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Change is a part of life. Smoking is no longer allowed on airplanes. As an ex-smoker that took multiple trips to Asia, it boggles my mind that we were allowed to puff in the back of the airplane. GOOD CHANGE. Turning the channel when watching a game due to boredom, then missing the play that blows up Twitter. BAD CHANGE. The Texas Blind Salamander. A creature that had its eyes reduced to two black spots over time. WHEN SITUATION FORCES CHANGE. Before I continue, the Texas Blind Salamander truly fascinates me. It had eyes. So, a male and female salamander fell into a cave together one day millions of years ago? They obviously had sex and made baby salamanders. I gotta imagine that they all tried to find their way back up, but just continued having sex and figuring out ways to survive. Over time, evolution just said, F it. No need for those things anymore. Welcome to your New World Order. I salute you Texas Blind Salamander. Why am I talking about change in Pacers preview? Well, for starters, the state voted for Obama back in 2008. CHANGE. Then, eight years later, the state went back to its Republican roots and backed Trump. CHANGE. Alright, let me back off the politics before I get told to “go back to my country,” even though I was born here. Before the 2016 season, Larry Bird replaced Frank Vogel with Nate McMillan at head coach. After the season, Larry Bird stepped down. Then, Paul George, their best player was traded. Lot of change went down for the Pacers last season.

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Whew. 100 down. 100 to go. It’s been a helluva ride, but we almost there. This is where things get really interesting, as it’s a group where some starters still reside, but is mostly populated with bench players. Do you go with a specialist or someone that contributes across the board? Decisions decisions.

Yes! I’m freaking pumped now. Go do your thing right now! I’m going to finish this post then run like Forrest Gump.

If you missed them, here are the links for:

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Nope, not talking about baseball here.  Hopefully most of the us reading this advanced into the 2nd round of the fantasy playoffs.  As for me, I got knocked out in the JB vs. Slim Razzball Year 3 League.  I was somewhat disappointed, but with no KD and a combination of missed and sub par games from Poison Goose it was inevitable.  No excuses, all part of the game.  I’m in the midst of trying to advance in JB’s ‘Secret Attack’ RCL League so hopefully I can advance…at the expense of Mr. JB himself.

Planning for the remaining games this week is tricky and I think the margin of error is slimmer – not just in terms of what’s at stake, but due to the scheduling.  Friday and Sunday are slated to have 10 games each.  Now, if you wait until Saturday before making any moves, your team might not even make use of it due to the number of teams playing on Sunday.  So you really have to look at your Friday-Sunday rosters and see if it makes sense to wait before adding for Sunday’s games.

Players on teams playing on Saturday should be a target as there are only 5 games being played.

WAS/MIN/CLE are the only teams that play on Fri. & Sat.

POR/LAC are the only teams that play on Sat. & Sun.

You see what I’m getting at here?  You need to be really clever about your moves trying to shore up or catch up on some cats you’d need to advance to the next round.

Let’s get right to it.

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Oh man, the jet lag is real!  Sorry for the later daily notes again this morning, I’m in sunny Florida but couldn’t get my ass up in the morning!  Still on LA time!  And you could probably say the same for those lousy Chicago Bulls these days, they were sleepwalking in Orlando.  The walking of the Bulls!  Doesn’t have the same ring as running of the Bulls…  But they looked old last night, even on only 1 hour difference, and no one covered Elfrid while owning from the Shelfrid!  20/14/14/2/2 last night, in an epic rainbow tripdub from Elfrid Payton.  As voluptuous as his hair!  He’s been unreal the past week going 16.3/10.0/8.8/1.5/0.8 hitting 66% from the field.  Of course it’s just a hot streak, and in the daily notes I’ve been really apprehensive the minutes/production would go back down, but things be hot hot hot in Orlando!  But one thing that occurred to me is Nikola Vucevic went down 4 games ago, and these last 3 games have been without Vucci Mane and his USG-whoreness down low.  Replace him with Bismack Biyombo down low, and you need a lot more playmaking elsewhere.  So while yet another season of SKIIIIIIIIIILES!!! residue and inconsistency for Elfrid has me hesitant to push for him yet again in 17-18, if they move on from Vuc and keep more-or-less this same core, I’ll be buying right back in and getting him on my Shelfrid on 17-18 teams.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Dirk Nowitzki became the 6th player in NBA history to reach 30,000 points, becoming the first international player to hit 30k and one of three players to score all 30,000+ points with one team. It’s been a truly impressive career for the future hall-of-famer. As Steve Nash joked, what’s German for ball hog?

20 points shy of the milestone heading into the game, Nowitzki wasted no time, knocking down and a fadeway early in the second quarter:

Scoring 18 points in the first quarter, Dirk finished with 25 points (all in the first half), 11 rebounds, 1 block, and 3 threes for his third double-double in the last four games. His fantasy days are numbered, but after a slow, injury-filled start to the season, Nowitzki has given patient owners plenty to smile about since the start of the New Year.

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Man, big weekends all around!  And only fitting one of the breakout weekends of the NBA would be someone from the Suns!  I was in Phoenix all weekend!  …sadly not to see the Suns, but I don’t think anyone was…  Grey and I were scouting some Spring Training, and us goofballs had a good ol’ desert time…  Speaking of goofballs, check out this jump ball for the Suns/Celtics game on Sunday night!

It’s all fun and games for the Celtics until the Suns actually beat ya!  And who better to drive home the dagger than who faced off in the short-man jump ball!

