There were 11 games in the NBA last night and four teams (Heat, Spurs, Nets, Knicks) benched their starting units, as they basically had nothing left to play for. Additionally, the Boston tragedy led to the flat-out cancellation of Tuesday’s Celtics vs. Pacers game (it won’t be made up). It’s amazing that we will see two teams finish with fewer games played than the rest of the league for the first time since the 1950’s. These are crazy times and our thoughts are with the victims in Boston.
There are only two games on Tuesday now, as the Raptors are at Atlanta, and the Blazers are at the Clippers. The Hawks are still fighting for playoff position with the Bulls, and the Raptors played their studs in the previous game, so I would assume we’ll see the usual suspects in that one, while hot rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott are also worth a look for the Hawks. The Clippers are still fighting for position and the Blazers would probably like to play some sort of spoiler role, but the problem is that LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews simply aren’t healthy. But my guess is anyone who is able to play in this game will do so.
Let’s get to Monday’s highlights. Regardless of what opinions I might state below, the key to setting an effective lineup right now is to stay glued to the Rotoworld news page and make sure your guys are going to play.
The Bulls took care of business against the Magic in a 102-84 win and are now hoping to sneak past the Hawks to get the No. 5 seed so they can face the Nets instead of the Pacers. They need to beat the Wizards on Wednesday and then see the Hawks lose one of their final two games against the Raptors and Knicks in order to get the No. 5 and push the Hawks to the No. 6 seed. The Bulls saw the limited return of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson on Monday, while Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng all played well. Nate Robinson disappeared, but still played 29 minutes in the win. Hopefully the usual suspects all play heavy minutes in Wednesday’s must-win at home against the Wizards.
The Magic got big games from Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and Tobias Harris, and I would guess all three will play well again on Wednesday at Miami. Beno Udrih disappeared, but could easily bounce back in the finale.
The Bobcats beat the Knicks’ scrubs 106-95. As with most of the games in the East, this one was meaningless and the Knicks didn’t care about the outcome. Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker (career-high 13 assists), Bismack Biyombo and Josh McRoberts all had nice lines for the Bobcats, and should do so again at home vs. the Cavs on Wednesday.
The Knicks got a career-high 32 points, seven boards and four 3-pointers from Chris Copeland, who might have won you a championship last night (or beat you). Steve Novak had 17 points and five treys, James White scored 15 with seven boards and six assists, and Iman Shumpert added 14 points and five dimes. Pablo Prigioni added nine points, eight assists and a 3-pointer, and we’ll have to see if the Knicks play the starters when they host the Hawks on Wednesday. If not, all of these guys will be worth a fantasy look in that one. Raymond Felton is expected to play Wednesday.
The dismantled Heat still came through with a one-point win over the Cavaliers. The Heat got a near triple-double from Norris Cole (16-11-9), Mike Miller had 11 points, eight boards and three 3-pointers, Joel Anthony had 11 points, nine boards and two blocks, Rashard Lewis turned back the clock for 19 points and three 3-pointers, and James Jones came off the bench for 14 points and two 3-pointers. Ray Allen was the only regular to play tonight, and had 11 points, six assists and two 3-pointers on 3-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes. It remains to be seen if the Heat rests the regulars again in Wednesday’s finale against the Magic. But why not rest them?
The Cavaliers got 16 points and eight dimes out of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson double-doubled, Alonzo Gee finally came through with 13 points and six boards, Dion Waiters had 16 points, and Kevin Jones added 10 off the bench. Look for more of the same on Wednesday at Charlotte.
The Brooklyn bench was still able to handle the Wizards 106-101 after the Nets’ starters were rested. The Nets saw MarShon Brooks, C.J. Watson, Andray Blatche (double-double), Kris Humphries (just missed a double-double), Tomike Shengelia (double-double), Mirza Teletovic and Tyshawn Taylor all scored in double figures, while Gerald Wallace was terrible again. Wallace’s fantasy career might be over, but we’ll have to see what’s going on heading into next year before declaring him done. Don’t’ be surprised to see the scrubs again on Wednesday vs. Detroit.
The Wizards got double-doubles from John Wall and Trevor Booker, while Garrett Temple, Cartier Martin (four 3-pointers) and Kevin Seraphin all played well. Emeka Okafor might be done after playing just 10 minutes and scoring four. Look for more of the same from these guys on Wednesday at Chicago. Nene has been shut down.
The Pistons took out the Sixers 109-101. Andre Drummond started despite a sprained ankle, but had just five points, eight boards, two steals and a block before fouling out in 33 minutes. Greg Monroe came through with 27 & 16, Will Bynum had 22 points, six dimes and two 3-pointers in the absence of Jose Calderon, while Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler and Khris Middleton all hit double digits in scoring. Rodney Stuckey was disappointing again with eight points and six assists on 3-of-9 shooting. They finish up at Brooklyn on Wednesday.
The Sixers got 22 points, eight boards, six assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers from Dorell Wright off the bench, while Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Justin Holiday all hit double digits in scoring. Doug Collins won’t be back to coach the team next season and I expect the same guys to play well again on Wednesday at Indiana.
The Nuggets got a tough one-point win over the Bucks to stay in the driver’s seat for the No. 3 seed in the West. They control their own destiny and only need a win at home against the Suns on Wednesday to lock up the No. 3 seed. Ty Lawson was in full effect with 26 points and seven assists, Evan Fournier started at SG again and had 12 points, Andre Iguodala scored 13 and filled the stat sheet, while Wilson Chandler had 21 points and three 3-pointers in a start for Kenneth Faried. Chandler should be a solid pick in fantasy playoff leagues. JaVale McGee went nuts off the bench with 10 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks, and owners have to be wondering where this was all season. Andre Miller hit just 2-of-12 shots, but made all eight free throws to finish with 12 points, six boards and two steals in the win. Corey Brewer played 22 minutes, but missed all six of his shots. Anthony Randolph played 16 minutes to finish with five points, three rebounds, zero blocks, five turnovers and five fouls, which isn’t really what we were looking for after he exploded for a big line on Sunday. Faried will be iffy for the playoffs due to his ankle injury. The Nuggets host the Suns on Wednesday and will hold off the Clippers for the No. 3 seed with a win.
