Darius Garland returned to the Cavaliers, putting up 29 points and 12 assists in a close victory over the Boston Celtics. In both games where Garland and Donovan Mitchell have played the Cavs bigs have struggled to score. Jarrett Allen had 15 points last night while Evan Mobley had 14, both were below regular season averages. As for the Celtics, it’s hard to win games when Jayson Tatum shoots 8-21 from the field. On a positive note his defensive numbers were quite solid last night: nine defensive rebounds and four blocks. 

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The Indiana Pacers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 129-98. In a rarity for this version of the Pacers, they were the more veteran team. Oshae Brissett spearheaded the Pacers’ attack, as he tallied 24 points (8-10 FG, 2-3 3PT), nine rebounds, one assist, and one steal. His day also included a highlight reveal reverse dunk in transition which came off a behind-the-back pass from Lance Stephenson. Have I mentioned that the Pacers are fun now!? Justin Anderson added 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Jalen Smith notched 17 points, five rebounds, and one block in just 17 minutes of play. I’m not sure if Smith will ever become the player the Suns hoped they were getting when he was drafted with the 10th pick in 2020, but he has at least grown into an intriguing prospect. He was 2-of-3 from behind the arc and also whipped out a Dirk-esque step-back off the dribble in the midrange. Terry Taylor (17) and Duane Washington Jr. (13) both had solid games as well. The Pacers led wire to wire and the lack of competitiveness of the game is reflected in the lower minute totals for Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Haliburton finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. Hield tallied nine points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Finally, Lance Stephenson scored just two points, but grabbed six rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and swiped three steals.

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The Suns capped off a wild game with Cam Johnson hitting a buzzer-beater three-pointer to finish off a career night. Johnson comes in as the fantasy star of the night after scoring 38 points on 9-12 three-point shooting. Cam Payne provided the game-winning assist and was a major catalyst for the offense all night. Payne finished with 17 points and a career-high 16 assists. He should continue to play a large playmaking role with Chris Paul out and he will dominate the ball until Devin Booker returns from the league’s health and safety protocols.

It was another brutal loss for the New York Knicks behind a third-quarter ejection by Julius Randle. Before the ejection, Randle was having a stellar game, scoring 25 points in 28 minutes. Randle’s ejection was followed by a Sun’s run that led to a 34-21 fourth quarter. The tough loss cannot overshadow one of the better games of Mitchell Robinson’s career as he finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds, four steals, and three blocks, dominating DeAndre Ayton on both sides of the ball.

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Lonnie Walker IV has been on an absolute heater lately. The enigmatic wing dropped 30 off the bench for San Antonio on 12-of-20 from the floor, with five bombs from deep. It’s the fourth consecutive game Walker has scored 20 or more, and over his past seven games he’s averaged 21.7 PPG and 2.6 3PTM. Unfortunately he doesn’t really do anything else and has just two steals and one block total in that stretch, but if you need points, the notoriously streaky Walker is your best bet on the wire (28 percent rostered).

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 19!  The goal of this post is to identify widely available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  This week, the Suns once again take center stage, as Devin Booker joins Chris Paul on the sidelines.  If you didn’t have the option to stash Cam Payne through the final stages of his absence, now is a good time to grab him.  It won’t be long until he’s owned in more than 50% of leagues across most fantasy platforms, at which point I’ll no longer be able to use pain puns in my title.  Until that day comes, I will exhaust them without shame.  This week’s is brought to you by Tyler Durden:

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What kind of person are you? Would you want an investment that went up or down 25% on any given day or one that increased 3% all the time? If you lit a fire to keep warm while stranded in the mountains, would you want the flame to burst up four feet in the air, providing tremendous warmth for 15 minutes but then it shut off for five minutes? Or a steady flame that didn’t keep you quite as warm but stayed on all the time? The upside is always alluring but sometimes slow and steady wins the race, and no player exemplifies that more than Jalen Brunson. He’s been in the top 70 to 90 range for the entire season. Last night was just another one of his solid, yet unspectacular performances:

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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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The Toronto Raptors had a very disappointing 2020 season thanks to problems at the center position, injury woes, and no real home games. This offseason was a very important one for the Raptors, and thanks to the moves they made, 2021-22 will be a major improvement. From drafting very promising forward Scottie Barnes, resigning key players such as Gary Trent Jr. and Khem Birch, and getting a good return for Kyle Lowry, the Raptors are poised for substantial improvement.

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There is a reason the last week of the NBA schedule is usually avoided by many fantasy leagues, as it has been called the “Silly” season. Many teams are all out of objectives to chase and are flat out tanking or have already clinched their playoff spots and are resting their stars and even rotational players. This results in many funky boxscores that are not to be expected at any other point of the season. Corey Brewer anyone?

But don’t be afraid, I am here for you to squeeze fantasy value even in this trying part of the fantasy schedule. If your H2H league is still running though, may I suggest an alteration for next year in order to finish it one week earlier, but for you fine folks that play Roto this is the most important week of the year as you chase the categories that can give you that one extra point to win it all. As a result, I don’t see a reason to include a Sell column at this time, as anyone can be safely dropped at this point of the season with so few games left.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, Kent Bazemore and R.J. Hampton continued their solid finish to the season, while Frank Jackson unfortunately got injured. Special mention to Mo Bamba who also got injured but this finish to the season suggests that he will be a major draft target for next year and can be a true breakout star if he can get the starting spot from Wendel Carter Jr.

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With Luka Doncic sitting one out, Dallas’ offense flowed through Tim Hardaway Jr., and boy did he have himself a night. Hardaway dropped a career-best 42 points on just 23 shots, drilling six of his 10 triple tries and sinking all 10 of his attempts from the stripe. THJ (57 percent owned in Yahoo!) is as streaky as they come, but if Doncic misses any more time the opportunity will be there for oodles of points and treys.

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“You might win some but you just lost one.”

This is precisely how I am feeling one week removed from suggesting it would be time to consider benching Lonzo Ball. Thankfully, I was wise enough to not suggest he is a drop candidate as he went on somewhat of a tear last week averaging 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.5 steals while bombing away from deep, and connecting on 3.5 threes per game.

What L Boogie (see opening line) did to my projection of him was the equivalent of saying to me, “keep my name out your mouth”. I am man enough to admit when I was wrong so, LB, you have my sincere apology. With that having been said, the Pelicans remain a team on the outside looking in so keep your eye on their win/ loss columns as it could dictate what route they go when it comes to “resting” their key players.

No worries over here though family because with a new week comes a new opportunity to find the late-season micro move that could be just the edge you need for some success in your league. This week is no different. Sure, does it become more like finding a needle in a haystack at this point in the season, compared to early on when the salmon were swimming upstream? No doubt it does. However, some of the best results came to us because the journey was not easy and fantasy basketball is no different.

“Practice? We talking about practice? Not the game, not the game I love but practice?” Shout out to the legend that is AI but unfortunately, we are talking about practice and I hope you have been practicing rummaging through your waiver wire for that missing puzzle piece to help close out the season.

This week it is time to say adios to:

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