Change. Is good, although it takes time for it to manifest. There are trials and tribulations. There are new things to learn and old things to forget. There will be haters. There will always be haters. But change is vital to reach one’s potential. A caterpiller walks and eats before wrapping itself in a cocoon, then morphs into a butterfly and eventually flies into the sky. Pascal Siakam entered the league in 2016 and embarked upon the journey that all rookies undertake. He flashed his two-way potential early on and continued to climb the ladder. In 2019, after Kawhi Leonard left, he was thrust into a more prominent role and became an All-Star. While the numbers were there, there was some hesitancy. Fred VanVleet put it best: “I think what happened was Kyle [Lowry] was such an immovable object, such a force of who he was in his status as a Hall of Famer, it was like a little tit-for-tat there, even if it was subconscioius….It’s not something where’ I don’t like this guy’ or ‘I’m not passing to him’, it’s a little nuance that you would never understand unless you played at the highest level.” Lowry was traded before the beginning of the 2021-22 season and things became more clear and comfortable for Siakam. He missed the first 10 games of the season but it’s been alllll good this season and last night was the culmination of the season.

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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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For the first two seasons of Morant’s career, he finished as the 133rd and 201st player on a per-game basis for fantasy. The athleticism shined early and his ability to score was evident. He could board and dish out dimes with the best of them but, but, but….Did I stuffer mother f-er? The defensive stats weren’t bountiful, the tres didn’t rain down from the heavens, and the free-throw shooting was meh at 75-ish percent. At only 22 years old, I thought there would be improvement in Year Three but, as Caine from Menace II Society said, “I never thought he’d come back like this.” I’m such a stupid, stupid man as he would fall, then fall, then fall some more in drafts, but I’d pass, even though dimes are a precious resource and he was going to improve. Well, he’s not only improved, he’s broken out! And last night was just another leg on the victory tour.

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Late February, everyone’s favorite little month, often feels like a desperate time in the NBA. The Trade Deadline, with all its promise, hope, and frequent disappointments, has come and gone, and with no cavalry coming to save you, you’re forced to come to grips with reality. Most of the time that reality isn’t pretty. Looking around the league, it seems like everyone is exhausted in ways that have become obvious. The NBA season is a long one, and the All-Star break is closer to the three-quarter pole than the halfway point, so if you haven’t figured out how to win by now, it’s getting awfully late to get it solved. Some teams have already begun to slowly pack it in and wind things down. “Better luck next year,” isn’t being said yet, but the phrase looms in the back of mouths in Indiana, Washington, and Texas. Outside, at least where I live, it’s gray, brown, and soggy, and it can be hard to remember that life and color exist in a universe that looks exactly the same way that a 19-40 season feels. It’s grim. Cold. Still. The NBA landscape can be equally sparse — I’m looking at you, Philadelphia, and your 40-point home loss — so when you see something beautiful and vibrant, you’ve got to celebrate it. So, with apologies to Giannis Antetokounmpo and his 50-point night (my god, he’s good), I’m renting out this Tuesday lede to Trae Young, who was a vibrant, flamboyant shot in the arm at home against a thoroughly game Cleveland group.

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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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“With the 22nd pick of the two thousand and twenty one NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select….Isaiah Jackson of the University of Kentucky,” voiced Adam Silver through my Bose speakers. Unfortunately, he was immediately shipped to Washington as part of the Russell Westbrook trade. As of this writing, I am on a mad search for the DeLorean that makes magic happen at 88 mph. I used to often ponder where I would go if I could travel through time. Meet Jesus? Commiserate with/for the dinosaurs? Naw, I’m definitely going back to August 6th, 2021 and doing everything in my power to wipe that trade from the annals of history. Then a funny thing happened. It’s not anals, damnit! I got a call on the celly and future Son told me to come outside. As the gull wing door lifted up to the sky, I saw future Son frantically wave me hurry up and get in. Before I could click the seatbelt, the back of my head mushed into the headrest like a Tempur-Pedic and zoom, zoom, zoom we went. Stars. Flashes of light. Darkness. They all zoomed by as we raced through time. Then I saw a face. Another. Then another until it looked like an army of ants marching towards a picnic. It was none other than DeUngela Jackson, mother to Isaiah Jackson. I channeled my innermost Nancy Kerrigan and bellowed, “Whhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyy?????” How is Isaiah going to help the Lakers get to the Promised Land? We need shooters to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Plus, Isaiah is only 18 years old and only played 20.8 minutes at Kentucky. Naw, Momma Jackson, I’m heading back in time for Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Excuse me as I eradicate the puke I just swallowed from myself. Well, after last night’s performace, future Son better get his ass back to 2022 because….

