I don’t have much to say before diving in, but if you guessed Tuesday’s POELTL player, kudos to you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go ahead and click here for your new daily obsession. Trust me.
Nets 132, Hornets 121
In a game that the Nets really needed to win after losing four straight coming in, Kyrie Irving took matters into his own hands. He finished the win with a season-high 50 points on a blistering 15-of-19 shooting (11-of-13 FTs), adding three rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block, nine 3-pointers and three turnovers in 38 minutes. It’s the third time he’s scored at least 50 points in a game as a member of the Nets and is the only one to do it multiple times, and he just stretched the margin even further on Tuesday. Now, as always, here’s the issue: Irving is only able to play in five more of the Nets’ remaining games going forward, and the only times he’ll play more than once in a week is Week 20 (this current week, March 8 and March 10) and Week 22 (third to last week of the regular season, March 23 and March 26). While he generally goes off every time he touches the floor, he’s being very limited by his vaccination status and his managers using weekly settings have a big decision to make, and I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong answer, but rather a judgment call. For what it’s worth, Kyrie in two games is better than a bunch of players in four games, but again, it’s really a situational approach and this is the frustration that those who drafted him signed up for back in October. Andre Drummond had a massive 20/14/2/1/2 line in just 24 minutes, and it clearly helped him immensely that LaMarcus Aldridge (right hip) was out, and LMA will also miss Thursday’s game against the 76ers, making Drummond more appealing for a while longer. Nic Claxton played backup center tonight and played 20 minutes for four points, two boards, one assist and one block off the bench, but Drummond is the no-brainer center option in Brooklyn. Kevin Durant took a massive backseat to Kyrie’s explosion and scored just 14 points (6-of-13 FGs) with three rebounds, seven dimes, one triple and five turnovers, but Kyrie won’t score 50 every night and KD will go back to his scoring ways in no time. Bruce Brown simply will not go away as he produced a highly efficient 14/8/5 line with three steals and no turnovers in 28 minutes, and if you thought KD’s return would totally ruin him, you’re not alone, but I advise you to browse your waiver wire to see if anyone preemptively dropped Brown, just in case. Seth Curry was quiet with nine points and three triples and has failed to score in double digits since KD’s been back, and while a drop off was expected, it’s fully affecting Seth and basically not affecting Brown at all, but Seth should be fine and he’s still playing plenty. Patty Mills scored 12 points with four triples which is all he’s good for, and Goran Dragic played 28 minutes and posted a 5/2/7 line with a couple of steals, and both guys could be a bit better in games that Kyrie misses but neither are must-have options.
The Nets were up by as many as 34 in this one, and the Hornets made a bit of a run but never came all too close. Miles Bridges was very much due for a bounce back as he scored 15 or fewer points in each of his last three games, and he did just that with a 30-piece on 11-of-19 shooting to go with three boards, three assists, one steal, three 3-pointers and five turnovers in 39 minutes. Terry Rozier matched his point total and tallied a huge 30/8/4/3/1 line on 10-of-19 shooting with five triples and only two turnovers, and he made all five of his free throws to cap off some fantasy gold. He’s been a first-rounder over the past month and is seemingly always undervalued, but anyone who’s rostered him at any point this season knows what he’s all about. LaMelo Ball is still struggling with his shot a bit as he went 9-of-22 from the field in Tuesday’s loss, but everything else looked fine as he recorded a 24/5/7 line with a pair each in the steals and treys categories, adding four giveaways in his 30 minutes. P.J. Washington was pretty quiet with a 4/8/5 line with a steal but he’s still getting minutes and is absolutely a hold, Mason Plumlee scored two points but at least had five boards, four assists, one steal and two blocks in 20 minutes and Kelly Oubre remains a solid option and went for an efficient 15 points with five boards, two steals and a 3-pointer in 22 reserve minutes. Jalen McDaniels missed his last 19 games with a left ankle sprain and finally got some action tonight, but he played just eight minutes for two points, one board and a steal and isn’t a fantasy asset at this point in the season.
