Monday in the NBA began with a second head coaching change, as the Hawks announced that they were parting ways with Lloyd Pierce. Nate McMillan will take over as interim head coach, a role he filled earlier this season as Pierce was away from the team for two games in order to be present for the birth of his second child. Below is a look at what happened in the NBA on Monday, beginning with the Hawks’ head coaching change.
Mavericks 130, Magic 124
76ers 130, Pacers 114
Nuggets 118, Bulls 112
Pelicans 129, Jazz 124
Nets 124, Spurs 113 (OT)
Cavaliers 101, Rockets 90
Trail Blazers 123, Hornets 111
Hawks fire Lloyd Pierce: One week after the Timberwolves made the decision to fire Ryan Saunders, Atlanta did the same with Lloyd Pierce. The Hawks were expected to be a playoff time, but after a hot start to the season the team has struggled. A big reason for this has been injuries, as the team’s full rotation has been together for just one game this season. And in that game Danilo Gallinari went down with an ankle injury. When a team struggles, it’s the head coach who ultimately takes the fall. There were some questions as to whether or not Nate McMillan would replace Pierce on an interim basis, but he did accept the team’s offer Monday night.
In his most recent head coaching job, McMillan led the Pacers to five straight playoff appearances. While stout defensively, there were issues on the other end, especially during the postseason. With Trae Young firmly entrenched as the team’s key building block, the question worth asking right now is what will happen with John Collins. He’s in the final year of his contract, and should fetch some very good offers in free agency. Will the Hawks take their chances on working out a deal with Collins during the offseason? Or will they entertain the possibility of trading him before the March 25 deadline?
Harden makes history in San Antonio: One game before he makes his return to Houston, James Harden made history in the Nets’ overtime win over the Spurs. In 44 minutes he accounted for 30 points, 14 rebounds, 15 assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, which feels like a routine night for The Beard. But he did all of this without committing a single turnover, becoming the first player in league history to post a 30/10/15 line with no turnovers. Kyrie Irving got in on the fun, not committing a turnover while posting a 27/6/7/1 block line with six 3-pointers. With Harden, Irving and Kevin Durant, who’s still out with a hamstring injury, the Nets have three players providing first-round value regardless of league format.
Keep an eye on Bruce Brown, especially as a streaming option for Wednesday’s action. Rostered in 20% of Yahoo leagues, he’s providing 5th-round value in 9-cat over the last two weeks and finished Monday’s win with 23 points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. DeAndre Jordan (8/13/5/3 blocks) had a good night protecting the paint, while Nicolas Claxton (17/3/1/1/3) shot 7-of-9 from the field and posted a full line in just 17 minutes off the bench. Wouldn’t label him a must-add right now, but with Claxton providing top-75 value over the last week he’s worth the gamble in deep leagues.
Bulls have no answer for Jokic: With Sunday’s game against the Raptors having been postponed due to Toronto not having enough available players, the Bulls did not have to play a back-to-back. Unfortunately for Billy Donovan’s team, they did have to figure out a way in which to slow down Nuggets center Nikola Jokic Monday night. And like many teams before them, the Bulls failed to do so. Jokic finished Monday’s win with 39 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, one steal and two blocks in 38 minutes, shooting 17-of-28 from the field and 5-of-5 from the foul line. Following the game, Bulls guard Coby White (20/10/3 with two 3-pointers in 37 minutes) really didn’t have an answer for how Chicago could have defended the MVP candidate.
"You can’t double him because he’s such a great passer and their team has a lot of great cutters,” White said. “And one-on-one he’s a monster. So you know, I really don’t know. I wish, I don’t know. I wish I could tell you but, I mean…"
Jamal Murray (24/2/3/1 block with four 3-pointers) and Michael Porter Jr. (17/15/1/1/1 with two 3-pointers) also played well for Denver, with the latter establishing a new career-high in rebounds. A gifted scorer, Porter Jr. seems to be rounding into form when it comes to being a complete player. Not only will that help Denver in the long run, but it will also do wonders for his fantasy value. At this rate, don’t be surprised if he eventually cracks the top-50 and stays there.
