The Warriors nearly went down, D’Angelo Russell continues to turn it up, grit-and-grind is on life support and Nikola Jokic lives!
An 11-game Friday means news, notes and nuggets for days to begin your Saturday. Let’s Dose.
Golden State @ Boston: Warriors 124, Celtics 119 (2OT)
Duds: Andrew Bogut
The Celtics gave the Warriors—playing without Klay Thompson (ankle)—their best test of the season, but Boston had no answer for Draymond Green. A star in every sense of the word, Green joined Hakeem Olajuwon and Derrick Coleman as the only players in the last 40 seasons to have a line of at least 20/10/5/5/5. Finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight dimes, five steals, five blocks and two triples with just two turnovers, DG23 is rewarding those who stole him on draft day.
Green was so good that he’s the headliner on a night where Golden State got 38 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and six triples from Chef Stephen Curry’s kitchen, but an uncharacteristic 9-of-27 from the field and eight turnovers means Curry plays Robin to Draymond’s Friday Batman. Andre Iguodala added 13 points, 10 boards and five dimes (two steals), playing a big role with both Thompson and Harrison Barnes (ankle) out of the lineup.
Boston’s big man rotation now officially includes Kelly Olynyk, who busted loose for 28 points, six boards, three steals, three triples and a block on 11-of-21 from the floor in his 37 minutes…Olynyk is now averaging 21.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers over his last three games. You know what to do.
Editor's Note: This is your chance to try FanDuel risk free! Sign up today and if you lose your first contest, you’ll be refunded the entry fee up to $10. Play now.
Miami @ Indiana: Pacers 96, Heat 83
In delivering his best fantasy effort of the season, Monta Ellis starred on Paul George’s center stage with 24 points, four boards, six assists, six steals and four triples on 10-of-18 shooting. George added 23 points and eight boards, while Ian Mahinmi got the better of Hassan Whiteside with 18 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block in 36 big minutes. Whiteside (eight points, 10 boards, two blocks), who came into this game with a sore ankle, played just 17.5 minutes. With George, Ellis and even C.J. Miles calling for the ball, it’s hard to see George Hill (six points, five boards, four dimes) finding his fantasy footing.
Miami got a nice double-double from Chris Bosh with 23 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and three blocks as well as 20 points, five boards and five assists from Dwyane Wade, but Goran Dragic (five points, five rebounds, seven assists, five turnovers) still hasn’t been able to turn the corner quite yet, and Gerald Green (13 points) was the only other player who scored more than eight points.
Cleveland @ Orlando: Cavs 111, Magic 76
Studs: LeBron James
Orlando just didn’t show up for this one, and in a game that was over by halftime, LeBron James’ 25 points, eight dimes and four steals on 10-of-15 shooting and Kevin Love’s eight points, 13 boards, six dimes and two steals were the only notable takeaways from this box score. Iman Shumpert (wrist) made his season debut and was productive in 25 minutes with 14 points and two triples on 5-of-7 from the floor, but his best-case scenario has a limited fantasy ceiling.
Kyrie Irving is expected to make his season debut imminently, meaning it’s time to move on from Matthew Dellavedova (12 points, six assists) and Mo Williams (five points, five boards, four assists) if you haven’t already.
Tobias Harris hit rock bottom with 16.5 scoreless minutes, and in a typical Scott Skiles move, no Magic starter played more than Nikola Vucevic’s 22 minutes. It won’t be the last time we see Skiles make this move, and it’s not going to be the final occasion you’re frustrated in season-long or DFS formats. I wonder if Harris is a trade candidate despite his big new deal. Something has to give with Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja waiting in the wings.
In what reads as an amazing sentence for all of the wrong reasons, Evan Fournier and Victor Oladipo combined for nine points in 36 minutes. Although at different levels, both will remain volatile assets for the time being.
Detroit @ Philadelphia: Pistons 107, Sixers 95
Duds: Stanley Johnson
Kendall Marshall’s season debut (five points, six assists, 16.5 minutes) couldn’t save the Sixers. Shocking, I know.
Philadelphia got everything from their frontline with Robert Covington (18 points, nine boards, two steals, three 3-pointers), Nerlens Noel (10 points, 10 rebounds, one steal, two blocks) and Jahlil Okafor (22 points, six rebounds) and a six-seven-eight line from T.J. McConnell. Jerami Grant inexplicably played just 18 minutes (eight points, one steal, two blocks), and that’s a trend that needs to be monitored as the Sixers get all of their able bodies back into the rotation.
Every member of Detroit’s starting five found double figures in the win with Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson leading the way with 21 points each. Morris added eight boards, four dimes, one steal, one block, and three triples on 7-of-9 FGs in a stat-stuffing effort, while Ersan Ilyasova (15 points, eight rebounds, two steals, two blocks, three triples) used a big first quarter to deliver arguably his best effort of the season.
