Team Totals: Pacers 109, Cavs 99
Myles Turner (shoulder) is questionable for today with a shooting shoulder injury. He did not play on Sunday, which led to Domantas Sabonis and Kyle O’Quinn being strong plays. On Saturday, Myles said he woke up and his shoulder “didn’t feel right” and mentioned it’s a long season regarding his injury. With the Pacers on a back-to-back set against the worst team in the league, you’d think there’s a chance he sits again. He didn’t practice yesterday either. Again, you’re dialing up Sabonis and/or KOQ without Myles, but maybe he's back out there.
The Pacers could also have little depth at guard with Darren Collison (sore right leg) and Cory Joseph (right thigh bruise) questionable to play. Joseph did not practice yesterday either, and we should get a lot of Aaron Holiday as a possible starter. Sure, Victor Oladipo and Tyreke Evans have played together for 119 minutes this season, but they have zero minutes together as the backcourt. Holiday would also probably play garbage time in this easy matchup to potentially put him in a big spot as a DFS punt. Evans could be in a good spot just because of the matchup, but he hasn’t played more than 20 minutes since returning from injury on Dec. 26. The Pacers are also calling up Edmond Sumner after 30 points in the G League last night. Oladipo has played 224 minutes without Collison on the floor, posting solid per-36 stats of 22.1 points, 6.3 boards, 6.4 dimes, 2.1 steals, 1.1 blocks and 3.1 treys on somewhat poor shooting (40/37/57). The Cavs are expected to change their starting lineup (more below), so Dipo could have a very easy matchup on his hands.
The Cavs aren’t very good right now with a nine-game losing streak. In that span they have a -20.3 net rating thanks to ranking last in offensive rating (101.5) and defensive rating (121.8). The return of Tristan Thompson hasn’t helped either with a -29.9 net rating over those three losses -- all home, too. The Cavs went with Thompson next to Larry Nance in the last two games against bigger PF/C combos in the Pelicans and Jazz, but they were -38.4 in those 41 minutes together. Needless to say, they need to make some changes, especially after the starting unit posted a -46.3 net rating in the last two games -- it was -43.4 three games ago when Nance came off the bench.
Coach Larry Drew said he’s considering a lineup change with Jalen Jones and/or Jordan Clarkson moving into the first unit. Drew says Jones plays hard and more Cavs have to play like that, so he sounds like the better bet to start. Rodney Hood has already been ruled out, so that means Alec Burks and Larry Nance would be the leading candidates to move back to the bench. Matthew Dellavedova is questionable, so Collin Sexton could still get a bunch of minutes The rookie did have a minor injury on Saturday and did return, so just keep an eye on that. Sexton also plays fairly deep into garbage time, but guys like Jordan Clarkson do not, which explains why Clarkson played just 21.5 minutes per game over the last two.
If Nance does get bumped from the starting lineup, that should mean Channing Frye is moved out of the rotation. Nance should still get 24-26 minutes and he even plays into garbage time a bit, too. He also put up 15 points, 16 boards, six dimes, three steals, one block and one trey in the last game vs. Indy -- Thompson was out, though. Thompson did not play well in his last game against the Pacers with six points and six boards.
Prediction: Pacers 112, Cavs 97
Washington Wizards (front end) at Philadelphia 76ers (front end, rematch tomorrow at Washington)
Team Totals: Wizards 109.5, 76ers 118.5
We finally have a little sample without John Wall in the lineup. To nobody’s surprise, Bradley Beal has been stellar in those five, averaging 27.0 points, 5.8 boards, 5.8 dimes, 2.4 steals, 2.8 turnovers and 2.8 treys on a 42/32/82 shooting line. He’ll get a tough matchup with Jimmy Butler likely guarding him -- Butler guarded Beal more than anyone else in the last game.
The surprising part has been Thomas Bryant being the second leading scorer in that aforementioned five-game span, averaging 14.6 points, 9.0 boards, 1.4 dimes, 1.4 blocks and 0.8 steals in 29.8 minutes per game. Bryant was on Joel Embiid for 10 minutes in the last game and didn’t commit any fouls, so maybe it's not a terrible situation. Ian Mahinmi will probably have to get a little more run than usual.
