Earlier in the year when the NBA released its schedule for the 2015/2016 season, one of the very first things I did was flip forward to December 25th. I was really stoked to see five games, neatly stacked one after the other, for our holiday viewing pleasure. The excitement continued to grow right up until the games went live and we quickly learned that putting the ball through the hoop is, apparently, quite a bit more difficult on Christmas.
Anthony Davis in South Beach for a noon eastern tip-off against the Heat. What a great way to kick off the afternoon after tossing back a few coffee & Baileys, scarfing down some cinnamon buns, and opening some presents, right? Yeah… no. They needed overtime and the Pelicans still couldn’t hit the 90-point mark. Brow was nice (29/15/4/4/3), as was Chris Bosh, but the game was not pretty. At all.
So I says to myself, I says: “Self, one stinker does not a bad day make. We just got the ugly one outta the way early. This will not be a harbinger of things to come. No, sir, it will not.” Next up we got the weirdly entertaining (and enigmatic) Bulls visiting the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook & Kevin Durant in front of an always raucous Oklahoma City crowd. Well, Chicago doubled up OKC in the third quarter (32-16) to quiet the crowd and pulled away as nobody other than the Thunder’s two stars bothered to show up. The league’s second most efficient team on offense couldn’t crack the century mark and fell 105-96.
That’s cool, there were still three more games to go and the next one was a can’t miss! A finals rematch between the Warriors & Cavaliers at Roaracle. LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry in a continuation of the silliest debate in basketball – who is the best player on the planet right now? (It’s Steph. And it’s not close.) Golden State, averaging about 115 points a game scored a whopping 89…and won by six. Curry strained a calf and played 37 underwhelming minutes. LeBron choked – multiple times – at the free throw line (4-9) but was still the game’s high scorer with 25…the only problem was it took him 26 shots from the field to do it. The two teams combined to shoot 62-173 (35.8%) overall, including 10-48 (20.8%) from 3-point range. Ug-ly.
But we brushed it off and pushed on. There was a battle of Texas teams up next – San Antonio at Houston. Shoulda been a good one… Rockets won 88-84. ‘Twas not a good one.
At that point the Tryptophan from the turkey had kicked in and everyone who didn’t get a chance to nap during the day (in the Eastern and Central time zones at least) was mercifully fast asleep and spared the agony of watching the Clippers down their Los Angeles counterparts 94-84.
Here are some (depressing) stats from the Christmas day slate:
- More teams (3) shot under 40% from the field than shot over 44% (1).
- Only the Cavaliers (11) and Thunder (13) turned the ball over fewer than 15 times, and that’s probably because they were too busy wasting offensive possessions with lousy shot selection, going 31.6% and 38.5% respectively from the field.
- On a day when the top five scorers in the NBA were in action, a grand total of one player hit the 30-point mark…and it wasn’t one of those top five – it was Chris Bosh…with exactly 30.
- Only one team made more than seven 3-pointers (Clippers – 10). J.J. Barea made seven 3-pointers by himself the next day – I’m not kidding.
- Only one team scored 100 points (Chicago – 105). For reference, 21 of 30 teams in the NBA average 100 points per game or more for the season, including eight of the 10 playing on Christmas day.
I hope your loved ones were generous with the tangible gift-giving because as fantasy owners our stockings were stuffed with lump after lump of coal this Christmas.
Let’s take a look at what else happened across the NBA landscape over the holiday weekend…
Paul Millsap – 22/7/7/3/1 with a three and only one TO. Business as usual for the Sapper. He’s the 9th ranked player in 9-category leagues on a per-game basis and 7th in total value. Stud.
Thaddeus Young – The Nets got thumped at home by the Wizards, but Thad was big with four steals and a block to go with his 16 & 14. Don’t look now, but Young is a third round value in 9-cat leagues (both per-game and total value).
Avery Bradley – What to make of Boston’s backcourt…With Marcus Smart returning to the rotation (contributing little in 12 minutes off the bench) on Sunday night, it looked like it threw all of the Celtics guards out of rhythm. Bradley, coming off of 14/4/1/3/0 (with 3 treys and no TOs) on Saturday, struggled last night. He wasn’t really involved in his 31 minutes, offering only 6/1/2/1/1 on seven shots. Isaiah Thomas couldn’t find the range on Sunday either, going 6-18 from the field. IT2/3 saved his fantasy line with eight boards and six dimes, but no defensive stats and 1-5 from deep isn’t going to get it done moving forward. Evan Turner was actually the best Celtics guard on Sunday, shooting 8-11 from the field on his was to 19/5/2 with a triple. And you thought Brad Stevens had tough rotational decisions to make with his big guys…
Kemba Walker – The diminutive PG continues to love life with Nicolas Batum as his running mate. Walker went 22/6/8/2/0 on Saturday against the Grizzlies with four triples to have him flirting with the top-25. And not to be outdone by his backcourt buddy, Nic posted a 20/11/8/1/2 line with a pair of treys. He coughed it up four times but he’s still sitting comfortably inside the top-50.
