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Friday's NBA slate included a rematch between the teams with the two best records in the league, the return of LeBron James, and Utah's backcourt tandem torching the Celtics. Let's dive right into the Daily Dose.
Warriors 118, Suns 96
The longest win streak in Suns franchise history came to an end Friday night, and the result wasn't all that surprising. Phoenix was on the second half of a back-to-back, playing against a team that had been resting since losing to the Suns Tuesday night. Not to take anything away from the Warriors, but this was a "schedule loss" for the visitors. And they nearly lost another key player due to injury, as Mikal Bridges dislocated his right pinkie finger late in the first quarter. He was able to return to the game, playing 30 minutes and finishing with seven points, two rebounds, one assist, and one 3-pointer. Bridges did have the finger taped, and it's fair to wonder if this had something to do with his attempting just four shots from the field (making two). He'll have a couple days to address any pain/swelling, as the Suns will not play again until Monday against the Spurs.
Devin Booker sitting for a second straight game meant another start for Landry Shamet, who didn't offer a great deal during his 27 minutes on the floor. Shooting 3-of-8 from the field, he posted a line of nine points, four rebounds, two assists, and three 3-pointers. Deep league managers in need of 3-pointers will want to consider streaming Shamet, but don't expect much more than that. If anything, Booker's absence will boost the fantasy values of Chris Paul (12/3/8/1) and Deandre Ayton (23/6/2/0/2), as even more of the Suns' offense will run through those two. Cameron Johnson (12/4/2/1 with two 3-pointers) played 33 minutes, and he's logged 27 or more in each of the last three games. If anything, Johnson would be a better streamer than Shamet, despite his still coming off the bench. Johnson is rostered in 24% of Yahoo leagues, while Shamet is at 3%.
Golden State received contributions all across the rotation in this one, with Stephen Curry (23/5/5 with six 3-pointers) leading the way. While his 8-of-20 night wasn't all that impressive, it was better than the 4-of-21 line that Curry put up Tuesday night. And he had more help this time around, as well. Andrew Wiggins (19/5/2 with three 3-pointers) and Jordan Poole (14/1/5/1 with two 3-pointers and five turnovers) also scored in double figures, while Draymond Green (9/9/9/6/3 with one 3-pointer) is just the seventh player in league history to produce a line with those numbers according to Stathead.
Off the bench, Gary Payton II (19/5/0/1/1 with three 3-pointers) and Juan Toscano-Anderson (17/5/5/1/1 with one 3-pointers) had good nights, shooting a combined 14-of-17 from the field. With the Warriors back in action Saturday night against the Spurs, both are worthy of a look, especially in deep leagues. Damion Lee (personal) made his return, playing eight minutes and accounting for four points and three rebounds. No need to pick him up, regardless of league.
Cavaliers 116, Wizards 101
After a solid second season, Darius Garland has continued to develop into the key building block that the Cavaliers were hoping for when they selected him in the 2019 NBA Draft lottery. He had a big night Friday, recording a line of 32 points (11-of-17 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), eight rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, and five 3-pointers in 34 minutes. The seven turnovers did take away some of the shine, especially for those who rostered Garland in DFS competitions, but the overall line can't be ignored. Garland is providing 8th-round value in 9-cat formats per Basketball Monster, and he's been a top-75 player over the last month.
Also dominating for the Cavs was Jarrett Allen (28/13/2/1/2), who shot 13-of-17 from the field. He, Evan Mobley (6/7/4/0/3), and Lauri Markkanen (15/6/2 with four 3-pointers) have been Cleveland's best fantasy options to this point in the season, alleviating any concerns that fantasy managers may have had about the team having too many options in the frontcourt. Speaking of which, Kevin Love was an interesting player to monitor after his standout performance (22/6/3/2/1 with six 3-pointers) in Wednesday's win over the Heat. He followed up that effort with a line of 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and one 3-pointer in 18 minutes. Love, rostered in 47% of Yahoo leagues, is approaching top-100 value in 9-cat formats. But the role remains an issue, given Cleveland's youth at the power forward and center positions. Even with this current run Love is, at best, a streaming option.
