This is the Division of New Instruction because, with one year plus the 26 games the Pacers have played so far, Nate McMillan is the senior member of the division’s coaching membership. Two teams, the Pistons and the Bucks had new coaches to begin the year, and the other two teams, the Cavs and the Bulls, changed leadership during the season.

Instruction and teaching do matter in the NBA. So many players are coming into the league with only a year of college ball, so today’s coaches must have staffs that can teach them to play the game. Coaches have to find ways to make players with limitations productive, and the coaches who can do it the best are the ones who are successful.

We witnessed Indiana’s improvement last year under the tutelage of McMillan, and the Bucks and Pistons under new leadership sport winning records this year while looking like different teams.

Three of the teams have records in the top five of the Eastern Conference, while the other two which jettisoned their head coaches early this season, are languishing at the bottom. Also, alphabetically, the records go from worst with Chicago to best in Milwaukee, for whatever that means.

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Cue the epic guitar solo! Hayward’s owners can lay their weary heads to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Last night Gordon Hayward went 4-30-9-8-2-0-2 on 8-of-16 shooting and a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe in 30 minutes off the bench. Hopefully, this marks the beginning of the return of Hayward to his old self. It has been pretty miserable owning him this year, but this could be a turning point for him. He’s still getting his confidence/sea-legs back and was  averaging only 10.3 points coming into this one. This was on the heels of a back-to-back as well which means Brad Stevens is confident enough in Hayward’s health to give him big minutes. Many owners used a 4th/5th round pick on him, so if he can return to any semblance of the player he was in Utah, his owners will be happy.

There were seven games on the slate last night in the NBA so let’s dive on in to the Daily Notes!

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Allonzo Trier seemed destined for greatness from an early age. Dubbed a hoops prodigy at the tender age of 13 years old, Trier was featured on the cover of New York Times Magazine in 2009. He utilized the childhood workouts of Pete Maravich found on the internet, travelled and starred in the A.A.U. circuit, and even had his own line of clothing with the signature: “When the lights come on, it’s time to perform.” Throughout middle school, he and his mother moved to four different cities (Seattle, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa) all for basketball. In high school, he was a McDonald’s All-American, a five-star recruit, and the Washington Post wrote that he “may be the purest high school basketball scorer in the county and the most devoted to his craft.” At the University of Arizona, he was the Most Outstanding Player of the the Pac-12 Tournament and Second-team All-Pac-12 in 2017. The following season he earned First-team All-Pac-12 honors. Unfortunately, he tested twice for PEDs, which Trier said was medication given to him due to a car crash. As a result, he was ruled ineligibile and declared for the 2018 NBA draft. Then one team did not believe. Then two. Then three. Then thirty? Like a bad nightmare that was set on loop, the 30 teams passed over him again. Undrafted. There were no believers in Trier, but on July 3, 2018, the New York Knicks signed him to a two-way contract. After balling out in the preseason, coach David Fizdale conveyed that he was indeed a believer in Trier, and declared that he would spend most of the time in the NBA, rather than the G-League. Fizdale kept his word and Trier received close to 21 minutes per game….and Iso Zo was born. Or better yet, Trier was Carmelo Anthony reincarnate. There were inconsistencies and plenty of bricks early on, but Trier eventually shed his Melo mask and….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 10 7 0 0 1 1/2 7/11 9/12

Played 31 minutes off the bench. Trier had his Iso moments, but more often than not, he was initiating offense via pick-and-roll action and dishing out dimes. He’s explosive and finishes strong when he attacks the rim, but he always looks smooth and composed with the ball, and never seems to rush anything. He’s averaging only 1.8 turnovers per game and is shooting 49% from the field, 45% from downtown, and 82% from the charity stripe. I’m a believer in Trier.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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Remember those times when that girl or guy would call or text and mention that the parents were gone? Ooohhh, how I miss those times? I would get so excited. Well, the last two games in Houston, Chris Paul has been a good neighbor and notified the team that he’s out. Oooohhhh, that means it’s James Harden‘s time to get us Harden excited. On the season, Harden is leading the league with a 36.5 usage rate, but when Paul is off the court, that number spikes to 45.8!!! On Saturday, Harden scored 40 points and dished out 13 dimes. Last night….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
54 8 13 3 0 11 7/15 17/32 13/15

