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Basketball Daily Dose

Another 40-point night for James Harden

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: March 27, 2021, 9:36 am ET

There were 11 games on Friday's schedule and, with it being the first night after the trade deadline, fantasy managers had some adjustments to make. Orlando's moves have opened up a starting spot for the team's first-round pick from two seasons ago, and he made the most of his opportunity in a loss to Portland. But the Daily Dose begins in Detroit, where the Nets' MVP candidate put on a show to make sure that a former Piston left the Motor City with a win. 

Nets 113, Pistons 111: Blake Griffin made his first trip back to Detroit since he and the Pistons parted ways in early March, and it wasn’t without fireworks. He and Isaiah Stewart had a bit of a back and forth, with the rookie ultimately being ejected after just six minutes of action. That’s really unfortunate for fantasy managers that have begun to buy into Stewart, as he was nearly getting an even split on minutes at the center spot with starter Mason Plumlee (13/10/5/1) in recent games. Plumlee ultimately played 31 minutes, surpassing 30 for the first time since February 24.

Going back to Griffin, he played 20 minutes off the bench and had his best game as a Net, posting a line of 17 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. James Harden (44/14/8/1 with four 3-pointers and three turnovers) just missed out on another 40-point triple-double, playing 42 minutes before fouling out. And speaking of minutes split at the center position, the Nets also have a platoon of sorts as DeAndre Jordan (10 points, nine rebounds and one block) starts with Nicolas Claxton (three points, seven rebounds and one block) serving as the backup.

Jordan played 20 minutes and Claxton 26, with the latter being a part of the Nets’ closing lineup. Rostered in 23% of Yahoo leagues, Claxton is closing in on top-100 value in 9-cat formats. Unless the Nets add another veteran big via the buyout market, Claxton’s spot in the rotation appears to be safe.

Flipping to Detroit, the point guard situation bears watching post-trade deadline. New addition Cory Joseph played 18 minutes in his Pistons debut, accounting for nine points, two rebounds and two assists. Interestingly, with Dennis Smith Jr. sidelined it was Rodney McGruder who received the starting nod, and in 16 minutes he tallied seven points, one rebound, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer. When McGruder starts alongside Wayne Ellington (9/2/1 with one 3-pointer) in the backcourt, Plumlee effectively becomes Detroit’s best playmaker. Saben Lee played 16 minutes off the bench, tallying eight points, one rebound and three assists.

None of Detroit’s point guards look all that appealing, but in deep leagues Lee may be worth the gamble until Smith and Killian Hayes are cleared to return. Frank Jackson (14 points, two rebounds and three 3-pointers) made the most of his 11 minutes, which all came in the fourth quarter.

Suns 104, Raptors 100: Both of Toronto’s new additions played in this one, with Gary Trent Jr. filling the void in the starting lineup left by Norman Powell, and Rodney Hood coming off the bench. Trent didn’t have the best night, scoring eight points on 4-of-11 shooting (0-of-5 3-pointers) with one steal in 31 minutes. Fantasy managers shouldn’t panic here, as it was his first game with a new team. The positive of Trent going into the starting lineup immediately outweighs the performance.

As for Hood, he played 18 minutes and accounted for two points and one rebound. His value wasn’t great in Portland, and with Toronto having wings who log heavy minutes, Hood would not be a good pickup at this point. Pascal Siakam (26/11/6/1/1) and Fred VanVleet (22/4/3/1 with six 3-pointers) left the way offensively for the Raptors, while Aron Baynes (6/4/2) and Chris Boucher (3/3/3 blocks) played a total of 27 minutes off the bench. That was a bit surprising given the Suns’ reliance on Deandre Ayton, who finished the game with 19 points, nine rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 29 minutes.

Chris Paul (19/6/8/2 with one 3-pointers), Devin Booker (16/6/2/1 with two 3-pointers) and Mikal Bridges (11/7/2/1 with one 3-pointer) joined Ayton in double figures, with Phoenix going with a 10-man rotation. Cameron Johnson (7/5/3 with one 3-pointer) has been in that 15-20 minutes range since returning to action, while the absence of Abdel Nader has freed up a few more minutes for Langston Galloway. He hit two 3-pointers and scored eight points, but did not produce anything else. There isn’t much reason to pick him up, but Johnson is worth tracking just to see if he can be a consistent contributor on the boards. In the three games prior he grabbed six rebounds, so it’s difficult to go all-in on Johnson as a rebounder.

