Giannis unstoppable in Portland

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Raphielle Johnson
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Friday's NBA slate didn't lack for games, and it didn't lack for blowouts, either. Seven of the ten games played were decided by 16 points or more, which included Toronto beating a shorthanded Golden State squad by a staggering 53 points. The headliner on this night was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who put on a show in Portland.

Raptors 130, Warriors 77: With Draymond Green and Stephen Curry both out due to injury, this was expected to be an uphill battle for the Warriors. But to lose by 53 points? Yikes. Andrew Wiggins (15/4/2 with one 3-pointer in 27 minutes) was the only starter to shoot better than 50% from the field, but he was just 5-of-9. Kelly Oubre (9/7/1 with two 3-pointers), Jordan Poole (10/2/1/1 with three 3-pointers) and James Wiseman (9/5/2/1 block with one 3-pointer) all struggled, while Juan Toscano-Anderson (one rebound, one assist) didn’t even attempt a shot. Wiggins and Oubre are the “obvious” fantasy choices when Curry is out, but neither showed up Friday night.

Nico Mannion (ten points, four assists, one steal and one block) turned the ball over four times on the night, but he played 30 minutes off the bench and may be worth streaming consideration in deep leagues whenever Curry sits between now and the end of the season. Eric Paschall (9/6/2/1/1 with one 3-pointer) posted a full, but modest, line off the bench. He’s worth a deep league look whenever Green sits.

As for the Raptors, they really needed a game like this. Pascal Siakam went off, shooting 14-of-24 from the field and putting up 36 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in just three quarters (31 minutes, to be exact). Gary Trent Jr. (24/5/1/1/2 with six 3-pointers) and OG Anunoby (21/3/2/2/1 with two 3-pointers) also had good nights offensively. Chris Boucher got a spot start with Kyle Lowry sidelined, playing 25 minutes and finishing with ten points, six rebounds, two assists, four steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer.

When Boucher starts, he’s an obvious fantasy choice. Only problem is, he’s made just fours starts on the season. The absence of Lowry also meant more playing time for rookie Malachi Flynn, and in 31 minutes off the bench he posted a line of 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and one 3-pointer. Flynn may not offer much in the way of fantasy value for the remainder of this season, but he’s worth keeping in mind for next season if the Raptors don’t re-sign Lowry.

Celtics 118, Rockets 102: The Time Lord continues to shine as a starter, as Robert Williams put up a line of 20 points (9-of-9 FGs, 2-of-3 FTs), nine rebounds, eight assists, one steal and two blocked shots in 26 minutes. The minute total is a bit interesting, as Williams was called for just one foul on the night. But beggars can’t be choosers, especially when considering how little (comparatively speaking) he played earlier this season. Williams is still rostered in 71% of Yahoo leagues, which is way too low at this point in the season.

Evan Fournier caught fire in the fourth quarter, going 6-of-6 from three and finishing with a line of 23 points, two rebounds and seven 3-pointers in 30 minutes. He’s more of a points and 3-pointers option in Boston, but there’s still some value to be had as Fournier gets more comfortable with his role. Jaylen Brown (22/11/2/2 with one 3-pointer) left the game with a left knee contusion, but according to Brad Stevens he is OK. Jayson Tatum (26 points, nine rebounds, one block and five 3-pointers) led the way offensively, while Kemba Walker (11/6/8 with three 3-pointers) and Marcus Smart (6/4/10/3/1) were productive in other areas.

Houston played this one without John Wall, which meant that Christian Wood (19/10/3/2 with one 3-pointer) and Kevin Porter Jr. (12/5/8/3) served as the focal points offensively. The Rockets didn’t get much from their other starters, but Avery Bradley did chip in with a line of 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes off the bench. His fantasy value for the remainder of the season will likely depend on Wall’s availability, but he isn’t an automatic pickup when Wall sits, either. Kelly Olynyk (10/3/4 with two 3-pointers) had a decent night off the bench, but his fantasy value took a major hit when Wood was cleared to play.

