The Orlando Magic beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-108 in a nailbiter in the sunshine state. The vaunted Mavericks defense posed only so much resistance as seven Magic players scored in double figures, led by Chuma Okeke off the bench. Okeke finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Franz Wagner finished the game with 18 points, two rebounds, three assists, and one steal.  Cole Anthony tallied 16 points, four rebounds, and six assists. Wendell Carter Jr. notched a double-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Moritz Wagner tallied 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists off the bench. The last time these two teams played Mo Wagner and Luka Doncic got into a bit of a curfuffle. Wagner has an earned reputation as an irritant and Luka did not forget their exchange. He spent much of the first half talking trash to Wagner, growing bolder and bolder every time a Mavericks player scored on the German. However, later in the game, the Magic seemed to make point of involving Luka in the action when the Mavericks were on defense. Wagner rolled to a number of dunks in pick and roll action with Luka guarding Wagner or in the vicinity as a help defender. With the victory, it was Wagner who got the last laugh, at least for now. Mo Bamba and Gary Harris each scored 10 points.

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After defeating the Orlando Magic 93-83 Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat are now 11-5 without their starting center, Bam Adebayo. Many of those victories also came without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Assuming Butler can stay healthy going forward and Kyle Lowry can make a swift return from the NBA’s health and safety protocol, the Heat can begin their quest to move up the Eastern Conference standings.  They’re no doubt eying the Chicago Bulls who currently are second in the conference with a 19-10 record, due to some postponed games. However, even if the Heat is unable to move up from their current position in fourth place in the conference, their focus will be on health and continuity heading into the playoffs. They’ve gotten needed contributions from fringe players on the roster like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven. The in-game reps these players have received over the past few weeks should only help them later in the season.

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The Sacramento Kings defeated the San Antonio Spurs 121-114 behind strong performances from Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. I love me some Tyrese Haliburton. With De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell in the NBA’s health and safety protocol, Haliburton has been handed the keys to the Kings’ offense and he’s put together strong performances in back-to-back games now. Haliburton had a double-double by halftime and finished this game with 27 points (12-19 FG, 3-5 3PT), four rebounds, 11 assists, and two steals. Haliburton’s off-kilter rhythm and unorthodox shooting stroke make him a fun watch and his defensive playmaking make him a reliable fantasy option in any format—bask in the glory if he’s on your roster. Buddy Hield was the other star of the night for the Kings. Hield scored 18 of his game-high 29 points (10-18 FG, 7-9 3PT) in the fourth quarter and finished this game with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Damian Jones scored a career-high 23 points and added eight rebounds, one assist, and two blocks. Harrison Barnes rounds out the Kings’ top performers with 14 points (4-11 FG, 1-3 3PT), seven rebounds, and three assists.

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Saddiq Bey roared back to life with a major slump buster last night, tying a season-high with 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line. Bey also added to that in other cats, grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out five assists, and canning three triples. It was the first time he had topped 15 points in a month. Over that miserable span, he barely maintained a top-300 ranking and saw his roster share drop to 55 percent in Yahoo! leagues. He’ll have plenty of opportunity with Jerami Grant out of the lineup. If he’s been dropped in your league, give him a whirl.

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The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the New York Knicks 112-97 in the matinee matchup yesterday. The Bucks are now back to their winning ways, having beaten the Rockets in their previous game after losing their first game with Jrue Holiday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Khris Middleton in the lineup against an undermanned Miami Heat team on Wednesday. The sweet machine of destruction that is the Milwaukee Bucks appears to have returned. Seven players scored in double figures for the Bucks, led by Khris Middleton, who finished the game with 24 points (8-17 FG, 4-11 3PT), eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 20 points (7-16 FG, 0-2 3PT), 10 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, and one block. Bobby Portis chipped in 19 points (7-14 FG, 3-7 3PT), 10 rebounds, and three steals. Jrue Holiday added 13 points (6-11 FG, 1-2 3PT), four rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, and Rodney Hood rounded out the double-digit scorers’ list.

