Silly Season is upon us, in full force: Josh Jackson had a career night, Luke Kornet scored a career-high 24, Evan Turner triple-doubled, Salah Mejri double-doubled, and Goran Dragic had a season-high 30. Oh, and the Knicks, Mavericks and Suns all won their games. Don’t you just love trying to figure things out at this time of the year?
Suns 122, Cavaliers 113 – Both Richaun Holmes and Dragan Bender started and double-doubled, which is just bizarre. Devin Booker also double-doubled with 25 points and 13 assists, and Josh Jackson came off the bench for 19 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, a career-high five blocks and two 3-pointers, notching the fourth double-double of the night for the Suns. They got their 18th win of the season and ended a six-game losing streak, and Jackson won a lot of people money on Fanduel last night with one of his best games ever. And I don’t trust Bender, even with Deandre Ayton (ankle) sitting out. Maybe Ayton will play Wednesday, and maybe he won’t.
The Cavaliers were led by Collin Sexton’s 21 points, Jordan Clarkson had 20 off the bench, Tristan Thompson had 15 points and five boards in another start, Ante Zizic had 15 points, seven boards and a block in just 14 minutes, and Brandon Knight added 10 points in a start. Larry Nance Jr. had nine points, 12 rebounds and two steals in the start, while Cedi Osman (3 points on 1-of-12 shooting) laid a fantasy egg at the worst possible time. He’ll bounce back, but the 19-59 Cavs have no interest in winning any more games. As long as Kevin Love is out with his shoulder injury, Nance and Thompson should keep getting numbers.
Pacers 111, Pistons 102 – The Pacers didn’t have any silly-season miracles, but Domantas Sabonis double-doubled off the bench, and Doug McDermott and Aaron Holiday both scored in double figures. Otherwise, it was business as usual for Indy, who was dealing with a minor snowstorm, cold temps and a fight for playoff position. The Pacers, who have lost seven of their last eight games, snapped a three-game losing streak with a huge win over the Pistons, and sit tied with Boston, currently holding down the No. 5 seed in the East.
For the Pistons, Blake Griffin sat this one out with a sore left knee, and Luke Kennard was out with a sore right foot. That allowed Andre Drummond, perhaps the most underrated center in the league, to go off for 18 points, 17 rebounds, five dimes and four steals, and starter Reggie Jackson had 22 points, six boards and four assists. Jackson’s playing so well that Ish Smith has actually become an afterthought this season. Perhaps the surprise of the night was Wayne Ellington going crazy with 26 points and four 3-pointers on 10-of-19 shooting. He had 25 on Thursday, then seven points on Saturday, before last night’s explosion. If you used him yesterday, I applaud you. Thon Maker started for Griffin and had 14 points, six boards and four blocks in a whopping 42 minutes. Obviously, he’ll take a hit if Griffin comes back for the Pistons, who are currently the No. 6 seed, just 0.5 games up on No. 7 Brooklyn, and 1.0 games up on No. 8 seed Miami. The Pistons are still 1.5 games up on No. 9 Orlando as they cling to a playoff spot. If Griffin can play, you have to think he will going forward.
Celtics 110, Heat 105 – The Celtics held onto the No. 4 seed with the win and got big games from Kyrie Irving (sore back), Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum. Aron Baynes started and had four points, 11 rebounds and a block, but the rest of the box score is pretty brutal. Horford is likely to sit out tonight, so Baynes should be a popular play tonight. Marcus Morris has been coming off the bench and hit just 3-of-11 shots last night, so hopefully you faded him this week.
The Heat hold a 0.5 game lead over Orlando for the final playoff spot in the East, which means that guys like Goran Dragic (season-high 30, 5 steals), Bam Adebayo (19 & 14 double-double) and Dwyane Wade (17 points, 7 assists) should keep it going right up until the end. And if you took my Waiver Wired advice and rolled Dion Waiters out there this week, he had 14 points and two 3-pointers, despite hitting just 5-of-14 shots. He played 37 minutes, so if he gets hot, he’s going to put up at least one big line this week. Hassan Whiteside was frustrating for his owners, playing just 17 minutes, hitting 1-of-4 shots, and finishing with three points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Bucks 131, Nets 121 – Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a rest for 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Khris Middleton remained out with his sore groin. The Bucks say it’s a short-term injury, so Middleton should be back sooner than later. Eric Bledsoe had 29 points and all five Bucks starters (Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, Sterling Brown) scored in double digits, and George Hill somehow got hot and had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting off the bench. The Bucks 58-28 Bucks are on the verge of clinching the league’s best record and have a comfortable 3.0 game lead on No. 2 Toronto, so more rest is likely coming for Giannis and Middleton. Who saw that coming?
The Nets are currently the No 7 seed, but are only 1.0 games up on No. 9 Orlando, meaning they need to keep fighting to stay in the playoffs. D’Angelo Russell had 28 points, 10 rebounds and four 3-pointers, DeMarre Carroll had 20 and a full stat line, while Caris LeVert came off the bench for 24 points, four boards, six dimes and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes.