Mavericks 99, Knicks 86: Dallas was without its head coach, as Rick Carlisle was out for health and safety protocol reasons. But that made no difference, as Luka Doncic (26/8/7/1 with three 3-pointers) led the way for the visitors while assistant coach Jamahl Mosley ran the show on the sideline. The biggest story for Dallas from a fantasy standpoint may be the recent play of Jalen Brunson, who put up 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer in 25 minutes off the bench. Rostered in less than 20% of Yahoo leagues, he’s pushing top-50 value in 9-cat over the last week. Fantasy managers in deep leagues could do a lot worse than Brunson if they’re in need of a point guard to help fill a gap in their roster.

Kristaps Porzingis (14/8/1/1 block with one 3-pointer) shot just 6-of-17 from the field, but he managed to reach double figures and leave Madison Square Garden with a win. Tim Hardaway Jr. (14/3/1/2 with three 3-pointers) and Josh Richardson (11/4/1/1 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures, while Maxi Kleber (7/7/2/2 with one 3-pointer) posted a solid line for those in need of rebounds/defensive production.

Alec Burks was the only Knick who was truly able to get going, scoring 20 points (6-of-11 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) with two rebounds, one assist, two steals and four 3-pointers in 29 minutes off the bench. Over the last month he has been New York’s most productive fantasy player, providing 6th-round value in 9-cat. Turnovers have been an issue recently for Julius Randle, and in addition to racking up five he also shot 5-of-20 from the field. Randle’s line of 14 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer rates among his poorer performances of the season to date.

Following the game the Knicks announced that they’ve signed Norvel Pelle, but at most he gives them another body in the post. He won’t offer much as far as fantasy is concerned.

Hornets 114, Pacers 97: Charlotte managed to win by a comfortable margin despite losing one of its best players due to injury. Gordon Hayward, who finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists and one 3-pointer, played just 19 minutes due to a right foot sprain suffered during the second quarter. Miles Bridges (23/10/1/2/1 with four 3-pointers) benefitted from Hayward’s absence, playing 31 minutes off the bench. Charlotte visits Boston on Sunday and, if Hayward can’t play, Bridges (rostered in 48% of Yahoo leagues) is the one to watch as far as fantasy is concerned.

Charlotte’s bench scored 55 points on the night, with Cody Zeller (17/4/1/1) and Brad Wanamaker (13/4/2) joining Bridges in double figures. Over the last week Zeller, who’s rostered in just 11% of Yahoo leagues, sits just outside of the top-100 in 9-cat formats. He certainly isn’t a standard league pickup, but managers in deep leagues looking to roll the dice on a big could benefit from Zeller’s recent run. Terry Rozier (15/6/3/2/1 with one 3-pointer) and P.J. Washington (13/2/2/2/1 with one 3-pointer) posted full stat lines, but the combined to shoot 12-of-38 from the field. Devonte' Graham (12/3/6/5 with one 3-pointer) also made up for a rough shooting night with a close to full line, as he went 3-of-15 from the field.

Indiana also lost a starter due to injury in this one, as Domantas Sabonis (8/10/4/1) played 27 minutes before exiting with a sprained left ankle. The Pacers play Saturday night in San Antonio, so fantasy managers should prepare themselves for the likelihood that Sabonis won’t be available. Doug McDermott (13/2/3 with three 3-pointers in 29 minutes) is the player most likely to fill that void if Sabonis is unable to play.

Edmond Sumner started for the injured Malcolm Brogdon, accounting for ten points, six rebounds, three assists and one block in 22 minutes. While that isn’t a terrible line, it isn’t enough to justify Sumner as a streaming option in standard leagues. Caris LeVert (16/4/5/2 with two 3-pointers) led the way offensively for the Pacers, while T.J. McConnell (12/1/7/2 blocks), Aaron Holiday (12 points, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers) and Goga Bitadze (10/7/1 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures. Bitadze played just 11 minutes, and that number should increase if Sabonis sits Saturday night.

