A routine win for the Nets here against the Bulls, who were without Zach LaVine. The Bulls have already mailed it in this season since they have been out of playoff contention for a couple of days now while the Nets are getting ready for their title charge in the post-season. 

Patrick Williams had himself a game yesterday and he showed why the Bulls took him so high in the draft last year. He scored 24 points on the back 64.3% shooting from the field while also grabbing five rebounds and getting two steals. Nikola Vucevic also contributed with yet another double double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, while one of the revelations of the year, Thaddeus Young also got a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. As the season dwindles down the Bulls now have to look forward to the draft and free agency in order to start addressing their problems. They could start with finding a point guard, whether it be through the draft or attempting to make a play for Lonzo Ball. 

As far as the Nets go, it seemed like they did not need to come out of first gear as Kevin Durant put up only 12 points, but had an impressive performance on the glass with nine rebounds as well as six assists. Kyrie Irving did not do much else except score 22 points off the back of three triples while the other member of the big three, James Harden had an unlikely performance with just five points, five rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two blocks. Bruce Brown, though, put up a double-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals. The Nets already have their sights and mind and hearts in the playoffs and are waiting to see who their first round opponents will be. This team has high aspirations and anything less than a championship will be seen as a failure. 

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An overtime thriller last night saw Russ tie the Big O, Oscar Robertson, for the all-time triple-double list, but also had the Wizards pick up their 32nd win and tiebreaker over the Indiana Pacers which allowed them to leapfrog the Hoosiers and find themselves in the ninth seed of the Eastern Conference. 

Starting with that man Russell Westbrook of course, who posted yet again another triple-double of 33 points, 19 rebounds, and 15 assists. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Westbrook fan, but I’ll also admit that what this man is doing right now is absolutely historic and legendary. At some point down the line, after Russ is long retired, we will all look back and realize how truly underappreciated he is and what he does on the court each night. Like Russ himself says, if it were easy, anyone would do it. Bradley Beal had a phenomenal performance with a 50 piece on 19-for-31 shooting which included only three triples. Russ and Beal seem to be picking it up at the right time. The Wizards also got solid minutes from Alex Len who flirted with a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds. 

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I feel like our children’s generation and their children’s generation are going to look back upon our generation and have a gross underappreciation of Kevin Durant. Maybe it’s because of all the narratives floating around but I rarely hear him mentioned as one of the greats. Because in my mind, granted my mind is small and has been heavily influenced by trees and mushrooms, he is one of the greatest to ever play the game. He’s a seven-footer who has handles like a guard, is a career 1/1/1 player, a career 27-point scorer, and a career 49/38/88 shooter. He’s got the hardware and is one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in the game. Because he’s missed so much time this year due to injury, he’s been out of the consciousness of many but Dudeisamazingant reminded us of his ability yesterday.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
42 10 2 1 0 5 7/13 16/33 3/4

In 40 minutes. The 58th time Dudeisamazingant has scored at least 40 points in a game. Durant has played 28 games this season and he’s the number six player on a per-game basis. Over the last seven seasons, he’s finished as the numero uno player for fantasy three times and been top five in six seasons. I hope he stays healthy so I can continue to watch his greatness.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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I know the NBA is a business and players are professionals but I just can’t wrap my head around the Kevin Love situation in Cleveland. It all started with a panic move after Lebron left the Cavaliers in which they offered Love a four-year, $120 million contract. This has proven a burden for a rebuilding franchise that is unable to trade the oft-injured power forward and has resulted in frustration from both sides.

Just to be clear, this happened in a real game with the score very close. It must be really deflating to see it from his teammates’ point of view and hopefully, they work something out in the offseason to get him out of Cleveland, despite the fact that he still has two more years left in his contract.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Bruce Brown balled out in the games the Nets were shorthanded and was an excellent streamer but can be safely dropped now that they are getting Kevin Durant back. Moe Harkless was another positive contributor and, unlike Brown, he still has value as his playing time seems relatively safe. The same can’t be said for De’Anthony Melton as his playing time is hovering around 20 minutes per game making him a borderline player to own.

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Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been as plugged into fantasy basketball as I am this season, but I feel like I’ve heard Neil Olshey’s quote about Anfernee Simons’ potential over and over again this year. If you’ve somehow missed it, here’s what the Blazers GM said back in June:

“He’s as talented as anybody we’ve ever drafted since I’ve been here, in terms of just natural gifts. He’s not the player [Lillard] and [McCollum] was, but in terms of just natural, God-given, basketball ability, Anfernee is as gifted as anybody I’ve ever drafted.”

It’s the kind of quote that grabs attention. Considering that he said it almost a year ago and it’s still rattling around in my head, it’s also a quote that sticks. Anfernee Simons, reads a dusty card catalog in my mind, Extremely gifted? Simons, who is still just 21 years-old, had played 142 NBA games prior to last night and his career numbers don’t exactly make you forget about Damian Lillard. But game 143 pulled the curtain back a bit and lended some credibility to Olshey’s big talk last summer. Simons was on.

