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Basketball Daily Dose

Pascal Siakam drops 40 on the Celtics, De’Anthony Melton stays red-hot

by Brad Stonebraker
Updated On: March 29, 2022, 10:05 am ET

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It’s the penultimate week of the regular season, and many leagues that ended on Sunday had a champion crowned. If you were one of them, congratulations are very much in order, as this was one of the tougher (and weirder) seasons of fantasy hoops as of late. A special shoutout to our very own Jonas Nader for coming out on top in the NBC Sports Edge Company League, beating out Roundball Stew legend Matt Stroup by a final count of 5-4, with just two blocks and a couple missed shots being the difference in the champion. Very well played, gentlemen. Mr. Jared Johnson gets a shoutout as well for just clinching third place over betting guru Vaughn Dalzell, also by a 5-4 count, and I’m sure we’re all already itching for next season’s draft after a very fun finish. This Monday started off as messy as any other, with an injury report longer than Moby Dick and several guys being ruled out for the season earlier in the day. I’ll break down all of the injuries later, but first, I’ll hit the bigger headlines with fantasy bits throughout. And if THIS is your championship week, best of luck to you all.

Top headlines

Evan Mobley goes down, Cavs still prevail

Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley suffered a left ankle sprain in the second quarter of Monday’s 107-101 win over the Magic and scored just six points with three boards and an assist in 13 minutes before being ruled out. Woj reported postgame that the X-rays were negative, but Mobley was absolutely in some pain and it’s really just a waiting game to see what the diagnosis is, but with Jarrett Allen (finger) still not back, we should see a lot of Kevin Love, Lamar Stevens and maybe Ed Davis. For fantasy purposes, if Mobley misses time, Love (19 points, seven boards, three dimes, four triples and three turnovers in 32 minutes) is the best option but should already be rostered, and Lamar Stevens (six points, one steal in 23 minutes) was incredibly quiet but has finally started making some noise and could be worth a look in deeper leagues. Lauri Markkanen also took a hard fall and needed assistance from teammates to get up, and he was seen grabbing his knee during the timeout and soon headed to the locker room but eventually returned. The Cavs’ front court would have been in massive trouble if it was serious, but he came back and finished with 20 points, three boards and three triples in 29 minutes, so no sweat there, thankfully. Darius Garland hasn’t been shooting it well and shot just 7-of-17 from the field but still went off for 25 points to go with 12 dimes, three steals and five triples, while Isaac Okoro scored 11 with five boards, four steals and a swat but had four combined steals in his last seven games, so that was fluky. Caris LeVert started again and struggled with his shot via a 4-of-15 shooting clip but still had a solid 8/7/6/1/1 line in 33 minutes, and overall starting has been a positive thing for him. On Orlando’s side, seven players scored between 10 and 15 points, and the only truly notable line was Wendell Carter Jr.’s 15/12/6 showing with a steal, but his 1-of-6 mark from the line is atrocious. Ignas Brazdeikis has a super random 13 points in 23 minutes and at this point in the season, expect the unexpected (don’t pick him up though, please).

