Sunday’s schedule may have been lacking in its heft, as just six games were played, but it didn’t lack for drama. Philadelphia and Washington both pulled off stunning rallies, while Denver shot the lights out and ended Utah’s 11-game win streak. Below is a look at all that happened, beginning with some thoughts on the Wizards’ backcourt tandem.
Clippers 129, Knicks 115
Nuggets 128, Jazz 117
Raptors 115, Magic 102
76ers 119, Pacers 110
Wizards 149, Nets 146
Timberwolves 109, Cavaliers 104
Westbrook, Beal star as Wizards end four-game skid: Washington ended it four-game skid in thrilling fashion, as 3-pointers from Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal in the game’s final seconds gave the Wizards a one-point win over the Nets. While Westbrook (41/10/8/2/1 with four 3-pointers in 35 minutes) was rolling throughout, shooting 16-of-28 from the field and 5-of-7 from the foul line, Beal got off to a slow start. He didn’t attempt a shot during the first quarter, and while this sparked some comments on social media about his body language, the league’s leading scorer proved to be fine in the end. He shot 13-of-23 from the field and 9-of-9 from the foul line, putting up 37 points, six rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes.
“That’s just kinda how the chips fell tonight,” Beal said after the game when asked about the first quarter. “Didn’t get a lot of early ones, a lot of looks early on in the game, and just stick with it and the second half was my half. It’s a long game. Can’t get too high, too low.”
The Wizards’ stars weren’t the only ones who played well in this one, either. Moritz Wagner had one of his best games of the season, scoring 17 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 21 minutes off the bench. Robin Lopez remains Scott Brooks’ choice to start in the middle, due in large part to what he brings to the table defensively, and it’s difficult to see that changing anytime soon. Both players are providing late-round value in 8- and 9-cat formats while being rostered in fewer than 10% of Yahoo leagues (Lopez 9%, Wagner 4%). And while Wagner’s 17-point effort was an eye-opener, keep in mind that he went scoreless in Friday’s loss to the Hawks.
Patterson, Morris fill in for injured Batum: Clippers forward Nicolas Batum has been far more productive than many anticipated him being before the season started, providing 6th-round value in 9-cat and 8th-round value in 8-cat formats. He wasn’t available for Sunday’s win over the Knicks, missing his first game of the season due to a groin injury, and as a result Patrick Patterson was inserted into the starting lineup. Patterson put forth one of his better performances of the season, shooting 5-of-5 from the field and finishing with 13 points, three rebounds, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers in 20 minutes.
The other 28 minutes at the power forward spot went to former Knick Marcus Morris, who contributed 11 points, three rebounds and three 3-pointers. Should Batum have to miss Tuesday’s game against the Nets, both Patterson and Morris are worthy of consideration as short-term options.
Reggie Jackson (18/5/3 with three 3-pointers in 26 minutes) continues to play well in place of the injured Patrick Beverley, and over the last week he sits just outside of the top-50 in both 8- and 9-cat formats. Currently rostered in 26% of Yahoo leagues, Jackson could make it difficult for Tyronn Lue to remove him from the rotation once Beverley is cleared to return. With the defensive pest not traveling with the Clippers on their current five-game road trip, fantasy managers can get at least two more starts out of Jackson (Tuesday at Brooklyn, Wednesday at Cleveland).
Jokic torches Utah, but Denver loses Harris: Another game, another double-double for Nikola Jokic. He matched his career-high in points on Sunday, scoring 47 (17-of-26 FGs, 9-of-10 FTs), while also tallying 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Utah made the perplexing choice of starting Bojan Bogdanovic on Jokic as opposed to Rudy Gobert, which proved to be a really bad decision as the Joker got rolling early and couldn’t be stopped. The early MVP chatter is well-deserved.
But it wasn’t all fun for Denver, as Gary Harris played just nine minutes before leaving the game with a left adductor strain. He hasn’t been great when it comes to fantasy value, but Harris is a valuable perimeter defender for the Nuggets. Monte Morris, who is rostered in 15% of Yahoo leagues, would be first choice here with Denver scheduled to host Detroit Monday night. He played 26 minutes on Sunday, accounting for six points, two rebounds, five assists, two steals and one 3-pointer. And Facundo Campazzo had his best game as a Nugget, chipping in with 11 points, two rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers in 19 minutes.
Jamal Murray (16/4/5/1 with two 3-pointers) played 34 minutes despite there being some questions regarding his status due to a sprained left shoulder, and Will Barton (18/3/6/1 block with five 3-pointers in 36 minutes) posted his highest point total since January 12. Michael Porter Jr. (11 points four rebounds and one 3-pointer in 20 minutes) remains the better choice in standard leagues, even though he’s still being brought off the bench.
