One of my all-time favorite movies is Rounders. Matt Damon and Ed Norton talking all smooth and playing poker in cool-looking clubs with John Malkovich spouting repeatable lines in… sort of a Russian accent. Plus, there’s a great Counting Crows song during the credits that I’ve never been able to find anywhere. Anyway, Damon’s Mike McD is the relatively good boy, while Norton’s Worm is the slimier friend.

After Worm gets them beat up with all their cash stolen for having been caught cheating, the gloves come off in an overdue shouting match between the old friends.

Mike McDermott: What the F*** were you thinking?

Worm: I was trying to give us an edge… …I don’t think like that.

Mike McD: No, you don’t THINK!

Worm: No, I don’t think like YOU! You always think you can beat the game straight up. That’s not me. I told you, I’m always gonna look for that edge. Always.

As much as Mike is the better role model, if you’re picking from the two gambling addicts, in fantasy basketball you want to be like Worm. Even if you tried, you can’t cheat in most leagues, but you want to be the one thinking differently, finding your edge. Last week, I mentioned ways to make your league more engaging. From here on out, I’ll give you ways to get an edge in your league by using the numbers to your advantage. These next two weeks leading up to the season, we’ll talk drafting.

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Before I begin, head on over to the football side and play and/or host some RCLs by clicking here. I’ve got my league up, so come get it. I have no doubt that you are a degenerate so I’m just trying to help a brother or sister out. Also, check out Jay’s rankings. Not because he’s a swell guy, but because he was the third-most accurate ranker according to FantasyPros.

Ok, now back to hoops. If you missed it, here are the links for the Top 10 and Top 25. I’ll keep the intro to this piece short and sweet because there’s a ton of players to get through.

As always, big shout-out to Slim, who provided projections and insight.

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It’s been a while since the East has boasted a better division than the West, but even when you spot a lowly East team a big lead on a West team, nothing is safe!  Russell Westbrook just went insane (I would too if the Magic were beating my playoff bound team!) in the OKC comeback charge, turning around a 21-point deficit during the second half on his way to a 57/13/11/3/0 line.  He shot 21-40 from the field with 6 treys, just willing OKC to the W after this dramatic 3 to get it into OT.

Good thing Nikola Vucevic can’t hit his FT!  Westbrook took the missed freebie board, and no Magic was gonna stop him…  Take that, Voldemort!  It’s come to pass as just the norm, but at 31.8/10.6/10.4, it looks like Westbrook is going to easily average the tripdub, something I really didn’t think we’d ever see again.  Hopefully you built your team around his deficiencies fairly well, because man he’s tough to beat if you can slaughter the right cats.  Westy is your besty!  What an unbelievable season,  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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As I begin to write this recap, the Portland – Poppycock game has yet to begin, but frankly, NBA basketball was quite bad tonight/tomorrow… The March Madness games were fantastic, but most of the NBA teams have either locked up their spots, or cashed it in for the season.  Given that, I’ll point out that DeMar DeRozan had 40 tonight, but the game wasn’t particularly great, and the Raptors won 101-84. That being said, let’s dive into the mediocre slate:

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The Bulls came into Toronto having beat the Raptors in 11 straight games. It took overtime, but the Raptors snapped the losing streak behind DeMar DeRozan’s 42 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Double D shot 17-38 and helped erase a 16-point deficit in the 4th quarter to secure the win.

DeRozan battled all game against Jimmy Butler, who also went off for 37/10/6. Despite these two all-stars’ phenomenal performances, the game was overshadowed by the fight between Serge Ibaka (16 and 6) and Robin Lopez (12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks):

Usually Lopez only fights mascots, but took exception to Ibaka’s shove in the back. Fortunately the guys were separated rather quickly, but the league will obviously review the fight and make a decision later on whether either player will be suspended any games. Personally, I’d expect both guys to miss at least one game, but hopefully it’s just a fine and they return for their teams’ next game.

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Rusell Westbrook continued his dominating ways against the Raptors, and the Thunder steamrolled them tonight.  123-102 was the final score, and the Thunder outscored the Raps by 17 in the third quarter. OKC has moved into 6th place in the west, and there’s a decent possibility that they could lock up home court, since they’re only 3.5 games back of the 4th seeded Jazz squad.  At any rate, let’s get back to Westy.  He finished with 24/10/16/1/0, and oh yeah, he only had 2 TOs.  Plus, he hit 4-8 from deep! Did I mention that he did it in only 28 minutes?  Oklahoma City had 7 players in double digits, and they seem primed for a solid playoff push.

