Steph Curry’s Funfetti
Happy birthday, Steph Curry. Nothing like a win over the New York Knicks to celebrate in style.
DeMarcus Cousins’ frustrations were again on display, Boston took another step forward to the playoffs and all-in-for-Brooklyn barely beat a Philadelphia team that’s not actively looking to seek out wins on the basketball court.
There might have only been six games on this Saturday evening, but that didn’t mean we were short on storylines, unexpected performances or chances to bash the Knicks.
Celtics 93, Pacers 89
I had an ex-girlfriend who used to quote “The Goonies” at each possible chance (Sidenote: We haven’t dated the same girl, trust me). In a matchup game featured two teams both looking to channel their “Never Say Die” attitude, Boston squeaked out an impressive road victory and continued to march toward an improbable spot in the Eastern Conference postseason picture. With all due respect to Trader Danny (Ainge) and the rest of the front office, a ticket to the dance would be a fairly substantial validation of Brad Stevens’ coaching abilities given what he’s had to endure in his short tenure. And if the Celtics can establish that Stevens-led culture now, a future loaded with draft picks, cap space and opportunities starts to look a whole lot better.
It didn’t matter that Boston was without Isaiah Thomas (elbow, butt) once again, and the growing local legend (think in Boston) of Tyler Zeller is starting to stand higher than the seven-footer himself. Although his 18 points and seven boards on an ultra-efficient 8-of-10 from the field was impressive, it’s just the second time since March began that he’s reached double-digit scoring in a game. The Celtics also got a trio of 16-point efforts from Jae Crowder, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley, and Crowder continued to show off his impressive versatility with seven rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and two triples in 33 big minutes off the bench. With Jared Sullinger (foot) out for the season, Crowder’s ability to play—and more importantly defend—will continue to keep him on the floor for 25-plus minutes per game. The big Bassmaster added five boards, three assists and a steal in 32.5 minutes, while Bradley needed a whopping 19 shoots (making seven) to score his 16. Crowder has some Draymond Green appeal to him, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him emerge as a vital piece of Boston’s future.
George Hill is having one of the better seasons that is going under the radar. Before dropping a ridiculous 30 points, five rebounds, eight assists, two triples and a steal in the losing effort, Hill came into the game averaging 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 triples since the All-Star break. Although his shooting percentages have been down over that time (38.6 percent overall, 28.3 percent from three), Hill has been asked to carry a load like he’s never had to do prior for a team with its eyes on a surprisingly available postseason berth. As I’ve said previously in this column, field goal percentage is a column I’m typically punting, so I’m not as concerned with that as others may be. Moving on from Hill, Rodney Stuckey’s fire factor calmed down a bit as the combo guard had just 12 points, two triples a steal and a block (four turnovers) in 24 minutes, and I just can’t trust him to hold a spot on my team. I’m not ready to buy into him becoming a player he simply hasn’t been at any point prior in his career. Roy Hibbert’s free-fall off the face of the fantasy earth continued in this game with five points, seven rebounds and a block on 2-of-6 shooting (24 minutes), and it was a very disappointing showing considering what the Celtics trot out up front.
The Pacers are one of those teams where you want to own Hill or avoid them entirely.
Wizards 113, Kings 97
George Karl hasn’t exactly turned the Kings into something Sacramento wasn’t before, but this is going to be an exercise in patience for everybody involved—most notably for DeMarcus Cousins. Unfortunately, Cousins did not exercise much patience in this one as he wound up with a technical en route to fouling out of the game. It’s too bad since the big man balled out in his 30 minutes with 30 points, six boards, five assists and a block, and Cousins’ per-minute production continues to be quite impressive. Throw in 12-of-16 from the foul line, and it’s not hard to see what makes DMC a slam dunk pick in the first round. Although the Kings were down Rudy Gay (knee) in this one, it’s another frustrating loss in California’s capital as Washington outscored the Kings 29-12 in the final frame to pull away with the victory. Considering the Kings’ next leading scorer was Ray McCallum with 15 points (six boards, six assists, one steal, two triples), it’s not difficult to decipher what caused the difference in this game.