Al Jefferson – Big Al returned from his injury & suspension and showed all kinds of rust. He came off the bench and in 18 minutes shot 1-8 from the field, missed both FTs he attempted, and fouled out. Yep, six fouls in 18 minutes. Chalk it up to rust if you’d like, but he was downright awful. It remains to be seen if he’ll re-enter the starting lineup (I would assume he will) and fantasy owners just have to hope he doesn’t mess with the rhythm of Charlotte’s dynamic guard duo.
Bobby Portis – Even with Joakim Noah going down with a shoulder, Portis hasn’t been getting the big minutes (or production) that everyone was predicting for him. The rook has a total of nine points and nine boards in his last two games (total of 30 minutes) and Fred Hoiberg seems to favor giving Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol big minutes at the expense of Portis’ development. Hopefully that starts to change as the season wears on.
LeBron James – LBJ had a holiday weekend to forget going for an inefficient 25/9/2 with 4 TOs on Christmas, followed by 26 uninspired minutes in Portland the following night. LeBron turned his 13 shots into 12 points and had another three giveaways. Over the weekend he combined to shoot 14-39, including 1-8 from long range and 8-14 from the charity stripe. His ranks have fallen to 13th/21st (per-game/total) in 9-cat leagues and with Kyrie Irving working himself back into the fold, LeBron’s owners better hope his efficiency improves significantly as his usage will start to tail off in 2016.
Kyrie Irving – Speaking of Uncle Drew, he played 26 minutes against the Warriors. He is still trying to find the range with his shot, going only 4-15 from the field and he has connected on only two of his nine 3-point attempts through three games. Irving is obviously far too talented to continue being this inefficient and he’ll play himself into shape, it just may take a couple weeks until he starts to look like the top tier player of seasons past.
J.J. Barea – The little man is ballin’! With no Deron Williams, Jose Juan is lighting it up with the Mavericks starting unit. He has 58 points, 12 3-pointers, and 16 assists in his last two games alone. Even once D-Will comes back (currently listed as day-to-day), JJB has proven that he deserves 25+ MPG as an instant-offense guard on a major heater.
Jameer Nelson – With rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay absent a timetable to return to action, Nelson will hold down the starting spot going forward. He was disappointing on Saturday against the Spurs with only 4/5/3 in 21 minutes. He bounced back nicely last night against the Thunder, posting 15/8/5 with three treys in a team-high 43 minutes. Fantasy owners should feel confident locking him into lineups for their upcoming 4-game week.
Andre Drummond – 22 & 22 on Saturday against the Celts. And the Pistons lost. Fantasy owners don’t care about the L as Drummond also chipped in two steals and two blocks. He is the third ranked player in total value (behind only Steph and Kawhi Leonard) for punt FT teams. What in his stat set seems unsustainable after the first 31 games? Exactly.
Draymond Green – You think Paul Millsap is versatile? Draymond has a Christmas weekend stat line for you: 22/15/7/0/2 with two triples…in a game where his team couldn’t break 90. There is no reason to move a player like Green as he fits almost any team build and for some reason his name doesn’t generate the trade value of a LeBron James, Paul George or John Wall, despite the fact he is more valuable than all of those guys this season.
Patrick Beverley – I’m not really sure what to make of the Houston point guard situation. Beverley has been hitting threes at a pretty good clip (5-11 combined over his two weekend games) but his minutes have dropped to the low-20s each of the last two games, and Ty Lawson saw 30 minutes off the bench on Saturday, parlaying them into 9 points (including a three), 2 boards, 5 dimes and a couple steals. The smart money is on Houston “showcasing” Lawson in an effort to inflate his career-low trade value, but how long does that last if the team continues to suffer from maddening inconsistency in both effort and results? With very little outside the threes and a few steals here and there, Beverley doesn’t provide much fantasy value, so feel free to drop him for a hot free agent or a similar player with better schedule density (Houston plays only six times total in the next two weeks which are heavy on 4-game weeks).