Otto Porter is coming off his best game since returning from injury, scoring 20 points with six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and four 3-pointers in 24 minutes. He’s scoring 21 points per 36 minutes with Wall off the floor and Beal next to him, and Otto’s splits without Wall were good last year, too. He did not play against the 76ers earlier this year, but the 76ers put Ben Simmons on him more than anyone else last year. He'll also be coming off the bench again without a minutes cap, so the matchup won't be as daunting. The Wizards want Otto to shoot it a whole lot, including Bradley Beal. "He's always like 'my bad, my bad, my bad!' I'm like, 'you ain't got to apologize, bro,” Beal said about Otto shooting the rock on Sunday. “Shoot the ball. I'm not going to get mad. Who else is going to shoot the ball? S***." It sounds like Porter could stick in the second unit and Beal called him a “go-to guy” with coach Scott Brooks running plays for him. He had a season-high 31.7 usage rate on Sunday, and it’s his highest ever when he’s played at least 24 minutes. Plus, three of his top four usage rates this season have been in the last three games. Shoot the J! Shoot it!
Trevor Ariza is seeing huge playing time, logging 40.5 minutes per game over the last four non-garbage time games. Since he’s arrived back in DC, only Beal and James Harden have logged more minutes over the last 10. This game could be close and Ariza should get the volume. I’d be a little nervous on Jeff Green with Otto Porter heating up with only a 7.7 minute per game overlap over the last three, and his minutes have decreased slightly as Otto ramps up. It’ll be a tougher matchup for Tomas Satoransky, too.
Ben Simmons (illness) was sick earlier this week and missed practice, but he’s not on the injury report. Jimmy Butler is also back after missing the last two with an upper respiratory infection -- Wilson Chandler, too. With all the talk around Butler last week about him challenging coach Brett Brown, it’ll be interesting to see how the 76ers handle it. It could be a squeaky wheel gets the grease scenario. Butler playing will cut into Ben's output, and perhaps he’s not 100 percent because it took Wilson and Jimmy so long to get healthy -- Ben also had an upper respiratory infection as his reason for missing practice.
Joel Embiid isn’t going to be affected by Jimbo too much. He only need 22 minutes in the last game vs. Washington to turn in 16 points, 15 boards and three blocks. The back-to-back set is a little concerning for Embiid, who has recently been on the injury report for a knee injury. However, I’d be more concerned about it tomorrow in Washington, so fire him up in DFS unless we hear otherwise. We should know with the early start, though.
Prediction: 76ers 115, Wizards 103
Denver Nuggets (back end) at Miami Heat
Team Totals: Nuggets 104.3, Heat 105.3
The Nuggets finally made a change to their starting lineup on Monday with Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic getting the start. Over the weekend, coach Mike Malone said he was hesitant to make a change to put Harris and Sapper back in the first unit because the Murray, Craig, Jokic, Juancho Hernangomez and Mason Plumlee lineup had been one of the best lineups in the first quarter. The Nuggets did not come away unscathed from the loss to Houston with coach Mike Malone saying there is some concern about Gary Harris’ hamstring. He's questionable and you’d have to assume he is not going to play in a back-to-back set today. Harris did not play in the fourth because of the concern and Jamal Murray only played 3.3. minutes, which allowed Malik Beasley and Monte Morris to get 12 minutes each in the fourth. Morris did not play a single minute next to Murray in the two games leading up to Monday, but Morris saw 5.6 with Murray to get him to a terrific stat line of 21 points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals and one 3-pointer on a 75.6 TS%. If Harris is out, both Morris and Malik Beasley become viable options tonight.
The other big change was no more Mason Plumlee with Nikola Jokic with that duo logging 0.0 minutes together last night with Plumlee being a straight backup -- Trey Lyles was the five in the 4.8 minutes of garbage time, as well. Jokic is a little subpar in back-to-back sets and he’s much better at home, so he’s not in a prime spot here.He only saw 18 minutes against Hassan Whiteside and he was pretty good in that low sample at 24 and 12, and he went for 26, 16 and six in his 41 minutes per 36 against him two years ago. Although, his usage is silly over his last two at 38.8 and 36.8, so perhaps the volume can outweigh the bad matchup stuff.