Aaron Gordon is getting hot at the right time

Aaron Gordon is one of the most athletic real-life players but an immensely boring fantasy player, but over his last four games, he’s put up fifth-round value behind averages of 19.5 points on 51.6% shooting, 7.3 boards, 2.5 dimes, 0.8 blocks and one triple per game. That includes Monday’s performance in a 113-109 win over the Hornets in which he shot 9-of-16 from the floor for 21 points (17 in the first quarter), also adding seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block, one triple and zero turnovers in 33 minutes. Ride him out until the season ends and hope it continues, but many of us have been expecting him to make a jump for plenty of seasons, but his ranking just outside of the top-150 on the season is just who he is. Nikola Jokic notched his 19th triple-double of the season and the 76th of his career (two away from tying Wilt for most as a center) and finished with a massive line including 26 points (9-of-17 FGs, 8-of-12 FTs), 19 rebounds, 11 assists, two steals and four turnovers in 35 minutes, and he still needs no analysis and remains unfair. Monte Morris dished out nine dimes to go with his 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, also adding three boards, one steal and two triples in 34 minutes, and Will Barton is finally (and I mean, FINALLY) playing good basketball again with his third straight solid game including 18 points, six boards, three assists, a block and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Barton has been dropped in a bunch of leagues and is available in more than one-third of Yahoo! leagues and could worth grabbing again while he’s hot, but it hasn’t been a good season all in all for him. To no one’s surprise, it was Miles Bridges (27/11/1/1/1) on 12-of-22 with two treys and five turnovers) and LaMelo Ball (22/6/11 on 8-of-21 shooting with two steals, four treys and three turnovers) who shouldered the offensive load in Charlotte, but they dropped to No. 9 in the Eastern Conference with the loss and would get a matchup with the Hawks if the play-in started today. Terry Rozier had a quiet and inefficient 12-point, eight-assist night but he’s stellar, and Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Oubre each had 12 points off the bench but didn’t do much otherwise. P.J. Washington wasn’t fantastic but he’s a hold for the rest of the season with some all-around contributions most nights, and Montrezl Harrell’s night ended early after getting two quick techs for 1) stepping over Austin Rivers and 2) taunting Aaron Gordon. This was a shame as he seemed to be on his way to a much-needed bounce back too.

The Hawks are kind of hot now (and need to be)

The Hawks took care of business on Monday with a 132-123 victory over the decimated Pacers, getting victories in two straight and seven of their last 10. They’re fighting for their life right now and are just half a game behind the Hornets for the No. 9 seed in the East, and luckily quite comfortably ahead of the No. 11 Knicks. The Hawks could realistically finish anywhere from No. 5 to 10, with the 8-10 range looking most likely, but they’re headed in the right direction to end the season. Three guys scored at least 22 points in this one, and surprisingly, Trae Young was not one of them as he shot just 4-of-13 from the floor for 14 points, but he did dish out a season-high 16 assists to go with three boards, two steals, two triples and two turnovers in 36 minutes. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored a game-high 29 points (8-of-14 FGs, 8-of-10 FTs) off the bench (five treys and five boards as well) despite being questionable coming in with right knee soreness, and he needed no time to get back into the swing of things after missing Friday’s game against the Warriors. Clint Capela was dominant for the second straight game with a 22-point, 15-rebound double-double with three assists and no defensive stats, and I guess it’s better now than never, while Kevin Huerter knocked down six triples on his way to a very efficient 22/2/6 evening.  Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (13 points, four boards, two treys, two steal in 30 minutes) and Delon Wright (9/2/1/3/2) got starts in the absences of De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness) and of course John Collins (right finger/foot, Danilo Gallinari was out with a right elbow contusion as well), and Wright could have some appeal in the defensive categories if he sticks in the first five, but TLC is just a guy from some points and threes more often than not, and there are probably better options for those categories out there. Jalen Johnson even showed out with a career-high 12 points off the bench, and he’s not a fantasy option by any means, but he will be one day. The Pacers had nine guys on their injury report for this one and ran with an eight-man rotation because that’s all they could do, and Tyrese Haliburton (25/3/13/2/2 with four triples) and Buddy Hield (26/4/5/1/1 with five threes) were both very efficient and feasted easily with so many inactive players. If Indiana constantly has this many guys injured and this pair remains healthy, they’re going to have massive finishes to the year. Otherwise, keep rolling with Goga Bitadze (14/5/4/1/1 with a triple) as long as Isaiah Jackson (headache) is sidelined, and likely beyond, and Jalen Smith is a fine option as well with I-Jax out but and simply had a quiet night. Keifer Skyes (16 points, four dimes, four treys) could maybe be worth a look but I’m not making a move yet, and Lance Stephenson and Terry Taylor both scored in double digits off the pine, but same goes for them. With the team going full tank, it may be a game-by-game basis in which you figure out who on this team to utilize, which isn’t ideal, but oh well.

