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Thursday gave us a six-game slate with some interesting stuff and the big takeaway is that the Warriors are really freakin’ good. Here’s what you might have missed if you were out enjoying ‘Thirsty Thursday’ and watching the Falcons get throttled by the Patriots, yet again. Follow me on Twitter!
Warriors 104, Cavaliers 89 – Stephen Curry kept it rolling with a 40 burger and nine 3-pointers, Draymond Green somehow racked up 14 assists, and Nemanja Bjelica racked up 14 points, three boards, three assists, three steals and a couple 3-pointers in an easy win over the Cavs. The Warriors are basically the best team in the league right now and sit at 13-2 on the season. Bjelica is always intriguing but he’s just not a fantasy pickup right now, given his inconsistency. If you took Curry early in your fantasy draft thinking he’d bounce back in a big way, congratulations. He’s the No. 1 player in fantasy right now and scored 20 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter. What a beast.
Evan Mobley, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Lauri Markkanen and Jarrett Allen are all out with injuries right now, so Darius Garland racked up a season-high 25 points and five dimes, Dean Wade had 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers, and Kevin Love had 17 points, seven boards and four triples in the loss. Ricky Rubio was a huge disappointment in the starting lineup, but only because he missed nine of his 15 shots for 10 points, five assists, two steals and five turnovers. I’m not really worried about Rubio, at least until Sexton is healthy again. But I do think he’d fare better against bench lineups instead of starting ones. Ed Davis has quietly gone off for two straight games and had seven points, 14 boards and two blocks last night. As long as Allen is out, Davis is worth playing in DFS lineups and is also worth a look in fantasy leagues. Wade was a guy I picked up three or four times last year and we’re there again this season. He played 40 minutes and might be a plug-and-play guy for as long as Mobley is on the shelf. Markkanen’s return from protocols, which is coming soon, may ruin Wade, so be careful there.
Heat 112, Wizards 97 – Jimmy Butler kept it going with 32 points, three boards, five assists, four steals and hit 10-of-10 free throws for a massive stat line, Bam Adebayo is back and had 20 points and nine boards, and Gabe Vincent played 25 minutes off the bench had a season-high 18 points and three 3-pointers in the win. Kyle Lowry (rest) was back in action and had eight points and 12 dimes, while Duncan Robinson hit just 2-of-9 shots for six points on a night Tyler Herro didn’t play due to a wrist injury. Once Herro is back forget about Vincent. And if you were smart enough to have Vincent in your lineup last night, mad respect to you. P.J. Tucker had a season-high tying 15 points, five boards, two assists, a steal and three 3-pointers, but I don’t trust him at all, even though he’s scored in double figures in four of his last six games. The 11-5 Heat have quietly won four straight games. Markieff Morris missed his sixth straight game with whiplash after Nikola Jokic ruined his world on Nov. 8. Hopefully, he’s getting close and will bounce back from this.
The Wizards were without Daniel Gafford (thumb) and Spencer Dinwiddie (rest) last night and Bradley Beal went off for 30 points, six boards, five dimes, a steal and three 3-pointers on 11-of-18 shooting. He’s back, baby. Kyle Kuzma broke out of a funk to rack up a monster line of 19 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, a steal and four 3-pointers, and Montrezl Harrell racked up 12 points and nine boards in a rare start. The bad news is that starter Aaron Holiday hit just 2-of-7 shots for four points and five assists, Raul Neto came off the bench for zero points in 13 minutes, and Deni Avdija, who had been kind of hot, hit 2-of-6 shots for six points, a couple 3-pointers and not much else. Hopefully, Gafford and Dinwiddie will be back for the next one and you won’t have to gamble on Holiday and Neto. Neto absolutely ruined DFS lives with his no-show last night.
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Grizzlies 120, Clippers 108 – Ja Morant racked up 25 points, five boards, five assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 13-of-21 shooting, Jaren Jackson Jr. had a fun line with 18 points, six boards, four blocks and three 3-pointers, Dillon Brooks scored 18 points with an empty stat line, and Desmond Bane came through with 16 points, five boards, two assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 7-of-11 shooting. Bane is playing well and rendering De’Anthony Melton useless, in the process. Melton played 23 minutes off the bench and had six points, five boards, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, but has been a rough ride since his demotion. Steven Adams was a bust with two points but at least had 10 boards, five assists and a block in the win. Kyle Anderson was rough with six points, but had three rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in the win. He’s worth holding for now but this team is suffering from being too deep, at least from a fantasy perspective. Expect to see both Melton and Anderson to start showing up on waiver wires, although that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still be rostered in some leagues. And make sure Bane isn’t available on your waiver wire.
The Clippers had Nicolas Batum in street clothes due to an Achilles injury and Paul George led the way with 23 points, five boards, six dimes, a block and five 3-pointers on 9-of-18 shooting. Reggie Jackson had 18 points, five assists and four 3-pointers, and Luke Kennard came off the bench for 15 points and three 3-pointers in the loss. Ivica Zubac was decent with 13 points, seven boards and a block and Eric Bledsoe was shut down with four points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in an off night. It wasn’t a good matchup for Bledsoe, and he’ll bounce back in the next one. Isaiah Hartenstein came through with 11 points, six boards, four assists, a steal and two blocks on 5-of-6 shooting and is worth keeping on your radar each night. I’ve moved on from Batum, at least for now.
