Philadelphia 76ers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Shake Milton lit it up off the bench for Philly, dropping 27 points on uber-efficient 10-of-14 shooting (including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc). That marks the eighth consecutive game Milton has scored in double figures—topping 20 points for the third time in that span. Consider picking up Shake (22 percent owned in Yahoo!) if you need points and threes.
- Even though the Sixers started a smaller lineup, Dwight Howard still got the lion’s share of center minutes (26) and did some damage with 18 points and 15 rebounds on 6-of-7 shooting. Howard (32 percent owned in Yahoo!) should be deployed while Joel Embiid remains sidelined for rebounds, FG percentage, and blocks.
- Sometimes I forget Kevin Love is still in the league (and still just 32 years old!), but after a very brief comeback attempt right after the All-Star break, Love suited up for just the fifth time all season last night. He hit three of his six triple tries en route to 13 points, tossing in four rebounds and three assists as well in 20 minutes of action. I don’t believe the tank is completely empty, but I’d have a hard time trusting Love (58 percent owned in Yahoo!) to do much and would expect him to be a shutdown candidate before long…if he can even stay on the court for more than a few games.
- Dean Wade has scored in double figures in five of his last seven outings after going for 16 against Philly. Wade—who added eight boards and three treys to his line—has also topped 30 minutes in three straight. He’s worth a pickup in the short term in deeper leagues (three percent owned in Yahoo!), but his value will fade completely when Larry Nance Jr. and Jarrett Allen return to action.
Washington Wizards vs. Detroit Pistons
- As Washington recedes from view in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, they are taking longer looks at their young players. That’s meant a big bump in minutes for Deni Avdija, who is playing 31 MPG over his past four games. While he isn’t lighting the world on fire, he’s a decent upside play the rest of the season. The rookie (six percent owned in Yahoo!) double-doubled last night with 11 points and 10 boards.
- Robin Lopez and Alex Len have been splitting the center minutes for the Wiz, but Lopez (four percent owned in Yahoo!) has been the more profitable side of the platoon lately, scoring 16 points in back-to-back games. If you’re desperate for some big man stats you can stream him, but neither is a reliable option.
- Josh Jackson busted out of a deep slump with a season-high 31 points (equivalent to his total output from the past six games). The mercurial wing added four threes and four dimes and led the team in minutes. Hamidou Diallo (who sat out last night) had overtaken him in the rotation, so I wouldn’t rush out and pick up Jackson just yet (16 percent owned in Yahoo!).
- Since being traded to Detroit, Cory Joseph has seen a consistent helping of minutes to keep him fantasy relevant. Though he’s coming off the bench behind Saben Lee at the moment, Joseph has been putting up solid numbers, averaging 11.5 PPG and 6.3 APG over his past four outings, while recording at least two steals in each. Until Dennis Smith Jr. comes back, Joseph (seven percent owned in Yahoo!) is worth streaming if you need assists with a little upside for more.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Brooklyn Nets
- This game got out of hand from the very beginning, giving us pretty much nothing to take away from Charlotte’s performance. Shoutout to Nate Darling and Nick Richards for making me break out the Google machine in garbage time.
- All eyes were on LaMarcus Aldridge as he made his Nets debut. The seven-time All-Star was productive in his 30 minutes, with 11 points, nine boards, six dimes, and a pair of thefts. The Nets had several key players out (including a couple of guys who will compete with him for minutes in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan) though, so it’s impossible to gauge his value just yet. If you’ve held onto him this long, you might as well see where things go in the next week or so.
- With James Harden and Kevin Durant’s returns looking imminent, it’s just about time to cut Bruce Brown. Brown made seven of his 10 field goal attempts to score 14 points on Thursday, adding six rebounds, two steals, and a blocked shot. Keep him in mind as a streaming option if any of the Nets perimeter stars sits.
Golden State Warriors vs. Miami Heat
- With a 16-point outburst against Miami, Draymond Green is close to spoiling the fun of all of us rooting for him to finish with a higher RPG and APG average than PPG (wait…it’s just me?). Green was uncharacteristically aggressive, hoisting up 13 shots, but still contributed across the board with 10 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals.
