I am no Picasso or Rembrandt but nonetheless, allow me to paint a vivid picture the best I can.

Wet feet, inside of soaked socks, sliding around in drenched boots, walking uphill through mud that hits your knees. The clouds so low and dark, like overfilled water balloons.

This is my attempt at describing what the final stretch of the season begins to feel like. Unless you are sitting pretty with a sizeable lead in your league, you are likely counting down the days until the final buzzer of the season. Perhaps you are like me in a couple of leagues where a shot at first place is within reach and these last set of games could prove pivotal in your quest to the ship. Either way, I am here to offer you some last-minute advice that may provide the slight edge required at this stage of the season.

“ Not a lot baby girl just a lil’ bit, we can head to the crib in a lil’ bit, I can show you how I live in a lil’ bit”

I know 50 Cent was talking about a young woman he whispered sweet nothings to into her ear at the club one fine evening back in 2005. Over here though fam, we are talking about the lil’ bit you need to make your final push towards the finish line. The tree is not bountiful with ripe fruit I have to be honest with you.

Do you remember bars and clubs? Do you remember the end of the night and scoping out who still remained? Well, this is somewhat like that and if you remember those wild and crazy times where you could be inside of places with strangers sans mask then you also know that even what seemed the most decollate of nights, a beacon of light could present itself and guide you home.

This week we dissect the…

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Beef Stew is running away with the starting 5 job in Detroit as the season winds down. Casey has been resting his vets in Plumlee and Ellington and as a result, Stewart has been feasting. 8 blocks in his last four games alone, to go with an average of 14.25 boards in those four outings. He’s going to make a huge difference in fantasy playoffs for those who foresaw the downfall of Plumlee.

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It’s about that time again, isn’t it? The trade deadline has come and gone, the sun is starting to peek out with some regularity, and teams who have had long, dark, unsuccessful winters are beginning to look ahead to a little summer vacay. Even with the expanded playoff format for this season, there are still a handful of teams that are done. We haven’t gotten to “Cancun on three” yet, but if you’re in Orlando or Oklahoma City you can start thinking about it. 

For this week’s Hangin’, I looked at a couple of these lost causes and the opportunities for fantasy help that exist there. It’s not an exhaustive list, but all of the teams featured are 12th or worse in their conference and have gestured toward giving up. But just because they’re done with the year does not mean that the year is done with them. Every game needs to have 240 minutes of statistics accounted for, and we’re in the interest of compiling numbers. 

This is a bigger one, so let’s get to it. 

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Down goes Horford. We all lamented at the recent news of Al Horford getting shut down for the rest of the season, but it came as no surprise to some who have been playing fantasy basketball for going on two decades. The Oklahoma City Thunder have zero incentive to attempt to win basketball games as they try to squeeze the most value of their million draft picks.

The reality of this season is that COVID-19 continues to screw everything up. The second half of the season for every single NBA team this season is BRUTAL, with things like three games in four nights, and multiple back-to-backs. We are about to see a bunch of people sit out games they may have otherwise played.

In that same vein, we will likely see more shutdowns this season than ever before, as teams decide that playing for that playoff play-in isn’t as important as developing pieces for the future. We saw it with Al Horford, and we will see it again with other players.

But who will they be? Here is my best speculation:

*PLEASE NOTE: RECORDS AND STATS TAKEN BEFORE THE GAMES ON 3/28*

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The Washington Wizards picked up a much-needed win here against a lesser Detroit side who saw Jerami Grant go to the locker room early thanks to an injury. 

For the Pistons, Isaiah Stewart flirted with a double-double as he scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds with a block and a steal on 55.6% efficiency. Wayne Ellington also scored 15 points on the back of five triples while Mason Plumlee had an 11/81/1 game. 

Russell Westbrook put up another triple-double, 19/19/10 while Bradley Beal scored 17 and dished out six assists in a limited 29 minutes. Deni Avdija got the start scoring five points, grabbing five rebounds, and stealing the ball twice. Rui Hachimura scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds while being 54.5% from the field to contribute to this win. 

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The Toronto Raptors have finally strung together wins while the Philadelphia 76ers are making statements with wins over the Lakers and the Celtics. After another week of NBA action, the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves on top of the East with a 13-6 record followed by the Bucks, the Pacers, and the Nets to round off the top 4. The Celtics are in the middle of the pack after dropping a couple of games thanks to their absences while the Cavs find themselves still at .500 after some gritty performances and wins. The Hawks are also at .500 while the Knicks find themselves at the 8th seed tied with the Orlando Magic. I think this is how the East will look like moving forwards just instead of the Hawks and the Knicks and maybe even the Cavs it will have the Heat, the Raptors joining the top 8. This means that one of the Knicks or Cavs may find themselves in a playoff spot which is insane to think about. But with this season who knows? The Wizards continue to struggle and Bradley Beal continues to look miserable. Maybe signing that extension wasn’t a good idea huh, Brad? This week, I want to put the Wizards in the spotlight.

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All the injuries for Portland has them dusting off the cobwebs from players further down the bench. Anfernee Simons (nine percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) is in line for a nice minutes bump, especially if Derrick Jones Jr. now misses time as well. Simons played 28 minutes on Thursday and put up 14 points (including four treys) and eight rebounds. Would be nice to see him add some assists going forward.

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NBA officiating is a long and painful story. Being a dedicated fan of European basketball, it took some adjusting to watch NBA games without yelling at the screen multiple times throughout a match, due to some bad refereeing decisions. There are multiple examples of those, but few more mind-boggling than this technical call on Draymond Green.

It was not only a technical, but an ejection for Green as well. Maybe the refs wanted to defend James Wiseman’s feelings but it’s always Green’s bad reputation that leads to many more calls than would happen otherwise.

Regarding last week’s suggestions, I hope you followed my advice and scooped up Jeremy Lamb, as I recommended him before even playing his first game for the season. He was owned in 12% of Yahoo leagues but this percentage is now over 50% and this is your last call to add him to your team from the wire, if he is still available. The rest of the players also fared well, with the exception of Patrick Beverley, who never played due to a right knee injury.

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