It’s just another day when Andre Drummond does his thing, but 18 points, 16 rebounds, two steals and four blocks just shows you where AD’s bar has been set.
Milwaukee @ Toronto: Raptors 90, Bucks 83
Studs: Khris Middleton
Kyle Lowry’s juicy on-paper matchup resulted in a hot bowl of garbage. Despite going up against the ‘dynamic duo’ of O.J. Mayo and Michael Carter-Williams, Lowry shot just 5-of-16 for 12 points, seven boards, five dimes, a steal, two blocks and five turnovers. Lowry’s off night likely burned a lot of DFS lineups, but don’t be afraid to use him in his next favorable affair. DeMar DeRozan added 27 points and a couple steals without anything else, and Cory Joseph (13 points, three boards, three dimes, three steals, one block) continues to make the most of his extended minutes.
Khris Middleton finally snapped out of his funk with a season-high 26 points to pair with three triples on an efficient 8-of-15 shooting, but didn’t add any defensive stats in an otherwise strong effort. As usual, K-Midz is a nine-cat king, and he turned the ball over just once in this game. Both Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo (15 points, seven boards, three dimes, two steals, one block) played 43 minutes in the loss, an excellent sign for what should come next in Jason Kidd’s Milwaukee funhouse.
Washington @ New Orleans: Pelicans 107, Wizards 105
Duds: Marcin Gortat
Bradley Beal (right leg soreness) was a pregame scratch in this one, and that’s concerning given Beal’s history of injuries in that area despite the Wizards labeling the move as precautionary. Garrett Temple—who drew the start on Friday—Gary Neal and Ramon Sessions combined to score 39 points in Beal’s absence, and it’s going to be a replacement by committee approach for however long Beal is sidelined.
John Wall’s hot streak continued with 26 points, seven boards, 12 dimes and three 3-pointers, and he even did it on an efficient 10-of-18 shooting. When Wall’s flexing that hard, the turnovers (five) are gladly overlooked in nine-cat formats. Otto Porter turned in another solid game with 15 points, seven rebounds, two triples and two steals, but Marcin Gortat—who had been playing very well—came up with an absolute dud, taking more shots (12) than points scored (10).
The Pelicans’ prolific point guard attack resulted in a combined 46 points, 10 assists, five steals and 10 3-pointers (!) between Tyreke Evans (27/7/4) and Jrue Holiday (19/0/6), and New Orleans needed every last ounce of production on a night when Anthony Davis looked human with a “normal” line of 18 points, 11 boards, a steal and a triple.
As an aside, the Pelicans could have started Kendrick Perkins (who was available for this game) at center this season and received the same production their nearly $50M center Omer Asik is currently providing. It must be nice to be tall.
Charlotte @ Memphis: Hornets 123, Grizzlies 99
When Tony Allen, AKA ‘The Grindfather,” declares that the grit-and-grind mantra is fading away, it’s really time this team begins to make some uncomfortable decisions. As a roster with an outdated blueprint that has shown to be nothing more than slightly better than average as currently constructed, the Grizzlies could look very different by the time the trade deadline rolls around. I don’t want any part of any player on this sinking ship.
The Hornets keep on hummin’ without Al Jefferson, and despite Cody Zeller throwing up a stinker (two points, three steals, five fouls), Charlotte again got the pep in its step from Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. Walker continued his sensational season with 33 points, five triples, five boards and six assists, and he’s really raised his game to an unforeseen level. Batum’s star didn’t shine quite as bright with 20 points, but he did hit five 3-pointers of his own without committing a single turnover.
Those with shares of Jeremy Lamb will want to take note that the UConn product has played fewer than 22.5 minutes in five straight games, so keep an eye on his production to ensure he’s helping your team. During that stretch, Lamb has hit just three triples and swatted two shots.
Minnesota @ Denver: Nuggets 111, Timberwolves 108 (OT)
Studs: Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic is very much alive and well, and there’s a reason I advocated holding onto him last week when almost everyone else was ready to move on. With 19 points, six rebounds, four dimes, a steal and a triple in 24.5 minutes off the bench, it could be as early as Denver’s next game when Jokic replaces Joffrey Lauvergne (eight points, 14 minutes) in the starting lineup once again.
On a night Denver got half of its starting backcourt back in Gary Harris returning from a concussion, rookie Emmanuel Mudiay played just 12 minutes before departing with an ankle injury. If Mudiay is forced to miss an extended period of time, veteran Jameer Nelson (20 points, six boards, seven dimes, two steals, four triples) will be a popular pickup.