Heat snap out of their four-game losing streak with dominant win over Kings

Miami was really struggling and in the midst of a four-game drought before Monday’s convincing 123-100 victory over the Kings, and they needed this considering how tight the East is right now. Jimmy Butler, who came in shooting 6-of-41 from three (14.6%) in the months of February and April, drained a season-high three shots out of five from downtown for an ultra-efficient 27/5/8 night with three turnovers in 34 minutes. Any increase at all in the triples category would be huge, and the defensive stats will be back in no time as well. Nothing all too crazy happened on the Heat’s side of the box score, but Max Strus (eight points) started for Duncan Robinson (15 points, five threes) and didn’t do much but was a team-high tying +24, so keep an eye on that situation going forward if Strus stays there. Bam Adebayo had a huge 22/15 double-double with a couple steals and a block, Kyle Lowry hit three treys for a 9/5/6 line with a steal and Tyler Herro scored 20 points (8-of-15 FGs) with five boards, six dimes and four triples in 29 minutes off the bench. Sacramento rookie Davion Mitchell scored 20 points for the fourth straight game and did it all with a 21/2/9/1/1 effort with two treys (still available in nearly 40% of Yahoo! leagues somehow) while Harrison Barnes was close behind with 17 points with a line far more boring than Mitchell’s. Trey Lyles (11/6/2) and Damian Jones (15 points, six boards) were both alright but some defensive numbers would have really helped, and Jeremy Lamb leaving the game after just nine minutes due to a hamstring injury likely means we see more Donte DiVincenzo (12/3/5 with three steals and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes off the bench). 

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Spicy P drops a 40-piece on Boston in overtime win

Per usual, Nick Nurse ran a very tight eight-man rotation with the Raptors (as did the depleted Celtics, but for different reasons) and came out on top in the overtime period by a final score of 115-112. Pascal Siakam went berserk for a season-high 40 points on 17-of-29 shooting (6-of-8 FTs, no triples) and did a bit of everything with his 13 boards, one assist, three steals, two blocks and just one turnover in 47 minutes before fouling out very late. He’s a fourth-rounder on the season and has to be considered for one of the All-NBA Teams at this point (right?). With Spicy P scoring so much, no one on the team scored more than 14 points, with OG Anunoby (14 points, eight boards, three assists, one steal and two treys in 40 minutes) and Fred VanVleet (inefficient 14/5/3/3/1 line with three triples and four turnovers in 40 minutes) sharing second-place honors. Gary Trent Jr. (left foot) returned from a three-game absence and scored just 12 points but at least had three swipes, while Scottie Barnes played just two minutes for than Thaddeus Young, who far outperformed the rookie with an impressive 12/8/3/1/3 evening in 28 minutes. This was Thad Young’s best game as a Raptor, and one of Barnes’ worst ones, so don’t read into it too much. The Celtics were without Jayson Tatum (right patella), Jaylen Brown (right knee), Al Horford (personal) and of course Robert Williams (left meniscus tear, announced he will indeed require surgery, stay tuned for updates) and they still kept this one very very close. Marcus Smart hoisted up a whopping 25 shots and made 10 of them for his 28 points, also adding 10 boards, four assists, one block, two triples and an unfortunate seven turnovers in 40 minutes, and as the only usual Boston starter active, the extra aggressiveness on offense was to be expected. The rest of this box score should be taken with a grain of salt with all of the absences, but Grant Williams (17/7/2 with two blocks) and Daniel Theis (13/10/2/1/2) should at least be on your radar, but we’ll have to wait and see who gets the starting nod when Horford returns. Aaron Nesmith started and scored 13 points with four boards and three steals, as did Derrick White, who went just 4-of-16 from the floor but was fine with a 15/6/8 line with a block and three 3-pointers, and even Payton Pritchard (10/8/5) did some stuff off the bench. Again, assuming the injuries to Tatum and Brown aren’t serious, don’t make any moves on anyone not named Grant Williams quite yet.

Do the Grizzlies even need Ja Morant?

