Week 24 Games Played
4 Games: Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Rockets, Heat, Wolves, Thunder, Kings
3 Games: Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Cavs, Mavs, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Pelicans, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Blazers, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
2 Games: Clippers, Knicks
Week 25 Games Played
2 Games: Hawks, Nets, Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Heat, Wolves, Bucks, Pelicans, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
1 Game: Cavs, Mavs, Pistons, Pacers, Blazers, Kings
The end of the NBA season is pretty much an all-or-nothing endeavor. Either your guys stay healthy and finish up strong and you win a championship, or your guys get hurt, take nights off and making you feel like never playing the game again. And unfortunately, since there’s only one winner in each league, 90 percent of us feel like throwing the bag of clubs in the lake and walking away from the course. But by the time the NBA Draft rolls by and you take a five-month break from worrying about whether or not Anthony Davis or Dwyane Wade are going to play that night, you will eventually get the itch to play again, and you’ll put together a new list of “never again” players that you won’t let ruin your team next year. And you’ll be right back in there with me, drafting teams that look unbeatable at the time.
I love fantasy hoops. It’s not only my job, but also my passion. But it will test you, as there are more and more late-season shut downs and missed games for injuries than ever before. And we’re not even done yet. In my one real success story this season, I drafted LeBron James in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, finished as the No. 6 seed, then took out Rotoworld’s Adam Levitan in Round 1 and Rotowire’s Chris Liss in Round 2. Now I’m set for a Finals match against Basketballmonster.com’s Justin Phan, who is the No. 1 seed. I beat Phan earlier in the season, but the way George Hill and Lance Stephenson are playing for the Pacers right now, confidence is a bit low. Phan will be relying heavily on Kevin Love, who has never met a season he wanted to finish. This should be very interesting. Anyway, I hope you had fun playing hoops this season and I look forward to seeing you throughout the summer and the final 10 days of this campaign. Here’s what happened on Sunday.
Hawks Dismantle Pacers
The Pacers scored a whopping 23 points in the first half against the Hawks, Roy Hibbert was benched for the second half, and the Pacers don’t look like they’ll even get out of the first round of the playoffs. Hibbert was angry and not speaking to reporters after the game, his coach said (repeatedly) that he looked “worn down,” and Lance Stephen and George Hill, once again, looked like they’ve forgotten how to play basketball. And I don’t care if the Pacers get the Bobcats, Hawks or Wizards in Round 1. If something doesn’t change drastically in the next 10 days, they might be the first No. 2 seed to be an underdog in the opening round of the playoffs. Yeah, I’m sort of kidding, but I can’t recall any No. 1 or 2 seed in this big of a mess at this time of the year. Hibbert should bounce back from this, but none of them are reliable plays right now. And yes, I have Hill and Stephenson in my lineup for a potential championship this week.
Lou Williams had been hot for the Hawks, but sat out Sunday with a sore hamstring and all we know is that he’s day-to-day. Mike Scott went nuts on Friday against the Cavs with 26 points, but played just 13 minutes and had seven points and four fouls on Sunday. He’s another guy in my lineup this week due to his four-game schedule, but I’m not feeling all that great about it. Pero Antic is back and also worth a look, along with DeMarre Carroll, while Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap all look good. Just keep in mind Millsap hurt his thumb last night, and while he returned to play through it, we'll have to wait ot make sure Millsap is OK. The Hawks won't practice today, so we probably won't get an update in time for you to set your lineup. I think you probably have to play him at this point.
Heat Down Knicks In J.R. Smith Show
Dwyane Wade sat out, as usual, and LeBron James posted a monster line, as usual. Phan has Chris Andersen in his lineup against me, but Andersen was out yesterday with a bruised right knee. The Heat are going to be a tough call this week, as they’re starting to pull away from Indiana and have a pair of back-to-backs, playing Tuesday and Wednesday vs. Brooklyn and at Memphis, and then Friday and Saturday vs. Indiana and at Atlanta. I would be surprised to see much of Wade this week, if at all, and we might see a full skeleton crew on Saturday night in Atlanta if they crush the Pacers on Friday night. As a LeBron owner, I’m just praying for three games this week.
J.R. Smith shot 22 3-pointers yesterday and hit 10 of them. Think about that for a second. He took 11 more shots than Carmelo Anthony and had 32 points, but the Heat still won by 11. All signs point toward Smith continuing to go bombs away this week, but the Knicks only play two games, making all of them tough plays in leagues where games matter. The Knicks bench scored nine points, all of them coming from Iman Shumpert, so don’t mess with any of them except for the starters (Amare Stoudemire, Melo, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Lone Star J.R. – my apologies in advance to Johnny Rutherford).
Clippers Destroy Lakers
The Clippers had a balanced attack and were led by Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, who both should continue to play this week. The Clips only have two games, which is not great news if you own any of them. But I’m playing DeAndre Jordan in my championship game, simply because I have no faith in the guys I’m benching. Jamal Crawford might be done for the season and J.J. Redick started and had 15 points and a 3-pointer last night. Again, feel free to use any of the starters (Griffin, CP3, Matt Barnes, Jordan and Redick), but the only bench player I’d consider is Darren Collison.
The Lakers got 22 points and nine boards from Jordan Hill, who is officially back in good graces. Ryan Kelly started and played 31 minutes, but hit just 3-of-11 shots, while Kendall Marshall double-doubled and Jodie Meeks scored 17 points. Nick Young added 18 off the bench, Pau Gasol is likely done for the year, and Kent Bazemore’s season appears to be over after he heard a pop in his foot. If he’s done, Wes Johnson and Robert Sacre each played about 30 minutes and played fairly well, and are a couple other guys I think you can use this week.