NBA getting taken over by shorties!  Grey might have a shot to make the NBA at this rate!  20/2/5/1/0 for Tyler Ulis with no TO on 8-12 shooting, following 8/1/8 then 14/4/7 lines the two games prior.  Of course Earl Watson would love this guy and start giving him minutes, the short guy love going all around!  23, 21, then 33 minutes in that big win yesterday.  While he’s certainly worth a look in 12ers, minutes would absolutely have to come at the expense of Eric Bledsoe or Devin Booker, and I don’t see the Suns being able to give Ulis a 30+ MPG role.  So that keeps him behind the Cojo’s of the world, and I’m not really fretting that I didn’t add him anywhere while I was in baseball scouting mode.  Although I will say the NBA definitely has it down with being an indoor sport, my feet got sunburnt to a crisp wearing my flip flops in Phoenix!  Stupid pale skin…  I’m not built for the desert, even in early March!  Here’s what else went down over the weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Man, what a horrid week for injuries!  Highlighted by the worst injury of all: yesterday we got news that JB Gilpin – yes pickup basketball superstar – rolled his ankle in his after-work pickup game on someone else’s fat foot.  That’s right, I got a kankle!  Some rough swelling, probably out 1-2 weeks, go ahead and give me that INJ tag!  No joke, this is the second time in a row I’ve gotten a kankle before a big trip.  Now I’m gonna be gimpy walking around Spring Training games on my baseball trip starting this weekend!  Stupid kankles…

Anyway, some lower-tier basketball talents also got news of rough injuries, of course highlighted by Kevin Durant‘s MRI revealing a Grade 2 MCL strain and a tibial bone bruise.  Stupid Zaza Pachulia flying around willy-nilly!  He’s going to be “re-evaluated” in 4 weeks, so there’s no way he’s making an impact on your fantasy playoffs.  Mayyyyybe he plays in the last game or two, but I highly doubt it.  According to BB Monster, he was by far the best per-game player and total value player, so it’s an unbelievable loss.  But hey, he got you to your fantasy playoffs (hopefully) and anything can happen week-to-week in H2H leagues.  Injuries are the mother-flippin’ worst!  Here’s what else went down across the NBA last night, including one other major injury piece of news:

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The biggest news of the night comes from a guy who barely played at all. Less than 2 minutes into the game between Golden State and Washington, Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia (12 points, 8 rebounds) fell into Kevin Durant’s left knee. KD walked away gingerly before heading to the bench and being whisked away into the locker room. Diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, Durant did not return to the game.

Is this karma from the Basketball Gods for his comments about not wanting to come home to play for the Wizards? Kidding aside, this is terrible news to the Warriors, fans of the NBA, and fantasy owners. Hopefully KD’s injury isn’t long-term, but more will be known after examining the MRI results.

In the meantime, the Warriors wasted no time in reaching out to free agent Matt Barnes and are expected to sign him later this week. Released by the Kings after trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, Barnes is excited to rejoin the Warriors, after playing for them from 2006-2008. I wouldn’t rush to add Barnes until more is known about KD’s injury, but Barnes has been useful for fantasy purposes before.

On happier notes, here are the other nightly notables:

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C.J. McCollum, last year’s Most Improved Player, continues his ascension as one of the best shooting guards in the game. In a battle for the 8th playoff spot in the west between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks, McCollum dropped 32 points (13-21 FG), none bigger than his runner with 0.9 seconds left that sealed a Blazers’ win:

Ultimately the game winner, it came right after Dirk Nowitzki hit a clutch three to put the Mavericks up 113-112 with 3.9 seconds to go. Nowitzki turned back the clock in the game to post 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 threes, but it wasn’t enough as McCollum put the nail in the coffin.

The 4th year guard is having a career year, but has been shooting even better lately. In the last 5 games, he’s knocked down 13-28 from deep and shot 55.8% from the field overall.

Having such an efficient backcourt mate has taken some of the pressure off of Damian Lillard (29 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 threes), who is having his best shooting season of his career as well.

Unfortunately, both guys will need to continue to step up, if the Blazers have a chance at the playoffs, as guard Evan Turner broke his right hand in the third quarter of the game. No timetable has been announced, but he should miss at least a couple weeks. The injury should open up opportunities for Allen Crabbe (4 points) and Maurice Harkless (8 points, 7 rebounds).

It was a short slate of games on Tuesday, as only 3 games were played. JB made sure to make it known to me that he had to recap 11 games on Monday. Boy, did I get lucky this week! Here are the rest of the nightly notables:

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Fun night for JB last night! I was driving down a desert road, opened up my suitcase, did… something with a lot of things… and next thing I know I’m raging next to Benicio Del Toro and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a hotel bathroom! KCP was absolutely unconscious last night, hitting 12-18 from the field (8-11 3PTM 6-8 FT) for a career-high 38/4/1/4/0.

Somebody call the ThrAGNOF police, we’ve found a face! As Slim noted on the Pod, KCP has some of the wildest game-to-game variance with his scoring, but as we saw last night, when he hot, he hot! The big changes for this year is he’s taking and making career-high treys (2.3 for 5.6), and making them at fantastic 40.3% clip. Even though he’s at a career-high scoring, he’s actually taking less shots per game than last year. And you know I’m an addict for AST:TO – 1.8:1.4 last year to 2.9:1.3 this season. So much to get addicted to! Let’s just hope the good times keep rollin’, and John Travolta won’t have to stab a foot-long needle in my heart if things go sour! Here’s what else went down on a busy night of basketball last night:

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