I’m kidding, but after a blowout win over the Warriors on Monday, the team is now 18-2 without King Ja in the lineup. They’re just an incredibly balanced squad and are going to be a ton of fun in the postseason as one of the top seeds in the Western Conference. With Jaren Jackson Jr. (right thigh soreness) taking the night off, it was Kyle Anderson who stepped into the first unit and he was so-so with 13 points, five rebounds and a swat in 25 minutes, and Brandon Clarke posted a very similar line in the same amount of minutes and has the higher ceiling of the two if JJJ has to miss any more time after this one, regardless of who starts. Desmond Bane (22 points, five 3-pointers) is incredible, Dillon Brooks scored 21 and was efficient for the second straight game, Tyus Jones will be better going forward than his 7/4/6 line suggests and De’Anthony Melton is on another planet right now. Melton went for 21 points (8-of-13 FGs), six boards, five triples and this monster poster dunk in 21 minutes and is now a blistering 26-of-43 (60.5%) from three-point land over his last five games, all played without Ja Morant. In those five, he’s been a fourth-round fantasy player, and at this point, I don’t know when he’s going to slow down, if he even will. Draymond Green (back), Klay Thompson (right Achilles) and of course Stephen Curry (left foot) all sat for Golden State, which explains the score, and Andrew Wiggins completely flopped in a prime spot with 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting, six boards and a steal in 29 minutes. Jordan Poole went off per usual as the best offensive player in this particular starting unit (I said it) for a 25/5/3 line with three triples, and Jonathan Kuminga impressed with a 15/7/4/1/2 evening despite going just 4-of-11 from the field. Moses Moody scored 18 points off the bench but isn’t an option when the mains Dubs are healthy, and Andre Iguodala (six points) actually played basketball after missing 29 out of his last 30 games, but you can ignore him.

Julius Randle looks awful, Knicks still handle Bulls

Julius Randle was far from an integral part of New York’s 109-104 win over the Bulls, but even with this victory, they’re going to need a miracle to be playing past April 10. Randle played just 28 minutes and made only one of his nine shot attempts (3-of-6 FTs) for five points, 13 boards, four assists and a block, and Obi Toppin (17 points, three triples in 20 minutes off the bench) looks like the better player at times. Keep an eye on these two going forward especially since Toppin had some solid numbers when Randle was sidelined last week. RJ Barrett was up to his old ways with 28 points on 10-of-24 shooting, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, two 3-pointers and just one turnover in 43 minutes, and besides the shooting clip, it could have been far worse. Alec Burks came in flirting with fifth-round value over the last couple of weeks and built on his superb play with a 27/6/3 line on 9-of-19 shooting with a steal and five triples, which was quite similar to Barrett’s, but Burks has been far better than him lately and is worth deploying until further notice. Mitchell Robinson decided to be good and had a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double with one steal and three blocks in 35 minutes, and that’s about it on New York’s side even though they somehow beat a far superior Bulls team. DeMar DeRozan’s 37 points (12-of-26 FGs, 12-of-12 FTs), six rebounds and seven assists weren’t enough to escape with a win, and neither was Zach LaVine’s efficient 27/4/3 line with two triples in 36 minutes. Other than Nikola Vucevic’s 16/13/1/2/1 line, that’s it for Chicago’s side, including Alex Caruso, who finally showed signs of life on Saturday but flopped big time besides his two steals and one block despite playing 30 minutes.

Dejounte Murray scores career-high 33 points with huge line

Dejounte Murray seemingly did everything possible to get just half a game behind the No. 10 Lakers in the West, and he did just that in a 123-120 win over the Rockets. Murray set a new career high in scoring with 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting (9-of-12 FTs) and added seven boards, 11 assists, two steals, two blocks, two 3-pointers and two turnovers in 38 minutes. He’s simply ridiculous. Keldon Johnson is surging as well and posted a 21/9/4 line with a pair of steals and a triple and has nearly been a seventh-round guy over the past month, and Jakob Poeltl’s dream season continued with his 17-point, 13-rebound double-double with a steal and two blocks. Devin Vassell was quiet, so Josh Richardson picked up the slack with a 15/6/5 effort, and Zach Collins had 13 points with eight rebounds, three assists and a steal off the pine, but it’s only those two wings you need to worry about in fantasy. Jalen Green kept chugging along with a team-high 30 points (10-of-24 FGs), four boards, four dimes, one block, six 3-pointers and a monster poster dunk on Poeltl and is truly looking like a league-winning guy if you picked him up anytime after the All-Star break, so congrats if you did. The Rockets were without Christian Wood (left hamstring), Eric Gordon (right groin) and Dennis Schroder (left shoulder), and there seemed to be a direct correlation of someone stepping up for each guy: Alperen Sengun started for Wood and had a decent 12/7/3 line with a pair each in the blocks/threes categories despite a poor shooting night and four turnovers, and he missed the end of the game after suffering a leg injury, but fingers crossed he’s alright for Wednesday’s game against the Kings. Kevin Porter Jr. went off with a 26/9/7/1/1 evening with three triples but shot just 9-of-22 from the floor, and Josh Christopher came off the pine for a full 20/6/6/2/1 line in 30 minutes. They’re another confusing team, but Sengun has been picking it up and KPJ has at least kept his turnovers down, but Christopher hasn’t done enough quite yet to warrant rostering.