Mitchell, Favors return but Jazz streak ends: Having missed both of Utah’s wins over the Mavericks due to injury, Donovan Mitchell (concussion) and Derrick Favors (lower back) were back in action for Sunday’s game in Denver. While the latter posted a respectable line (seven points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks) in his 19 minutes off the bench, Mitchell had a tough afternoon as the Jazz 11-game win streak came to an end. He shot 3-of-13 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line, finishing with 13 points, one rebound, three assists, one steal, three 3-pointers and five turnovers in 31 minutes.
That turnover count has been especially problematic for Mitchell this season, as he’s averaging 3.2 per game. Providing 8th-round value in 9-cat formats, his value jumps up to the 5th-round in 8-cat. Denver, given its perimeter depth, isn’t an easy matchup for a player making his return to the lineup, so Mitchell should be cut some slack here. And with Utah having four games on the schedule this coming week, he doesn’t lack for opportunities to get into a good rhythm.
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76ers rally in Indiana, win without Embiid: Philadelphia was without its star center Sunday night, as Joel Embiid was ruled out due to a back injury. Dwight Howard didn’t receive the starting nod this time around, with Doc Rivers deciding to go with Tony Bradley instead. Bradley had a nondescript outing, scoring two points while also accounting for four rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. Howard, on the other hand, put up 11 points, 15 rebounds and two blocked shots in 25 minutes off the bench. He was just 5-of-12 from the foul line, but it’s pretty much known that fantasy managers who roster Howard will be punting free throws on most nights.
Philadelphia doesn’t play again until Wednesday in Charlotte, so we’re expecting Embiid to be available for that one. That being said, this sets up to be a tough week for managers who have him rostered. The 76ers play just three times, and that game against the Hornets is the first of a back-to-back (Thursday vs. Portland).
Tobias Harris (27/8/1 block and two 3-pointers) and Ben Simmons (21/6/7/4/2) led the way offensively for the 76ers, with the latter’s point total being a season-high. And the contributions of Furkan Korkmaz (17/3/2 with three 3-pointers) and Matisse Thybulle (8/1/1/4/2 with one 3-pointer) shouldn’t be overlooked either, as both made big plays during Philadelphia’s fourth-quarter rally. Thybulle can be helpful to managers in need of defensive production, but the lack of consistent offense makes him a tough sell regardless of league format. Korkmaz is the opposite, and his shooting 37.5% from the field doesn’t help matters, either. Thybulle and Korkmaz are rostered in 7% and 1% of Yahoo leagues, respectively, and with good reason. Hate to say that Sunday’s efforts were “fool’s gold,” but they’re better off being left on the waiver wire.
Siakam’s beginning to percolate after a slow start: Raptors forward Pascal Siakam struggled mightily to begin this season, but he has been much better in recent games. Over the last week he sits just outside of the top-50 in both 8- and 9-cat formats, providing 5th-round value in the former and 6th-round value in the latter. In Sunday’s win over the Magic he shot 12-of-23 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line, finishing with 30 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and one blocked shot in 34 minutes. A big reason for the struggles were various nagging injuries, and an improved focus on taking care of his body has helped Siakam turn things around.
Kyle Lowry added 12 points, six rebounds, 15 assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes, and his feud with Aaron Gordon (more on him below) is alive and…um, well. (There’s some bad language in the linked tweet, for those of you who may be reading this at work.)
Timberwolves’ Edwards hitting his stride: Minnesota remains without Karl-Anthony Towns (health and safety protocols), which has meant even more scoring opportunities for rookie guard Anthony Edwards. The top overall pick in November’s draft was in the starting lineup for a second time this season Sunday night, and he played well in the Timberwolves’ win over the Cavaliers. In 30 minutes Edwards posted a line of 23 points (9-of-15 FGs), five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, four 3-pointers and no turnovers. And he’s come on of late, providing 5th-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats over the last week. Rostered in 53% of Yahoo leagues, now is the time to pick up Edwards if he’s still available in your league.
With Naz Reid (right wrist sprain) sidelined, Ed Davis made another start in the middle. While the veteran big man didn’t score, missing both of his field goal attempts, he did tally five rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots in his 23 minutes on the court before fouling out. D’Angelo Russell played 31 minutes in his return to the lineup, tallying 19 points, one rebound, five assists and five 3-pointers. This pushes Ricky Rubio back to the bench, and he accounted for eight points, three rebounds, eight assists and one steal in 20 minutes. There wasn’t much overlap in the minutes between Minnesota’s two point guards, and that should be the case moving forward.
Quickley outplays Payton again: Knicks fans have grown louder in calls for rookie Immanuel Quickley to be inserted into the starting lineup, with Elfrid Payton being dropped to the bench. And Quickley made a good case for himself on Sunday, shooting 9-of-16 from the field and finishing with 25 points, three rebounds, three assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes. Payton, on the other hand, posted a line of 10 points (3-of-7 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes. Quickley, who was hot at the time, played the entire fourth quarter while Payton sat on the bench. Neither player is a great option in standard leagues, but fantasy managers in need of a point guard would be better served to go with Quickley even with the rookie coming off the bench.