A fifty burger with 13 assists and 11 turnovers. That’s truly messing around. Anyways, even with the 5.8 turnovers per game (which leads the league by over 1 per game), Harden is still the #4 player in fantasy. If that doesn’t get you Harden excited, then you’ve got issues I don’t want to subscribe to. Beep. Boop. Bop. The Stocktonator was Harden excited, as it had him as the #1 player last night. Now that’s something you can subscribe to.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I love cars and have fixed up a few rice burners in my day. So, when I used to have cable and spent time channel surfing, I’d stop on a NASCAR race and indulge from time to time. Not my thing. Round and round and round and round they go. Look at the clock. Three more hours to go. The most interesting times would be when the pace car would come out. Without fail, I’d get up and sit on the edge of my seat and pray that whoever was driving would just punch it and channel their inner Fast & Furious. It’s going to happen one of these days. That’s how I feel about this Pacers team. The team has been one of the slowest paced teams in the league. Not since 1985 has the team played at a +100 possessions per game pace. Last season, they finished 23rd. I need someone to press the NOS button and let his baby go! Then we could all scream Oladipo Ho! and Myles wouldn’t have to walk 500 miles. I know what you’re thinking: This site is free?

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What’s up Razzballers? Fan favourite Aaron Gordon had a monster line, destroying the lowly Suns to the tune of 29/11/8/3/1 on 10-for-18 FG (3-for-6 3P, 6-for-9 FT) and three TOs. It was a clean and lethal stat line, and exactly the kind that you needed on the Saturday of your playoff semifinals. AG’s been a beast since his return and I really hope you stashed him where you could. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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Basketball is a funny game. The Atlanta Hawks were riding a six-game losing streak and heading to Utah to face off against one of the best defensive teams in the league. Dennis Schroder, the point guard for the Hawks, had failed to score 20 points in each of the six losses. Then, a funny thing happened. The D went missing. Did Dennis change his name to Ennis? No!

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 41 5 7 0 0 2 3/7 16/28 6/10

Forty burger! Against a team that was 8th in defensive efficiency against the point guard position. Against Ricky Rubio, who was 10th in defensive real plus minus. Schroder had a 42.7 usage rate last night! Going forward, though, I wouldn’t expect too many performances like last night. Taurean Prince, who had been the alpha in terms of usage, got Prince’D, so someone had to step up. In addition, while Schroder has had a couple of big games this season, they have been too few to count on. Expect scoring to be in the 18-20 point range with 5-7 assists, and 2-3 boards.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be Dwight: and there was Dwight. Dwight Howard was vintage D12 against the Suns (I know, it’s the Suns) and tore them up for 30/12/1/1/4 on 10-for-15 FG (10-for-15 FT) with only one TO. He was fantastic across the board, and the FTs weren’t even that bad, all things considered. Dwight’s still one of the more valuable centers in the league, especially if you’re punting FTs, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down as the Hornets are still hanging on in the playoff race. As long as he doesn’t get hurt, he should be good to go every time. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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Religion is a touchy subject. There are so many different interpretations and perspectives that man has fought countless wars over it. Kind of makes sense, since we can’t even agree if it’s tomatoe or tomato, or figure out what a catch in football is. And those are things that we can tangibly see with our eyes. An omnipresent entity in the sky? Fugget about it. Personally, I grew up with religion in my life. My parents weren’t devout or anything, but they wanted to expose us to it…..just in case, I guess. I went to a Catholic elementary school (I’m not Catholic), so I experienced that life. As I got older, though, the pendulum swung both ways for me. I got really into it. Read a ton and asked a bunch of questions, but then I started to doubt. Then, I asked a bunch of questions the other way. As it stands, I believe in a higher power, but have issues with organized religion. In a way, that life journey encapsulates my fantasy experience with Marquese Chriss. I’ve always been enamored with his talent and potential. He’s shown me good things in spurts, but I have always had doubts with him because of the inconsistency. So, I guess it makes sense that Chriss played well on the Lord’s Day:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
 17 5 1 1 4 1 4/5 5/8 3/6

It’s a solid line, but for the lede? Well, he did all that in 18 minutes and there was this:

Chriss probably will not be a consistent fantasy option the rest of the season. He’s just not getting enough minutes. But…..it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he does, and Chriss has shown us in the past that he can get scorching hot. Like with my view of religion, I just can’t completely dismiss the possibility.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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What’s up Razzball nation? We’re back with our first edition of Any Given Saturday since the All-Star break and last night was a nice, heavy slate to get us back into things. There weren’t a lot of marquee matchups, but Damian Lillard kept things interesting as he pushed his tired Blazers past the Suns. He went for 40/10/5/1 on 13-for-27 FG (3-for-11 3P, 11-for-15 FT), four TOs and a clean game-winning basket. Dame has been lighting it up recently and could be the type of guy to be the fantasy playoff MVP. Anyways, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy basketball:

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