Washington had a rough night from a fantasy standpoint. Bradley Beal (14/3/1/0/1) and Spencer Dinwiddie (5/1/4 with one 3-pointer) continue to struggle with their shot, as the two combined to shoot 8-of-23 from the field. While the latter is a "buy low" option at this point, I can't say the same about Dinwiddie. His role has been, comparatively speaking, limited at prior stops, but Dinwiddie has just one top-150 fantasy season in his NBA career (2017-18). Currently ranked 110th in 9-cat, this may be Dinwiddie's ceiling. But even if that turns out to be the case, one would hope that he'd shoot better than 40.4% from the field.
There were some encouraging lines from the Wizards reserves, however. Deni Avdija (16 points, three rebounds, one block, and three 3-pointers), who was listed as questionable due to illness, hit double figures for just the third time this season (and first since November 15). Avdija is still well off the radar in most fantasy leagues due to the lack of consistent production on the offensive end of the floor, but he's done enough to lock down a spot in the rotation. Raul Neto (13/2/4/1 with one 3-pointer) and Aaron Holiday (11/2/4 with one 3-pointers) aren't much more than streaming options whenever the Wizards are shorthanded on the perimeter, but they made the most of their minutes in this one.
Heat 113, Pacers 104
This one got off to an interesting start for the Pacers, who did not announce any changes to their starting lineup ahead of the scheduled tip time. Shortly thereafter (after the game had begun, in fact) it was announced that Domantas Sabonis was pulled from the starting lineup due to his needing to attend to a family matter. He missed the first three-plus minutes before checking in and finished with a line of 14 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and five turnovers in 37 minutes. Torrey Craig filled the void left by Sabonis, but those four minutes (one steal) were all that he played. Myles Turner (20/4/1/0/3 with three 3-pointers) had the better offensive night of the Pacers' two standout big men, and it was good to see Caris LeVert snap out of his recent shooting slump.
Making just 41.5% of his shot attempts over the last 10 games, LeVert shot 8-of-16 from the field Friday night. He produced a line of 27 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one 3-pointer, with LeVert taking advantage of the foul line (10-of-11) as well. The next step for the Pacers will be to go LeVert and Malcolm Brogdon (14/4/7 with one 3-pointer and four turnovers) going at the same time, as the latter was just 4-of-14 from the field. With Justin Holiday and T.J. McConnell both sidelined due to injury, Chris Duarte is the Pacer who will benefit the most from a playing time standpoint.
He played 37 minutes in this one, going for 15 points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one 3-pointer. Maybe Duarte gets even more time on the ball once Holiday returns, which could prove beneficial with regard to the assist tally. For now, the managers who have him rostered (36% Yahoo) will be happy that Duarte is coasting past the 30-minute mark.
The aforementioned LeVert wasn't the only player in this game to break out of a shooting slump. Duncan Robinson, who has looked like a shell of himself for most of this season, shot 7-of-11 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line in 30 minutes. He finished with a season-high 24 points, two rebounds, one assist, and four 3-pointers. Robinson is averaging career-highs in rebounds (3.6) and steals (0.8), but that hasn't been enough to preserve his value due to the shooting slump. Hopefully, Friday's performance is a sign of what's to come, and the improved shooting gives Robinson a boost in other areas as well.
With Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler both sidelined, Kyle Lowry (26/3/9 with six 3-pointers) and Tyler Herro (18/5/1/1 with three 3-pointers) will have the ball in their hands even more. Fantasy managers who have those two rostered are in a good spot, especially for the short-term. Butler did not travel with the team on this two-game road trip, so he will not be available for Saturday's game against the Bucks. Gabe Vincent (12/2/4/1/1 with two 3-pointers) is worth streaming in deep leagues, and he's also worth rolling the dice on as a low-cost DFS roster-filler Saturday night.