Grizzlies 120, Timberwolves 108: Balance was the name of the game for Memphis, as eight players scored in double figures. Grayson Allen was back in the starting lineup after a one-game absence due to injury, playing 22 minutes and shooting 5-of-7 from three. He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and one assist. That guard spot opposite Ja Morant (11/3/7 with two 3-pointers) is a tough sell from a fantasy standpoint, as Allen, Desmond Bane (6/7/1/1/1 with one 3-pointer) and De’Anthony Melton (14/4/3/3 with four 3-pointers) are all in the mix for rotation minutes. I’d rank them Melton (rostered in 12% of Yahoo leagues), Allen (4%) and Bane (3%) as far as fantasy value is concerned, with the former sitting just outside of the top-100.

Jonas Valanciunas (19 points, 11 rebounds and one 3-pointer) led the way offensively for Memphis, while Kyle Anderson (7/8/7/1/1 with one 3-pointer) posted a full line in just 20 minutes of action. He’s sharing time with Brandon Clarke, who in 24 minutes put up 11 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Taylor Jenkins has a lot of options at his disposal, and that’s without Jaren Jackson Jr. That makes things very difficult for fantasy managers, outside of Morant and Valanciunas. Xavier Tillman (12/4/1 steal/1 block with one 3-pointer) and Tyus Jones (11/3/5/1 with two 3-pointers) had good nights off the bench, but neither is worth considering unless the starters ahead of them (Valanciunas and Morant) go down with an injury.

Karl-Anthony Towns (30/16/2/1/1 with one 3-pointer) and Anthony Edwards (22/3/6/1/2 with two 3-pointers) led Minnesota, with the latter managing to shot 9-of-14 from the field and post a full stat line. Edwards’ being able to impact the game in areas other than scoring will be key for him as a fantasy option and, more importantly, as a cornerstone for the Timberwolves in their rebuild. Naz Reid (18/5/1/2 blocks with two 3-pointers in 23 minutes), who scored a total of ten points in the three games prior, had a good night off the bench. His value isn’t great as Minnesota remains committed to playing Towns plenty, but Reid may be worth a streaming look for Saturday’s game against the 76ers.

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Hawks 126, Pelicans 103: This game was interesting due to the number of key players sidelined due to injury. Atlanta played without Trae Young, John Collins and Danilo Gallinari, while New Orleans did not have Lonzo Ball, Zion Williamson, Steven Adams and Brandon Ingram. And that isn’t the full list of injured players, either. Bogdan Bogdanovic (26/7/7/1/1 with six pointers) and Kevin Huerter (24/1/3 with two 3-pointers) stepped up to lead the way offensively for the Hawks, while Lou Williams (19/4/8/1/1 with out 3-pointer) played 30 minutes off the bench in his second game for the team. Williams is rostered in 42% of Yahoo leagues, and that number should increase given Atlanta’s need for consistent production in the backup point guard role.

Brandon Goodwin started, but that was due to his understanding of the Hawks offense (compared to Williams). He played 28 minutes, finishing with ten points, one rebound, five assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. Should Young have to sit again on Sunday, Goodwin would likely make another spot start. If Williams isn’t available in your league, then Goodwin may be worth streaming in that scenario. Clint Capela (14/10/2 steals/6 blocks) and Onyeka Okongwu (11/9/2 steals/1 block) both played well in the middle, with the latter having one of his best games of the season. Hopefully Okongwu can string together multiple quality performances down the stretch.

With New Orleans down four starters, Jaxson Hayes (12 points, four rebounds and one blocked shot), James Johnson (16/4/6/2/1 with three 3-pointers) and Naji Marshall (9/5/1/3 with one 3-pointer) joined Eric Bledsoe (14/3/5) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12/3/3/1/2 with two 3-pointers) with the first five. Johnson had a very good night, shooting 6-of-9 from the field, and it’s quite clear that he’ll be a solid streaming option moving forward when the Pelicans are shorthanded in the frontcourt.

But the eye-opening line of the night as far as New Orleans is concerned is the one put forth by rookie point guard Kira Lewis Jr. In 26 minutes off the bench, he accounted for 21 points (9-of-16 FGs), two rebouds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers. Lewis (rostered in 2% of Yahoo leagues) has now played 16 minutes or more in each of the Pelicans’ last seven games, and over the last two weeks he’s providing 10th-round value in 9-cat formats. While he doesn’t play the same position as Josh Hart, who could miss the remainder of the season due to a right thumb injury, that could be the opening that Lewis needs to crack (and remain in) the rotation down the stretch.