Cavaliers 127, Pacers 124
The Cavs have won two straight and are still very much in the running for a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference, and Darius Garland is a big reason for that. The first time All-Star went nuts for a career-high 41 points on 14-of-26 shooting (9-of-9 FTs), also chipping in five rebounds, 13 assists, two steals, four 3-pointers and four turnovers across 37 minutes of action. He’s made a massive leap this year in all parts of his game and is the clear leader in Cleveland, and his fantasy managers are reaping the benefits as he’s cranked out top-50 value basically all season long. Evan Mobley had an absolute gem of a line consisting of 22 points on 53.3% from the field (6-of-8 freebies), 12 rebounds, three assists, a career-high five steals, one swat and no turnovers in 36 minutes. Except for the free throws, which were 8.0% higher on Tuesday compared to his season average, this has 9-cat goodness written all over it, and he’ll continue to put up bigger lines with Jarrett Allen (finger) out indefinitely. Other guys that stand to benefit without JA in the lineup include Lauri Markkanen (21/5/1/1/1), Dean Wade (10/4/1/2/1 in a start), Kevin Love (nine points, four rebounds, one triple) and Cedi Osman (scoreless in 12 minutes). Markkanen and Love should be rostered in most leagues, and this was the first time Wade has played better than Osman in quite some time, so I’m still picking up Cedi if I had to choose one. Isaac Okoro scored 11 points but only his two steals were noteworthy, and Ed Davis underwhelmed again with four points and three boards in 10 minutes and simply isn’t on the fantasy radar despite Cleveland’s starting center going down.
Tyrese Haliburton scored just 23 points in his last two contests combined but eclipsed that number in Tuesday’s loss alone. Hali went for 25 points with four rebounds, nine assists, two steals, one block, four 3-pointers and four turnovers in 39 minutes, and he shot 9-of-14 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the line and has been flirting with first-round value over the past month. The Hali hype was real, and those who aren’t believing it quite yet surely will soon enough. Malcolm Brogdon had a 12-point, 12 assist double-double with five boards in his 37 minutes, but he went just 6-of-15 from the field and had five turnovers with no defensive stats or 3-pointers, so not bad for Brogdon but could’ve been better. Isaiah Jackson needed just 22 minutes to score 12 points with eight boards, one assist, three swats and three turnovers, and one of the more important parts of his stat line is that he only committed three fouls, which has been a bit of an issue for him. He’s coexisted nicely with Jalen Smith (15 points, five rebounds, one block, two triples in 28 minutes), and for right now, both of these guys have been better than Oshae Brissett, who scored five points with four boards and nothing else and was the only active Pacer to not reach double digits in the scoring column. As for Smith, he did commit a very head-scratching foul in the final seconds of the game when the game was tied, but he’s just 21 years of age and while it affected the Pacers, it didn’t technically affect your fantasy team if you roster him. Even Goga Bitadze made some noise following a 20-point game last time out, as he posted a 15/9/3/1/1 line with two treys in only 18 minutes, but I’d like to see him do it one more time and still prefer Jackson and Smith in fantasy. Buddy Hield scored 14 points with four triples on a 116.7eFG% and added two boards, eight dimes, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 38 minutes of a start, and he just keeps chugging along and is having a lovely bounce back season with top-100 value. Chris Duarte returned from a three game absence due to a left toe injury but scored 11 pretty boring and inefficient points, and sadly I’m not sure if there’s going to be room for him to produce going forward, but he’s too talented to not keep an eye on. Duane Washington Jr. scored 15 points but added just one assist in his 19 minutes to notch his third straight game scoring in double figures, but his surrounding stats just aren’t good and Brogdon and Haliburton are playing too well. If Brogdon is shut down, maybe he’ll be back on my radar.