Dewayne Dedmon (7/6/2/1 with one 3-pointer) didn't do much, but he won't lack opportunities with Adebayo likely out for eight weeks. The All-Star's absence also frees up minutes on the back end of the rotation, and we got to see Udonis Haslem (one rebound in three minutes) and Omer Yurtseven (12 points, five rebounds, and two blocks in 19 minutes) Friday night. Neither is worth picking up, although Yurtseven is worth tracking in deep leagues, as Dedmon's knee has been an issue recently.
76ers 98, Hawks 96
Philadelphia was down a starter for this one, with Tobias Harris (illness) sitting out after missing pregame shootaround. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Georges Niang, who in 29 minutes accounted for 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and three 3-pointers. Philadelphia is off until Monday so, in theory, Harris should be back for that one. If not, then Niang (rostered in 11% of Yahoo leagues) becomes an attractive streaming option in most leagues. Harris' absence meant even more heavy lifting for Joel Embiid and the big man came through, recording a line of 28 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks, and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes.
The 76ers have a back-to-back next week (Wednesday in Charlotte, Thursday vs. Utah at home), so keep an eye on Embiid there. You all know the drill by now: if The Process sits, then Andre Drummond (4/7/1/2 in 12 minutes) will have value in all leagues. Seth Curry (18/2/5/1 with two 3-pointers) had a good night, while Tyrese Maxey (11/3/5/1/1) recorded a full line. Maxey has been struggling with his shot, but the ability to produce in other areas makes him a hold. Danny Green (10/3/0/1/1 with two 3-pointers) was solid, but neither he nor Matisse Thybulle (four rebounds and one assist) qualifies as a must-roster player in standard leagues.
Atlanta has been hit hard by injuries on the wings this season, with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish recently joining De'Andre Hunter on the sideline. As a result, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot made his first start of the season, playing 18 minutes and going scoreless with three rebounds. He wasn't worth streaming going into Friday's action, and TLC showed why that's the case. Despite remaining with the second unit, Danilo Gallinari (18/8/3 with two 3-pointers) is a far better short-term option, regardless of league size or format. Kevin Huerter (12/2/2 with two 3-pointers) didn't blow anyone away with his performance, but he remains a player worth rostering due to the Hawks' lack of bodies. He's currently rostered in just 37% of Yahoo leagues.
Trae Young (25/4/10/0/1 with two 3-pointers) and John Collins (18/8/0/1/2 with two 3-pointers) remain the Hawks' most valuable fantasy assets, with both providing top-25 value in 9-cat. Clint Capela (six points, 11 rebounds) is an effective rebounder and shot-blocker, and on most nights his field goal percentage can cover for his issues at the foul line. That was not the case Friday, as he shot 2-of-8 from the field and 2-of-4 from the foul line. We'll chalk that up to this being a difficult matchup for Capela.
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Nets 110, Timberwolves 105
Minnesota was without its best player for this one, as Karl-Anthony Towns sat out due to the tailbone injury that he suffered Wednesday night. As expected Naz Reid was moved into the starting lineup, and he accounted for 19 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes. While it would have been nice to get some defensive production out of Reid, the overall line is one that you'll take. Minnesota is off until Monday, so Towns may be back by then. But it wouldn't be a bad idea to scour your league's waiver wire to make sure that Reid, who's rostered in just 8% of Yahoo leagues, isn't available. If so, pick him up.
