Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.

I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:

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So a little bit of a weird daily notes this morning, as I’m speaking to you from a day behind!  I’m out traveling as I add another notch to my belt as they say, and well in more ways than one!  Eating some good food and going on brewery tours is pretty much the pinnacle of life!  Long story short, notes are through Friday/Saturday games and I’ll be a little slow with comments until Tuesday.  Although I’ll likely pop in at some point with some horrible typos and weird drunken advice….

Anyway, we mentioned on the Pod last week how surprisingly bad the Wolves have been this year, and it looked like they might be turning the corner Saturday night, maintaining a big lead against the red hot Rockets.  But they collapsed in the final minute losing a 9 point lead pushing it to OT, the Rockets took over, Zach LaVine hit a big 3 with 5 seconds left, then on the last gasp, LaVine got nudged out off bounds throwing up the desperation shot.  Another game you throw up your arms and go “huh?!”; all the starters played well and they held Houston to 95 in regulation!  Plus Karl-Anthony Towns went off for a 40 burger!  41/15/5/0/1 on 15-28 shooting and 10-12 FT including this NBA Jam quality alley:

I don’t have much else to expand on here, except the Wolves are going to have to go through some sort of massive change.  Yes, they’re the youngest team/starting 5 in the NBA, but all of the starters are already too good for this team to be 7-19.  Obviously Ricky Rubio getting traded is what most point to, but we’ll see what happens.  And I think KAT is the kind of player that will keep his motor going every night, and not phone it in down the stretch (cough, Hassan Whiteside, cough)…  Here’s what else down over Friday and Saturday’s games in fantasy hoops action:

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Ho! Ho! Ho! Hark the herald, Jerry Stackhouse sings! The NBA has never been in fuller effect across the years than at the culmination of this week every year: CHRISTMAS! It’s unofficial start to the season (or the official start in the lockout-shortened 2011 season), and the first day since June owned by the NBA on the sports calendar. It’s been football, football, football for the past six months, but even the King Kong NFL takes a back seat to basketball on Christmas (only 2 NFL games in Week 16 are actually on Sunday, December 25). Make way, because winter is no longer just coming…it’s here! And with it comes all the basketball glory we can handle for the next 6 months.

From now on we’ll see teams jockeying for playoff position. You know, those coveted spots that only the few get to have in calling themselves the next up to be humiliated by the Cavs or Warriors. But seriously, this is where we start to see what teams really are. And it’s similar in other sports. Sure, you can start 5-0 Falcons in 2015, but you’re finishing 8-8. Or in baseball, everyone knows that the record before Labor Day is all just feeling it out. And in the NBA the Hawks may begin 9-2, but are they really that great? My optimistic homerism is hopeful, but their record now shows the answer is no. How about the Raptors? They started sluggish; they must have taken a step back this year. Well, um…nope. They’re a favorite to reach the Eastern Conference Finals again. See, Christmas brings out the best in us all, and acts as a litmus test for starting the year.

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I was happily watching my beloved basketball, and enjoying, yet all the while feeling old. I reminisce about the good old days. The bulls were winning 72 games, shorts had just gotten longer, the only tattoos were on Dennis “the Worm” Rodman, and Centres were lumbering lumpy giant dudes like Bill Cartwright and Rasho Nesterovic, with undefined arms and soft hands, like a baby’s bottom. It was a simpler time. You could be a geek, and still dominate the NBA, a la John Stockton, who was a millionaire, and never stopped getting his mom to cut his hair, apparently. The league, while being dominated by the likes of freaks like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, still had room for geeks to make their mark. Heck, the biggest geek of them all, the illustrious Larry Bird, the one lumpy to rule them all, still played in 1992. Is there space for Geeks in today’s league, or is there only to be athletic freaks from now on? Let’s take a look at a few from each column, and see if they fit the description, hmmm?

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We all know that injury is a part of professional sports. I would like to think that most fans don’t wish it on anyone, but when it does happen, and players are forced to miss games, nobody should feel sorry for the team that got got. It’s why there are 15 roster spots on a squad. And while it may suck to see a guy go down to injury, it creates opportunity. Opportunity for the next man to step up. So lets take a look at what the injury bug has done to the line ups lately, Hmmm?

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For a while there, it looked like the makeshift Memphis Zombies might sneak by a crazy victory in Toronto over the Raps. But just like in World War Z, the Zeds tried to follow the humans north, but eventually froze up.

In his first start in the non-Mike Conley-era, Andrew Harrison was surprisingly capable with the added onus of driving the offense, going 21/2/4/3/0 on 7-12 FG (4-5 3PTM 3-4 FT) with only 2 TO in 35 minutes. Looked good in transition, hit contested, fadeaway treys… I didn’t expect this to get off to such a good start, and against the Raps no less!

