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 Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets 125-102, snapping a four-game losing streak. The Jazz were just 1-4 without Rudy Gobert in the lineup and Gobert and Donovan Mitchell seemed to trade subliminal jabs in press conferences and on social media. They appear to have righted the ship, for now. The Jazz are a bit of conundrum. They are an undeniably good team that has been labeled “a regular season team” for a few years, maybe even erroneously, except it didn’t matter because they did fall short of expectations in the playoffs. This year, there is once again general indifference towards the team outside of Utah and most interested parties are just wondering when Donovan Mitchell asks for a trade because he can’t get along with Gobert. The Jazz can’t get very far without Donovan Mitchell’s scoring, but they appear even more doom-struck without Gobert’s defense. What can be done? Would Jerami Grant help? Harrison Barnes? Whatever happens, I know fans outside of Utah will watch with crazy-eyed delight if the foundation once again crumbles beneath them in the playoffs.

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Last night at Madison Square Garden, Steph Curry — the greatest shooter ever, a player who irrevocably changed basketball simply by playing it in the way that best suits him and his unfathomable gifts — did a little legacy cementing. In front of previous record holders Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, his family and teammates, a packed house, God, and basketball fans the world over, Curry moved into first place in all-time three-pointers made.

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Stop teasing me, Nemanja Bjelica! Whenever he has a good game—as he did last night with 14 points, three assists, and three steals—I’m like “See! He should play more!” But the reality is this was his first double-digit scoring game in two weeks, and the first time he’s played at least 20 minutes in a game all month. Love ya Belly, but I won’t be roped in…yet (seven percent rostered in Yahoo! leagues).

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for week four!  My focus is on giving you the best streaming suggestions as we approach winning time in H2H matchups.  Fantasy hoops matchups are won on the margins.  Unless you drafted flawlessly, you’re going to have to outmaneuver your opponent via waiver wire adds in competitive leagues.  Fortunately for you, I’m here to take on some of the research burden.  I trawl through the NBA schedule on a weekly basis and identify the teams and players who give you the best chance of success in various categories.  Let’s get into it!

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The Hornets and Nets came into this game with very different vibes. In the Hornets’ first game of the season, they clawed back from a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to beat the Indiana Pacers 123-122 on Wednesday, October 20th—the first night of the 2021-22 season with a full slate of games, affectionately known as “League Pass Opening Night.” The comeback was fueled in large part, by a LaMelo Ball-led third-quarter surge, quickly putting any sophomore slump fears to bed. They followed that up with a 123-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Miles Bridges scored 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Kelly Oubre scored 25 points off the bench. On the other hand, the Nets suffered a near wire-to-wire defeat to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, immediately after watching them receive their championship rings. The Nets, of course, have been mired in vaccine drama because of Kyrie Irving and although they remain the overwhelming favorite to win the title, Kyrie’s absence has been deeply felt during their first two games.

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The bloom has been coming off the Kristaps Porzingis rose in recent seasons. Thursday’s opener didn’t do anything to dissuade the critics, as the oft-maligned big man tallied just 11 points on 13 field goal attempts, with just five rebounds, zero assists, and four turnovers. A steal and two blocks kept it from being a completely lost night, but he didn’t exactly look like an integrated part of the offense, often forcing bad shots out of rhythm. Managers investing in the artist formerly known as The Unicorn are hoping it was just a case of the game getting out of hand early.

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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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Patrick James Riley is 76 years old and no less competitive than he was pacing the sidelines for the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat. He certainly wants to win another championship before he retires. Riley and Butler made sure the long-held expectation that Kyle Lowry would join the Miami Heat this offseason held firm. However, the Heat were forced to part ways with Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic—the apparently unpaid model for Big Face Coffee—in the sign-and-trade that brought Lowry to Biscayne Bay. The Heat are hoping Lowry’s three-point shooting, playmaking, and toughness imbue the team with new life and help them recapture some of the bubble magic that escaped them last season. Everything starts with their three stars— Butler, Lowry, and Bam Adebayo—and they need those players to remain healthy if they want to reach their full potential and secure a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat will be leaning heavily on their player development this season. Players like Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, KZ Okpala, and Omer Yurtseven could be more central to the Heat’s success than anyone outside the organization ever expected.

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What are your Netflix recommendations like, dear Reader? According to Netflix’s almighty AI, I’m a 99% match for a good number of action films, (shocking I know). It appears that I’m an inveterate sucker for Hollywood’s IV drip of characteristic stylized violence, where everything and nothing is at stake all at once. The kind of morality plays where revenge and a particularly violent idea of justice come inseparably together. But I’m especially moved by a meta element in these stake-less physical dramas, something the algorithm isn’t picking up on, I hope. The more I can tell the minds behind the film want me to know, that they know, this is all dopamine mush in the mouth of a baby the more I’m pleased. I’m looking for a kind of philosophical match with the director. Something that says, “Yes, this is almost certainly a meaningless distraction on our collective journey to some hopefully plush after, but at least this haze of aesthetic violence offers some neon lights and choreographed blood splatter.” Which is a long-winded way of saying, as artists, writers, thinkers, maybe even as fantasy basketball players, we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

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Boban Marjanovic! Not just a cameo but a start! He finished with 12 rebounds but shot just 3-for-11 from the field for seven points. This was just a spot start for the Joel Embiid matchup. You can safely leave Boban on the wire.
Jalen Brunson has been one of the steadiest backup PGs in the league. He wasn’t exceptional on Thursday, but he was effective with 11 points on just five shots, with five boards, a pair of treys, and a steal. Over the past 14 days, Brunson (28 percent owned in Yahoo!) has been a top-100 player. He can get you points while actually helping your percentages, with some threes and assists kicked in as well.

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Yep, I’m going to subject you all to my friends and family league yet again. We’re at the midway point of our regular season after today, so I wanted to go back and see where my predictions from the preseason were right and wrong, and which fantasy players are performing better or worse than their average draft position (ADP).

What I hope you can take from this is how to better formulate your strategy in your own leagues, and what seems to work best for people in a relatively average league. Our league is listed as a “silver” league on Yahoo!, which isn’t really scientific but indicates our team levels combined are slightly below the average of “gold.” We have two platinum, one gold, four silver, and five bronze managers. It’s a top-heavy league, which is the case in most scenarios as the people who run the league seem to be far more invested.

Anyways, the below records and rankings are based on if the scores stay the same as they are at the writing of this article. Those are subject to change, but not by much.

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