- Jordan Poole left Thursday’s game with an ankle sprain and did not return. He probably shouldn’t return to your fantasy lineups either, after his run of 10 straight games scoring at least 14 points came to an end and his minutes dropped precipitously. I still think he can help the Warriors down the stretch, and would rather see him out there than Damion Lee or Mychal Mulder, so be ready to pick him up again if he returns to form.
- Victor Oladipo‘s Heat debut was a dud, as he was the only Miami starter to score in single digits and finish with a negative plus-minus. He did have five helpers and two steals in 23 minutes, to salvage some value, and he should only get better moving forward.
- I expected Oladipo’s addition to make life a little easier for Tyler Herro, and his first game bore that out. Herro scored 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting and dished out three assists against zero turnovers. This was the first game Herro shot over 50 percent from the field since the All-Star break and the second in which he didn’t record an error. Sunny days ahead for the second-year firebrand.
Orlando Magic vs. New Orleans Pelicans
- Hopefully, this was a breakout game for Wendell Carter Jr., who went for 21 and 12 in 31 minutes off the bench. Carter was efficient from the field (8-of-13) and the line (5-of-5), and also blocked a shot. With Khem Birch leaving this one early, Carter may have an opportunity to grab the starting center job and run with it.
- It may be too late to pick up Chuma Okeke after his fifth consecutive good performance. Okeke only scored eight points, but hit the glass for 10 boards, passed out four assists, and rejected two shots. The rookie is up to 46 percent owned in Yahoo!. Check your waiver wire to see if he’s still available. He’ll get all the run he can handle down the stretch for Orlando.
- If the Pelicans thought they could get away with an easy home win over the miserable Magic without their best players, they were sorely mistaken, and it cost them when it comes to the playoff race. That said, Nickeil Alexander-Walker continued the torrid pace he’s been on since Lonzo Ball went down. NAW dropped 31 points on 13-for-24 shooting (including four treys) and grabbed eight rebounds in 39 minutes, marking the sixth straight time he’s gotten at least 14 points, three triples, and 30 minutes. He needs to be owned in all leagues while he’s playing this much (42 percent owned in Yahoo!), as he’s been a top-70 player over the past 14 days.
Atlanta Hawks vs. San Antonio Spurs
- Bogdan Bogdanovic is up to 61 percent owned now in Yahoo! after back-to-back big games. The Serbian sniper scored 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting, hit four threes, and also picked up five rebounds and assists each. Ride him while he’s hot, especially while there are extra touches to go around in John Collins’ absence.
- Though Solomon Hill got the start in place of Collins, Danilo Gallinari is probably the most direct beneficiary. He played 36 minutes off the bench and had a Collins-esque line of 16 points and 12 rebounds. He’ll be a top-100 guy in the short term.
- Keldon Johnson‘s stock has been falling lately, as he’s been held to single digits in five of his last seven outings. He scored just five last night in a double OT game and watched six others garner more playing time than he did. That said, I think he represents a decent buy-low opportunity, especially if he’s been dropped in your league (down to 47 percent owned in Yahoo!). The Spurs have a pretty steady rotation, so even if the guards tend to dominate the ball for them, Johnson will get enough looks to be relevant, and the skills are there.
- Rudy Gay has been producing, even in limited minutes, and ought to be rostered in more than just 14 percent of leagues. Thursday was the seventh time in nine games he scored in double digits, and he’s helped in treys, boards, and defensive cats over that span as well. He displayed that kind of all-around production against the Hawks.
Denver Nuggets vs. LA Clippers
- Aaron Gordon did exactly what the Nuggets brought him in for, shadowing Kawhi Leonard for 39 minutes and making things tough on the Clippers’ star. More relevant to fantasy, Gordon actually translated the defensive energy into actual stats, recording three steals and two blocks to go along with 14 points, six boards, and six dimes. That’s the across-the-board fantasy gold we’ve been waiting for with Gordon. Now he’s just got to make his foul shots…
- Terance Mann continued his sparkling form on Thursday night, making eight of 10 shots for 18 points. Mann has seen a lot of playing time over the past two weeks (almost 29 MPG), and he’s averaging a more than solid 15-7-3 line on well over 50 percent from the field. Mann (11 percent owned in Yahoo!) may have earned himself a place in the playoff rotation, and can be a good streaming option until the Clips get some more members of their backcourt healthy.