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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I get why Trae Young vs New York is a thing. I too remember last year’s gentleman’s sweep in the first round, and I understand that any time the Knicks do anything it gets an unreasonable amount of attention because New York, the media, Stephen A., etc. I also know that America is the land of large appetites, so even though the NBA in late March can be a real grind, content must still be pumped into the great yawning maw. Trae turning heel in MSG is cheap heat and the Knicks are highly flammable. Ring the dinner bell, friends. It’s time to eat again.

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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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The Denver Nuggets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-104, behind a well-balanced scoring attack and more Nikola Jokic brilliance. Seven Nuggets’ players scored in double figures, led by the Joker, who finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and one block. It was Jokic’s 14th triple-double of the season and the 71st of his career. Will Barton added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one block. Aaron Gordon tallied 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Monte Morris chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and eight assists and Jeff Green finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Bryn Forbes (11) and Zeke Nnaji (10) also scored in double figures. Forbes (25), Nnaji (20), Bones Hyland (17), and DeMarcus Cousins (16) played the most minutes off the bench.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Stephen Curry broke out of his slump with a 40-point game against the Rockets so the buy-low window significantly shrunk, while Chuma Okeke continued his underrated contribution with eight steals and six blocks in his last four games. On the other hand, Jeff Green flopped and is a clear drop. On the “Sell” front, I hope you followed the advice regarding Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. I wrote last week that the Thunder could shut him down with the first minor injury and now he is sidelined through the All-Star break.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 15!  The objective of this post is to help you identify the best available streaming options to win your head-to-head matchups.

Last week’s recommendations held up reasonably well, but it appears I cursed Kelly Olynyk and Alex Caruso by giving them both a casual mention in the intro.  After my vote of confidence, the cosmos promptly conspired against me to Grayson Allen Caruso’s wrist and infect Olynyk with COVID-19.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Goga Bitadze has established himself as the starting center in Indiana and should be rostered until the Pacers get their big men back while Kessler Edwards has been getting many minutes and has performed adequately. Finally, De’Anthony Melton had a great week but keep in mind that Memphis’ players in the protocol are expected back this week, so temper your expectations and be ready to move on if his playing time takes a significant hit. Finally, Coby White was a part of the “Sell” but with Lonzo Ball out for longer than expected and Alex Caruso going down as well, he is a hold for now.

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Variety, they say, is the spice of life. So while there were monster games on Tuesday night from all the usual suspects — Joker, Joel, LeBron, Harden, Anthony Edwards, the Boston Boys — I’m bowing out on trying to split those hairs and passing on the opportunity to bestow the lede player honor on one of these repeat customers. Instead, we’ll spice things up by going off the beaten path and checking in on a number one pick who feels like he’s flying a bit under the radar.

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The Miami Heat took home the nervy, 113-107 victory, but the Lakers nearly caught them slipping. In a game the Heat led almost the entire way and by as many as 26 points, the Lakers put together a fierce fourth quarter and nearly stole the victory. For three quarters, however, the Heat played the basketball version of “the beautiful game.” Offensive production was spread across the lineup and they were flowing into good looks. Jimmy Butler led the charge in Kyle Lowry’s absence (personal reasons) and he finished the game with a triple-double: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, and one block. Butler’s 10th triple-double moved him into the first place on the Heat’s all-time list, surpassing LeBron James. Duncan Robinson was hot early and even scored some important points in the fourth quarter; he finished the game with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Bam Adebayo had a decent, but uneven game. He was stifled a fair amount by LeBron’s defense, as he was LeBron’s primary cover when the Lakers went small. Adebayo finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. Gabe Vincent filled in admirably, once again, for Lowry and finished the game with 11 points, one rebound, six assists, and two steals. Caleb Martin also notched eleven points and further cemented his “best two-way player in the league status”—a dubious honor, he’d no doubt like to be rid of as soon as possible.

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The Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets 125-102, snapping a four-game losing streak. The Jazz were just 1-4 without Rudy Gobert in the lineup and Gobert and Donovan Mitchell seemed to trade subliminal jabs in press conferences and on social media. They appear to have righted the ship, for now. The Jazz are a bit of conundrum. They are an undeniably good team that has been labeled “a regular season team” for a few years, maybe even erroneously, except it didn’t matter because they did fall short of expectations in the playoffs. This year, there is once again general indifference towards the team outside of Utah and most interested parties are just wondering when Donovan Mitchell asks for a trade because he can’t get along with Gobert. The Jazz can’t get very far without Donovan Mitchell’s scoring, but they appear even more doom-struck without Gobert’s defense. What can be done? Would Jerami Grant help? Harrison Barnes? Whatever happens, I know fans outside of Utah will watch with crazy-eyed delight if the foundation once again crumbles beneath them in the playoffs.

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As an American living in England, it’s heartwarming to hear about the Thanksgiving traditions that are increasingly embraced by the British public.  And no, I’m not talking about enjoying the fellowship of others, eating great food, or reflecting on the many blessings that we enjoy in our affluent societies.  I’m talkin’ ’bout busting down the doors of the cheap electronics store at 4 AM, crushing skulls underfoot, and stampeding toward the flat screens! USA! USA! USA!  Amazingly, I’ve come across several Brits who harbor resentment toward America for exporting this time-honored tradition, but thankfully their ranks are thinning.  I’m confident we’ll eventually win them all over, one special edition ‘Friends’ box set at a time…

Fortunately for us waiver wire scavengers, there are always Black Friday deals to be found in fantasy hoops if one looks hard enough (and reads this post).  My goal is to highlight players who are on 50% or fewer rosters in ESPN and/or Yahoo leagues so that you can find the best fit to win your head-to-head matchup.

If you entered the Metuverse like I did last week, you hopefully benefitted from the threes, rebounds, steals, and blocks that Chimezie Metu provided in the Kings’ final two games of your matchup.  However, our journey ended abruptly with the firing of Luke Walton and the installment of Alvin Gentry, which has resulted in back-to-back DNP-CDs for Metu thus far.  It’s time to snap back to the real world and find some alternatives.

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For about two and half quarters in last night’s TNT showcase of the Lakeshow in MSG, it looked like we were in store for yet another Tuesday night disappointment (seriously, how bad have these national games been lately?). No LeBron, an under-the-weather Anthony Davis, and some ghastly shooting from the rest of the roster (LA shot 37.4% as a team) allowed the Knicks to amass a huge lead in front of the home crowd. How ugly was it? The Lakers never led, only drew even twice, and the Garden was rocking and bing-bonging through for most of the evening. Despite the dire straights, this is a Laker group with championship aspirations, so they got off the mat and competed in the second half. Though it was in a losing effort, Russell Westbook tried his best to make a game of it.

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