Suns 102, Magic 99
Devin Booker (health and safety protocols) missed his fourth straight game, but Phoenix has gone 3-1 without him and he’s expected to join his teammates in Miami ahead of Wednesday’s game, so he’s very close if not there. Deandre Ayton feasted in the narrow victory with 21 points on 10-of-19 shooting, 19 rebounds, one assist and that’s it besides his three turnovers, and I say this often, but he’d be so much more fun if he blocked some shots. The rebounding for Ayton is highly encouraging, however, as he hadn’t grabbed 10 rebounds in any of his last seven games but had 10 before the second half even started on Tuesday, so let’s hope we see more of that. Landry Shamet drained a season-high six triples for 21 points along with three boards, two assists and two turnovers in another start, and he’s looked good in his last two but the fun is nearing its end with Booker nearing a return. Cameron Payne impressed again with a 18/6/12 line with two steals, three triples and just one turnover, and while he only shot 6-of-16 from the floor, he’s a must-roster guy going forward with Chris Paul (right thumb) out for a while. Mikal Bridges struggled from the field for once with a 3-of-11 mark, but still had a nice 13/3/1/3/1 line, with his one block being an insane game-clinching swat on a 3-point attempt from Franz Wagner that drew heaps of praise from his coach and teammates. If he’s not on the NBA All-Defensive First Team, I just won’t understand. Jae Crowder broke a six-game streak scoring in double figures as he scored just seven points in the win, but he gobbled up 11 boards and dished out three assists and has been highly effective, especially lately, flirting with second-round value over the past two weeks (fourth-rounder over the past month). Aaron Holiday was fine with a 11/4/4 line in 16 minutes off the pine, but I wouldn’t call him must-roster in the majority of leagues.
Wendell Carter Jr. missed his last two games with an illness but got back to his usual stud-like ways, tallying his seventh straight double-double consisting of 20 points (8-of-14 FGs), 12 rebounds, one block and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes. As long as he stays healthy, he’s sure to wind up close to top-75 range with the way he’s been playing. Orlando players like Franz Wagner (six points) and Cole Anthony (11/3/5) that are rostered in most leagues were quiet tonight, but the quiet line from Chuma Okeke is something to talk about. He scored just six points with five boards, one assist and that’s it, but don’t cut him if you have him. WCJ returning may hurt him a little bit, but Okeke still played 26 minutes and was a third-round guy over the past month coming in thanks to his 6.2 boards, 2.4 triples, 2.3 steals and 0.7 blocks in that span as he remains one of the most quietly effective guys in all of fantasy. Mo Bamba shot 4-of-11 for just nine points with a 3-pointer, and besides his 15 boards, that was all he did, but he’s been trending up after a rough patch and there’s no reason for the team not to play the promising center. Moritz Wagner followed up Saturday’s double-double with 12 points, seven boards, one block and two 3-pointers in just 16 minutes, but the chances of him emerging as a reliable option for the remainder of the season seem quite low. R.J. Hampton started for Jalen Suggs (right ankle) for the second straight game but went for just six points with three boards, three assists, three steals and three turnovers in 24 minutes, and there’s nothing to like about that besides the steals and he was even worse in his start on Saturday, so you can disregard.
Grizzlies 132, Pelicans 111
Here come the blowouts. The Grizzlies recently jumped past the Warriors for the second seed in the Western Conference, and if they keep winning like they have, they could very well wind up there. Because of the final score, there wasn’t anything crazy happening on Memphis’ side, and they’re one of the easier teams to read in terms of fantasy hoops. Ja Morant led the team in scoring and even flirted with a triple-double in just 27 minutes, managing a line of 24 points (8-of-13 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs), eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals, one block, two 3-pointers and two turnovers. Jaren Jackson Jr. struggled a bit in his previous two but got right back on track on Tuesday, scoring 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting (6-of-6 from the line) to go along with three boards, one steal, three blocks, two 3-pointers and zero turnovers in 24 minutes, with an uptick in efficiency in any way being capable of moving him into third or second-round conversation, as we know. Desmond Bane scored 22 points of his own on 8-of-17 shooting with five more triples, five boards, six dimes and only one turnover in his 26 minutes, and the Most Improved Player candidate has now averaged 24.7 points and 4.0 triples on 53.7% from the field over his last three. Beast. Steven Adams followed up his massive line on Sunday with a lackluster 4/5/3 line with a steal despite playing more minutes than all the starters (29), but that’s what’s been happening with him all season -- following up big lines with not-so-big ones. Ziaire Williams rounded out the starting five with 16 points, six boards, one assist, a pair of threes and one giant water jug in his 22 minutes, and he’ll be a fantasy guy one day but today is not that day. Brandon Clarke (14/5/2 in 14 minutes) and De’Anthony Melton (14/4/2 with four triples and a steal in 19 minutes) reached double figures off the bench, and going forward, I’d categorize the Grizzlies as follows: always start Ja, JJJ and Bane, and start Adams, Clarke and Melton most of the time.