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In a game that was billed as a mini-test for the Warriors before they matched up against the big bad Phoenix Suns, Steph Curry decided against taking the test and instead lit the exam on fire in some form of avant-garde performance art. Curry and the Warriors defeated the Clippers 105-90 on Sunday, extending their winning streak to seven games and pushing them to a league-best 18-2 on the season. A decade ago, their upcoming matchup against the Suns would have been an easy Western Conference Finals preview, but as the demands of the regular season continue to diverge from those of the playoffs, it can be hard to make projections with any sort of confidence. In any case, it will be a marquee matchup, well worth tuning in for.

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Let’s be honest, the Detroit Pistons are currently a bit of a dumpster fire. But even dumpster fires can be beautiful. Ask anyone involved with the production of “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” Side note: That only came out a year ago. I know, it feels like five years ago. We’ll never survive this, but I digress.

There’s actually plenty to like if you’re a Pistons fan for the long term with newcomer Cade Cunningham along with returning players Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart. They are going to have their growing pains no doubt, but they should be competitive in most games. They’ve been relatively competitive ever since Dwayne Casey was named head coach in 2018 and the front office has done a decent job giving the roster some sort of direction.

But how long will it take this young core to gel? Will they be interested in winning all season or turn on the tank in the end? And where the hell does Trey Lyles fit into all this?!?!

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There is a reason the last week of the NBA schedule is usually avoided by many fantasy leagues, as it has been called the “Silly” season. Many teams are all out of objectives to chase and are flat out tanking or have already clinched their playoff spots and are resting their stars and even rotational players. This results in many funky boxscores that are not to be expected at any other point of the season. Corey Brewer anyone?

But don’t be afraid, I am here for you to squeeze fantasy value even in this trying part of the fantasy schedule. If your H2H league is still running though, may I suggest an alteration for next year in order to finish it one week earlier, but for you fine folks that play Roto this is the most important week of the year as you chase the categories that can give you that one extra point to win it all. As a result, I don’t see a reason to include a Sell column at this time, as anyone can be safely dropped at this point of the season with so few games left.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Kent Bazemore and R.J. Hampton continued their solid finish to the season, while Frank Jackson unfortunately got injured. Special mention to Mo Bamba who also got injured but this finish to the season suggests that he will be a major draft target for next year and can be a true breakout star if he can get the starting spot from Wendel Carter Jr.

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I am no Picasso or Rembrandt but nonetheless, allow me to paint a vivid picture the best I can.

Wet feet, inside of soaked socks, sliding around in drenched boots, walking uphill through mud that hits your knees. The clouds so low and dark, like overfilled water balloons.

This is my attempt at describing what the final stretch of the season begins to feel like. Unless you are sitting pretty with a sizeable lead in your league, you are likely counting down the days until the final buzzer of the season. Perhaps you are like me in a couple of leagues where a shot at first place is within reach and these last set of games could prove pivotal in your quest to the ship. Either way, I am here to offer you some last-minute advice that may provide the slight edge required at this stage of the season.

“ Not a lot baby girl just a lil’ bit, we can head to the crib in a lil’ bit, I can show you how I live in a lil’ bit”

I know 50 Cent was talking about a young woman he whispered sweet nothings to into her ear at the club one fine evening back in 2005. Over here though fam, we are talking about the lil’ bit you need to make your final push towards the finish line. The tree is not bountiful with ripe fruit I have to be honest with you.

Do you remember bars and clubs? Do you remember the end of the night and scoping out who still remained? Well, this is somewhat like that and if you remember those wild and crazy times where you could be inside of places with strangers sans mask then you also know that even what seemed the most decollate of nights, a beacon of light could present itself and guide you home.

This week we dissect the…

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With Luka Doncic sitting one out, Dallas’ offense flowed through Tim Hardaway Jr., and boy did he have himself a night. Hardaway dropped a career-best 42 points on just 23 shots, drilling six of his 10 triple tries and sinking all 10 of his attempts from the stripe. THJ (57 percent owned in Yahoo!) is as streaky as they come, but if Doncic misses any more time the opportunity will be there for oodles of points and treys.

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Bad time for Devin Booker to slump, right in the midst of fantasy playoffs. While Booker has hit clutch baskets and the Suns have mostly been winning, Thursday night marked the fourth time in his past six outings he was held under 20 points— mustering just 15, with no threes and five turnovers against just two assists. In this stretch, Book has shot just 37.5 percent from the field and a woeful 17.9 percent from deep, averaging under one made triple per game. Hopefully, he hasn’t shot your team out of a fantasy chip.

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