Paul Millsap also gets his first back-to-back set since returning from injury, so the Nuggets may opt to keep his minutes in check. He hasn’t played more than 28 minutes anyway. If not for Jamal Murray’s 34-point second half on Thursday, he’d be in quite a slump. He’s playing through ankle issues and this isn’t a great matchup for him.
The Heat had no O in Atlanta with just 82 points on Sunday. This was a day after coach Erik Spoelstra said Hassan Whiteside was “starting to get the whole deal” after a win vs. Washington on Friday. After Sunday, Spo was asked about not playing Dion Waiters or Wayne Ellington, and Spo said “anything would have been a better answer” than how they played. It’s possible that both those guys get in the mix, which would make every bench option and Rodney McGruder a risky play. Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson should be safe and could see big volume in what should be a close game today. Airplane Mode aka Derrick Jones Jr. has played the whole fourth in two of the last three games with garbage time being a factor for those. He’s great per minute, but the Heat having a full roster today could lead to one of those duds.
Prediction: Nuggets 107, Heat 105
Atlanta Hawks (front end) at Toronto Raptors
Team Totals: Hawks 107, Raptors 121
Trae Young is playing some of his best ball over his last four, averaging 13.3 points, 3.0 boards, 7.0 dimes, 1.3 steals and 2.5 treys on a 42/67/82 shooting line. He’s taken 43.9% of his shots in the paint, and he went 0-of-8 in the mid-range. He’s also shot 47 FG% over his last seven despite making just 1-of-16 in the mid-range (stop shooting mid-range jumpers, Trae!). It’s been a bit of a hit-or-miss matchup against the Raptors with Derrick White going off, but Young should have plenty of opportunities to produce.
Kevin Huerter is playing a whole lot these days at 38.5 minutes per game over his last four, averaging 13.5 points, 2.8 boards, 3.8 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 2.5 treys. Even when he couldn’t make shots on Sunday, coach Lloyd Pierce said Huerter played great, and the team was “really excited” about him getting seven dimes. He’s expected to play through a calf strain, but he’ll probably see some Danny Green today. He does play some garbage time, so that would probably be where he’ll have to make his money tonight.
Update: Huerter has a mid-back issue and is questionable. It might be tough to play him today.
DeAndre Bembry is on one of best stretches of his career with a career-high 19 points on Saturday and 17 points on Sunday. He’s almost a lock to start again today, but he might see a whole lot of Kawhi Leonard. Bembry can do more than just score, so the playing time boost could be enough to overcome scoring inefficiency. John Collins was also shut down in the last game vs. Toronto with just six points and six boards in 27 minutes when the Raptors blew out the Hawks 124-108 in ATL on Nov. 21.
Excluding the Heat folding on Sunday, the Hawks bump is real and it’s spectacular. The last time the Raptors played ATL, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 43 points,15 boards and three dimes. Kawhi Leonard didn’t play in that game, though. Kyle Lowry went berserk with 21, 12 and 17, so this should be a big spot for Fred VanVleet. Pascal Siakam dropped 22 and he’s coming in fairly hot over his last five, averaging 20.0 points, 8.4 boards, 3.8 dimes, 0.6 blocks and 1.4 treys. Kawhi Leonard is rested after getting Sunday off and could have a monster game in this matchup.
Prediction: Raptors 125, Hawks 105
Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder
Team Totals: Timberwolves 108.3, Thunder 116.3
Tom Thibodeau is gone, and interim head coach Ryan Saunders takes over at just 32 years old. Anthony Tolliver, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson are all older than Saunders along with a ton of other NBA players. The Wolves were stunned by the news and Karl-Anthony Towns said he found out over a phone call. KAT said Saunders is capable to do the job, and the veterans will be there to help. Saunders was the coach for some Wolves summer league squads, and the Wolves’ fans love for Flip should help everyone rally behind him. KAT said the Wolves are going to change out they’re going to play and that players could have more input in the style.
