In the battle for the 9th seed out west, LaMelo Ball rose to the occasion while Ice Trae went Ice Cold from three. Despite his 15 assists, Trae Young finished with only nine points as he shot 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Danilo Gallinari was averaging 14 points, five rebounds and four assists over the last week. However, he suffered an injury last night and would recommend dropping him for Onyeka Okongwu, who has averaged similar numbers and, with more opportunities, should score more.

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With fantasy playoffs right around the corner, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go team by team and point out one player that should be available on waiver wire in most fantasy leagues. With most fantasy trade deadlines passing, I thought it would be informative that you know who’s available on waivers. A quick note before we get into the article, the percentages are based off of ESPN leagues, the numbers may vary on other platforms, however they shouldn’t change to a significant degree.

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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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It was a true team effort for the Wiz, with four guys off the bench scoring in double figures. One of those four was Deni Avdija, who has really been playing well since the trade deadline. He finished up with 13 points, eight rebounds, a triple, two steals and a block. It was his fifth straight game scoring double-digit points. Over that stretch he’s been playing 30 minutes a night despite coming off the bench, with averages of 12.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.4 3PTM, 1.0 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. He should be entrenched in this role the rest of the season, meaning he’ll have plenty of opportunity to produce (17 percent rostered in Yahoo! leagues).

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 18!  The goal of this post is to help you identify streaming options who will help you win your head-to-head matchup.  With there being only one night of games remaining for this half of the matchup, I’m only running down options for Thursday’s games this week.  However, this post felt sad and empty without some additional long-term options, so I’ve included players at the bottom who fit that mold.

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Remember that scene in Jurassic Park when the SUVs are rolling along the track and the people inside are looking out the windows to get a glimpse of the dinosaurs? Except there are no dinosaurs. This is Jurassic Park, not some bootleg zoo where wild animals are confined to what amounts to a jail cell for humans. The dinosaurs are not beholden to the whims of us silly humans. They will appear, eat, and do their dinosaur things when they so desire. The same thing goes for volcanoes. They do not erupt when the 1:00 pm tour guide gets to the base of the mountain. They do their thing when they are ready to do their thing. Which brings me to Hassan Whiteside of the Utah Jazz. Every once in a while, Mt. Whiteside will erupt for a huge game, like he did back in mid-December: 18 points, 14 boards, and four blocks in 20 minutes of action. Over the past two games with Rudy Gobert out of commission, the tour guides to Mt. Whiteside were selling tickets like hotcakes because he was set to start and crush. If you don’t know where this story is going, then you have a serious reading comprehension issue. He started the last two games, played 30 and 26 minutes, and disappointed. Granted, he endured some foul problems but he only blocked two shots and did not reach double-digit in points or rebounds. As the visitors returned to the safety of their homes, hopes dashed, money wasted, Mt. Whiteside exploded again last night.

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Following a heartbreaking buzzer-beater loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Oklahoma City Thunder respond with a last-second bucket of their own to take down the LA Clippers, 104-103. The big basket came from none other than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who finished the night with 18 points and six assists. Lugentz Dort led the team with 29 points, but the guy to watch in this one was Josh Giddey. Although the rookie finished with only eight points, he also grabbed 18 rebounds and dished out ten assists. He may not be getting the same Rookie of the Year buzz as guys like Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes, but statistically, he should definitely be in the discussion.

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It’s easy to understand why, all those weeks ago, the good folks at TNT selected last night’s Bucks/Sixers game to be the NBA showcase game on a night with precious little professional basketball. They could bill it as the reigning champs versus the dramatic and talented challengers, right? Giannis and his gold medal running mates against The Process and Ben Simmons in a battle at the top of the Eastern Conference. The potential for an early-season statement was easy enough to see at the time, but then life happened.

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Before the Bucks took on the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday night, the matchup read a bit like one of those torturous “two trains are three hundred miles apart, traveling at two different speeds…” puzzles that I never learned how to solve in school. Yes, the Pistons are one of the worst teams in professional basketball, but they were catching an extremely shorthanded Milwaukee team in Motown, so it felt like there was a chance that they’d be able to steal one against the banged up Bucks. The reigning champs were without their starting center (Brook Lopez remained on the side lines with a bad back), starting point guard (Jrue Holiday was out with a turned ankle), starting wing (Khris Middleton tested positive for Covid and will be away from the team for a couple of weeks), and last year’s starting two-guard (Donte DiVincenzo’s rehab and recovery from ankle surgery continues), so there was a chance, after accounting for all these caveats, that the Little Engine That Could would turn into the Little Engine That Did, at least for the night.

Or not!

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The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings 105-99 in the Sunday matinee game. Viewers were treated to the full  “Luka Doncic Experience,” as he had a near triple-double, 23 points (10-21 FG, 1-7 3PT), eight rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one block, and three turnovers. Doncic also picked up a technical foul midway through the third quarter after an expletive-filled barrage, that followed three-quarters of Doncic’s patented palms up, pouty-face routine. Oh, and he made this ridiculous, back-breaking three-pointer to round out the experience:

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As an homage to Son, the fearless leader of Razzball Hoops, we’re kicking the 2021-22 season off by celebrating the traditional way. Play the music, DJ!

Hell yeah. It feels official now. The NBA and our fantasy hoop dreams are back, baby! It was a light schedule last night — the defending champion Bucks hosted the Nets to start, followed by a Warriors/Lakers nightcap — but even dipping a toe in felt good. I’ll say that it was an especially nice night for yours truly, as tickets for the hometown Bucks and the ring ceremony that prefaced the start of the season fell into ole Mr. Hooper’s hands. Not a bad way to get the season rolling. Speaking of good beginnings, this Giannis fellow doesn’t seem to have slowed down at all from the last time he’s been around…

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