Reggie Bullock (neck) made his return to the starting lineup but didn’t provide much, finishing with eight points, one rebound, one assist, one block and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Alec Burks (7/3/4/2/1 with one 3-pointer in 22 minutes) and Austin Rivers (four points, two assists and one steal in 17 minutes) had quiet afternoons off the bench, but at least the former managed to fill his stat line. Bucks, who’s rostered in 42% of Yahoo leagues, is worth holding onto for the time being as he remains a top-100 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats.
Magic lose Gordon to an ankle injury: This was a rough game for Gordon, due to both his back and forth with Lowry and his eventual exit after stepping on Stanley Johnson’s foot and rolling his left ankle. The Magic forward took a shot to the knee from Lowry on a box-out, and on the other end of the floor Gordon retaliated with a blind-side hit to the Raptors point guard. The third quarter ankle injury was what ended Gordon’s night, as he played 23 minutes and accounted for 14 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. Gary Clark stands to see an increase in minutes since Gordon have to miss time, but he isn’t worth picking up in any league.
What this also changes is the pecking order at the point. Gordon was logging solid minutes as Orlando’s next playmaker behind starting point guard Cole Anthony (16/5/6 with one 3-pointer in 32 minutes), effectively squeezing Jordan Bone out of the rotation. Bone should see a bump in minutes if Gordon can’t play in Tuesday’s rematch, but that won’t be enough to make him a player worth considering in any league.
Harris, Green shine with Harden sidelined: Brooklyn played Sunday’s game without one of its “Big 3,” as James Harden was sidelined due to a left thigh contusion. That meant a return to the starting lineup for Joe Harris, who went off. He shot 11-of-17 from the field, scoring 30 points while also tallying one rebound, five assists and a career-high eight 3-pointers in 32 minutes. Unfortunately for Harris his lone turnover on the night was a costly one, as his inbounds pass in the final seconds was picked off by Garrison Mathews. Mathews gave the ball to the aforementioned Westbrook, who then sank the game-winning 3-pointer. Mistake aside, Harris had a very good night filling in for Harden. Regardless of his role within the Nets rotation, Harris is a must-have player due to his production as a 3-point shooter. He’s rostered in 71% of Yahoo leagues, and I’d argue that the percentage is too low.
Also playing well was Jeff Green, who has effectively taken over as the Nets’ backup center. In 30 minutes off the bench, he shot 7-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line, accounting for 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, two blocks and four 3-pointers. Don’t expect lines like this from Green on a nightly basis, but he’s productive enough to merit strong consideration on the back end of rosters in standard formats. He is currently rostered in 28% of Yahoo leagues.
Sexton plays 32 minutes, but rolls his ankle: Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton had a subpar night by his standards, tallying 16 points (8-of-16 FGs), two rebounds, two assists and five turnovers in 32 minutes. Unfortunately he also had to deal with an injury, as he rolled his left ankle during the first quarter of Cleveland’s loss in Minnesota. Obviously he was able to take on his usual workload after getting the ankle re-taped, but with Cleveland scheduled to host Minnesota Monday night it’s fair to wonder if Sexton will be available to play.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to roll the dice on Isaac Okoro (13/2/4 with one 3-pointer) for one night if Sexton is held out, even with the rookie’s production being inconsistent. Rostered in 8% of Yahoo leagues, Okoro has provided 13th-round value over the last week. Playing alongside two ball-dominant guards in Sexton and Darius Garland isn’t easy.
McConnell tallies eight more assists: Pacers backup point guard T.J. McConnell, who’s rostered in 17% of Yahoo leagues, ash been an effective fantasy option for those in need of assists. He’s averaging 7.3 per game on the season, and in Sunday’s loss to the 76ers he racked up a team-high eight to go along with nine points, four rebounds and one steal. But there was a major issue: turnovers. With an average of 1.9 per game, McConnell has been solid in this regard on most night. But he was responsible for six against his former team. For those still in need of assists, consider Sunday’s effort to be an anomaly as his season-high in turnovers before Sunday was three. Something else to consider here: the Pacers will play four times this week, making it a good time to roll the dice on McConnell even with his lack of scoring.
Some Notable Stat Lines
Kawhi Leonard: 28 points (8-of-15 FGs, 11-of-11 FTs), four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes vs. New York.
Julius Randle: 27 points (9-of-18 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), 12 rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes vs. the Clippers.
Malik Beasley: 23 points (9-of-17 FGs), three rebounds, two assists, one steal and five 3-pointers in 28 minutes vs. Cleveland.
Bojan Bogdanovic: 29 points (8-of-13 FGs, 8-of-10 FTs), four rebounds, two assists and five 3-pointers in 33 minutes vs. Denver.
Kevin Durant: 37 points (11-of-19 FGs, 13-of-13 FTs), seven rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes vs. Washington.
Kyrie Irving: 26 points (10-of-20 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), four rebounds, eight assists and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes vs. Washington.
Andre Drummond: 25 points (9-of-18 FGs, 7-of-10 FTs), 22 rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block in 33 minutes vs. Minnesota.