The Pelicans need to start winning more games to stay in the play-in conversation (currently the 10th seed), but they’ve now lost two straight after winning four in a row before that. CJ McCollum looked like he was on his way to a masterpiece with 16 first-quarter points but finished with exactly double that with 32 points (13-of-21 FGs), six rebounds, 11 assists, five 3-pointers and three turnovers in 31 minutes. Obviously this will do, but he was on pace to score 64, just saying. CJ did a little more stuff on this occasion due to the absence of Brandon Ingram (right hamstring soreness), and we should see more of the same if Ingram needs to miss more time. The rest of the box score was a big mess, as reserves Naji Marshall (16 points, two boards, one steal) and Willy Hernangomez (17 points, nine rebounds, one steal) both outplayed starters Jonas Valanciunas (10/2/1) and Jaxson Hayes (two points, three boards). The lopsided score allowed the two bench guys to play 20 more combined minutes than the starters (55 vs. 35), but there’s no need to consider either one. Jaxson Hayes has been droppable for three straight games now, but he’s getting the minutes (Tuesday excluded) and has all the opportunity in the world to turn it around. If he stays his subpar for another game or two, however, I might change my mind. Devonte’ Graham posted a 12/3/5 line with four triples in 24 minutes off the bench, but he’s just inside the top-250 over hte past month and has been waiver-wire material for a while now, while Herb Jones was alright with a 10/4/2 line with a steal and is still a hold going forward. Jose Alvarado showed out with a 5/3/4/4/1 effort, and the steals are generally there but he’s not doing much else because of the low playing time (20 minutes on Tuesday, but fewer than 20 in his eight games before this).
Bucks 142, Thunder 115
Sorry, the blowouts are still coming. The Bucks are cruising along and got their fifth straight victory over the tanking Thunder, and who else but Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 39 points (13-of-19 FGs, 9-of-13 FTs), seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals, one block, four 3-pointers and just one turnover in only 28 minutes. Even more impressively, the Greek Freak drained all four of his 3-point attempts to mark the most threes he’s made in a game without a miss, and there was no one on Oklahoma City’s side that could stop him. Bobby Portis followed up a single-digit effort on Sunday with a full and efficient 18/14/2/2/1 showing with two triples and just one turnover, and Khris Middleton dished out nine dimes with his 25 points (9-of-17 FGs), two boards and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes. Jordan Nwora got the start for Grayson Allen (left hip soreness) and looked decent with 11 points, seven rebounds, three assist and one 3-pointer, but he shot 5-of-13 from the field and didn’t have any steals or blocks, unfortunately, but he’ll be worth a look if Allen misses more time. Jrue Holiday was fine with a 50% shooting clip and a 13/4/6 line with three steals and a trey in 29 minutes, and Serge Ibaka (14 points, seven boards, two swats) and Jevon Carter (12/3/4 with two steals and four 3-pointers) both played well in reserve roles but I’m not buying it.
It was announced earlier on Tuesday that Lu Dort (left shoulder), Mike Muscala (right ankle) and Ty Jerome (left hip) will all be out for the remainder of the season, and while Muscala and Jerome shouldn’t be on the majority of rosters, Dort is a safe drop. Dort and Josh Giddey’s (right hip) absences paved the way for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to go off yet again in the ugly loss, and he’s on an incredible run right now. SGA had a massive stat line including 33 points (11-of-18 FGs, 8-of-12 FTs), eight rebounds, a career-high 14 assists, three steals, one block, three 3-pointers and five turnovers in his 35 minutes of action, and he’s now scored at least 32 points in all but one of seven games since the All-Star break (had 29 in the other). Because of this and the uptick in counting stats, he’s flirted with first-round value over the past two weeks and could be in that range when you wake up in the morning. Please don’t shut him down, OKC. Isaiah Roby missed the last game with back soreness but suited up and started this one, scoring 12 points with three boards, two dimes, one block, one 3-pointer and no turnovers in his 36 minutes. This was a far cry from his two explosions before his absence on Sunday, but if he’s starting and getting the minutes, I’m very interested. Darius Bazley tallied just nine points, five rebounds, one assist and one block in his 22 minutes and is still hard to gauge at times, but that trio of guys not able to play again this season is sure to help him. Tre Mann also gets a bump but he’s really just a points and maybe triples guy as he scored 11 points with just two rebounds, one steal and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes in the starting lineup, while Aaron Wiggins started as well but scored eight points with five boards, two treys and nothing else and isn’t suited for fantasy by any means. Aleksej Pokusevski came off the bench with Roby back and posted a 13/7/4 line and I’m definitely holding onto him no matter how he enters the game, while rookie Lindy Waters III had a random career-high 16 points with four triples (also a career high), three boards and steal in 25 minutes. If he somehow emerges as a relevant fantasy option, I may have seen it all.