Vlatko Cancar played 20 minutes off the bench, chipping in with eight points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer. However, while plus/minus isn’t a fantasy category, he was a minus-16 on the night. RJ Hampton (health and safety protocols) being ruled out freed up minutes for Cancar, but there’s no need to even consider picking him up.
Scott replaces Korkmaz in starting five: With Tobias Harris still sidelined due to a right knee injury, Doc Rivers made another change to his starting lineup. Furkan Korkmaz, who struggled in Saturday’s loss to the Cavaliers, returned to the bench with Mike Scott getting the call for Monday’s game against the Pacers. And both played well in the Philadelphia victory. Scott shot 4-of-4 from the field in his 25 minutes, finishing with 11 points, four rebounds, four steals and three 3-pointers, while Korkmaz shot 6-of-13 from three and tallied 19 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks in 23 minutes. Neither is providing great fantasy value for the season, but both Scott and Korkmaz are worthwhile streaming options with Harris sidelined.
Shake Milton (26/4/4 with three 3-pointers) had a big night off the bench, surpassing the 20-point mark for the first time since January 16. Rostered in 16% of Yahoo leagues, overall Milton has proven to be a better option in deep leagues than in standard ones. But he is more than capable of having a big night like he did on Monday. And Joel Embiid provided more of the usual, accounting for 24 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, one block and one 3-pointer in just 27 minutes. So long as he stays healthy, Embiid will continue to figure prominently in the MVP conversation.
Pacers play without Lamb (knee), lose McDermott: Indiana, coming off of a tough loss in New York, saw its losing streak extended to four in a row and the team was once again shorthanded. Malcolm Brogdon, who sat out Saturday’s game due to a sore knee, was able to play and posted a line of 20 points, four rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes. His return moved T.J. McConnell back to the bench, with the reserve point guard accounting for seven points, five rebounds and five assists. He didn’t have any steals in the loss, but McConnell remains a good choice for fantasy managers in need of assists and steals on most nights.
Indiana played Monday’s game without Jeremy Lamb, who was out due to a sore left knee. The concern here is that it’s the same knee that was operated on last season after he tore his ACL, but the issue didn’t sound too serious based upon Monday’s injury reports. And Doug McDermott (9/3/1 with one 3-pointer in 21 minutes) can be added to the injury list, as he suffered a chipped tooth during the third quarter and did not return. McDermott is still rostered in 13% of Yahoo leagues, but he simply isn’t bringing enough to the table to justify holding onto him in standard leagues.
McDermott and Lamb’s injuries freed up additional minutes for Edmond Sumner, who in 28 points put up 18 points, three rebounds, two steals and one 3-pointer. With the Pacers scheduled to play both Wednesday and Thursday, he should be on your radar as a streaming option, especially if Lamb has to miss another game.
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Sexton, Garland banged up during win: Cleveland has been on a bit of a roll lately, with Monday’s win over the Rockets being the team’s fourth in a row. Collin Sexton had one of his best games of the season, accounting for 39 points (12-of-20 FGs, 11-of-15 FTs), three rebounds, eight assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 42 minutes of action. He was also responsible for six turnovers, but the overall line more than covers for that. Sexton, who has scored 20 points or more in nine straight, also suffered a bloody lip that required a couple stitches during the halftime break. But neither that nor the Rockets defense could keep him from going off in Houston.
“He was not going to let us lose,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Sexton. “They do make it tough on you because they have some good individual defenders and they switch with length and it turns into where you have to beat your man. Collin has the ability to beat his man. He was awesome for us tonight.”
Sexton’s issue as far as fantasy value is concerned have been the turnovers and the lack of consistent production outside of points and assists. He sits just outside of the top-100 in 9-cat formats for the season, but over the last week he is providing 6th-round value. He’s a player who could, with better rebounding and turnover numbers, could vault into the top-50 during the second half.
