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And just like that, another NBA Wednesday is in the books! As always, Wednesday was filled with record setters, some wild game-winners, and some all-around huge performances from players all around the league! The league has also been wrecked with positive Covid-19 tests of late, and many teams are missing multiple guys as a result of that, as well as some injuries, so there were a bunch of unsung heroes who stepped up in a big way on Wednesday. There were 22 different teams in action last night, so as always, I am going to give you my 10 biggest takeaways from the evening slate of games. So without further ado, let’s jump right into the action!
Anthony Edwards outduels Nikola Jokic in epic battle
Anthony Edwards is so freakishly talented that it almost angers a former hooper like me with how effortless he makes certain things on the basketball court look. There was chatter coming out of the NBA Draft that questioned how much he actually loved the game, and Edwards doubled down in an interview when he essentially said that he just plays basketball because it’s fun and he is good at it. Hey, how can we blame the guy?
On Wednesday, he put on a performance that he will probably remember for a long time as he scored 38 points on 14-of-21 shooting (10-of-14 3-pointers) and added five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block with two turnovers as the Timberwolves beat the Nuggets 124-107 on Wednesday night. Edwards, at 20 years and 1322 days, became the youngest player ever to make 10 three-pointers in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Info. His ten made three-pointers also set a Timberwolves franchise record. Entering Wednesday, the youngest plate to ever make ten three-pointers in a game was Kyrie Irving, who was 22 years old when he did it. Edwards knocked that out of the park by two years. The kid is special.
Gordon Hayward goes ballistic in win over Spurs
On Wednesday, Hayward scored a season-high 41 points on an absurd 15-of-19 shooting (5-of-6 three-pointers) and added five rebounds, and three assists with one turnover as the Hornets beat the Spurs 131-115 on Wednesday night. Hayward’s 79% mark from the floor marked the highest shooting percentage on a 40-point game in Hornets history on Wednesday, and Hayward also made all six of his foul shots on the evening, so of the 25 times the ball left his hands, it went in the hoop 21 times, which is absurd to think about.
Hayward has been absolutely awesome for Charlotte this year, and the Hornets are finally getting some return on their investment as Hayward is averaging 18.4 points on 47.0% shooting from the floor and 40.3% shooting from three with 1.9 triples, 4.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.9 turnovers per game, and most importantly, he has played in all 30 games for the Hornets. Considering the number of games played and his stats, he is on pace to have his best season in the NBA since the 2016-2017 season back when he was with the Utah Jazz. Hayward is on pace to yield fourth-round value in 9-cat formats this season, and he has been a top-25 player over the last two weeks. Hayward's stock is trending in the right direction right now, and his managers are surely pleased.
Jalen Brunson has a big night without Luka, Mavericks lose a thriller
Friday’s game between the Lakers and Mavericks was wild, and it ended with rookie Austin Reaves drilling a highly contested three from the right-wing to give the Lakers the 107-104 win in overtime. The Lakers and Mavericks combined for five game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the last minute of the fourth quarter and overtime. That is tied for the most in a single game over the last 25 seasons. The Bulls and Pacers also did so in January of 2019. What I'm saying is, if you missed last night’s game you might want to go check it out.
Luka Doncic is on the shelf for a few games with a sprained left ankle, which has opened the door for Jalen Brunson to start, and step into more of a primary scoring role in Dallas. On Wednesday, he relished in that role as he led all scorers with 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting (2-of-4 3-pointers) and added a game-high nine assists with three rebounds, and two turnovers. Brunson is averaging 19 points per game with 8.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and just 1.5 turnovers per game in his last two starts. Luka Doncic is expected to miss a few more games, so if Brunson is available, be sure to grab him if you can. He is currently available in 33% of Yahoo! leagues, which is amazing if you are in one of those leagues.
The Cavaliers are arguably playing the best basketball in the NBA right now, as they have won five straight games, and they have done so by a combined 100 points. For those who aren’t mathematicians, that means they are smoking people, as they have won their last five games by an average of 20 points per game. The plus-100 point differential is the highest for the Cavaliers over a five-game span since December 2008 when LeBron James, or King James as most know him as, donned the Cavaliers uniform.
The Cavaliers ran into a shorthanded Houston team on Wednesday, who came in having won eight of their last ten games, despite being without their starting backcourt of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green for the large majority of this stretch. The Rockets were also without Christian Wood on Wednesday due to left knee tendinitis, and they will likely be without him again on Thursday against the Knicks, according to head coach Stephen Silas. Rookie big man Alperen Sengun stepped up in his absence scoring 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting (5-of-6 free throws) and grabbing 11 rebounds with five assists, two steals, and one block in 28 minutes off the bench. His per-minute numbers were through the roof on Wednesday, as they have been all season, and the Rockets have grown more comfortable playing Sengun with Wood, which bodes well for Sengun’s long-term value. Sengun is only rostered in 57% of Yahoo! Leagues, so if he is available in your league, he is certainly worth a look.
On a night where the Lakers-Mavericks game was historically good down the stretch, how could another game possibly have a better finish? Well if you haven’t seen this sequence from Gilgeous-Alexander and Devonte’ Graham, go ahead and treat yourself to one of the wildest finishes in NBA history. Graham’s 61-foot buzzer-beater was the longest game-winning buzzer-beater in the last 25 years. This was also the first game in the last 25 years that featured multiple game-tying or go-ahead field goals from 30+ feet in the final five seconds of a game. So the finish to this game could quite possibly have been the wildest in the history of the league, and if it isn’t it is surely up there with the best of them.