However there is a concern, as the Pelicans will reportedly be signing Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract on Saturday. Hopefully that doesn't impact Lewis' minutes too much, if at all.

Jazz 113, Bulls 106: A couple days removed from the flight scare that led to his remaining in Salt Lake City, Donovan Mitchell was back in the lineup for the Jazz. He played 36 minutes, putting up 26 points (7-of-21 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs) three rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers. Utah hosts Orlando on Saturday and Mitchell expects to travel when the Jazz visit the Mavericks Monday night. Joe Ingles moved back to the bench Friday night, filling his usual role and posting a line of nine points, one rebound, one assist, two steals and three 3-pointers in 22 minutes.

Rudy Gobert (19/13/1/2 blocks), Jordan Clarkson (19/2/1/1 with three 3-pointers), Bojan Bogdanovic (18/8/1/1 with one 3-pointer) and Mike Conley (13/2/5/1/1 with three 3-pointers) joined Mitchell in double figures, with Bogdanovic having scored 41 points in Utah’s last two games. This season has been a struggle for Bogdanovic, who scored a total of six points in the two games prior to this current two-game run, with regard to consistency. Rostered in 67% of Yahoo leagues, he sits just inside of the top-200 in 9-cat formats. If Bogdanovic can continue on his current run, he could prove to a valuable asset for those who still have him rostered.

Zach LaVine (23/5/3 with two 3-pointers), who has been struggling with an ankle injury recently, played 31 minutes on the night after sitting out Wednesday’s loss to the Suns. Thaddeus Young (25/7/3/1) had his highest scoring game as a Bull, playing 33 minutes in a starting role. Billy Donovan appears to be searching for answers with the rotation. Lauri Markkanen (5/2/1) played 23 minutes, and he wasn’t a part of Chicago’s closing lineup. Denzel Valentine (12/4/4/1 with two 3-pointers) was out there however, at times serving as the primary playmaker while Coby White (4/1/3/1 block) played off the ball.

LaVine, Young and Nikola Vucevic (16/8/4/1 block with one 3-pointer) feel like the only sure things on this roster from a fantasy standpoint. Patrick Williams (8/3/3/2 in 33 minutes) didn’t put up a line that jumps off the page, but he seems to function better playing alongside Vucevic and Young at this early juncture in his career. That doesn’t help as far as Williams’ short-term fantasy value is concerned, but it is something to consider in advance of the 2021-22 season.

Suns 140, Thunder 103: Golden State wasn’t the only team to take a major loss, as Oklahoma City ran into a buzzsaw in Phoenix. The rookies were the only bright spots for the Thunder, as Theo Maledon (33/5/3/1 with five 3-pointers) and Aleksej Pokusevski (20/5/4/1 with four 3-pointers) both posted quality stat lines. Maledon did turn the ball over five times on the night but, overall, he acquitted himself well playing opposite future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul. Maledon and Pokusevski are must-plays and the same can be said of Isaiah Roby (2/4/2) and Moses Brown (1/7/1 steal/1 block), even with the subpar lines that they posted Friday night.

Justin Jackson (15/1/1 with three 3-pointers) and Kenrich Williams (10/3/3/1/1 with two 3-pointers reached double figures off the bench, and the latter can provide some deep-league fantasy value moving forward. Rostered in 4% of Yahoo leagues, Williams is providing 11th-round value in 9-cat over the last two weeks. He’s reached double figures in five of Oklahoma City’s last six games.

For Phoenix, the aforementioned Paul (17/5/12/3 with one 3-pointer) didn’t miss a shot, going 8-of-8 from the field. He was one of six Suns to finish the game in double figures, with Devin Booker (32/2/5 with three 3-pointers) leading the way. Mikal Bridges (17/2/3 blocks with two 3-pointers), Cameron Johnson (17/2/1/1/1 with three 3-pointers), Jae Crowder (11/4/2/1/1 with two 3-pointers) and Dario Saric (11/3/2 with one 3-pointers) were the others. Johnson left the game to get some stitches after taking a shot the head, and then came back and scored all 17 of his points during the second half.