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The biggest news of the night comes from a guy who barely played at all. Less than 2 minutes into the game between Golden State and Washington, Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia (12 points, 8 rebounds) fell into Kevin Durant’s left knee. KD walked away gingerly before heading to the bench and being whisked away into the locker room. Diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, Durant did not return to the game.

Is this karma from the Basketball Gods for his comments about not wanting to come home to play for the Wizards? Kidding aside, this is terrible news to the Warriors, fans of the NBA, and fantasy owners. Hopefully KD’s injury isn’t long-term, but more will be known after examining the MRI results.

In the meantime, the Warriors wasted no time in reaching out to free agent Matt Barnes and are expected to sign him later this week. Released by the Kings after trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, Barnes is excited to rejoin the Warriors, after playing for them from 2006-2008. I wouldn’t rush to add Barnes until more is known about KD’s injury, but Barnes has been useful for fantasy purposes before.

On happier notes, here are the other nightly notables:

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All we needed is a royal event! Unfurl the red carpet, roll it out in the The Colonies’ biggest city, and The Duchess will grace over his royal territory! Wow, I just made a Brooklyn Mess game sound like a big event. FOOL YOU!

As we continue to see Khris Middleton get his minutes ramped up, this was maybe the most encouraging game of the night for me yesterday, as he gets the ASB to rest up and looks ready for a big second half. Even though it’s more like a big final 1/3, but ya know, NBA… 20/3/7/3/0 for The Duchess K Middleton, with only 1 TO and shooting 7-13 with a trey. His most minutes thus far (played 26 off the bench) and I just loved this little glimpse of chemistry with Giannis Antetokounmpo with the big highlight from this game:

Guys are looking N’Sync! I would totally watch The Duchess and Greek Freak lead a boy band… Through his 4 games back, Middleton hasn’t looked like he’s lost anything, with a stellar 18:4 AST:TO, is shooting 47%, and has two 3 steal games. With Jabari Parker out and a line-up that will need a playmaker next to Greek, this could be a really fun upcoming stretch. Kudos if you were able to stash him all season on your IL, and get ready for a royal finish! Here’s what else went down on the last busy slate of action before the All-Star Weekend:

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Oh man, super emo title for today! But what kind of irony is it that on Valentine’s Day, we might get some terrible news about Kevin Love‘s knee… After playing a few nights ago, nothing big on the news front until he was ruled out for tonight last Sunday afternoon, then yesterday news broke he’s “seeking a second opinion on his knee”. This coming after an MRI, with results that have not been revealed yet. Ugh! I traded for him a week ago in the REL as all my good injury karma is drastically flipping the past week! And tonight the Cavs go to Minny, in what could’ve been a great “revenge” game. Although, I bet he’s kinda happy he’s on the Cavs instead, hah! Andrew Wiggins is actually playing a little better lately as well, and it would’ve been nice to see them face off again… Alas, be prepared for a lengthy absence from Love, and while he’s having a great season – much better than in 15-16 – thankfully his stats to replace aren’t the tougher-to-find AST-STL-BLK. There have been a lot of bigs to emerge for PTS/REB, and for the treys, we all know you can always ThrAGNOF! So if we get some brutal news today, hop into the comments, and let me be your Love counselor! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Ya know, I really liked that movie Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Pretty quotable, Robert Downey Jr. right as he was completely taking off, an always lovable Val Kilmer. “Who taught you math?!” is a fun line when there’s a botched Russian roulette attempt…

Which kinda feels like Marquese Chriss right now! 20% of the time, he’s this dynamic, toolsy rookie every time! Wait, that’s a different movie… Big night from Chriss against the Grizz, going 20/6/0/2/1 with 2 treys on 8-12 shooting.

Throwing down highlight reel dunks, and bangin’ treys! While the D stats have actually been there (1.5 STL 0.7 BLK over the past 11), he hadn’t scored over 5 points in the previous 4 games. Joakim Noah‘s jump shot, woof! The minutes remain waffle-y as well, going 17, 12, 8, 17, 34 the past 5 games. I don’t see any reason why the bumpy ride would all the sudden be smoother, but it’s lines like these that make him a tantalizing stash if you’re locked into a high seed for the fantasy playoffs. Of course, when I recommend stashing some certain forwards, it doesn’t always go well. Sometimes I feel like when I look up the word “idiot”, I’ll see a picture of my face! Instead I’ll find:

Too many GIFs in the intro today? I guess 5 GIFs can be a lot! Wait, who taught me math?! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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