production, Oklahoma City’s surplus of young perimeter players makes it difficult for Maledon to get the opportunities that he needs in order to be a fantasy asset. Another reason why he should be left alone, regardless of what happens with Hill: the Thunder are scheduled to play just two more times this week.

After playing 16 minutes total in the last three games that he appeared in, Justin Jackson matched that total Sunday night and accounted for six points, two rebounds and three assists. There is no reason to ever consider picking Jackson up, especially in standard leagues.

Melo, Trent Jr. fill in for absent starters: In addition to C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, Portland was down two more rotation players due to injury Monday night. Robert Covington (concussion) and Rodney Hood (thigh contusion) were both injured during Sunday’s win over the Knicks, and while the latter was originally said to be available for Monday’s loss to the Thunder he ultimately did not play. Filling those voids in the starting lineup were Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr., who scored 22 points apiece on the night. Trent Jr. was the more efficient of the two shooting-wise, as he went 9-of-17 to Anthony’s 9-of-21, but he was only responsible for one rebound, two steals and four 3-pointers in his 41 minutes.

Anthony, on the other hand, also tallied six rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes. The future Hall of Fame forward, who’s rostered in 38% of Yahoo leagues, is providing 11th-round value in 9-cat formats for the season. Covington and Hood are expected to be available at some point during Portland’s six-game road trip, which begins Thursday in Houston, but no exact timetable has been given by the team. Anthony and Trent Jr. (who’s rostered in 14% of Yahoo leagues) are worth picking up right now for that very reason. Anfernee Simons (26/2/1/1 with six 3-pointers in 26 minutes) had a productive night off the bench, and Portland’s lack of depth makes him a player worthy of streaming consideration in deeper leagues.

Garland comes off the bench again: Speaking of the bench, Cleveland’s Darius Garland began Monday’s game against the Lakers with the second unit. Since returning from a shoulder injury he’s been on a minutes restriction, and coach J.B. Bickerstaff has decided to keep the second-year point guard with the reserves. That could be changing as soon as Cleveland’s next game, Wednesday night against the Pistons. Garland played 26 minutes on Monday, accounting for 11 points (5-of-10 FGs), two rebounds, five assists and two turnovers.

A key for Garland moving forward when it comes to his fantasy value will be his turnover count, as he’s averaging a little under three per game. In 9-cat formats he’s providing 13th-round value, and his value shoots up to the eighth round in 8-cat when turnovers are punted. Taurean Prince is the player most likely to be moved to the second unit once Garland’s minutes limit is lifted, and in 25 minutes he put up seven points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one 3-pointer. Rostered in 20% of Yahoo leagues, Prince is providing top-50 value in 9-cat over the last week. Cedi Osman (20/2/2/3 with five 3-pointers in 32 minutes) is also worth a look, as he’s rostered in 34% of Yahoo leagues.

The Cavs were without their best fantasy performer, as Larry Nance Jr. was sidelined due to a right wrist injury. Prince and Osman absorbed the majority of the available minutes.

Lowry struggles in return, gets ejected: After missing two games due to a toe injury, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was back in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against the Pacers. And boy did he look rusty, shooting 2-of-11 from the field and finishing with 12 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes before getting tossed late in the fourth quarter. The disappointing thing when it comes to Lowry’s line is the assist tally, as he’s averaging more than six per game on the season. Toronto begins a three-game “home” stand Wednesday night against the Bucks, and they’ll need a more effective Lowry for that one.

Lowry’s return moved Stanley Johnson back to the bench, and likely back onto the waiver wire in most leagues. Johnson accounted for four points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals and one blocked shot in his 26 minutes. Even with the non-scoring numbers being what they were, he isn’t a player worth rostering regardless of league size.

Norman Powell (24/6/6/1 with two 3-pointers in 40 minutes) continues to produce in Pascal Siakam’s absence. He has scored 20 points or more in three straight games, providing 11th-round value over the last week. That isn’t great production, but it’s a lot better than what Powell was bringing to the table earlier this season. Siakam missed both games against the Pacers, and in addition to the swelling in his left knee he has been dealing with a groin injury.

Gordon (hip/back) plays 34 minutes in victory: Orlando welcomed its second unit playmaker back to the lineup Monday night, as Aaron Gordon was in the starting lineup after sitting out Sunday’s loss to the Hornets due to hip and back soreness. He played 34 minutes, accounting for 12 points (3-of-9 FGs, 4-of-10 FTs), 11 rebounds, seven assists, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers. Gordon’s issue when it comes to fantasy value: turnovers.

Over the last week he’s averaging a little over four turnovers per game, which has essentially nullified what ever assists boost he receives by having the freedom to initiate the offense when Cole Anthony is on the bench. A top-70 player over the last week in 8-cat formats, Gordon sits outside of the top-100 in 9-cat. Gordon’s return drops Jordan Bone completely out of the rotation, but he wasn’t a worthy fantasy option when playing, either.

Anthony has made positive strides by the game as Orlando’s starting point guard, and on Monday he posted a line of 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, four 3-pointers and three turnovers in 31 minutes. Over the last week Anthony has been a top-75 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats, yet he’s rostered in just 38% of Yahoo leagues. That needs to change.

Some Notable Stat Lines

LeBron James: 46 points (19-of-26 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and seven 3-pointers in 38 minutes vs. Cleveland.

Malcolm Brogdon: 36 points (10-of-17 FGs, 13-of-14 FTs), seven rebounds, nine assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes vs. Toronto.

Stephen Curry: 36 points (11-of-21 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs), four rebounds, three assists, three steals and seven 3-pointers in 34 minutes vs. Minnesota.

Delon Wright: 28 points (8-of-12 FGs, 8-of-9 FTs), seven rebounds, nine assists, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes vs. Philadelphia.

James Harden: 20 points (7-of-10 FGs, 3-of-5 FTs), four rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes vs. Miami.

Andre Drummond: 25 points (11-of-21 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), 17 rebounds and one assist in 28 minutes vs. the Lakers.

Luka Doncic: 35 points (11-of-23 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs), 11 rebounds, 16 assists, four steals, one block and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes vs. Denver.

Zach LaVine: 30 points (11-of-19 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and six 3-pointers in 34 minutes vs. Boston.

Malik Beasley: 30 points (10-of-18 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), seven rebounds, one steal and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes vs. Golden State.

Enes Kanter: 13 points (5-of-10 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), 22 rebounds, three assists and two steals in 32 minutes vs. Oklahoma City.

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.