Tankathon central

One look at these starting lineups will tell you everything you need to know about this game and these teams. Neither want to win, yet it still went into an overtime period, with the Thunder coming out on top by a final score of 134-131. It’s really hard to tell what’s going on with these teams, but with so many guys ruled out for the season, I think we can find a few constants. Isaiah Roby had some awful games lately but he’s been great and further proved that with a career-high 30 points on 11-of-13 shooting (4-of-8 FTs, sadly), along with eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks, four 3-pointers and two turnovers in 38 minutes. Tre Mann (right hamstring) didn’t play, meaning Theo Maledon had full control of the offense with a 23/10/5 line with four triples, and Aleksej Pokusevski darn near almost triple-doubled with his 11/8/10 line with a block, but to display his usual blemishes, he shot 4-of-11 from the floor and turned it over six times. Aaron Wiggins also had a career night with 28 points, adding five rebounds and six dimes with four turnovers, but he’s been the quietest of this group and is just someone to keep an eye on. On the Blazers, Drew Eubanks posted a massive 27/14/3/3/2 line and missed just two of his 14 shots but he should be rostered by now, Brandon Williams tallied the first double-double of his career with 25 points, 12 dimes (career high), four steals and five threes but his upside will be limited due to both percentage categories generally being pretty bad, and Ben McLemore hit a career-high tying eight triples off the bench for 28 points with a steal and a block to help his case. Even CJ Elleby (9/11/5) and Keon Johnson (17/5/2 with four steals, the points being a career high) played quite well, and if these are the lineups these teams are going to roll out going forward, all of these guys mentioned could be useful. Oh, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (right foot) played for the first time in exactly two months and scored six points with eight boards in 15 minutes, but his minutes will probably stay around there going forward. In rough order of value going forward for both teams, I’d put Eubanks and Roby on top, followed by Williams (if he starts, if not, go with Dunn if he starts), Poku, Mann, McLemore, Maledon and Johnson. Silly season heroes are not few and far between on these teams, and guess what: we get to see them play each other again on April 5. I’ll be counting the days.

Injury updates

Out for the season

Before Monday’s games even commenced, all of the following guys were ruled out for the remainder of the season:

- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right ankle soreness)

- Jerami Grant (left calf strain)

- Anfernee Simons (left patellar tendinopathy)

- Jusuf Nurkic (left foot plantar fascitis)

- Eric Bledsoe (left Achilles tendinopathy)

- Dean Wade (right meniscus tear)

- Darius Bazley (non-displaced tibial plateau fracture in right knee)

Notes: Bazley is the only semi-shocking one in this list, and he suffered the injury this past Saturday. He showed some signs of good things late, but we more or less know who he is at the conclusion of his third season unless he makes a giant leap next season. With the exception of Wade, the rest of the guys are on tanking teams and there’s no need to play them for any reason.

Other injury news

- Paul George (elbow) went through 5-on-5 practice on Sunday and has been upgraded to questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jazz - this is highly encouraging and the questionable tag is really nice, so if you’re still competing and have a spot for him, he’s worth grabbing right now

- Josh Hart (left knee patellar tendinopathy) to be re-evaluated in 1 week - he hasn’t played since March 20 and judging by all the injured players, we very well may not see him again

- Trendon Watford (left femur bone contusion) to be re-evaluated in 1 week - he was one of our silly season heroes for a while, but the same that was said about Hart can be said about Watford.

Brad Stonebraker

Brad has a finance degree and works in Business Management. He has been playing fantasy basketball since 2012 and specifically enjoys sports statistics and crunching numbers. You can find Brad on Twitter @bradbraker97.