Brandon Jennings made a surprise return from an Achilles injury, but hit just 1-of-11 shots for four points. He’s on a lot of “never again” lists after his late-season performance, and might be on mine. Despite an illness, Monta Ellis had 38, John Henson, filling in for Larry Sanders (back), had 14 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, and could be a force next year if we can find a way to get him minutes. Ersan Ilyasova double-doubled, Mike Dunleavy played well off the bench and J.J. Redick hit four 3-pointers on his way to 20 points. The Bucks finish up at OKC on Wednesday, but could rest the starters since they’re locked into the No. 8 seed. Then again, they could have rested the starters last night, but chose not to.
The Grizzlies beat the Mavericks 103-97. Memphis is hoping the Clippers lose at home to Portland on Tuesday, and at Sacramento on Wednesday, and that they beat the Jazz Wednesday. They'd still be the No. 5 seed, but could have homecourt advantage over the Clips despite that fact. Mike Conley played 23 minutes for six points and three assists, and gave way to Jerryd Bayless, who had 19 points, four assists, four steals and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Starters Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince and Zach Randolph also played limited minutes tonight, while Ed Davis came off the bench for a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards. Owners of Grizzlies’ starters will have to hope they turn them loose on Wednesday against the Jazz, which should be considered a must-win for the Grizzlies.
O.J. Mayo’s late-season slide continued with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting and Rick Carlisle was not happy with Mayo after the game. Dirk Nowitzki led the way with 26 points, Vince Carter scored 22 and Mike James added 14 as the only Mavs in double figures. It looks like Rick Carlisle might roll with the starters again on Wednesday at home vs. New Orleans, as they all played normal minutes in this one.
The Jazz kept hope alive with a 96-80 win over the Wolves, and will now have to beat the Grizzlies on Wednesday, and hope the Rockets beat the Kobe-less Lakers on the same night to get in. The Lakers have to be praying the Grizzlies play their starters heavy minutes and try to win on Wednesday. The Jazz were led by 22 points and eight boards from Al Jefferson, Mo Williams had 15 points and seven assists, Randy Foye scored 14 with two 3-pointers, while Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors were quiet.
The Wolves got 18 points and a monster dunk from Derrick Williams, 12 points and five boards from Dante Cunningham, and 11 points and two 3-pointers from J.J. Barea. They were the only ones in double figures as Nikola Pekovic missed his third straight game with a calf injury. Greg Stiemsma started in his place and failed to block a single shot, but did have eight boards.
The Thunder took care of the Kings 104-95, locking up the No. 1 seed in the West, pushing the Spurs to No. 2. Kevin Durant had 29 points and a full stat line, Russell Westbrook had 21 points and eight assists before being ejected with two technicals, and Serge Ibaka, Daniel Orton and Reggie Jackson all scored in double figures. With nothing to play for, look for the starters to see limited minutes against the Bucks, despite the fact Durant could possibly win the scoring title if he scores 70.
The Kings saw Tyreke Evans leave early with a potentially serious quad injury, leaving him doubtful for Wednesday, while Isaiah Thomas had 16, Travis Outlaw had 15, and Cole Aldrich had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds as the only Kings in double figures. Marcus Thornton was quiet again and played just 19 minutes, and they’re all a roll of the dice on Wednesday at home vs. the Clippers. DeMarcus Cousins had his 16th technical foul rescinded, avoiding a suspension, but had just seven points and six boards on 2-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes.
The Suns took out the Rockets, helping out the Warriors in the process. The Rockets are now looking at the No. 8 seed if Utah and the Lakers both win on Wednesday, while the Warriors will lock up the No. 6 seed with a win in the finale. Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino each scored at least 20 last night, while Delfino canned six 3-pointers in the loss. James Harden had an off night with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting, and Omer Asik was quiet against a small Suns lineup. The Rockets are in a must-win situation on Wednesday at L.A., so look for their studs to be going full bore in that one. The Lakers could end up as the No. 7 seed if they win and the Rockets lose.
The Suns got monster lines out of starters Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, and clearly are psyched about playing spoiler. They get another chance on Wednesday at Denver. Michael Beasley returned, but failed to score in four minutes.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors over the Spurs, as GSW moved into the No. 6 seed. Curry’s dream season continued Monday when he had 35 points and seven 3-pointers, putting him just one triple behind Ray Allen’s single-season record for 3-pointers made. You can bet he’s going to be firing them at will on Wednesday as the Warriors finish up at Portland. The W’s moved into the No. 6 seed with Monday’s win and Houston’s loss, and can lock it up with a win over the injured Blazers. Festus Ezeli had eight points, 13 boards and three blocks in a start at center, and is worth a look with Andrew Bogut’s ankle keeping him sidelined. Carl Landry added 16 & 8, and is another player benefitting from the absence of Bogut.
The Spurs played their reserves and Gary Neal and Patty Mills put on a show, despite coming off the bench. Neal had 25 on 10-of-15 shooting, and Mills hit 9-of-16 shots and five 3-pointers on his way to 23 points. The surprise of the night was Danny Green missing all five of his shots and playing just 19 minutes, failing to score for Gregg Popovich. The Spurs are officially locked into the No. 2 seed, so it’s anyone’s guess who Pop might run out there on Wednesday vs. the Timberwolves.