Warriors 112, Clippers 97
I really did think this game was going to be competitive, but here we are at our third straight blowout (the Clips won the fourth quarter by 10 points). The Warriors were facing a five-game losing streak and needed this win in the worst way, especially after resting their main guys in a loss to the Nuggets a night prior, and they’re now chasing the second-seed Grizzlies and trying to keep the fourth-seed Jazz away in the West. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga had one of his best games yet with a team-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting (5-of-6 FTs), six rebounds, six assists and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes off the bench. The eventual return of Draymond Green is apt to hurt him, but he’s proven that he’s more than capable of contributing on a good team and will still get his minutes. Jordan Poole has been on an absolute heater and followed up his 32-point showing just a night prior with 20 more points (8-of-13 FGs) to give him his fourth straight 20-point game, and he added three rebounds, four assists, two steals, four 3-pointers and three turnovers to his portion of the box score. Klay Thompson was active in three of those as well, so keep holding onto him. Klay, who didn’t play last night, joined the 20-point party himself with exactly that many, but he struggled with his shot via a 9-of-23 clip and added five rebounds, one assist, two blocks and two 3-pointers to his stat line. Stephen Curry also missed his last game and wasn’t great in this one as he took just 12 shots and made five of them for a 15/5/5 line with three steals, one 3-pointer and four turnovers. Andrew Wiggins, you guessed it, didn’t play on Monday and notched his 16th career double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, two 3-pointers and five turnovers in 31 minutes. Moses Moody followed up his career night with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, one trey and one turnover, and it’s encouraging that he made it through 30 minutes of action with all the main guys active. Plus, Steve Kerr said after Monday’s game that “[h]e’s a keeper. He’s a guy who’s going to be a cornerstone for this team for a long time to come. It’s easy to see that right now in his rookie year.” Finally, Kevon Looney posted a 7/6/6 line with a steal and you may get some deep-league value from him until Draymond comes back, but he’s not too exciting.
While this isn’t a huge update, Kawhi Leonard was seen getting some shots up hours before tip-off on Tuesday, and he looked great, but he’s still not cleared for contact and I’m not stashing him at this point. However, if he’s somehow fully up to speed in five weeks when the playoffs begin, I wouldn’t want to face them in the first round, especially if Paul George (elbow) returns in time as well. For the sake of Tuesday’s game, the Clippers’ side was a mess, but maybe we’ll finally get some more clarity with their rotation/wing situation with Robert Covington (personal reasons) possibly missing some time (Ty Lue said he’s not sure how long he’ll be out). This wasn’t the game to make any decisions off of, however, as the high scorer for the Clips was Nicolas Batum, who matched his point total from the last three combined with 17 points (6-of-11 FGs, 2-of-5 FTs), also adding six rebounds, one assist, two steals and three triples in a 27 minutes. He was really brutal coming in so he’s not an add, but he’s known to be quietly productive so let’s see if RoCo’s absence affects him positively going forward. Marcus Morris Sr., Isaiah Hartenstein, Rodney Hood, Luke Kennard and Brandon Boston Jr. all scored either 10 of 11 points, with Hartenstein’s line (10/6/4/2/1) definitely being the most well-rounded of them all, and the only other stat worth mentioning among these guys is Boston Jr.’s two steals. Terance Mann and Reggie Jackson were both pretty bad as they combined to shoot 4-of-23 from the field for 12 points, and while Jackson had seven dimes and Mann had seven boards and a swat, that’s about it. Most of these guys should fare better for Wednesday’s game against the Wizards, but double check to make sure none of them are resting as it’s the second night of a back-to-back set.