Something to watch with this team is the play of Deandre Ayton, who struggled and finished with nine points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 24 minutes. He seemed a bit frustrated during the second half, and Ayton has scored 14 points or fewer in each of the Suns’ last four games. Not only will an engaged Ayton help those who have him rostered, but his mindset will also be key for a team that’s looking to establish itself as a contender.

Bucks 127, Trail Blazers 109: Giannis Antetokounmpo joined some esteemed company Friday night, as he went off for 47 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks in 33 minutes played. Shooting 18-of-21 from the field (and 11-of-13 from the foul line), Antetokoumpo became the first player to put up a 45/10 line while shooting at least 85% from the field since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967. Antetokounmpo seemed to have some issues with his left knee during pregame warmups, but after the game the two-time MVP said that it feels good. He was one of three Bucks starters to score at least 20 points on the night, with Jrue Holiday (22/4/10/2 with two 3-pointers) and Khris Middleton (20/7/8/3 with two 3-pointers) being the others.

Also of note as the return of Bobby Portis, who played 17 minutes after missing the four games prior due to health and safety protocols. Following the game Portis, who finished with six points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal, said that he was sidelined due to contact tracing as opposed to a positive COVID-19 test. He’s averaging 21 minutes per game and, sitting just outside of the top-100 in 9-cat, Portis should be rostered in more leagues than he currently is (38%). Jeff Teague saw his first action as a Buck, playing 13 minutes and finishing with two points, one rebound, two assists and two blocked shots. There’s no need to grab Teague off of your league’s waiver wire.

Damian Lillard (32/4/5/3/1 with five 3-pointers in 32 minutes) shouldered much of the load offensively for Portland, while C.J. McCollum (18/2/7/3 with three 3-pointers), Robert Covington (18 points, seven rebounds and six 3-pointers) and Norman Powell (12/3/2/3 with two 3-pointers) joined him in double figures. Jusuf Nurkic, who’s still on a minutes restriction, picked up three quick fouls and never seemed to establish a rhythm, finishing with a line of nine points (2-of-11 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 21 minutes. Nurkic’s fantasy value is essentially capped until the restriction is lifted, but he’s still worth plugging into lineups due to his production as a rebounder.

Lakers 115, Kings 94: With Andre Drummond not even making the trip north due to a toe injury, Marc Gasol was back in the starting lineup for the Lakers Friday night. Playing 28 minutes, he posted a line of five points, nine rebounds, six assists, one steal and one 3-pointer. Gasol was also responsible for five turnovers and, unfortunately, when the Lakers are whole in the frontcourt he appears unlikely to offer much in the way of fantasy value. At best, Gasol is a streaming options on nights like Friday.

Kyle Kuzma (30/5/3 with four 3-pointers) established a new season-high in points, leading five double-digit scorers for the winners. Dennis Schroder (17/4/8/4 with three 3-pointers), Talen Horton-Tucker (15/2/1/4 with one 3-pointer), Markieff Morris (14/8/2 with two 3-pointers) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13/10/3 with four 3-pointers) were the other four, while Montrezl Harrell made up for his low point total (five) by grabbing ten rebounds.

The news wasn't all good for the Lakers however, as Wesley Matthews played just six minutes before aggravating the neck injury that has been bothering him recently. While Matthews doesn’t offer much fantasy-wise, the last thing the Lakers need right now is another injury.

Harrison Barnes (26/5/5/1/1 with three 3-pointer) and Delon Wright (13/3/1 with three 3-pointers) were the only Kings who managed to get anything going offensively, and the latter was responsible for five turnovers. De'Aaron Fox (12/1/5/3/1) shot 5-of-20 from the field, while Tyrese Haliburton (9/2/2/1 block with one 3-pointer) and Buddy Hield (7/6/3/3 with one 3-pointer) combined to shoot 7-of-20. Richaun Holmes didn’t produce anything defensively, going without a steal or a block in a game for the first time since a March 20 loss to the 76ers, finishing the night with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Following the game the Kings announced that they will be waiving DaQuan Jeffries, which will not have an impact as far as fantasy basketball is concerned. The move does free up a roster spot, and it has been reported that the team plans on filling the void in the coming days. Now we wait to see who that player will be.