Also of note for Cleveland in Monday’s win was the groin injury suffered by Darius Garland. He was able to play 30 minutes, posting a line of 14 points, three rebounds, seven assists, three steals and five turnovers, but the Cavs’ starting point guard did not look comfortable while on the court. Cleveland has one more game before the break (Wednesday vs. Indiana), so keep an eye on the injury report. Jarrett Allen (10/15/1/1 block) extended his run of double-doubles to nine straight, and his odds of cracking the top-50 and staying there are far better than Sexton’s.
Shorthanded Rockets lose again: Houston’s losing streak hit 12 games Monday night, even with John Wall playing on consecutive nights and Victor Oladipo returning after being held out of Sunday’s defeat. Wall scored a season-high 32 points, shooting 11-of-24 from the field and 9-of-12 from the foul line. Houston’s starting point guard also recorded three rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer, playing 40 minutes on the night. Fired up after Sunday’s blowout loss to the Grizzlies, I’d expect more of the same from Wall Wednesday night when James Harden returns to Houston for the first time since the trade.
Oladipo had a rougher night than Wall, as he shot 8-of-21 from the field and turned the ball over six times. He ultimately finished with 20 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 41 minutes, so at least Oladipo posted a full stat line to help make up for the poor shooting and turnovers. Until Christian Wood is cleared to return, Oladipo will be Houston’s best player as far as fantasy value is concerned. But as the team continues to struggle, Rockets GM Rafael Stone will have a decision to make with Oladipo set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The former All-Star guard did offer some clarity on the recent report that he turned down a two-year extension, saying that this happened a while back with the Rockets understanding that Oladipo will hit the open market.
Houston played Monday’s game without Eric Gordon and David Nwaba, who sat due to knee and wrist injuries. And they took another hit during the game, as Danuel House left after just 11 minutes due to a knee injury. Those absences meant more minutes for Jae'Sean Tate (5/4/2/1 with one 3-pointer) and Sterling Brown (8/5/2 steals with two 3-pointers), who played 30 and 31 minutes, respectively. Neither played particularly well Monday night, but Tate is still providing 12th-round value in 9-cat formats. He’s a player whose fantasy value could increase during the second half if Houston continues to struggle.
Rotation change paying off for Poeltl: Even with LaMarcus Aldridge returning to action on Wednesday following a lengthy absence due to injury, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has stayed with Jakob Poeltl as his starting center. And he continues to be productive, finishing Monday’s loss to the Nets with 14 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 36 minutes. Over the last month Poeltl, who’s rostered in 52% of Yahoo leagues, is providing 6th-round value in 9-cat formats. Aldridge, on the other hand, struggled mightily Monday night, missing all three of his field goal attempts and finishing with two points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
San Antonio has two games remaining before the break, so I’d wait on making a decision when it comes to Aldridge. But given Poeltl’s performances, the starting center job may remain his when the second half begins. And that would have a negative impact on Aldridge’s fantasy value.
DeMar DeRozan (22/6/11) posted another double-double, and even with the lack of production from three he remains a top-50 player in both 8- and 9-cat formats. Dejounte Murray (19/6/8 with one 3-pointer) and Lonnie Walker (19/4/4/1/2 with five 3-pointers) also had good nights, with the latter’s fantasy value being boosted in the short-term by the absences of Derrick White, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell (health and safety protocols). Rostered in 14% of Yahoo leagues, Walker is worth picking up for San Antonio’s final two games of the first half.
Brunson keeps on rolling in Dallas: Of course Luka Doncic was the star in the Mavericks’ win over the Magic in Orlando, posting a line of 33 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and five 3-pointers. But Jalen Brunson’s play off the bench should not be overlooked. In 29 minutes, he accounted for 24 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal and three 3-pointers, shooting 9-of-13 from the field and 3-of-5 from the foul line. Brunson has scored 11 points or more in eight straight games, matching the longest such streak of his career to date.