Celtics 122, Bucks 114: No Evan Fournier for the Celtics in this one, but Moritz Wagner played 10 minutes in his debut. Shooting 1-of-4 from the field, Wagner finished with three points, five rebounds and one 3-pointer. Tristan Thompson not being available means that there are a few minutes off the bench behind starter Robert Williams, but not enough to make Wagner a player worth picking up. And with it being reported that the Celtics have interest in signing the recently bought-out Andre Drummond, that would be another big for Brad Stevens to work into the rotation.

The Time Lord played 27 minutes Friday night, and outside of the point total he backed up the hype supplied by many on this here website. Shooting 3-of-5 from the field, Williams finished with seven points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and five blocked shots. When you post a full line like that, the point total really isn’t a concern. Marcus Smart (23/8/3/1/1) knocked down seven 3-pointers, and he can be a bit streaky from distance. For every game in which he knocks down five or more, there will be stretches in which he goes ice cold. He’ll consistently rack up rebounds, assists and defensive stats, however, so Smart is worth rostering.

Jayson Tatum (34/6/7/1/1 with four 3-pointers) was nearly unstoppable, while Kemba Walker (21/2/5/3 with three 3-pointers) and Jaylen Brown (18/5/2/1 with four 3-pointers) also scored in double figures. Also worth noting is the fact that Grant Williams (7/4/3/1/1 with one 3-pointer) played 31 minutes, the most for him since February 5. He and Payton Pritchard (7/3/1/1 with two 3-pointers in 20 minutes) are the two most likely to lose out on playing time once Fournier joins the squad, so hold off on adding either.

The only thing out of the ordinary with the Bucks rotation was the absence of Bobby Portis, who was held out due to health and safety protocols. That could mean a minimum of seven days out, thus opening up a spot in the rotation. Thanasis Antetokounmpo made the most of his 18 minutes, scoring 12 points with five rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot. Fantasy managers would be better served waiting to see if he can do this again instead of rushing to pick him up, as Antetokounmpo entered Friday with a total of 69 points scored for the season.

Khris Middleton (19/3/4/2/1 with four 3-pointers) led four Bucks starters in double figures, followed by Jrue Holiday (17/3/4/1 with three 3-pointers), Giannis Antetokoumpo (16/8/5 with one 3-pointer) and Donte DiVincenzo (13/3/2/1 with three 3-pointers). Holiday shot a solid 7-of-12 from the field, but he was also responsible for a team-worst six turnovers. He doesn’t do that often, so this isn’t of great concern.

Hornets 110, Heat 105: With Goran Dragic still out due to back spasms, and recent additions Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica yet to join the team, the Heat had ten available players for this one. Kendrick Nunn appears to be the player with the most to lose once Oladipo arrives, as he played just 16 minutes Friday night and finished with 10 points and two 3-pointers. Tyler Herro (13/4/3 with one 3-pointer) played 33 minutes off the bench, with Andre Iguodala (seven rebounds, two assists and one steal) playing 20 and Gabe Vincent (three points, one assist, two steals and one 3-pointer) 18. Vincent, who doesn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value, will likely slide down in the pecking order as well.

Jimmy Butler (20/5/9/1 with two 3-pointers) made his return after missing Thursday’s loss to the Trail Blazers, while Trevor Ariza (14/9/5/2/2 with two 3-pointer) had his best game since joining the Heat. He started Friday night, filling the void left by Kelly Olynyk, who was included in the Oladipo deal. Ariza is worth streaming until the newest members of the Heat are available to play, especially if he’s going to get into double figures in field goal attempts.

Miami had no answer for the “Monk & Rozier Show,” As Malik Monk (32/2/1 steal/1 block with five 3-pointers) and Terry Rozier (26/5/11/1 block with four 3-pointers) combined to score 58 of the Hornets’ 110 points. Rozier has 21 assists in Charlotte’s last three games, which coincides with the time that LaMelo Ball has missed due to his fractured right wrist. He’s ranked well within the top-50 in 9-cat for the season, and at this rate Rozier could crack the top-25.

As for Monk, he’s scored 62 points in his last three games. He’s certainly capable of the occasional dud, but there are also nights when it seems as if Monk can’t be stopped. With Devonte’ Graham (16/1/8/1 with four 3-pointers) now starting, Monk’s scoring ability is needed even more. Gordon Hayward (11/9/3/1 block with two 3-pointers) had a relatively quiet night, while Bismack Biyombo (2/7/1/1/2) played 28 minutes and started ahead of Cody Zeller (5/7/2 steals in 12 minutes) at the center position. Charlotte has also been mentioned as a potential landing spot for the aforementioned Drummond, who would represent an upgrade on the Hornets’ current options in the middle.

