After their loss in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat went star chasing.  Ultimately, they went 0 for the field, as they were unable to make deals for Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell.  Their efforts to sign T.J. Warren to blunt the impact of P.J. Tucker’s absence also came up empty.  As a result, this year’s Heat will look very similar to last season’s.  Preview over. Just kidding.  There are still questions hanging over the existing roster, including what the Heat will do at the four, and whether or not Tyler Herro suits up as a starter.  On a more intriguing front, there’s the ever-present possibility of a trade occurring at some point to shore up their frontcourt weakness.  If we don’t see Herro sign a contract extension in the next few weeks, there’s potential for him to be used in a deal before the deadline.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 18!  The goal of this post is to help you identify streaming options who will help you win your head-to-head matchup.  With there being only one night of games remaining for this half of the matchup, I’m only running down options for Thursday’s games this week.  However, this post felt sad and empty without some additional long-term options, so I’ve included players at the bottom who fit that mold.

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Regarding last week’s suggestions, Julius Randle had maybe his best game of the season so hopefully you capitalized on my buy-low suggestion last week. The same can be said for Amir Coffey who continues his solid play and has scored over 16 points in four of his last five games. On the other hand, Gary Harris seems like a potential drop with Orlando getting healthier and subsequently his usage significantly reduced.

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Anfernee Simons scored 31 points along with a career-high 11 assists to help lead the Portland Trail Blazers to the 115-110 victory over the Washington Wizards.

This was also a big game for Jusuf Nurkic who chipped in 23 points and 14 rebounds while watching Simons score 26 of his 31 points in the first half. Solid night for the Trail Blazers’ wings as Nassir Little and Robert Covington combined for 33 points.

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For the first time this year, the fantasy star of the night comes from a losing team. It is well deserved as Dejounte Murray has gone from zero games with 30 or more points, to two of those games in just a week. Murray followed up his 32 point triple-double from Wednesday with a 30-point near triple-double on Friday. He finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Murray sits inside the top-20 players and has been on an absolute tear of late, but this upside may not last long as Derrick White is very close to returning from the league’s health and safety protocols. 

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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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Happy New Year to the Razzball community! I wish everyone good health, happiness, and fantasy basketball goodness. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season and watched the games, which are some of the few in the year that are scheduled at convenient European times so we can also enjoy them without falling asleep, usually at halftime.

The basketball side of things last week was dominated by none other than DeMar DeRozan, as he became the first NBA player to hit back-to-back game winning buzzer beaters on back-to-back days. One can even say that those games were in two different years, if you didn’t have enough of that uncle who tells that kind of jokes at the Christmas table. Like the all time classic “I haven’t spoken to you since last year” after the New Year’s Eve which usually gets the following kind of reactions.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers 108-104, behind strong performances from Evan Mobley, Kevin Love, and Jarrett Allen. After finding themselves down 84-73 in the third quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run to take the lead and never gave it up. Mobley led the Cavaliers in scoring with 24 points (11-16 FG, 0-2 3PT) and added nine rebounds and four assists. Love tallied 20 points (6-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Love has scored 20 points or more in five straight games. He’s played well with increased minutes as the Cavaliers have seen a number of players go down with injury or Covid absences. Allen notched 18 points (6-12 FG, 0-1 3PT), 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocks. Lamar Steven added 15 points (6-13 FG, 0-4 3PT), three assists, two assists, and one steal. Lauri Markkanen finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one block. Isaac Okoro played just 12 minutes and had to leave the game due to an elbow injury. He finished the game with 2 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, and one block. He was one made three, one free-throw, one turnover, and one personal foul away from a really exciting stat line. The Cavaliers were without Darius Garland and Cedi Osman as both entered the league’s health and safety protocols) while Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio are out due to season-ending knee injuries.

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It is only fitting that we end 2021 with LeBron James as the fantasy star of the night. The ageless superstar scored 43 points while adding 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks en route a 139-106 win. He has been amazing over the past seven games but it has only translated to two wins during that stretch. James sits inside the top-three fantasy players this year and could pass Nikola Jokic for the top spot if he continues this high level of play. Russell Westbrook posted his fourth straight triple-double in the win, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. Although Russ has his ups and downs on the court, he remains an elite fantasy option with nightly triple-double upside. He has struggled with turnovers and poor shooting numbers this year which has resulted in poor category play. He sits just inside the top-100 and should not move much from this spot.

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The Covid situation and more specifically the Omicron variant has forced most NBA teams to sign players on 10-day deals, in order to fulfil the minimum roster requirement and avoid postponement of games. Most of those players come from the G-League, some from European Championships but the one signing that caught my eye was the return of Joe Johnson to the Celtics at 40 years old. Exactly 20 years ago, the Celtics drafted Iso Joe with the 10th pick and that age gap is the largest one in NBA history. Of course, what would be more fitting than him making a basket in his return with his usual isolation play.

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On Monday, Mr. and Mrs. Hooper packed up the car, coaxed our puppy Buckets into the backseat, and left the Mecca of American basketball (Milwaukee) in our rearview mirror to pay a post-holiday visit to Mama and Papa Hooper in Ohio. Though it runs counter to who I eventually ended up becoming, there actually isn’t any basketball in this particular household, so this Tuesday night recap is coming to you more or less blind. I’ve scoured Twitter and box scores as best I can, and we’re on track to be back home for next Tuesday’s action, but because I didn’t watch any hoops last night, I’m foregoing nominating a lede player here and just getting straight into it.

It was a busy night Tuesday night across the league. Here’s what jumped out to me here in the hinterlands of hoops…

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After defeating the Orlando Magic 93-83 Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat are now 11-5 without their starting center, Bam Adebayo. Many of those victories also came without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Assuming Butler can stay healthy going forward and Kyle Lowry can make a swift return from the NBA’s health and safety protocol, the Heat can begin their quest to move up the Eastern Conference standings.  They’re no doubt eying the Chicago Bulls who currently are second in the conference with a 19-10 record, due to some postponed games. However, even if the Heat is unable to move up from their current position in fourth place in the conference, their focus will be on health and continuity heading into the playoffs. They’ve gotten needed contributions from fringe players on the roster like Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Omer Yurtseven. The in-game reps these players have received over the past few weeks should only help them later in the season.

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