Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve almost made it. The final week of the NBA season is upon us, and since there were no games on Monday, I’ll preview a massive Tuesday that has 12 games lined up. For all the college hoops fans, I hope you enjoyed the NCAA men’s basketball championship game, and congratulations to the Jayhawks for coming out on top. But now, all of our focus should be shifted to the last six days of the NBA regular season. Some schedule notes, injury updates and more below.
Teams with three games this week (14 teams):
Celtics, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Heat, Timberwolves, Knicks, Magic, Kings
Teams with four games this week (16 teams): Hawks, Nets, Hornets, Bulls, Lakers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Pelicans, Thunder, 76ers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
It’s nearly a 50/50 split between teams who play three games versus those who play four, and if you’re in a head-to-head fantasy league that’s fighting until the very end, this is mostly for you. Best of luck to all of you, especially for being brave enough to extend your league this late into the season with all the rest, uncertainty and more to have to worry about.
Cavaliers @ Magic
Cleveland has been struggling quite a bit lately, including dropping four of their last six games, but it’s not all too surprising given they’ve been without Jarrett Allen (finger) since March 6 and haven’t had Evan Mobley (ankle) in any of their last four games. Both guys are out on Tuesday as well, and while it’s possible the Cavs could creep back in to the playoff picture as opposed to the play-in conversation, they’ll need to win and have the Raptors and Bulls (both 2.5 games ahead of Cleveland) lose more often than not. Moses Brown has been the new starting center for Cleveland and has double-doubled in two of his last four, and was just one total point and one total rebound away from double-doubling in four straight, so give him a look if you need some boards. In regards to Allen, Joe Vardon of The Athletic recently reported that it’s now a matter of “if” not “when” he’ll be able to return, so fantasy managers can officially move on if they haven’t yet. The Magic have already listed Wendell Carter Jr. (wrist) as out, with Jalen Suggs (ankle), Franz Wagner (ankle) and Cole Anthony (toe) all questionable. Don’t be surprised if all of these guys take the night off while Orlando tries harder to lose than they do to win.
Pacers @ 76ers
Pacers rookie Chris Duarte (toe) has been ruled out for the season, to no one’s surprise, while Malcolm Brogdon (back), Goga Bitadze (foot) and T.J. McConnell (wrist) are all questionable. It doesn’t seem like there’s any shot Brogdon plays, while Goga could be a true game-time decision after only playing nine minutes on Sunday. Isaiah Jackson went nuts with Goga barely playing, so expect more of the same if that sticks. McConnell is a great dimes and steals guy, but he hasn’t played since December 1 and I don’t see why the team would play him at this point. If he does make a surprise appearance, the minutes won’t be high at all and he won’t move the needle in fantasy leagues. Philly is three full games ahead of the aforementioned Raptors and Bulls in the No. 4 spot in the East and are tied record-wise with the Bucks, who hold the tiebreaker. This bodes well for those who roster the 76ers fantasy studs as they’ll be playing to win until the very end, or at least very close to it. Plus, the whole team will be available, so approach them as you normally would.
Hawks @ Raptors
Atlanta is most likely to be a play-in team, but technically the No. 6 spot isn’t an impossible feat as they’re just four games behind the Cavs, but I wouldn’t count on them getting there. John Collins (finger/foot) is out, of course, while Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) are both questionable to play. Kevin Huerter finally fell back to earth on Saturday after four straight 20-point games, but he’d see a few more minutes in the starting lineup if Bogi sits and is in a prime bounce back spot too. The only notable Raptor on the injury report is OG Anunoby, who is questionable with a right quad contusion. Get him active if he plays, and if not, maybe Chris Boucher is on the streaming radar, and while he’s been back to his old underwhelming self over his last four games, the ceiling is nice.
Hornets @ Heat
Charlotte has officially clinched a play-in spot, and they could realistically end up anywhere from spots seven through ten depending on their success over their final four games. Their injury report is squeaky clean too, so the usuals should do their thing. Miami, who is the first seed in the East and two full games ahead of the Celtics, have listed the following six guys as questionable to play Tuesday: Kyle Lowry (overall body soreness, aka old), P.J. Tucker (knee), Caleb Martin (calf), Gabe Vincent (toe), Dewayne Dedmon (ankle) and Markieff Morris (hip). It’s hard to provide fantasy insight when about half the team’s status is in the air, but Max Strus could be a winner if Lowry sits, while Jimmy Butler could feast coming off a game of rest.
Rockets @ Nets
Houston just has their three out-for-season guys (Christian Wood, Dennis Schroder, Eric Gordon) on the injury report, so keep rolling with Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Alperen Sengun to finish things off. Josh Christopher is also on the radar after dropping 30 on the on the Wolves on Sunday, but he’s not as trustworthy as the trio mentioned. Just like the Hornets, the Nets are guaranteed to participate in the play-in tourney in the East, which is just an unfair matchup for anyone who has to face them. Seth Curry (ankle) is technically questionable, but keep in mind that Steve Nash said the team had talks about resting him for their last four games to get his ankle to 100% for the postseason (if they get there). James Johnson (illness) is also questionable, while the sneaky stat stuffer Bruce Brown (illness) is technically probable after missing Saturday’s contest but said himself that he’ll play on Tuesday. On the Ben Simmons front, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday that it is unrealistic to expect Ben Simmons (back) to return in time for the play-in tournament, but the amount of times his return has been pushed back is far too many to keep track of.