Jarred Vanderbilt is another player who should be picked up, and he had a big night in Brooklyn. In 30 minutes, he accounted for 10 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Ranked just outside of the top-100 in 9-cat, Vanderbilt is rostered in 56% of Yahoo leagues. That's too low, even though he's unlikely to provide too much offensively when Minnesota's rotation is whole. The rebounding/defensive stats have been good enough. D'Angelo Russell (21/3/11/1 with three 3-pointers) and Anthony Edwards (19/2/4/3 with one 3-pointer) didn't have the best night, as the former was 6-of-22 from the field and the latter turned the ball over eight times. There's no need to lose any sleep over this, as Monday's matchup with the Hawks could be just what the doctor ordered for both. Malik Beasley (18/4/1/0/1 with four 3-pointers) hasn't been a great streaming option with Patrick Beverley sidelined, but he's worth a look if Towns has to miss any more time.
Brooklyn was once again led by its usual suspects. Kevin Durant (30/10/6 with five turnovers), Patty Mills (23/0/3/1 with four 3-pointers) and James Harden (20/7/9/2 with six turnovers) all scored at least 20 points, with Durant and Harden going a combined 24-of-28 from the foul line. That made up for those two missing all six of their 3-point attempts on the night. Mills, who has hovered around the top-100 in 9-cat all season long, is rostered in 48% of Yahoo leagues. While he is primarily a points and 3-pointers option, Mills' role is such that he should have a higher rostered percentage. And the loss of Cameron Thomas is another reason why.
The rookie guard, who has played well enough recently to earn consistent rotation minutes, exited Friday's game with a left quad contusion. This was the first game of a back-to-back for Brooklyn (they host Chicago Saturday night), so it would not come as a surprise if Thomas were to be held out. Bruce Brown (two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot) may pick up a few more minutes if Thomas sits, and spot starter DeAndre' Bembry (6/5/1) can as well. James Johnson (11/6/1/0/1) logged 25 minutes, the seventh straight game in which he's played at least 18. While Johnson is still well off the radar in standard leagues, he's worth considering as a deep-league streamer due to the Nets' injury woes.
Rockets 118, Magic 116
Given the team's recent injury issues, it feels like a good idea to stay away from a "break up the Rockets" proclamation. Houston has now won its last five games, but there was a concerning development on the injury front. Kevin Porter Jr., who was able to play despite aggravating a lingering thigh injury Wednesday night, played just 18 minutes before exiting Friday night. Houston's back in action Sunday night against the Pelicans, with their next game after that not until Wednesday. KPJ attempting to play through the thigh contusion Friday night is admirable, but he may need some time off.
If that happens, Jae'Sean Tate (15/7/4/2/1 with two 3-pointers) and Eric Gordon (24/2/3/1/1 with four 3-pointers) will be even more valuable. While Tate has been rostered in 72% of Yahoo leagues, Gordon comes in at just 19%. In the short-term, Gordon is worthy of a look, even with his primarily being a points and 3-pointers option. Garrison Mathews (16/3/0/2/1 with three 3-pointers) should be picked up in standard leagues, while Armoni Brooks confirmed why I wasn't as high on him as others have been by putting forth a rather pedestrian showing off the bench. Just get Mathews if he's still available in your league. Christian Wood (20/14/4/1/1 with two 3-pointers) continues to shine, and he's providing 3rd-round value in 9-cat this season.
Alperen Sengun (13/3/5/0/1 with one 3-pointer) played 19 minutes, a step in the right direction, and Daniel Theis was a DNP-CD. The rookie is worth picking up in deep leagues right now, and consistently playing 20-plus minutes would make him a standard league option. Hopefully, that time comes sooner rather than later.
Orlando's top fantasy options were once again productive, with Cole Anthony (26/2/7 with three 3-pointers and five turnovers) leading the way. He and Mo Bamba (15/6/3/2/3 with two 3-pointers) have been 3rd-round players in 9-cat formats, with both outperforming their respective Yahoo ADP rankings (142 for Anthony, 121 for Bamba) by a significant margin. Wendell Carter Jr. (10/16/2/0/2) and Franz Wagner (17/5/5/2 with two 3-pointers) also produced solid lines, with Terrence Ross chipping in with 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one 3-pointer in 22 minutes off the bench. With the Magic already 5-19, those youngsters will get all the minutes that they can handle as this season wears on. Of the quartet mentioned above, only Wagner is rostered in less than 86% of Yahoo leagues (64%). If he's available in your league, pick him up.