Trail Blazers 112, Magic 105: There were multiple changes to Portland’s rotation in the second game of the team’s back-to-back. First and foremost Damian Lillard was held out due to a knee contusion, and him sitting out a game was likely necessary even if he were healthy. The MVP candidate shouldered a heavy load when Portland was shorthanded, and now that players are getting back to full strength the Blazers are better equipped to compete if Lillard has to sit. The other changes to the rotation: Norman Powell starting in his debut for the team, and Jusuf Nurkic returning to action after missing time due to a fractured wrist and a strained calf.

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Lillard’s absence means that Terry Stotts didn’t have to decide who moves to the bench with Powell joining the squad, with the answer likely to come when Portland plays Toronto in a couple day’s time. Powell set a franchise record for the most points scored in a Blazers debut, putting up 22 to go along with two rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block and five 3-pointers in 36 minutes. Having to share touches with Lillard and C.J. McCollum (22/5/7/1 block with two 3-pointers) shouldn’t impact Powell’s fantasy value too much; if anything, it could be easier for him to get clean looks due to opposing teams’ needing to slow down Portland’s most prolific scorers.

Nurkic is on a minutes restriction, and in 19 minutes Friday night he was responsible for eight points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer. The restriction means that Enes Kanter still has some value, so don’t drop him just yet. He played 29 minutes off the bench, tallying 15 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. Robert Covington also had a good night defensively, recording one steal and four blocks to go along with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers.

Orlando’s rotation was also heavily impacted by yesterday’s happenings, as Khem Birch and Chuma Okeke moved into the starting lineup. Simply put, until Wendell Carter Jr. is worked into the fold, Birch needs to be rostered. He played 37 minutes Friday night, finishing with 14 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocked shots. And one could argue that, given Carter’s struggles for much of this season, Birch would be a hold once WCJ can play.

As for Okeke, I’m bullish on the rookie. There’s a commitment to expand his opportunities on the offensive end of the floor, and he put up 15 shots Friday night. Okeke finished with a line of 22 points (a career-high), six rebounds, four assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Currently rostered in just 11% of Yahoo leagues, the rookie forward is a must-add right now. James Ennis (18/3/4 with four 3-pointers) and Dwayne Bacon (17/3/6/1 with one 3-pointer) haven’t offered much in the way of fantasy value this season, but they’re worth a look in the short-term given Orlando’s lack of players. Only eight saw action Friday night.

Timberwolves 107, Rockets 101: Minnesota appeared to be dead in the water, but they ended the game on a 22-0 run to win the game by six. And reserves Naz Reid and Juancho Hernangomez had a lot to do with that. Reid (16/2/2 in 17 minutes) and Hernangomez (19/9/1/2 with two 3-pointers) combined to shoot 14-of-24 from the field, more than making up for putrid field goal percentages of some of the team’s starters. Ricky Rubio (2/3/8/2) went 0-of-7 from the field, and Anthony Edwards (12/6/2/1 with two 3-pointers) was a bit better at 4-of-14. Karl-Anthony Towns (29/16/8/1 block with four 3-pointers) was 9-of-26 on the night.

One starter that did shoot the ball well was Jaden McDaniels, who made all five of his field goal attempts and finished with a line of 14 points, four rebounds, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes played. Either McDaniels of Jarred Vanderbilt stands to be the odd man out when Malik Beasley returns from his suspension, and the former also did a good job of defending Luka Doncic Wednesday night. The work that McDaniels has done in recent games may be enough to keep him in the starting lineup.

Jaylen Nowell (8/5/5/3), who played 30 minutes off the bench Friday, will also be impacted by Beasley’s return. Nowell’s fantasy value, which has been a bit higher than expected in recent games, will likely drop considerably. Once Beasley can take on his usual workload, managers should go ahead and drop Nowell.

Houston played just eight in this one, with Kevin Porter Jr. and Danuel House both sidelined due to injury. Ben McLemore hit seven 3-pointers, and he’s worth streaming on nights when House is unable to play, especially for managers who are in need of points and triples. Christian Wood (24/9/1/1 block with two 3-pointers) led the Rockets in scoring, while John Wall (14/3/15/2/2 with one 3-pointer) shot 6-of-25 from the field and committed seven turnovers. Should Wall be attempting nine more field goals than Wood? I’d argue no, and until that changes both players’ fantasy values will be impacted negatively.