Mavs Top Kings
The Mavs got 23 from Monta Ellis, but Dirk Nowitzki hit just 5-of-17 shots for 15 points, Jose Calderon scored 14 and Vince Carter scored 17 points in the win. Shawn Marion played 34 minutes but had just seven points and nine rebounds, while Samuel Dalembert stayed relevant with six points, 11 boards, a steal and a block. Again, the starters are startable and Carter’s the only guy I trust off the bench.
The Kings got 32 from Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points, 10 boards, three steals and two blocks, and continues to stay away from technical fouls. Ray McCallum played a whopping 48 minutes, and despite hitting just 4-of-12 shots for eight points, also had four rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a block. We still don’t know when Isaiah Thomas is going to play again, but as long as he’s out, McCallum is a must-start. If you have to make a weekly decision right now, I’d go with McCallum, as Thomas has mixed seven straight games with his quad injury and the Kings are out of the playoff race.
Rockets Top Nuggets behind Harden, Asik
James Harden hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime as the Rockets made a remarkable comeback and then went on to win the day’s most exciting game. Harden was spectacular, finishing with 32 points, 10 assists, four steals and three 3-pointers, Jeremy Lin had 19 points and a full stat line, and Terrence Jones had 14 points, five rebounds, two steals and three blocks. But it was Omer Asik that destroyed the Nuggets with 18 points, 23 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. The Nuggets were terrible against big men all season and yesterday was no exception. With Beverley and Dwight Howard possibly done for the year, Lin, Asik and the rest of the Rockets starters should all be in fantasy lineups right now.
The big daily mistake I made yesterday was forgetting about Aaron Brooks. I was on vacation last week and fell out of the Ty Lawson (ankle) loop, and just missed it. It was costly, as he was 80 percent owned in the league I was playing in, and he went off for 24 points, eight rebounds, 15 assists, three steals and two 3-pointers. Obviously, I didn’t win any money in that league. Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov, Quincy Miller (no Wilson Chandler), Brooks (if Lawson is out), Randy Foye and Evan Fournier (26 points, six 3-pointers) are the Nuggets you want to be looking at right now. Lawson could get the week off to let his ankle recover, so I would be tempted to play Brooks (and maybe Fournier) with confidence.
Spurs Beat Grizzlies, Lose Tony Parker
The Spurs easily beat the Grizzlies on Sunday, but Tony Parker left the game with a back injury and will have an MRI. And with the playoffs looming, Parker could be done for the regular season. Hello, Patty Mills. Mills had seven points in 20 minutes last night, but will be the guy you want if Parker is shut down. Tim Duncan was quiet, Kawhi Leonard went nuts with 26 points, and Manu Ginobili matched him with 26 and four 3-pointers, while Tiago Splitter and Danny Green each played just 18 minutes. I’d feel confident rolling Leonard and Mills out there this week, but the rest of Gregg Popovich’s crew is a crapshoot.
James Johnson led the Grizzlies with 20 points, but is completely unreliable, while Mike Conley was the only other player in double digits for Memphis. The regular starters should be fairly reliable this week, but there wasn’t much going on Sunday to instill confidence in using them.
Warriors Spank Jazz
Klay Thompson scored 33 points and Stephen Curry had 31 points and 16 assists, and the two combined to hit 12 3-pointers in an easy win. Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green both started and had 11 points, as David Lee continues to sit with a hamstring injury. He’s missed five straight and we don’t know when he’ll play again. Therefore, Green is relevant. Andrew Bogut finally returned to action and had six points and 11 boards in 23 minutes, which wasn’t great for those of you who were rolling with Jermaine O’Neal. I think the Warriors regulars are going to be fine this week.
Trey Burke and Alec Burks each scored 24 for the Jazz, but the rest of the box score was pretty ugly. Enes Kanter was back off the bench as Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson started, and neither Kanter nor Favors were very good. I’d stay away from Williams and RJ, but the rest of the regulars are worth a shot.
Suns Top Thunder
Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker and Eric Bledsoe helped lead the Suns over the Thunder to keep their playoff hopes alive. Channing Frye played just 18 minutes and Miles Plumlee continues to underwhelm. I’d keep rolling Dragic, Green, Tucker and Bledsoe, and consider the Morris Twins going forward.
The Thunder got 38 from Kevin Durant and 33 from Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka didn’t block a shot, but played well. Even with Westbrook playing 33 minutes, Reggie Jackson also saw 33 minutes and had 11 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Jackson remains a strong play, as the Thunder go back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday, and again on Sunday and Monday. That means Westbrook will miss at least two more games before the playoffs, making him a shaky weekly play, depending on your options.
Blazers Beat Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 25 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks, Wesley Matthews scored 21, Damian Lillard had 20 and Nicolas Batum had 16 points, 12 boards and a full stat line in the win. As usual, the Blazers starters are all pretty reliable.
Anthony Davis graced us with his presence and hit 6-of-18 shots for 15 points, five rebounds and four blocks. It looks like he’s OK to keep running out there, but he seems to be very fragile and his back remains a concern. I’ve heard some “experts” talking about taking Davis with the No. 1 overall pick next year, but I’m not one of them. The guy seems to be constantly injured and I just don’t feel like I can rely on him. Taking him at No. 6? Yes. Taking him over LeBron or KD? No thanks. Tyreke Evans, Brian Roberts and Anthony Morrow all look like must-stars the rest of the way.
There are no games on Monday night due to the NCAA Final game, so take the night off and enjoy the game that will only impact your bracket pool for the final score tie breaker.