Knicks 113, Bulls 105 – What an appropriate silly-season matchup, right? The Knicks snapped a six-game losing streak and got their 15th win of the season over the 21-win Bulls, as Luke Kornet kept it going with 24 points, six rebounds, three blocks and five 3-pointers. The kid’s been on fire for two straight games and I actually rolled him out there in one of my leagues this week. Starters Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Emmanuel Mudiay and Damyean Dotson all played well, and those are the five Knicks you should be paying attention to right now. I’d roll any of them out there down the stretch. Dennis Smith Jr. was a late scratch after his back tightened up, so Mudiay should continue to roll. And the last time Robinson didn’t have a block was on Dec. 12. He’s blocked a shot in 34 straight games and has more blocked shots (150) than any Knicks rookie in history.
The Bulls were led by Robin Lopez’s 29 points and seven boards, Shaquille Harrison kept it going with six points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and JaKarr Sampson made his Bulls debut and went off with 22 points, tying a career high. Sampson will get minutes for the lottery-bound Bulls, and is worth a deep-league look while the Bulls play meaningless games to end their season of futility.
Raptors 121, Magic 109 – The Raptors were led by Danny Green’s 29 points (on my bench), but he went down with a thumb injury. X-rays were negative and he finished the game, but he may sit until the playoffs for the No. 2 Raptors. Kawhi Leonard actually played, but had just 15 points and a pedestrian stat line, while Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet joined him with double-digit scoring lines. Norman Powell played just 17 minuets and is only trustable if Leonard is resting, or if Green is held out with his bum thumb. Pascal Siakam had a disappointing night with six points, three boards and four dimes in 28 minutes.
For the Magic, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and D.J. Augustin were all disappointing, Nikola Vucevic had a 13 & 13 double-double, and Evan Fournier led the way with 21 points. Wes Iwundu had 16 points and a couple 3-pointers on 7-of-7 shooting, and Khem Birch had 11 points in 16 minutes. The only Magic you want to mess with are the starters, as Orlando fights for a playoff berth, currently sitting just 0.5 games back of No. 8 Miami.
Blazers 132, Timberwolves 122 – Damian Lillard and Enes Kanter double-doubled, and Rodney Hood led the way with 21 points and three 3-pointers in the win. Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless were disappointing, while Jake Layman, Seth Curry and Evan Turner all scored in double figures off the bench. Turner somehow also had 11 rebounds and 10 dimes for a triple-double, which absolutely came out of nowhere. The Blazers sit as the No. 3 seed, tied with No. 4 Houston 3.5 games behind the No. 2 Nuggets. Turner’s interesting, but I trust Seth Curry a whole lot more than I do Turner.
The Wolves got double-doubles out of Tyus Jones and Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins had 21 points and a full stat line, Dario Saric scored 13, and Josh Okogie was disappointing in another start, finishing with just nine points and not much else in his 29 minutes. Gorgui Dieng somehow had a season-high 18 points in just 16 minutes, and Jerryd Bayless added 10 points in the loss, but the Wolves worth using right now are limited to the starters – Saric, Wiggins, KAT, Jones and Okogie. Robert Covington had right knee surgery, ending his season, and hasn’t played since Dec. 31.
Mavericks 122, Sixers 102 – Luka Doncic was out with a sore right knee and thigh and he is on full shutdown alert for the tanking Mavs. Jalen Brunson had 13 points and seven assists, and is worth a look with Doncic hurting, Justin Jackson started and had 24 points, six boards, three assists and three 3-pointers. He had four points in 13 minutes on Sunday, so congratulations are in order if you somehow had him in a lineup last night. Maxi Kleber (12 points), Salah Mejri (16 & 14 double-double, two 3-pointers), and Trey Burke (16-6-5) all played well off the bench, and are all worth a look for a team going nowhere. Mejri had his game of the year, setting season highs in points, boards and 3-pointers, and somehow it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.
Joel Embiid’s shutdown watch continued as he sat out again, allowing J.J. Redick (26) and Tobias Harris (25) to lead the way in the loss. The box score is a mess and there aren’t a lot of fill-in fantasy options, even though Embiid is resting and Jimmy Butler sat out last night with a tight back. The Sixers are locked into the No. 3 seed in the East, so more rest could be coming for the starters.
Jazz 111, Hornets 102 - Donovan Mitchell (25-3-5-4 with four 3-pointers), Ricky Rubio (20 & 13 double-double), Rudy Gobert (18 & 18 double-double) and Joe Ingles (15 points) all played well, while starter Jae Crowder laid a fantasy championship egg with zero points on 0-of-6 shooting. Ouch. Thabo Sefolosha had 14 points off the bench and Derrick Favors was out with back spasms. Favors’ sitting out makes Crowder’s line an even tougher pill to swallow, but he should bounce back, especially if Favors misses more time for the No. 5 Jazz. The Jazz are 2.0 games back of the Rockets and Blazers, and just 0.5 games up on the No. 6 Clippers, so they still have position to play for.
For the Hornets, Marvin Williams and Miles Bridges combined to miss all of their nine shots, and Bridges really burned me in one of my leagues. He should bounce back, but last night’s 26 minutes were brutal. Kemba Walker went off for 47 points on 15-of-28 shooting and hit 13-of-15 free throws, Jeremy Lamb scored 23, and Willy Hernangomez kept it going with 15 points, eight boards, two steals and a block in just 21 minutes. Dwayne Bacon started, but played just five minutes, and along with Bridges, killed fantasy owners across the board. There were no reports of injury for Bacon, and Lamb is rolling again. I still think Bacon and Bridges will bounce back, but last night was a fantasy disaster for many of us.