The fantasy playoffs are finally here. If you are a roto fan, like me, this does not mean much apart from a slight focus to the categories you stand to gain or lose some points. But for my H2H people out there, this is when the real season begins. Every game and every stat counts and players that are not performing or have a medium-term injury are not welcome any more. Be aggressive with your adds and drops and don’t keep players “for the next matchup” unless you are absolutely sure there will be a next matchup. Because most fantasy leagues are past their trade deadline, this article and all the rest until the end of the season will focus more on adds and drops to the waiver wire and much less on trade targets.

Taking a look at last week’s candidates, the Grizzlies played just 2 games, so Delon Wright can not be adequately judged. He looked good in both these games and I still like him due to the potential of a Mike Conley shutdown. Harry Giles was average at best and the return of Marvin Bagley does not help, while both Danny Green and Malik Beasley proved worthy Sell suggestions, as there are better options available on your wire. As mentioned above, the time for hard but necessary cuts is now, so if a player is underperforming don’t hesitate to get a hot free agent in his place.

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Speaking in generalities, I’d say people on the East Coast are more straight up. In New York, time is money so people don’t want to dilly dally. In Los Angeles, there’s the whole Hollywood vibe. I will say, though, that driving in rush hour may show the true colors of an individual. In Philly, they just don’t give a F. Santa Claus? Here are some batteries for your noggin. With that said, there’s been plenty of B. S. in Philly these days:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 10 8 1 0 2 0 10/16 6/8

Ben Simmons aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallmost messed around. If my handy dandy abacus didn’t fail me, he has 10 trip-dubs on the season. There have been many other games where he’s been so close. Anyways, the turnover are plentiful and you won’t get any treys (the ultimate stay-in-yo-lane), but the points, boards, dimes, and steals are plentiful. He had been languishing in the top 60 area for much of the season, but over the past seven games, he’s been a top 25 player because he’s increased his free throw percentage from 60% to 72% on 5.1 attempts. Hopefully that ain’t no B. S.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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When I used to drink back in high school, it’d be a lot of 40 ounces of Olde English 800. Too many 40’s of OE. Way too many 40’s of OE. I was/am a stupid, stupid man. But they were so cheap and it was nice to just have to carry around one bottle. I had repressed all those memories until I saw Kemba’s line last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
40 10 7 0 1 4 6/6 14/20 6/7

In 40 minutes! And that was without Cody Zeller (knee), who helps Kemba post positive numbers when he’s on the court. Anyways, the matchup last night against the Rockets was a great one, as Houston is the 6th-worst at defending the pick-and-roll, a play that Kemba is a master at running. With that said, he has been hot recently regardless, as he’s been a top 25 player over the past seven games. The usage rate is above 30 and he’s been jacking up 20 shots per game. Kemba does contribute across the board, even chipping in 0.4 blocks. Yo, Blake Griffin. You seeing this? It all comes down to the shooting efficiency for Kemba. During his current heater, he’s converting 46% of his shots from the field. There were stretches during the season when he was sub-40%. Hopefully he continues his hot streak for the duration of the fantasy playoffs and entices you to seek out a bottle of Olde English.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I usually highlight a player for the lede, but today, it’s all about the playoffs for many of you. You’ve scratched and clawed for 21 weeks. If you heeded my advice, you also likely sacrificed a few virgins as well. Anyways, don’t get complacent now. Utilize all your moves for the week. Send out the scouts and project your opponent. Where is he/she weak? How does your squad match up? Games played, minutes, and opportunities are truly king now. It’s win this week or go home. I wish everyone good fortune and let’s bring home some chips for the Razzball family!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here’s what I saw in yesterday’s action:

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For some of us fantasy basketball players, this week doesn’t matter much. We’ve locked up our playoff spots and are just waiting for them to begin. For others, these last few games are critical to seeding. If you own Karl-Anthony Towns, you’ve most likely locked up a playoff spot by now, because he’s been a beast all year. If that’s your situation, you probably just wanted the game last night between the T-Wolves and the Wizards to come to an end, but it went into OT and KAT hurt his knee in the waning moments of the game. Although it doesn’t seem to be serious, he is still headed for an MRI and the Wolves could play it safe with him given their place in the standings. This is obviously bad news if your playoffs start next week and you don’t have a first-round bye. Towns played exceptionally well prior to the injury going 4-40-16-2-2-1-1 on 15-of-25 shooting and 6-for-6 from the line. More will be known in the coming days regarding his knee, but this would be the worst possible timing, as he’s been cruising all year.