Saunders said he wants to be collaborative with the team, and he said he has a lot of ideas. KAT has been hot over his last six, averaging 29.7 points, 16.5 boards, 5.0 dimes, 1.2 steals and 3.3 blocks (67.8 fantasy points), but he scored just 18 with six boards in the last game against Steven Adams. It was actually Andrew Wiggins who went off against the Thunder with 30 points, and he did score 25 points in the first half on Sunday. Josh Okogie should also get plenty of run with Robert Covington (knee) still out.
It’ll be interesting to see what ideas Saunders has. Will he be more open to playing Dario Saric at the three? More Tyus? Dieng at PF some of the time? Tyus definitely deserves more playing time and he’s killer per minute for season-long leagues, so hopefully he can get into the 20s more often.
There’s enough cheap guys out there to play Russell Westbrook today. He put up a 23/11/10 trip-dub in the last game vs. Minnesota, and he’s a good bet for another one today. Paul George hasn’t skipped a beat since missing a game two weekends ago, averaging 30.4 points, 5.0 boards, 2.0 dimes, 2.6 steals and 3.0 treys. He’s going to the line more and he won’t have to deal with Lord Robert Covington. Dennis Schroder is questionable, so that could get Raymond Felton in the rotation. Plus, Abdel Nader could get a little run with his strong play recently.
Prediction: Thunder 114, Wolves 102
Sacramento Kings (back end) at Phoenix Suns (front end)
Team Totals: Kings 116.3, Suns 113.3
Devin Booker (back spasms) is hurt again after an injury on Sunday, and chances are the Suns will be careful with him because he's listed as doubtful. Booker was listed as questionable with a back issue for Dec. 1, but he did play 33 minutes with 20 points against the Warriors on that day. I was at that game, and Booker was about five minutes late coming out for warmups compared to the rest of his teammates. The training staff spent a ton of time working on his hamstrings with some other back stretches to get him ready. Booker did have a minor back issue back in October 2017, as well. It might be a little while before he plays again.
On Sunday, Booker exited with 5:33 left in the second quarter with De’Anthony Melton replacing him. Melton was then replaced by Josh Jackson with 2:52 left in the second to make Jamal Crawford the PG with Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton for most of that time to close. Jackson is clearly the big winner from the Booker news with a 18.5 minutes in the second half with 14 points, Warren had a team-high 20.1 minutes with 15 points, De’Anthony Melton was up to 16.5 in the second half, Bridges had 14.5 and Jamal Crawford sat at 12.4 (Kelly Oubre Jr. 8.5, Elie Okobo 5.6). The Crawford, Melton, Warren, Jackson and Ayton lineup was essentially the closing lineup with a few subs in the fourth quarter along the way in the close loss.
As you might expect, T.J. Warren has smashed with Booker off and Ayton on, posting per-36 stats of 25.1 points, 5.2 boards, 0.8 steals and 1.9 treys. Jackson sits at 14/6/4 per 36, Oubre is at 16/10/3 and Melton is a little underwhelming at 10/6/4 per 36. Ayton’s value doesn’t change too much, but keep in mind his slump coincided with Booker being out last month.
This game should be a stack fest for DFS, but it won’t have Marvin Bagley (rest) in the B2B. De’Aaron Fox hasn’t been very good in B2B sets on the year, and surprisingly he only scored 16 with seven dimes against the Suns in the last game back on Dec. 4. Harry Giles only played 0.5 minutes as a PF as coach Dave Joerger went with a three-way split at center on Monday. He still put up potent numbers in 17 minutes with seven points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks. In this matchup, it could get him over 20 minutes, and he’ll have a much better shot at PF minutes with Bagley out. Bogdan Bogdanovic gets a revenge game, and he’ll get another start with Iman Shumpert (finger) out again. Yogi Ferrell could also see a little extra run as the backup PG, and he could be a DFS point per minute guy today, too. Buddy Hield has been rolling and will likely be firing away all night, especially if Fox is a little banged up from some of the bumps and bruises he's sustained. He hurt his hip over the weekened, and Fox usually ices his shoulder after games.