Nuggets 113, Pelicans 108: Aaron Gordon wasn’t available for Denver, which meant a somewhat heavier workload for some of the team’s top options. Nikola Jokic (37/6/9/2/1 with three 3-pointers) played 41 minutes and attempted 30 shots, the most that he’s put up since February 23. Michael Porter Jr. (25/5/2/1 block with five 3-pointers) played 40 minutes, Jamal Murray (23/3/11/1 with two 3-pointers) 39 and Will Barton (5/4/1/1/3 with one 3-pointer) 37. Barton attempted just three shots, but he had one of his most impactful games of the season on the defensive end.

Pre-trade, the expectation was that once healthy Monte Morris would move back into the starting lineup, with Paul Millsap (16/7/3/2/1 with two 3-pointers in 30 minutes) joining the second unit. Now it’s expected that Gordon will be a starter, which would shift Porter Jr. to the three and Barton to the two. Gordon’s defensive versatility will help address any issues that may come about on the wings. Millsap and JaMychal Green, who haven't offered a great deal fantasy-wise, will take the biggest hits among Denver’s current rotation players. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the addition of JaVale McGee, who will fill the backup center role.

With Lonzo Ball still sidelined and J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli now members of the Mavericks, New Orleans played just eight players Friday night. Zion Williamson (39/10/5/1/2 with one 3-pointer in 39 minutes) was nearly unstoppable, but Brandon Ingram (13/3/5/1 block with three 3-pointers) shot just 5-of-17 from the field and was made to work for many of his looks. Expect to see him bounce back when the Pelicans host the Mavericks Saturday night. Eric Bledsoe (16/4/9/2 with two 3-pointers) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (14/5/5/2/2 with four 3-pointers) continue to make up the starting backcourt, with the latter being a must-play until Ball is cleared to return. Alexander-Walker has played 31 minutes or more in each of the Pelicans’ last three games.

With Wesley Iwundu and James Johnson joining the Pelicans, Alexander-Walker will have two more players to compete for rotation minutes with. Josh Hart should be fine, but NAW and Kira Lewis Jr. may find themselves in tough spots as far as fantasy value is concerned once Ball rejoins the group.

Pacers 109, Mavericks 94: Dallas’ rotation wasn’t impacted much by the trade with New Orleans, as Iwundu and Johnson weren’t consistent contributors. Redick’s arrival, combined with the eventual return of Luka Doncic (lower back soreness), is bad news for Trey Burke, who played 18 minutes Friday night and finished with six points, two rebounds and two assists. He was barely a rotation player pre-trade; after, it’s possible that he falls completely out as Jalen Brunson (10/4/2 in 34 minutes) is getting the backup point guard minutes.

Kristaps Porzingis (31/18/3/1 block with three 3-pointers in 38 minutes), who hasn’t shot the ball well when Doncic isn’t on the floor, had played in both games of a back-to-back just once this season. Fantasy managers and DFS players alike need to take that into consideration when putting together their lineups for Saturday’s games. He hasn’t been officially ruled out for the matchup with the Pelicans, but it would not come as a surprise if he were, especially if Doncic is healthy enough to play.

Indiana didn’t make a move at the trade deadline, which means that the rotation remains intact. Domantas Sabonis (22/15/5 with one 3-pointer) and Malcolm Brogdon (22/6/1/1 with six 3-pointers) led the way offensively for the winners, while Doug McDermott (12/1/3 with four 3-pointers), T.J. McConnell (10/1/4/3), Edmond Sumner (10/4/2/1 with two 3-pointers) and Goga Bitadze (6/6/1/3 blocks) provided solid production off the bench. Personally, McConnell is a must-have in most leagues due to his assists/steals production.

Jazz 117, Grizzlies 114: Utah managed to hang on for the win, with Donovan Mitchell (35/5/6/1 with five 3-pointers) and Rudy Gobert (25/9/1/2 blocks) doing most of the heavy lifting. Playing against his former team, Mike Conley shot 2-of-13 from the field and finished with a line of five points, five rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes played. That isn’t the norm for him, and he’ll have a chance to redeem himself immediately Saturday night when the teams meet again.