Pelicans 107, Mavericks 91
A couple days removed from getting blown out in Dallas, New Orleans returned the favor Friday night. A big reason why was the play of Brandon Ingram, who racked up a career-high 12 assists to go along with 24 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and one 3-pointer. He shot just 7-of-20 from the field, but that doesn't matter much when a player puts up a line like Ingram's. He's providing 7th-round value in 9-cat over the last week; while that isn't where fantasy managers expected Ingram to be at draft time, he's making strides. Jonas Valanciunas (14/11/3/1) had a solid night, while rookie Herb Jones (13/2/4/1/1 with two 3-pointers) produced a full line in 36 minutes.
Rostered in just 10% of Yahoo leagues, he's been a top-100 player over the last two weeks. At this point, Jones, who's averaging 2.1 steals and 0.8 blocks during this stretch, needs to be rostered in more leagues. Garrett Temple (5/9/3/1/2 with one 3-pointer) made another spot start, filling in for the injured Josh Hart, and there's no need to even consider streaming him. Willy Hernangomez (12/14/3/0/1) would be a better choice, even with his line coming on a night when Valanciunas struggled with four trouble.
Dallas had to make a change to its starting lineup, with Maxi Kleber replacing the injured Kristaps Porzingis. Kleber was decent, tallying 13 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes. He's only rostered in 22% of Yahoo leagues, despite being Dallas' best fantasy big beyond Porzingis. This was the first game of a back-to-back for the Mavericks, and even if Porzingis is cleared to return, rostering Kleber would be a good idea. Because even if KP is good to go Saturday night, his injury history makes it a wise decision to find an "insurance policy" of sorts.
Luka Doncic (21/10/7 with seven turnovers) missed all six of his 3-point attempts, shooting 7-of-20 from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line, while Jalen Brunson (16/3/3/1) had a solid night off the bench. Brunson is rostered in 62% of Yahoo leagues, which is a bit low, even though he's backing up Doncic. Tim Hardaway Jr. (12/4/3/1 with two 3-pointers) shot 3-of-11 from the field, and he's worth dropping in more competitive leagues. If someone like Doncic or Brunson had to miss time due to injury, then THJ would have value as a streamer. But when the Mavericks' perimeter rotation is whole, Hardaway Jr. doesn't offer enough in non-scoring areas (and he hasn't been that efficient as a shooter) to justify rostering him in standard leagues.
Jazz 137, Celtics 130
After shooting just 1-of-4 from the field in Utah's win over Portland Monday night, Mike Conley was looking to bounce back Friday night. Mission accomplished, as he went 7-of-7 from three and finished with 29 points, four rebounds, seven assists, and one blocked shot in 32 minutes. Donovan Mitchell was also a handful, as he accounted for 34 points, one rebound, six assists, and six 3-pointers. Mitchell and Conley combined to shoot 21-of-35 from the field in this one, and as a team, the Jazz made 55.6% of their shots.
The return of Royce O'Neale was another key talking point, as he missed the two games prior due to injury. O'Neale (14/10/5 with two 3-pointers) didn't miss a shot in his 32 minutes, going 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line. He didn't offer any defensive stats, but consider this game to be a one-off in that regard. Why O'Neale is still rostered in just 37% of Yahoo leagues, despite providing 7th-round value in 9-cat, remains a mystery to me. Sure the scoring opportunities aren't plentiful, with Mitchell, Conley, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic all needing touches, but O'Neale produces enough in other areas to be a solid fantasy asset. Joe Ingles (9/3/2 with three 3-pointers) was back on the bench, and his fantasy value takes a significant hit when he doesn't start.