Prediction: Kings 121, Suns 114
New York Knicks (back end) at Golden State Warriors
Team Totals: Knicks 106.5, Warriors 123.5
Not surprisingly, this is the biggest spread of the night and it should be after the Knicks played a well-fought contest in Portland during a 111-101 loss. They’re still not going to have Mitchell Robinson (groin) and Frank Ntilikina (ankle), so that should put Luke Kornet in the starting lineup with Trey Burke as the backup to Emmanuel Mudiay. Both Burke and Kornet should be looking at garbage time today, so they could be cheap options. Kevin Knox finally had his double-digit scoring streak snapped on Monday due to some foul trouble. HIs shot attempts have trended down this month with just six on Monday and 12 on Friday. Prior to this two-game cold spell, Knox had attempted 15 shots in 10 of his previous 11 games. Coach David Fizdale will likely let him chuck it against the Warriors because he’s the next Kevin Durant. OK, no, but still he should shoot a bunch in this B2B. Noah Vonleh should also be one of the other safer plays on the Knicks because he can play some five when the Warriors go with the Hamptons Five lineup.
We’re getting a whole lot of Stephen Curry these days, ranking fourth in the NBA in total minutes over his last 10. That’s mainly because the Warriors aren’t blowing teams as much out anymore with only one win by more than 10 points since Dec. 18. Since Thursday when coach Steve Kerr said Curry could be better off the ball, Steph has a ridiculous 17.5 attempts from deep. He’ll be chucking again after his 42-point Saturday. It should be a blowout, but the Dubs might have 135 in ‘em.
Kevin Durant went off against the Knicks earlier this year with 41 points, but surprisingly he scored just 18 per game against them last year. He should be licking his chops with Kevin Knox on him -- it was Damyean Dotson on him more than anyone else in the first game this year. Draymond Green is also out of a stat slump in his last five outings, averaging 9.2 points, 8.2 boards, 7.0 dimes, 1.4 blocks, 1.2 steals and 0.8 treys. If you wanna fish for some GSW garbage time, maybe it’s Jordan Bell. In the last garbage time game against Phoenix, Bell went for 10 points, six boards, two assists and three blocks in just 16 minutes. Coach Steve Kerr said he might play him more after that, but of course not with just 15 minutes combined in those two.
Prediction: Warriors 131, Knicks 108
Charlotte Hornets at LA Clippers
Team Totals: Hornets 111.8, Clippers 118.3
The Hornets are still a little banged up with Cody Zeller (hand) out 3-5 more weeks. In the last two games, the Hornets have used Bismack Biyombo or Willy Hernangomez at center for all but five minutes with Biz getting the two starts. It’s probably going to be a seesaw with who has the stronger game with Biz going off for 16 and 12 on Saturday, and then Willy going for 19, nine and four dimes on Sunday. Willy offers more upside and they may not need the interior defense anyway.
Devonte Graham had his minutes cut back in the starting lineup on Sunday with 21, and it was Tony Parker stepping up with 20 points in 27 minutes. Jeremy Lamb (hamstring) is questionable and the Clippers don’t have a big backcourt, so Parker may have another chance to close. Marvin Williams should see heavy minutes for his defense and floor-spacing ability, and he does play some five at times. He could be an option against Montrezl Harrell. Kemba Walker is Kemba Walker, and he gets a good matchup against Avery Bradley.
The Clippers may have put Boban Marjanovic away for the winter with Marcin Gortat having arguably his best stretch of his Clippers tenure over his last two games, averaging 13.0 points, 11.5 boards, 3.5 dimes and 1.0 blocks in 25.0 minutes per game. His strong play has also capped Montrezl Harrell a bit, but this could be the day it all comes tumbling down for the Polish Hammer. He’s still a viable play in what could be a favorable matchup against Willy.
This game should be close, which means Lou Williams could be feasting in the fourth while Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris continue to be solid most nights.
This is a very busy Tuesday, so I couldn't go as deep as I usually do for a 3-5 game night. Hope this still helps and tried to go deeper where it was more relevant.