Timberwolves 115, Spurs 90 – The Wolves got a 25-12-5 line with a block and three 3-pointers from Karl-Anthony Towns (9-of-16 shooting), D’Angelo Russell added 22 points, three boards, five assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers on 6-of-19 shooting, and Anthony Edwards filled the stat sheet with 13 points, five boards, six assists, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers on 5-of-11 shooting. Ant didn’t have a great matchup but still came through with a fun line. Taurean Prince, Jaden McDaniels and Malik Beasley all hit double figures off the bench in the win, but I don’t really trust any of them. Jarred Vanderbilt had six points, 12 boards and two blocks so keep an eye on him going forward.
Devin Vassell led the way for the Spurs with 18 points, four rebounds, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 8-of-14 shooting and I would argue he should be rostered everywhere. Meanwhile, Dejounte Murray had an off night on 2-of-12 shooting. Derrick White (1-of-4 shooting), Keldon Johnson (2-of-5), Doug McDermott (4-of-9) and Drew Eubanks (8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block) were all disappointing, while Jakob Poeltl returned from a seven-game absence with two points in 15 minutes. Eubanks is probably finished with Poeltl’s return while Johnson, White and Murray should all bounce back in the next one. Thaddeus Young was disturbing with zero points in four minutes, but we don’t have a report of an injury. Poeltl’s return will also hurt Young, and he might be injured so think about moving on now that Poeltl’s back. I know White is becoming a pain but I still think he'll get it going. If you want to drop him, go for it.
Sixers 103, Nuggets 89 – The Joel Embiid-less Sixers rained on Nikola Jokic’s parade and got a tough win at Denver. Tyrese Maxey kept his foot on the gas and finished with a team-high 22 points, five boards, four assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 9-of-15 shooting, How fun has his ride been? Seth Curry came through with 20 points, six boards, five assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 8-of-17 shooting, and Tobias Harris had 17 points, seven boards, two assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer on 8-of-18 shooting in the win. Danny Green was out with a hamstring injury, allowing Curry to get loose, and Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz were somewhat quiet off the bench. Shake had a nice line but it’s time to dump Korky for a hot free agent if you’ve got your eye on someone. I’m not sure why Andre Drummond stinks now but he only had four points and six boards tonight. He went from beast to mouse in a hurry, but it doesn’t mean he won’t bounce back before Embiid is out of the protocols. A guy named Charles Bassey played 19 minutes and played tough D on Jokic, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds, a steal and three blocks on 5-of-7 shooting. If you’re in a 30-team league, he’s worth a look, but will disappear once Embiid is back.
Nikola Jokic went off for 30 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, a block and three 3-pointers and Will Barton, who was originally doubtful due to a sore back, started and racked up a near triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and four 3-pointers on 7-of-14 shooting in the loss. I assumed Barton was out and rolled with Austin Rivers, which didn’t really work out. Barton is a must-have/must-start player as long as Michael Porter (back) Jr. is out. Monte Morris had 11 points, three boards, four assists, two steals, a 3-pointer and one turnover in the loss and remains a steady play at point guard in fantasy. Those were the only Nuggets to score in double figures last night and they emptied the bench in a blowout loss. Jokic, Baron and Morris are really the only guys you want to mess with from Denver, although Aaron Gordon, JaMychal Green and Jeff Green are worth a thought in deep leagues. Bones Hyland missed all seven of his shots in 14 minutes off the bench and while he's intriguing, it’s just too early in his career to rely on him. He and Alperen Sengun (Rockets) will likely be fantasy studs one day, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen this year.
Jazz 119, Raptors 103 – The Jazz got 20 points, three boards, one assist, four steals and two 3-pointers out of Donovan Mitchell in the win, and Rudy Gay came off the bench for 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and five 3-pointers on 7-of-8 shooting in just 18 minutes in his season debut. If you somehow had Gay in a lineup last night, congratulations are in order. I’m going to go ahead and tell you this will likely be his best line of the season. I’m not even thinking about picking him up. The Jazz box score wasn’t pretty last night but Royce O’Neale, Hassan Whiteside and Joe Ingles are all worth having on your radar or roster at this point. But I only trust Rudy Gobert (14 & 11, 2 blocks), Mitchell, Conley (5 points, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 1 3-pointer) and Jordan Clarkson (4-of-12 shooting, 4 triples, 12 points) right now.
The Raptors are just 7-9 on the season and are missing OG Anunoby (hip), who will be out ‘awhile.’ Pascal Siakam hit just 2-of-14 shots and Gary Trent Jr. led the way with a season-high 31 points and five 3-pointers in the loss on Thursday. Scottie Barnes, Khem Birch (who started at center) and Fred VanVleet all played relatively well but the Raptors were no match for the Jazz last night. Chris Boucher, who had a shot at some minutes with Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa out, played just 17 minutes and hit 1-of-6 shots for two points, eight boards, two assists and a block. I’m about ready to give up on him until he’s traded out of Nick Nurse’s Siberia. Birch started at center and had 14 points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals on 6-of-8 shooting in 24 minutes and is worth a look right now, assuming he keeps starting for the Raps.