Boston entered this one without Jaylen Brown (hamstring), who's considered to be day-to-day as he continues to work his way back to full strength. As a result, Dennis Schroder was back in the starting lineup, and he recorded a line of 26 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal, and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes. Schroder should already be rostered in standard leagues, even when Brown is healthy enough to play. And he makes for a good low-cost DFS option when Brown isn't available to play.
And Boston lost another player due to injury, as Romeo Langford departed due to a sprained right ankle. And he was off to a solid start when the injury occurred, shooting 3-of-4 from the field and accounting for six points, two rebounds, and one steal in 11 minutes. His absence, with the Celtics due to play Portland Saturday night, would free up additional minutes for Josh Richardson (11/3/1/2 with one 3-pointer in 29 minutes). Maybe Aaron Nesmith gets some run Saturday due to the schedule, but he would not be worth streaming in any league. Richardson offers a bit more than Nesmith, but his fantasy prospects are similar.
Robert Williams (eight points, five rebounds, and one block) played just 15 minutes, and it would not come as a surprise if he was held out of Saturday's game. If so, that would mean even more responsibility for Al Horford (21/6/9/1/1 with three 3-pointers), who played 34 minutes and posted a full line. He's been Boston's best fantasy player this far, providing 2nd-round value in 9-cat formats. Jayson Tatum (37/6/5/0/1 with two 3-pointers and no turnovers) and Marcus Smart (15/2/2/4 with three 3-pointers) also scored in double figures.
Clippers 119, Lakers 115
LeBron James made his return to the lineup after having to sit out a game due to health and safety protocols, as he was able to produce two negative PCR tests. He was able to take on his usual workload, playing 36 minutes and finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two 3-pointers. James was just 9-of-23 from the field, but there shouldn't be much concern for a player who's shooting 47.5% from the field for the season. His return meant that Wayne Ellington (six points, one steal, and two 3-pointers in 20 minutes) was back on the bench, so he's no longer relevant as a streamer. Talen Horton-Tucker (8/5/3/0/1) started and played 28 minutes, but there isn't much reason to roster him in standard leagues.
Malik Monk, on the other hand, had another good night and is worthy of a look. Shooting 8-of-15, he finished with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and four 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Over the last two weeks, Monk has provided 8th-round value in 9-cat, and he's rostered in just 14% of Yahoo leagues. Dwight Howard (6/5/2/1/1) started and played 21 minutes, while DeAndre Jordan was a DNP-CD. Which center plays will depend upon the matchup, with the other likely picking up a DNP-CD. Howard was playing better than Jordan before Frank Vogel made that decision public earlier this week, so we'll see what it will take for the latter to get back into the rotation. In addition to Howard, the Lakers also used James and Anthony Davis (27/10/4/1/1) at the five depending upon what the game called for at that point in time. Jordan didn't offer much in the way of fantasy value before this, so he should already be on all waiver wires.
The Clippers picked up the win, and they may also have another injury to be concerned about. Paul George (19/8/9/2) said after the game that he sprained his right ankle during the game, and he hopes to be available for Saturday's game against the Kings. Consider him to be questionable, especially with the Clippers having recently taken the step to hold him out of Wednesday's loss to the Kings. If he sits the usual suspects, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard (19/4/0/1 with five 3-pointers) will be popular names on the waiver wire.
Just as important as George's ankle is the line put up by Marcus Morris. He shot 7-of-12 from the field, scoring 21 points with two rebounds, one assist, and six 3-pointers in 33 minutes. With Nicolas Batum (protocols) sidelined, there are even more minutes available to Morris as he works hie way back to peak physical position. And he once again started alongside Serge Ibaka (9/6/3 with three 3-pointers) and Ivica Zubac (12/5/1/1/1), who played 29 and 22 minutes, respectively. The three-man rotation at the center position can be a bit difficult to figure out, as Isaiah Hartenstein (11 points, one rebound in 16 minutes) has played well enough to ensure that he remains in the rotation.