I’ll be honest, my original plan was to have this piece written and published at the end of last season, back when the failed chase for the top spot in the RazzJam was still fresh in my mind. But the NBA season is long and the Playoffs are so good, so when I fell just short of a championship, it seemed just fine to me to put this on the shelf for a bit. So, I sat on this with it being 95% completed and rested instead. Then Middleton went down and the Bucks got beat. The sun came out, the Celtics ran out of gas, and another Golden State summer onto my shores like a warm wave, even though I’ve traded in the Bay Area for Bay View. 

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Missing their vital third star, the Bucks achieved Wile E. Coyote physics for a round, rolling past Chicago in five, but could only hang in suspension for so long. Their time hovering beyond the cliff’s edge ended emphatically when Jayson Tatum and a turbo-charged Al Horford tossed the Khris-less defending champs an anvil and down they went. Streak-enders one day, a body-shaped silhouette in the desert the next. 

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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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The Pacers beat the Thunder in overtime on Friday night behind the fantasy star of the night, Domantas Sabonis, who was questionable to play coming into Friday but suited up against his former team to get revenge. He finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and two blocks. He found a way to get it done in almost every category. He is a top-30 player this year and should enjoy an increased role with Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner out for the foreseeable future. Justin Holiday added 22 points and five rebounds on 4-7 three-point shooting, but numbers like this are unable to be counted on in the long run. 

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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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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 12! The goal of this post is to steer you towards quality streamers who can help you win your head-to-head matchups.  We’re nearly halfway through the season, and we’ve already seen more than 540 players cycle through the league thanks to COVID-19 protocols.  While this unprecedented situation is frustrating, it is providing opportunities to try out players who never would have sniffed 12-team league rosters otherwise.  Last week, we witnessed the resurrection of Gary Harris and some astonishingly good shooting performances from Coby White and Malik Monk.  Hopefully some of you were able to cash in on those recommendations.  This week, there’s a whole new set of COVID absences and injuries, so let’s get into the schedule and some player recommendations.

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Joe Ingles is finally kicking it into gear after a slow start to the season. Ingles is back to canning threes and dropping dimes—he amassed three of the former and seven of the latter on Thursday—and has scored in double digits in five of his last seven. Over that span, he’s averaging 11.3 PPG, 3.9 APG, and 2.7 3PTM. Those numbers may seem modest, but paired with close to 60 percent shooting, it’s made him a top-100 player over the past 14 days. He’s trending in the right direction, and I would scoop him up now if you need treys and dimes (39 percent rostered in Yahoo! leagues).

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Seven!  The goal of this post is to help you identify players on the waiver wire who can help you win your weekly matchup.  Keeping up with the consolidated injury report is no small task these days.  The past 10 days were not kind to the league’s stars, with several going out for extended absences.  If you’re in the unfortunate position of holding a top-tier player who’s dealing with injury or sickness, it’s time to figure out who will benefit from their time off.  There is no shortage of talent to mine from the hardest-hit teams like Houston, Denver, and Portland.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Jalen Brunson had an exceptional run sans Luka Doncic, but his return certainly caps his upside. On the bad news front, Chimezie Metu was useful but the coaching change in Sacramento removed him from the rotation altogether and is a clear drop and Talen Horton-Tucker has provided two consecutive stinkers. I am still holding as he is starting, but I can understand the temptation to move from him in shallow leagues. Kevin Love on the other hand was a more than useful streamer, as suggested, while all of Thaddeus Young, Joe Ingles, and Jordan Clarkson did nothing to change my view of them as “Sell” cases.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions both Lethal Weapons (Frank Kaminski and Javale McGee) were great streaming plays but can be safely dropped with Deandre Ayton back in action, while Jrue Holiday improved his play and can be no longer viewed as a buy-low. Daniel Theis had an ok week for streaming as well and regarding the sell candidates, both Chris Boucher and De’Andre Hunter proved me right as they continue to provide no value in standard leagues, while Cole Anthony continues his hot streak and I continue to see him as an excellent sell-very-high, if I may create this term.

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