Bucks @ Bulls
Simply put, both of these teams have plenty to play for, and the only important injuries are Chicago’s Zach LaVine (knee) and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee), who are both probable to play. Assuming they’re in, nothing changes from a fantasy standpoint. Alex Caruso (back) didn’t practice on Monday but he isn’t anywhere to be found on the injury report, so expect him to be a go.
Trail Blazers @ Thunder
The matchup we’re all waiting for. Both these teams have a combined 683 guys listed as out for the season, so once again expect some big performances from guys that the vast majority of people haven’t heard of. Tre Mann (hamstring) will miss his fifth straight game for OKC, while Josh Hart (knee), Trendon Watford (knee) and Justise Winslow (calf) will all be in street clothes for the Blazers. Winslow is basically being ruled out on a game-by-game basis, and Hart and Watford were re-evaluated but them being ruled out so far in advance could very well mean we don’t see them again. Isaiah Roby, Aleksej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon, Drew Eubanks, Ben McLemore and Keon Johnson all remain quality targets, just as we expected when this season began.
Wizards @ Timberwolves
Washington has nothing to play for, and there’s almost no chance we see Kyle Kuzma (knee) again this season because of this. Rui Hachimura was getting somewhat hot but completely flopped in Sunday’s ugly loss to the Celtics, but he and Deni Avdija have both been better than usual with Kuz sidelined. Minnesota sits comfortably in the seventh seed in the sense that they won’t fall to the eighth spot, but they’re just 1.5 games behind the sixth-seeded Jazz in the West, so they’ll keep playing their guys until it becomes mathematically impossible to move up. For injuries, it’s just Jaden McDaniels (ankle) listed as doubtful and Malik Beasley (ankle) listed as probable, but this pair doesn’t change much at all in fantasy leagues whether they’re playing or not. Finally, Patrick Beverley (ankle) was removed from the injury report and will be good to go after missing his last game.
Grizzlies @ Jazz
Most of the main Grizzlies got the night off on Friday, with Dillon Brooks being the only active starter with Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones and Steven Adams all hitting the sidelines. In typical Grizzlies fashion, they still defeat the Suns by eight points in that one, and I haven’t even mentioned the absence of Ja Morant (knee) yet, who will miss Tuesday’s matchup as well but could possibly return before the regular season ends. All four guys will be back in action against the Jazz, but Dillon Brooks (hip) is doubtful to suit up. Just remember, the Grizzlies are locked in to the second seed in the West, so expect some more maintenance days for these guys down the line. All of the important Jazz players will be active, and with them potentially slipping into the play-in picture, the Utah studs will do all they can to not drop that far down.
Spurs @ Nuggets
With the Lakers struggling big time, the Spurs could legitimately be a play-in team in what was supposed to be a rebuild year, which is wild. Dejounte Murray (illness) won’t play, which does them no favors, so give Tre Jones yet another look after he tallied a 18/7/7 line with a steal and two triples in a start on Saturday. They’ll also have Jakob Poeltl (back) back in action after he missed his last game. On Denver’s side, there aren’t any surprising or relevant injuries, so expect Nikola Jokic to keep putting up ridiculous numbers as they try to catch the fourth-seeded Mavs (two games ahead of Denver) and stay away from the sixth-seeded Jazz (half a game behind Denver). For all the MVP bettors out there, The Joker is now at a commanding lead to take home the honors for the second straight year, as his odds sit at -300 (via PointsBet), with Joel Embiid (+350) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+575) still having a chance at taking home the hardware.
Pelicans @ Kings
Even without Zion Williamson (foot) touching the floor for a single second this season, the No. 9 Pelicans have a really good chance at competing for a spot in the postseason. The Spurs and Lakers are their main competition, of course, and it’s only Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) that’s iffy to play in addition to the those who have been on the injury report for quite some time now. Sacramento still won't have De’Aaron Fox (hand/lottery odds) or Domantas Sabonis (knee), and Alex Len (back) is questionable. Damian Jones is still the center of choice even if Len plays, while Davion Mitchell and Donte DiVincenzo look like must-start guys going forward, assuming Fox doesn’t play again.
Lakers @ Suns
LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (foot) are both questionable, like usual, and it’d be pretty shocking to see either guy sit out as they play for their life in all of their remaining four games. If both guys are active, the fantasy assets in L.A. are few and far between, and Russell Westbrook has been a bit better but still not that great. The Suns have their usual two guys in Dario Saric (knee) and Frank Kaminsky (knee) out, while Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder will all return after a night of rest this past Saturday.