If you’re thinking to yourself that the idea of Cousins needing additional help is a theme, that’s because it is. Sacramento is on the clock…
Washington mounted its comeback behind John Wall’s impressive 31 points, 12 dimes and four three-pointers. Wall has been much better over his last three games, and he’s shooting a blistering 24-of-37 (64.9 percent) during that stretch. Considering he’s also averaging 22.3 points, 9.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.3 blocks and two triples, I think we can expect the first-round Wall more than his counterpart to show up going forward. He’s a player who rises to the challenge, and he knows that it’s his job to get Washington back on track. Expect big things down the stretch.
In addition to Wall, Bradley Beal showed some signs of life with 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists with his two triples, and owners would be wise to hold conservative expectations as we head into the postseason. Beal just hasn’t been the player so many projected him to be this season (statistically), and those still holding emotional attachment to player names at this juncture are probably on the outside looking in at the playoff picture in their league(s). Washington got an impressive six guys to score at least 10 points in the win, and even without Nene (personal) the Wizards cruised on to another victory.
Nets 94, Sixers 87
Brooklyn and Philadelphia are two teams that haven’t forged any semblance of an identity, so this was the NBA funky fan’s delight for those sitting at home on a Saturday evening while partaking in a binge feeding of League Pass viewing. And with a solid defensive effort in the second half from Brooklyn that saw Philadelphia score all of 31 points, the Nets got a much-needed win as the team looks to close out the regular season as a team with something to play for.
The Nets got an emphatic 21 points and nine rebounds from Thaddeus Young, and that acquisition will go down as Billy King’s best move in his tenure as General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets. Young’s now got at least 10 points scored in five straight games, but I’d really like to see him more active on the defensive end before believing in a fantasy resurgence while living among the hipsters. Brooklyn got a balanced effort, and Joe Johnson was the second-leading scorer with his 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. Jarrett Jack (12 points, eight assists, 6-of-16 shooting) once again outplayed Deron Williams (10 points, five assists, 3-of-7 shooting), and the only thing surprising about that sentence is that it’s not even surprising anymore. D-Will and the Nets could both use a fresh start.
Philadelphia got another nice game from Nerlens Noel with 17 points, seven boards, a steal and two blocks on 7-of-10 shooting, but he did foul out in just 29.5 minutes. Noel has been awesome in March, and he entered tonight’s game with averages of 11.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 1.9 blocks on 45.1 percent shooting, and there’s nothing to suggest that the Sixers are going to feature him less as the season comes to its conclusion. Noel’s most valuable contributions will come over the last two months of the season, and that’s what we call comin’ up clutch from the rookie. While we’re talking big men, Thomas Robinson continues to be a per-minute monster with seven points and 12 rebounds in all of 17 minutes in this game. If T-Rob could ever get consistent minutes (and please remind me, what is the point of that not happening on this Sixers team?), he would be a potential game-changing waiver wire pickup at a crucial point of the campaign.
Grizzlies 96, Bucks 83
Still down Mike Conley (ankle) after back-to-back losses to the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, the Memphis Grizzlies needed to win this game. With Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) a surprise scratch, Jerryd Bayless (ankle) still sidelined and Jared Dudley (back) ruled out, that job got a little easier on Saturday evening.
In true Grit-N-Grind fashion, the Grizzlies got double-digit scoring from all five members of the starting lineup. Courtney Lee led the way with 17 points and two triples, Jeff Green (five rebounds, two assists, two triples) and Zach Randolph (six rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block, five turnovers) both added 15 points each and Marc Gasol added a versatile 12 points, seven boards, seven assists a steal and a block on 6-of-12 shooting. I put Memphis firmly in the Pacers category when it comes to owning fantasy players on this team—it’s Gasol or bust for me.
Milwaukee started rookie Tyler Ennis at the point without both MCW and Bayless available, and he responded with an eye-opening 11 assists, but he struggled mightily from the floor with just seven points on 3-of-14 shooting to go along with three turnovers. Considering he played 36 minutes and was tasked with running the starting five, it was a solid enough display from the Syracuse product. He’s not someone I’d be chasing with both Carter-Williams and Bayless in day-to-day situations.