On a lighter note, here’s what else went down last night in the NBA:

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Mike Conley has really had some tough luck with injuries and never playing for an elite team. Now that Memphis appears to be in the midst of a confusing rebuild, it creates even more of a question mark surrounding Conley and his role on the team. You start to feel bad for him, but then you remember the sweet contract he signed. Still, it has to be rough to be at his level and rarely be in conversations about current great NBA players. He shows up, plays with this roster, and puts up his stats, which have him inside the top 30 for the season.

FG FT 3PT Points Reb Assists Steals Blocks TO
11/18 3/3 3/7 28 3 11 2 0 3

This marks back-to-back excellent games for Conely. The double-digit assists are really nice, as are the 3 3’s. It’s tough to say how things will go down for Conley the rest of the season, but for now, he’s humming along nicely and fantasy GMs should be excited about the production.

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It’s been a disappointing season for Khris Middleton, as the consistency and shooting efficiency have been lacking. With G one year more experienced and Coach Budenholzer implementing his offense, things were looking bullish before the season started. He did finish as the #25 player on a per-game last season. He’s playing 4 fewer minutes this year, but the shot attempts have remained the same, the tres have gone up, and so has the usage rate. It’s all about the shooting efficiency. Warm it up, Khris. Is he about to?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
27 2 4 3 0 3 4/7 8/15 7/9

Let’s hope so. Middleton isn’t the flashiest player, as he’s got that YMCA old man game. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t get love. He’s a really good player and contributes a little something something in everything but blocks. Hopefully he can warm it up down the stretch and reward those that stayed strong.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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As the season winds down and we jockey for position in roto leagues or load up on categories in the head-to-head playoffs, it’s imperative that we track down some category specialists to get us over the top. And with so many new fantasy contributors due to injury or tanking, the specialists aren’t necessarily the same old names. Fortunately, that makes some of them available in most leagues.

Let’s get right to it. Looking at per-game numbers for the last month, which takes us back to the trade deadline, here are the best likely-available guys to grab. Note that I skipped turnovers. Since those are so sporadic, I’d just go with the season-long numbers there. For head-to-head matchups, you might even be able to just sit a few players at the end of the week that can’t help you in any other categories to win turnovers.

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O is the most important letter in the alphabet. Without it, we cannot spell food. It is so amazing that it can transform into a number without changing shape, and without 0, a game can never end. Before you saying anything, ties are stupid. Let’s not forget about the Big O, often elusive but well worth the wait. So, is there any wonder why Kelly Olynyk is today’s lede?

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 11 1 2 1 1 5/7 8/14 1/1

Continues to start and played a whopping 45 minutes! Since entering the starting lineup 12 games ago, Kelly O has averaged 26.9 minutes, 13.7 points, 5.2 boards, 2.4 dimes, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 tres. He’s been shooting 52% from the field, 43% from downtown, and 95% on 1.9 attempts from the line. Over the last eight games, though, the minutes have rocketed up to 32.3 minutes and he’s been a top 25 player! Oh, Kelly O! You make me want to bellow and bestow good tidings for providing fantasy inferno. A few weeks ago, I was worried what would happy to Kelly O once James Johnson returned to the mix. I no longer have any worries from that angle. The one concern I do have is will Spoelstra stick with him if the shooting efficiency comes down, because Kelly O is not going to shoot 57% from the field forever. He’s more like a 48% shooter. Until that time, though, enjoy the ride.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Los Angeles, we have a problem. A season that started with nothing but optimism has quickly spiraled into a whirlwind of under-performance, coach questioning, and rumors, as the Lakers are currently the 11th seed in the West, six wins below the Spurs, who are currently holding onto the final playoff position. What is more discouraging is that they have won only five of their last 18 games and the chemistry is visibly mediocre, to say the least.

LeBron’s defense has come into question, and for valid reasons, as at times he seems disinterested on that end of the floor. The only player that seems to have come alive, proving me completely wrong in the process, is Rajon Rondo, but the Lakers have a long way to go. It is going to be a very interesting summer for them and I expect many changes both in the coaching and player personnel.

Apart from Rondo, last week’s buy suggestions of Joakim Noah and Tyus Jones were also misses, as the former saw his minutes reduced and the latter disappeared due to the return of Jeff Teague. On the contrary, Luke Kennard is starting to look like a must own player and I encourage you to hurry and get him because he won’t be available for long. Finally, both sell candidates, Harrison Barnes and Justise Winslow, have not done anything to convince me that they should be removed from the trading block of your team.

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