Getting Jordan Clarkson back on track is the biggest concern for the Jazz right now. He shot 4-of-13 from the field in this one, scoring 14 points with five rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. When Clarkson isn’t scoring his fantasy value takes a major hit, as he averages just 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.2 blocks per game. Bojan Bogdanovic, who was mired in a slump himself before shooting the ball well in Wednesday’s win over the Nets, scored 17 on 8-of-15 shooting. He’s in a similar position to Clarkson when it comes to fantasy, as there isn’t much in the way of production outside of points and 3-pointers. If his shot isn’t falling, Bogdanovic can weigh down a roster.

Ja Morant (32/4/11 with one 3-pointer) and Dillon Brooks (22 points, one rebound and three 3-pointers) were both efficient on offense for the Grizzlies, while Jonas Valanciunas (14/18/2/1/2) posted yet another double-double and Grayson Allen (17/5/1) knocked down five 3-pointers. Allen has scored 37 points and made ten 3-pointers in Memphis’ last two games, and doesn’t appear to be coming out of the starting lineup anytime soon. His emergence is bad news for those who want to see De’Anthony Melton, who didn’t have much of an impact in this one, receive more minutes. Melton played 14 minutes off the bench, going scoreless with one rebound. He’s been far more productive than that for the season, and with the Grizzlies facing the Jazz again Saturday night Melton will have the opportunity to bounce back.

Hawks 124, Warriors 108: John Collins put on a show in San Francisco, going off for 38 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the field while also accounting for 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Add in double-doubles for Trae Young (21/3/15 with one 3-pointer) and Clint Capela (18/15/2 steals/3 blocks), and Atlanta had more than enough to take care of the struggling Warriors.

Nate McMillan made a change to his starting lineup, with Bogdan Bogdanovic replacing Kevin Huerter. Bogdanovic, who has now reached double figures in five straight games, put up 11 points, one rebound, five assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 21 minutes. Huerter played 28 minutes, shooting 1-of-9 from the field and finishing with five points, two rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. DeAndre Hunter was held out of Friday’s win due to some swelling in his right knee (the same one that was operated on), which is a concern. Atlanta returns to action Sunday in Denver, but there’s no guarantee that Hunter will be able to play.

Andrew Wiggins (28/7/3/2 steals with four 3-pointers) led the way for the Warriors, while James Wiseman (18/5/1 steal) shot a respectable 7-of-13 from the field. Jordan Poole (15 points, four assists and three 3-pointers) and Kelly Oubre (14/6/2/2/1 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures and so did rookie Nico Mannion. Playing 25 minutes off the bench, Mannion accounted for ten points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. Mannion has scored 29 points and dished out eight assists in Golden State’s last two games. At best he’s a deep league add, at least until Stephen Curry is cleared to return.

Draymond Green, who did not play Thursday night due to illness, played 27 minutes but did not look himself. He still managed to dish out nine assists, but the usual influence wasn’t there.

Lakers 100, Cavaliers 86: Montrezl Harrell has now scored 20 points or more in four of the Lakers’ last five games, giving the team needed scoring with Anthony Davis and LeBron James both sidelined. He shot 10-of-15 from the field in Friday’s win over Cleveland, posting a line of 24 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals in 30 minutes played. Harrell’s rostered in 87% of Yahoo leagues so it isn’t as if he’s being slept on, but that number should be into the nineties given who the Lakers are currently without.

Marc Gasol played 15 minutes for the second straight night, which is good news given the amount of time that he missed due to health and safety protocols. But he hasn’t been all that productive, so there isn’t much reason to have him rostered in most leagues. Dennis Schroder (17/5/7/4/1 with one 3-pointer), Talen Horton-Tucker (15/3/3/2 with one 3-pointer) and Markieff Morris (13/5/2/1/1) also scored in double figures for the Lakers, who will have to clamp down defensively as they did Friday night in order to tread water until their two superstars return to the lineup.

Cleveland, the league’s worst scoring team, played this one without Collin Sexton due to a hamstring injury. Cedi Osman made another start, but he has been mired in a serious shooting slump. He shot 2-of-8 from the field, posting a line of six points, one rebound, two steals and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes played. Osman’s shooting just 22% from the field in his last five games, and until that number improves considerably there’s no reason to have him rostered. Even if Sexton has to miss more time. Darius Garland (14/2/5/1 with one 3-pointer) was just 6-of-17 from the field, while Larry Nance Jr. (17/10/5/1 block with one 3-pointer) and Jarrett Allen (13/11/5/1/1 with one 3-pointer) both posted double-doubles.

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.