Khris Middleton’s free-agent stock continues to soar through the roof, and he was once again impressive in the loss on Saturday with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a triple. In his 37 minutes on the floor, K-Midd was actually plus-two for the young Bucks, and J-Kidd has to continue to find ways to keep this player on the floor. He’s been one of the best waiver wire pickups this season, and all signs point to Middleton getting absolutely paid during the offseason. Giannis Antetokounmpo also had a solid but unspectacular showing with 19 points and six boards on 7-of-10 shooting, and even though his field goal percentage is down since coming out of the All-Star break (42.1 percent), his overall numbers are up: 13.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks. He tweaked an ankle, but he said he was fine after the game. Keep riding him.
I would dedicate an entire Dose to getting John Henson (20.5 minutes) getting more minutes than Zaza Pachulia (26.5), but Henson has to escape Milwaukee and find a team that will let him play through the mistakes for him to become more than just a temporarily hot waiver-wire pickup for fantasy owners.
Jazz 88, Pistons 85
Andre Drummond’s line (four points, two boards, 11 minutes) didn’t do owners much help in this close loss, and after being diagnosed with a concussion, Drummond will now have to clear the NBA-mandated protocol to allow for his return. There is no timetable for Drummond’s return as a concussion impacts each individual in a specific manner, but it’s safe to stash AD on the bench for at least the next few days. The Pistons play Tuesday and Wednesday before being off until Saturday, so a two-game absence may be a best-case scenario for the UConn product and those relying on his production. Expect both Anthony Tolliver (14 points, three rebounds, 5-of-12 shooting, two triples, 27.5 minutes) and Joel Anthony (10 points, five rebounds, one block, 21.5 minutes) to see more time alongside Greg Monroe without Drummond in the lineup.
The Moose got loose for 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks, and Monroe has been on an absolute tear since the All-Star back. Over his last 11 games, Monroe is averaging 19 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.8 blocks on 51.6 percent shooting. He’s been one of the best value picks of the season even if owners had to suffer through the Josh Smith era to begin the season. Moving in the polar opposite direction, Reggie Jackson continued to struggle for his new team. In a three-point loss, Jackson managed just 10 points, four rebounds, zero assists and five turnovers on 4-of-11 shooting. In his 28 minutes, R-Jax was an “impressive” minus-13 before being benched.
The Stifle Tower AKA The Real Most Interesting Man In The World Rudy Gobert played through a tender ankle to go for another monstrous double-double with 10 points, 19 rebounds a steal and two blocks on 5-of-8 shooting. Considering he logged 39 minutes, I don’t expect his health to be an issue going forward. Derrick Favors had a nice scoring night with 26 points on just 8-of-14 shooting (10-of-13 from the free-throw line), but he managed just one rebound, one assist, two steals and four blocks. Gordon Hayward’s bad game (12 points, five boards, six turnovers) was offset by a nice night from rookie Rodney Hood (12 points, six boards, three steals, 32.5 minutes), Considering Hood scored 20 points in his previous game while also playing 32.5 minutes in that one, he’s a very sneaky under-the-radar add if your roster needs another bullet in the chamber for the postseason push.
I was a big Trey Burke guy to begin the season, but even I’ve moved on at this point. He’s 4-of-25 over his last three games with dwindling minutes in each of them, including just 16.5 minutes in this game—a win for his team.
Warriors 125, Knicks 94
It wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. The Warriors scored a combined 85 points in the second and third quarters alone, and the Knicks scored 94 points in the entire game. I could end the recap here, but I won’t shade the audience like that.
The Splash Bros. combined for 52 points (12-of-20 from distance, identical 6-of-10 lines), and Steph Curry even tossed in 11 casual assists to celebrate his 27th birthday. The two were assisted by Draymond Green doing DG-like things with a line of 12 points, seven boards, five assists and five steals (two triples, 5-of-7 shooting), while the Warriors had the bench flexin’ on ‘em with a 47-point effort led by David Lee (10 points, four boards, two assists, 5-of-6 shooting, 24 minutes) and Justin Holiday (13 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 22.5 minutes).
Although New York had five different contributors touch double-digits (led by Andrea Bargnani’s 18 points), there was really nothing to take away from this game. Nobody played more than 30 minutes, and if Phil Jackson could flush the entire roster down the toilet to start from scratch around Carmelo Anthony, he would “A project gone awry” is a nice way of putting things.
A flaming dumpster fire of a disaster is painting a more accurate picture.