It’s obviously only one game, and he’s not gonna shoot 80% from deep while filling in for Conley, but this was mad encouraging and you’re certainly grabbing him in most leagues off this showing. He has already proven he can handle big NBA minutes – albeit in a more complimentary role – so I think this can work as a PG 3 or 4 on your fantasy roster. On the flip side, Wade Baldwin played 24 minutes and went only 2/3/2/0/0 with 3 TO and 4 fouls, shooting 1-6 FG, bringing his sexy-efficient FG% back down to 31.5%. There might not be a Wade Baldwin V, with accuracy like that! Gus Ayonin’! Here’s what else went down last night in Fantasy Basketball action:

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Choo Choo!

Watch out league, The Dieng Train is about to run ya over like you’re Magic defenders! Our season chugs along through Thanksgiving (although with our jeans barely fitting), heading into December with 3 guys flirting with Oscar Robinson for tripdub averages, Brow looking redonk, and a multitude of other breakouts and disappointments, but I don’t want the Dieng Train to slip under the radar! Like a German train station, Gorgui Dieng remains regular, consistent, and otherwise just mundane, bringing true multicat performance after performance from a big (minus treys). After a slow-ish start, the Dieng Train put together a nice weekend with a rainbow 11/7/2/3/4 against the Suns, then 15/6/2/1/2 in a tough-matchup-for-a-big against the Warriors. And even though I said “minus treys”, he actually hit a triple in each of them! Shot 11-22 overall, committed only 2 combined TO, and after hitting only 6 treys last year, maybe this is a part of his game we’ll start to see expand. Before you Dieng Train detractors type “BORING!” in the comments, I know his per-36 is a smidge down from last year. That said, he’s played 36+ minutes in 4 of the past 5 games, and it’s all due to that beautiful, cuddly, Tibby Tibs treatment. Run your starters to death! But well, when one of your starters is a effin’ train, you ride that rail! Here’s what else went down over Thanksgiving weekend in fantasy basketball:

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In a matchup where they might’ve gone ahead and whipped em out to see who was bigger, this round went to Joel Embiid! The Sixers snapped the longest stretch of NBA games without back-to-back wins (108), by besting Hassan Whiteside and the Heat 101-94.

Look at Embiid flex those guns. So much man meat in the paint right there! Ok, I’m done with that, but it was awesome to see such prototypical, turn-back-the-clock big men face off against each other, with each being the current face of their respective franchise. Embiid had one of his best lines of the year, going 22/5/0/1/3 on 7-13 shooting, mainly highlighted by only one TO. He’s only had one game with 2 TO, and all the others 3+. On the flip side, Whiteside was a monster, going 32/13/0/0/2 on 13-19 shooting and hit 6 of his 8 FT. For the love of big man stats! Whiteside was 0-3 from the stripe in his previous game, so hopefully something has righted the ship there. Someone in the comments asked where Embiid might go in drafts next year, and I said 30-40 range. But at this rate, that might be too conservative! Let’s see him get through a full season first, and be sure none of that giant EMBIIIIIID gets hurt. I lied, I got one more in! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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There are plenty of options to highlight this week, but everyone beware. Take caution. Put on your orange vests. The muuuuuuuuuuus is loooooooose!

Typically reserved for a football chant, every time the Hawks Mike Muscala hits a three, or even puts on those incredible ‘3’s Goggles‘, the Bucknell grad garners a deep cheers from the fans. Now, listen, I know more than most that the Atlanta fans aren’t the greatest in the world, but when you lose Al Horford and replace some of his minutes with Mike effing Muscala you gotta pull out all the energy you can! And then he goes and actually produces in his 20+ mpg. Unheard of!

13.7/5.0/3.0 on 61.5% shooting with nearly 2 3’s per game is essentially a poor man’s Horford. And that’s exactly what ol’ Mike has done the past week (don’t worry about those boards…that’s the Dwight Howard effect). I, mean, goodness…I wanna be like Mike. Maybe that’s just because I’m white, but for real, there’s a lot of value here.

And he’s not the only one…Here are the 7 Ahead for Week 5!

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All eyes were on the NBA on Tuesday night. Just messing. I’m sure most people were following along to see who would come out on top in the Presidential race. In the end, Donald Trump won.

Whatever your political affiliations, it’ll be different with the Donald in office. Barack Obama is a huge sports fan and loves basketball. It’ll probably be a while until we see another President filling out a bracket during March Madness, playing a game of H-O-R-S-E with Clark Kellogg, or clowning the Warriors when they were in town to celebrate their championship.

If nothing else, let’s be happy it’s over. It’s been a long and drawn out process. Now we can focus on things that really matter…like recapping Tuesday night’s games:

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