Now that Thanksgiving is over and done with, I feel I can now safely state what I’m not thankful for. Balance in all things! And you know, I’m totally willing to accept that I bring this on myself, but I tend to get all the lame headlines this season heading into the NBA midweek. A roller coaster ride, as we’ve held the funeral for Kawhi Leonard’s career (a roller coaster in of itself), we’ve dealt with Ben Simmon’s fear of approaching the basketball rim in any shape and form. We’ve, of course, seen the drama of Kyrie Irving (and others, yikes) and we even missed the resurrection of Wilt Chamberlain in the form of Ivica Zubac and 29 rebounds… you’d think it’s timed that I miss all the fun things and have to talk about all the dumb things. But the one shining light has been the consistent and amazing play from Tyrese Haliburton. Coming off a nail-biting 116-115 win against the Lakers, it was Haliburton’s third straight game of 10+ assists with 0 turnovers, and in his last three games, has 30 assists and no turnovers. To insulate myself, I hereby declare Tuesday “Tyreseday” in hopes I can just talk about him the rest of the season. Just please, I don’t want to talk about Kyrie anymore…  Here’s what else I saw during last night’s games:

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This summer I was looking over a sheet of future odds in a sportsbook with a wad of dollars that I previously did not have, when I noticed that the Denver Nuggets had the fifth-best odds of winning the west. Future bets are tough, especially in the west (especially in this current version of the west, too), but after considering the return of Jamal Murray, the potential of Michael Porter Jr., and the metronomic brilliance of the reigning, two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, I found myself at the window with a belief that this was an opportunity to turn money won into more money. Persistent injuries since the Aaron Gordon deal have hobbled the mile-high hopes for the Nuggets, but it’s not all that difficult to see a world where Denver is an especially tough out in the postseason. Having a two-time MVP puts you at an advantage like that. 

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Many cat lovers don’t just have one cat. I don’t understand it but if it’s akin to the Lay’s commercials of “Betcha can’t eat just one!” then I get it. I’ve seen the shows with the lonely woman who dies and has dozens of cats feasting on her festering corpse. Yuck. Having so many cats would seem to be a big f’ing problem. First of all, the more cats, the more food that is needed. Cliques and territory. More cats would bring prison rules to the landscape. I’ve seen cats fight. They go so illmatic that Nas would be motivated to start sampling the fracas. Poo and pee. The literal shit would be everywhere because, unless you had a kitty litter for all, there’s no way cats would patiently wait in a line like at an NBA arena. If given enough time, I’m sure I could come up with many more reasons why having many cats would be an issue but I got things to do, people to see, and blurbs to write. Which brings me to Karl-Anthony Towns. The KAT of the NBA. Normally, I trash KAT a bit because KAT doesn’t seem to have that dog in him. I’ve always acknowledged KAT’s fantasy greatness though because KAT has few weaknesses and provides a solid base to build a team around. But the time with Jimmy Butler exposed some things about KAT that brought doubts to KAT’s ability to lead a team to the championship. Last night, all of that was shoved into the drawer for at least one night because we had not one KAT, not two KATs….We need some Dr. Seuss in the house because we had 60 KATs:

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One team in this matchup projects to be a difficult and gritty playoff opponent and a sneaky conference finals contender; the other team in this matchup is the Brooklyn Nets. The Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 126-120, behind a historic 54-point performance from Jayson Tatum. It was Tatum’s fourth 5o-point game, tying him with Larry Bird for the most 50-point games in Celtics history. Tatum finished the night with 54 points (16-30 FG, 8-15 3PT), five rebounds, three assists, and it was his hockey assist that led to a dagger Jaylen Brown three to stamp out all hope for the Nets. Jaylen Brown added 21 points, four rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Marcus Smart finished the game with 14 points, three rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Al Horford finished the game with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block. Robert Williams III tallied 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and five blocks.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 19!  The goal of this post is to identify widely available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  This week, the Suns once again take center stage, as Devin Booker joins Chris Paul on the sidelines.  If you didn’t have the option to stash Cam Payne through the final stages of his absence, now is a good time to grab him.  It won’t be long until he’s owned in more than 50% of leagues across most fantasy platforms, at which point I’ll no longer be able to use pain puns in my title.  Until that day comes, I will exhaust them without shame.  This week’s is brought to you by Tyler Durden:

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What kind of person are you? Would you want an investment that went up or down 25% on any given day or one that increased 3% all the time? If you lit a fire to keep warm while stranded in the mountains, would you want the flame to burst up four feet in the air, providing tremendous warmth for 15 minutes but then it shut off for five minutes? Or a steady flame that didn’t keep you quite as warm but stayed on all the time? The upside is always alluring but sometimes slow and steady wins the race, and no player exemplifies that more than Jalen Brunson. He’s been in the top 70 to 90 range for the entire season. Last night was just another one of his solid, yet unspectacular performances:

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But we’re not here to talk about impact players that are owned in most, if not all, leagues, because we deal with players on the margins in this post!  My goal is to identify widely-available players in order to give you the best streaming options for your head-to-head matchups.  And despite the spiciness of the trade deadline, this week is no different.  Hopefully, you kept your powder dry and saved a couple player additions for opportunities that are now presenting themselves as a result of deals.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 108-104, behind strong performances from Evan Mobley, Kevin Love, and Jarrett Allen. After finding themselves down 84-73 in the third quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run to take the lead and never gave it up. Mobley led the Cavaliers in scoring with 24 points (11-16 FG, 0-2 3PT) and added nine rebounds and four assists. Love tallied 20 points (6-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Love has scored 20 points or more in five straight games. He’s played well with increased minutes as the Cavaliers have seen a number of players go down with injury or Covid absences. Allen notched 18 points (6-12 FG, 0-1 3PT), 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocks. Lamar Steven added 15 points (6-13 FG, 0-4 3PT), three assists, two assists, and one steal. Lauri Markkanen finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one block. Isaac Okoro played just 12 minutes and had to leave the game due to an elbow injury. He finished the game with 2 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, and one block. He was one made three, one free-throw, one turnover, and one personal foul away from a really exciting stat line. The Cavaliers were without Darius Garland and Cedi Osman as both entered the league’s health and safety protocols) while Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio are out due to season-ending knee injuries.

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The Charlotte Hornets were on a three-game losing streak heading into this Sunday evening matchup with the Atlanta Hawks—a bad loss to the Rockets in overtime, a sluggish and overmatched defeat against the Bulls, and a buzzer-beating loss at the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. LaMelo had a standout game against the Bucks and before Giannis’ game-winning layup, he hit a beautiful leaning three over Pat Connaughton to tie the game. Sometime after their loss to the Bucks, LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Jalen McDaniels, and Mason Plumlee were placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. At the time of that announcement, Ball was leading the Hornets in points, assists, steals, and rebounds per game. Heading into this contest, I was bummed to not get a chance to watch these two teams compete at something closer to full strength. But as is so often the case with the Hornets, they did the unexpected, beating the Hawks 130-127 with two of their best four players sidelined.

Don’t spit the bit was the directive from Eric Collins—after the Hornets coughed up leads against the Rockets and Bucks. Collins—the team’s television play-by-play announcer and rising star in the NBA universe—brought his full bag of phrases for this road game. It was almost like Collins was trying to will the undermanned Hornets to a victory by unloading his full clip of quips—and it worked! (Miles Bridges might have helped)

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The Hornets and Nets came into this game with very different vibes. In the Hornets’ first game of the season, they clawed back from a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to beat the Indiana Pacers 123-122 on Wednesday, October 20th—the first night of the 2021-22 season with a full slate of games, affectionately known as “League Pass Opening Night.” The comeback was fueled in large part, by a LaMelo Ball-led third-quarter surge, quickly putting any sophomore slump fears to bed. They followed that up with a 123-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Miles Bridges scored 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Kelly Oubre scored 25 points off the bench. On the other hand, the Nets suffered a near wire-to-wire defeat to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, immediately after watching them receive their championship rings. The Nets, of course, have been mired in vaccine drama because of Kyrie Irving and although they remain the overwhelming favorite to win the title, Kyrie’s absence has been deeply felt during their first two games.

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The Charlotte Hornets were everyone’s favorite League Pass team last season and they should remain one of the most exciting teams to watch, though they might have some serious competition from the Houston Rockets. It was a mixed bag of a season for the Hornets in 2020-21. LaMelo Ball emerged, Gordon Hayward looked good when healthy, and both Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges had breakout seasons. They managed to sneak into the expanded playoffs, where they failed to advance out of the Play-In tournament. They might fall out of the Play-In this season due to the surprisingly tough Eastern Conference, but it’s all about development and improvement for this roster anyways. As long as they draft well, or, you know…tank, their best years should be ahead of them. Let’s figure out what all this means for fantasy!

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