Aside from the madness and crazy shots, Gilgeous-Alexander had himself a great game, scoring 33 points on 10-of-25 shooting (9-of-9 free throws) with four triples, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block in 37 minutes. He was just outdone by Brandon Ingram, who scored 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting (11-of-15 free throws) with one triple, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two turnovers as the Pelicans earned a 113-110 victory. Both SGA and Ingram started slow this season, but they are trending in the right direction, so if you have them just hope that this continues consistently.
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Gabe Vincent has a big night as shorthanded Heat beat the Sixers
The Heat were without Bam Adebayo (thumb), Jimmy Butler (tailbone), Tyler Herro (quad), and Caleb Martin (medical protocols) on Wednesday. In the most Miami Heat way ever though, they still found a way to win as they got contributions from a few different unsung heroes on Wednesday. P.J. Tucker scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting with four rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block, while Dewayne Dedmon chipped in a double-double with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting and 14 rebounds with five assists and two steals in 32 minutes.
But perhaps the biggest star of the night was Gabe Vincent, who scored a career-high 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting and drilled seven three-pointers, which was also a career-high, to go with three assists, two rebounds, and one block in 35 minutes. Vincent is not a long-term option because Butler and Herro will eventually return to the lineup, but he is certainly worth a look as a streamer while they remain out.
Bucks supporting cast comes up big without Giannis and Middleton on Wednesday
Giannis Antetokounmpo entered the league's health and safety protocols on Tuesday, so he will be out for the next few Milwaukee games unless he can return consecutive negative Covid tests 24 hours apart. The Bucks were also without Khris Middleton, who was put Wednesday due to a left knee hyperextension, but Milwaukee doesn’t believe the injury is serious, so they hope to get him back soon. With their two leading scorers out, the Bucks got some big contributions from Jrue Holiday, Pat Connaughton, Jordan Nwora, and Bobby Portis, and earned a 114-99 win over Indiana on Wednesday.
Jrue Holiday led the way on Wednesday with 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting and added 14 assists, four rebounds, one assist, one triple, and just two turnovers in 33 minutes. Portis added 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting (2-of-3 3-pointers) and grabbed nine rebounds with three assists, and one steal. With Antetokounmpo and Middleton out, Jordan Nwora, and Pat Connaughton slid into the starting lineup and both had great games. Nwora scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds with one assist, three steals, and one block in 27 minutes while Connaughton put up 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting with four triples, and two rebounds. Holiday and Porter should be rostered everywhere, while Connaughton and Nwora could be streaming options for as long as the Bucks are without their two leading scorers. Connaughton would be the better option of the two.
Terrence Ross fills it up again, Magic lose to Hawks
Terrence Ross has been on a tear recently and he kept that same energy on Wednesday night against Atlanta. Ross came off the bench and scored 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting (4-of-5 free throws) and added eight assists, seven rebounds, one steal, and one block with four turnovers, but the Magic lost to the Hawks 111-99. The eight assists and seven rebounds were both season-highs for Ross, who typically doesn’t offer great value in those departments. Over his last four games, Ross is now averaging 18.0 points on 40.4% shooting from the floor (26.1% 3-pointers) with 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 triples per game. Ross has provided sixth-round value in 9-cat formats over the last two weeks, and there is no reason to believe that it can’t continue, for the time being, so he is certainly worth a look as a streamer.
The Clippers entered Wednesday having won four games in a row, three of which were without Paul George (sprained elbow), and one of those three was over Phoenix. So needless to say, they had been playing some great basketball. Morris had been a big reason for the recent success, as he has stepped up big time with George on the sidelines. On Wednesday, Morris put up 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting (2-of-6 3-pointers) and added eight rebounds, one assist, and two turnovers in 32 minutes, but the Clippers lost to the Jazz 1240-103.
Morris has now scored at least 17 points in six of his last seven games, and five of those have been 20-plus-point performances. Morris is providing eighth-round value in the last two weeks, so he is worth a look, especially while PG13 and Nicolas Batum (ankle) are on the sidelines.
The Grizzlies ran into a sleeping Portland team on Wednesday, and they held no prisoners as they handed the Blazers their seventh straight loss with a 113-103 triumph in Portland. Memphis got big nights out of Desmond Bane and Dillion Brooks on Wednesday, and they also got a double-double from Steven Adams in the win. Bane led the way with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting (5-of-8 3-pointers) to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and no turnovers in 30 minutes. Brooks added 22 points on 6-of-16 shooting (8-of-10 free throws) with seven rebounds, six assists, two triples, and three turnovers in 37 minutes. Adams chipped in 10 points with 14 rebounds, two assists, and three steals.
Memphis has now won nine of their last ten games and has posted the best net rating and defensive rating in this span. This has all occurred without Ja Morant, who has been on the sidelines due to a knee sprain and then having to enter the league’s health and safety protocols. While Morant is out, Brooks and Bane should continue to shoulder the load offensively, and even when he comes back, both should still be heavily involved in the offense. The fact that Bane and Brooks are only rostered in 77% and 74% of Yahoo! leagues respectively remains a mystery.