Will Barton (13 points, nine boards, two steals) is a must-start player, and it doesn’t matter what season-long format you play. Although Minnesota’s centers had a nice matchup vs. the Nuggets, Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng combined for 22 points, 15 rebounds, four steals and six blocks the game after KAT went off for 26 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks of his own vs. the Lakers.
I’d be selling high if I had Kevin Martin (22 points, sore wrist) or Ricky Rubio (13 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two triples) on any of my fantasy teams, as both guys are a walking injury concerns whose value can change faster than a signed Kobe Bryant jersey on eBay.
Oklahoma City @ Utah: Thunder 94, Jazz 90
Duds: Serge Ibaka
Gordon Hayward has really been playing well since Rudy Gobert (knee) went down, and that continued on Friday with 19 points, eight boards, two steals and four triples. Derrick Favors’ offense has taken a bit of a hit since having to kick inside to center, and he was underwhelming on that end again with just 13 points on 13 shots in the loss. Favors’ defensive party (two steals, three blocks) is still ongoing, so this is a good time to buy low on a player I think finishes inside the top 40.
Though Rodney Hood and Alec Burks are the Utah guards rightfully on the majority of fantasy rosters, Trey Burke (16 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal, three 3-pointers) has taken on a larger role without Gobert, and the concern over how much he’ll negatively impact the field goal percentage category is overstated. I like him as a short-term pickup for those in need of point guard help.
It was just another night at the office for Kevin Durant (21 points, eight boards) and Russell Westbrook (24 points, seven rebounds, seven assists), better known as the best duo in basketball. If Serge Ibaka (eight points, eight rebounds, 4-of-13 FGs) could find any semblance of consistency on the offensive end, this 15-8 Thunder team would be a lot more dangerous. Ibaka has taken a statistical step back this season.
Phoenix @ Portland: Blazers 106, Suns 96
Duds: Brandon Knight
It’s only a matter of time until Markieff Morris (DNP-CD) is traded out of Phoenix. Jon Leuer (13 points, eight boards, one steal, 6-of-8 FGs, 28 minutes) deserves the role he’s earned, Mirza Teletovic (15 points, six boards, four triples, 25 minutes) was brought in to be this player and Alex Len (13 points, eight rebounds, one block) is a more than capable backup for Tyson Chandler (hamstring). If T.J. Warren is going to get squeezed out of minutes, you can bet Morris won’t have a real role, either.
Eric Bledsoe’s top-25 season just keeps rolling with 31 points, four boards, five assists, two steals, a block and four 3-pointers on 12-of-26 from the floor, but his performance couldn’t make up for Brandon Knight’s 0-of-12 shooting show for a whopping one point on the evening. Knight did have five rebounds, 10 assists and two steals in 33 minutes, but the bagel is going to leave a hole in the stat sheet of those with BK on the roster. I’m not as high on Devin Booker as some of the other Rotoworld staff, but at least he’s getting consistent playing time now. The only person upset about that is Archie Goodwin.
The Blazers are playing better than anyone except Damian Lillard believed they could, and a lot of that has to do with the emergence of C.J. McCollum. With another solid line of 26 points, five triples, four assists and three steals on 10-of-15 shooting, McCollum is well on his way to solidifying his standing as one of the best draft day steals. So long as he’s healthy, the opportunities are going to keep coming McCollum’s way. It’ll be interesting to see how his legs hold up in the second half after playing a role he never has prior.
Portland got another good game from Al-Farouq Aminu with a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double to go along with a couple of steals, a block and two 3-pointers, while waiver wire gem Allen Crabbe went off for 18 points, five rebounds, a steal and a block (two triples) in 28.5 minutes off the bench…Crabbe has now scored 10-plus points and played 23-plus minutes in six straight, and he needs to be picked up if he’s still mistakenly available in your league.
Los Angeles (L) @ San Antonio: Spurs 109, Lakers 87
No Tony Parker (rest), no problem. Ray McCallum drew the start at point guard, but it was Patty Mills’ incendiary performance (22 points, three triples, 9-of-11 shooting) off the bench that rewarded those who rolled him out as a punt play in DFS formats. Kawhi Leonard—who bounced back nicely from his illness with 16 points, 11 boards, three steals and a block (no turnovers—and LaMarcus Aldridge (24 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded a double-double, which made up for Tim Duncan’s five-point, four-rebound no-show in his 20.5 minutes. Unless it’s Kawhi, I stay away from employing any member of Gregg Popovich’s rotation.
With Jordan Clarkson (ankle) out of the lineup, D’Angelo Russell moved back in and continued to play like someone trying to stay there. Looking more confident and aggressive than we’ve seen all season, Russell exploded for 24 points, six boards, six dimes, two steals and five 3-pointers. The rookie is now averaging 23.5 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 triples on 17-of-46 shooting over his last two games, a significant step forward from the showing we’d seen previously. I’m buying.