Anfernee Simons

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
27 4 4 2 0 9 9/13 0/0 0

Those nine triples he hit? They were consecutive. In total, Simons connected on 13 straight threes over four games. Mercy. That’s some heat from deep. Unfortunately for our game, the minutes haven’t been consistent enough for the reigning Dunk Champ for many of us to be in a position to capitalize on his hot shooting. We’ll just have to admire the feat from the other side of the waiver wire. Still, nine (or 13) straight will get you into the lede around here.

Here’s what else went down in the NBA on Tuesday…

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The ridiculous and predictably bad “condensed” NBA schedule has finally reared its ugly head. The injuries are rolling in faster than me when they say there’s free cake in the break room, and fantasy teams everywhere are hurting. Hopefully you have multiple IL spots. I have two in the league I run usually, but we upped it to three midseason.

If your commissioner didn’t have such foresight, RIP. But there’s good news: You don’t have to hurt anymore.

When players go out, that means other players step up to fill the void. So who should we be grabbing for the week? Who is going to win us our fantasy playoff matches?

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I used to hate blowing up inflatables. Basically anything and everything that the kids bring to the pool. Breath iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Bllloooooooooooooooooooow. Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. Blllllooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. Good thing I don’t smoke anymore. Iiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Cough. Wheeze. Cough. Blloow. The worst would be blowing up the sex do…..Uh, nevermind. The pumps for inflatable beds are the best. Press a button, listen to the whirrrr, and watch the bed rise, like yeast in the oven. So. Cool. That’s what it was like watching Jusuf Nurkic last season, in the Bubble ironically. He played his first game on July 31st and inflated for 17.6 points, 10.3 boards, four dimes, 1.4 steals, and two blocks in 31.6 minutes. In the playoffs, he averaged 32.3 minutes and put up 14.2 points, 10.4 boards, 3.6 dimes, 1.4 steals. and 0.2 blocks. Then the Bubble popped, both literally and figuratively. He played 12 games to start this season then proceeded to miss the next 32 games. Upon his return, he played 10 games and averaged only 21.4 minutes. Over the last two games, though, he played 29 minutes in each. He’s slowly been inflating. Yesterday, he played 29 minutes again and….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
16 19 5 1 2 2 0 6/13 4/5

Top 25 player over the last three games. He’s inflating at the right time as the Blazers are sitting at 7th in the Western Conference and could make some noise in the playoffs if everyone is healthy.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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An extremely encouraging pattern is beginning to emerge with my every-other-week recapping of the Wednesday night games: Happy returns that are highlighted in the lede. You see, it was my distinct pleasure to highlight KAT’s return from his early season wrist + Covid absence, and I was the one who placed Kevin Durant in this place of prominence when he came back from the extended hammy vacation. Now, I’m due up for the recap on the night Jaren Jackson Jr. returned and you know damn well that I’m going to make him the lede. Welcome back, Jar—

Ah. Actually not. Sorry JJJ, I’m breaking up the welcome party and going with the 40 piece instead. We’ll see you later in the recap, because this lede (and maybe all of the Western world) belongs to…

Julius Randle

PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG FT TO
40 11 6 1 0 6 11/21 12/13 4

This is second time in the last week that Julius has gone 40+/10+/6+ with 6 made threes. Wut. That’s just unspeakable heat from New York’s Caesar, who led the Knicks to an OT win against the Hawks last night. Woe to those of you having wrestle this monster in head-to-head playoffs. It might be better just to simply bend the knee when Randle is going like this.

Here’s what else stood out on another busy Wednesday in the Association…

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I won’t put you to sleep with a long and drawn out introduction today, as I‘m sure you all want to learn who to pickup to help your team win in the fantasy playoffs, so I will just make a brief mention of my awe for the performances Stephen Curry has been blessing us with during the last month or so. In his last 20 games he is averaging 33.6 points, 5.5 triples on 50%/90.7% shooting. Unreal… As unreal as some of the plays he has made during this streak, like this one.

Ridiculous. I also read that if Steph was to go 0/500 for his next 3-point attempts and then immediately retire, he would still have a better 3pt% than Ray Allen. His MVP case is getting stronger by the day, especially when you consider the talent around him or more precisely the lack of it. Even fans in Philly have acknowledged the fact with MVP chants for him.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Facundo Campazzo has not dazzled with his performances, but with Monte Morris injured on top of Jamal Murray being sidelined, I still like him as a valuable playoff contributor. Marcus Morris also will continue to benefit from Kawhi’s injury that will cost him at least the next 3 games while Jalen McDaniels continues to have a solid 32 minutes role in Charlotte. Finally, “Sell” candidates Millsap and Harrell continued being non-factors in fantasy.

Please, blog, may I have some more?