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Milwaukee’s Big Three showed up to play last night: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Bobby Portis. What? Portis has been an amazing role player and crucial to the Bucks this season. He put up 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers. Who would have thought that this match would determine the 3rd seed in the East for the time being? Who expected the Cavaliers at all this season? A deep team highlighted by Darius Garland’s breakout, Kevin Love’s positive influence off the bench and an early season trade for Rajon Rondo. Speaking of which, man that trade looks like highway robbery, as he’s playing like everyone thought he would in Atlanta last season. 

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At this point, I’m just going to assume everyone here knows what love is, what it does, and how it both can be both the sweet and the sour. And of course you’d never know what sweet is unless you tasted sour, which is why Chinese food is just so darn good. Having a problem? Feeling down? Feeling up? Feeling all the directions? Just eat some Crab Rangoon, easy. But despite getting myself hungry just now (eternal life struggle), we have to move forward and make the pun work, so therefore, I insert one Kevin Love into this content. And discussing his season thus far seems apropos based on last night’s performance where he led the Cavs in scoring with 20 points in a game that he only played 24 minutes and literally just shot threes. I’m not quite sure what a figurative three is, but since all of his field goal attempts (12) were beyond the arc, my statement still stands true. A relief to everyone, I’m sure…

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The Hart family was one of extraordinary magnitude. Don Corleone would traverse up north and cross the border to pay his respects and kiss the ring of Stu, who had eight sons with Bret and Owen wreaking havoc on the WWF streets for many of years. There’s Smith, Bruce, Keith, Wayne, Dean, Bret, Ross, Diana, Owen, Teddy, Tyson, Mike, Hart, Helen, Martha…..Someone go get Son a ventilator! On Monday, a Hart from another mother represented the family name well, despite not being a part of the family yet I’m sure he’d be welcomed with open arms because of this:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
22 10 2 1 0 3 1/5 6/11 9/9

“That’s my boy,” Stu proudly said. After being told that Josh did not come from his sperm, Stu grabbed that person, flipped him upside down, then piledrived him to China. With no Brandon Ingram on Monday, Hart saw a slight uptick in usage to 21.5%. It was the sixth time he scored at least 20 points this season and 11th time pulling down at least 10 boards. He’s racked up a steal in six straight games and has four games with three steals on the season. He’s a top 90 player for fantasy on a per-game basis. I. Hart. You.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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A late Happy New Year to everyone taking the time to read this article. Welcome to 2022 NBA basketball where 10-day contracts bear 30-point performances, the league is finally getting healthy and every armchair general manager swears that every team should just blow it up. The more things change the more they stay the same eh? Well with 11 games and 22 teams playing last night let’s get right into it. 

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Evidently, TNT is taking the week off from their NBA Tuesdays to start the new year, a development that suits me just fine. Don’t get me wrong, I like their broadcasts as much as any other, but because they’re always looking to showcase teams with national appeal, I end up seeing a lot of the same teams and players for these Tuesday night recaps. The network extending their vacation time means that instead of talking about the Nets or the Warriors, I got a chance to take in some smaller market teams (and also, once again, the Knicks). Diversifying the diet is good — variety is the spice of life — and I’m especially excited because this batch of games had a heavy dose of My Guys that I haven’t been able to talk about much this year. And as much as I would love to kick this off by highlighting a huge night from one of my most drafted players, the first lede player honors of 2022 instead go to someone I have exactly zero shares of.

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