Rostered in 25% of Yahoo leagues, over the last two weeks Brunson has provided 6th-round value in 9-cat formats. He can be a tough sell due to the presence of Doncic, but Brunson’s on a heater right now and fantasy managers would be wise to grab him ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Thunder. Kristaps Porzingis (17/10/3/1/1 with three 3-pointers) shot 5-of-15 from the field but produced a decent overall line, while Maxi Kleber (13/6/1/3/2 with three 3-pointers) put up a full line and hit double figures for the first time since February 6.
Nikola Vucevic (29/15/8 with five 3-pointers) and Evan Fournier (26/5/2 with five 3-pointers) led the way for Orlando, while Michael Carter-Williams (18/8/6/1 with one 3-pointer) had one of his best outings since returning from the foot injury that kept him sidelined for more than a month earlier this season.
Carmelo outlast LaMelo in Portland: One night removed from its improbable comeback in Sacramento, Charlotte was back in action and once again without the injured Gordon Hayward and Cody Zeller. Cody Martin (8/9/2/2) and Bismack Biyombo (6/5/3/1 block) filled the resulting voids in the starting lineup, with the former moving Jalen McDaniels to the bench. And with Caleb Martin (11/5/1 with three 3-pointers) playing 23 minutes, McDaniels (5/3/1 with one 3-pointer in nine minutes) fell to the back end of the rotation. The Martin twins are worth considering for Wednesday’s action, as the Hornets will complete their first-half schedule with a game against the struggling Timberwolves.
Malik Monk (19/2/2 with three 3-pointers) continues to produce off the bench, helping to fill the scoring void left by Hayward and Devonte' Graham. It’s going to be very hard for James Borrego to not make sure that Monk continues to get quality run once Graham is cleared to return. Rostered in 41% of Yahoo leagues, Monk is providing late-round value in both 8- and 9-cat formats over the last month.
Monday’s game was a battle of the “Melos,” and both played well. LaMelo Ball scored a game-high 30 points, shooting 10-of-18 from the field and 5-of-6 form the foul line, while also accounting for six rebounds, eight assists, four steals, one block and five 3-pointers in 32 minutes of action. Carmelo Anthony wasn’t too shabby on the other side, turning back the clock and scoring 29 points with three rebounds, two assists, five steals, two blocks and six 3-pointers while shooting 10-of-19 from the field and 3-of-3 from the foul line.
Over the last month Anthony has provided top-100 value regardless of league format, doing more than many expected of him before the season began. And Robert Covington also had a good night, tallying 21 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks and five 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Over the last month, RoCo has been a top-50 player.
Lonzo continues to knock down shots: LaMelo wasn’t the only member of the Ball family who had a good night, as Lonzo Ball continued to shoot the ball well during Monday’s win over the Jazz. Making nine of his 16 field goal attempts, Ball finished the game with 23 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers without committing a turnover. Over his last 10 games, Ball is shooting 45.3% from the field and 44.0% from three, with averages of 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks per. An improved shooter since the start of the season, Ball has been even better in recent games, and sits just outside of the top-50 in 9-cat formats.
Zion Williamson (26/10/5/1) and Brandon Ingram (26/4/5/1 block) also had good nights, while Josh Hart (13/7/1/1/1) chipped in with another full stat line. Hart’s rostered in 37% of Yahoo leagues, and I’d argue that the percentage is too low based upon what he brings to the table. New Orleans has two games left to play before the break, and with Stan Van Gundy using an eight-man rotation this would be a good time to pick Hart up if he’s available. J.J. Redick scored 17 points, shooting 5-of-8 from the field, with two rebounds and three 3-pointers in 20 minutes. His name is one to watch ahead of the trade deadline, especially for contenders in need of a consistent perimeter shooter.
For the Jazz, Bojan Bogdanovic (31/7/1/3 with seven 3-pointers) fell one triple shy of his career-high, while Rudy Gobert (22/9/1/1/5) just missed out on another double-double. Bogdanovic is 16-of-32 from three in Utah’s last four games, a big reason why he’s been a top-50 player over the last week.