Paul George – The awful shooting percentage that pretty much everyone predicted for PG13 in the pre-season looks like it might be here to stay. George has connected on half his shots only once in his last fifteen games and has failed to top 20 points in six of his last eight. He was just ok on Saturday against Minnesota, providing 18/4/3/1/0 with four treys, but he had five turnovers (a huge problem for him of late) and still made only 7-16 from the field. It’s sloppy basketball and he is spending more time complaining to (and about) the refs than he is on identifying what is/isn’t good shot selection. Fantasy owners just have to hope he’s near the end of this shooting slump and that January looks more like November Paul George than December Paul George.
Blake Griffin – A huge blow to both the Clippers and Griffin’s fantasy owners, Blake was diagnosed with a partially torn quad and is expected to miss at least a couple weeks. BG was cruising along with top-25 value before the injury and owners will need to be patient. A quad tear, even a minor one, to a player like Blake Griffin is scary as it could sap some of the athleticism that makes him such a productive guy. If he needs three or four weeks on the shelf to get back to 100%, fantasy owners should hope he takes it so it doesn’t nag him for the remainder of the year. The consensus add while Griffin is out seemed to be Josh Smith, but he started and played all of five minutes…so maybe we ignore the consensus this time, yes?
Larry Nance Jr. – The Lakers rookie forward has started to show a little bit more skill and aggression with each passing week. He is getting minutes in the 20s alongside the starters and on Christmas day he went 6/5/2 followed up by 17/11/1/2/0 on Sunday. With the Lakers well outside the playoff picture there is all the incentive in the world to develop their young talent. And with the Lakers looking at 4-game weeks four out of the next five, now might be the time to take a flier on LNJ to see if he can continue his slow-building momentum.
Mike Conley – After playing 31 minutes or more in seven straight games, Conley needed only 24 minutes on Sunday night to post 19/4/5/4/0 on 7-11 FGs and 4-4 FTs. The game against the Lakers was over before it started so none of the Grizzlies starters played more than 25 minutes. Over the last two weeks Mike has been the 15th best fantasy asset but it seems like no one is talking about him. It might be a good time to see if you can still get him for a discount before people realize how quietly awesome he’s been lately.
Chris Bosh – Bosh had himself an outstanding weekend with lines of 30/10/4/1/0 on Christmas and 24/10/3/2/0 the day after. He drained a pair of threes in each game, went 8-9 total on FTs, and turned it over only twice (combined) in 77 floor minutes. He is looking like one of the best draft day values of the year.
O.J. Mayo – It looks like Mayo’s minutes and production left the team when Jason Kidd did. A combined 10 points on 3-14 shooting in 44 total minutes over the last two games. Even with Greivis Vasquez and Jerryd Bayless still on the shelf, Mayo looks like a drop candidate as the interim head coach clearly favors Michael Carter-Williams.
Karl-Anthony Towns – You have to really dig deep to find faults in KAT’s game. He hasn’t hit a three in his last four games. He turned the ball over five times on Saturday. That’s pretty much it. Stellar percentages, solid defensive contributions and either 24 or 25 points scored in four of his last six games. The Timberwolves found themselves a full blown superstar.
Tyreke Evans – It’s safe to say there are no restrictions on ‘Reke in terms of minutes…or shots…or usage. Over the Pelicans’ two games on Christmas & Boxing Day, Evans went a combined 5-22 from the field, 1-4 from beyond the arc, and turned the ball over nine times. That’s the bad news. The good news is that he also handed out 20 total assists, pulled down 10 boards, stole the ball twice, blocked a shot, and played 76 minutes without getting hurt. He is somewhat of a poor man’s Paul George where he is tasked with running the offense (more often than not) and the usage is leading to inefficient scoring and high turnovers. It’s incumbent upon these guys’ coaches to find ways to lessen the burden while still putting them in the position to impact the game each time down the floor.
Kristaps Porzingis – The Poison Goose has been producing a bit of a mixed bag of late. Saturday saw him play only 21 minutes and put up a lackluster 9/2/1/0/1 on 3-10 shooting. He bounced back nicely on Sunday though with 16/12/0/2/3, including a perfect 8-8 from the foul line. He gave owners a bit of a scare early in the game as he banged knees and was in some noticeable pain, but showed his toughness and played through it. There’s not much reason not to like the Knicks youngster and there are very few better dynasty assets in fantasy hoops.
Kevin Durant – At only 27 years old, KD jumped into the top-100 NBA all-time scorers on Sunday night. Both he and Russell Westbrook beasted over the holiday weekend with Durant posting Friday/Sunday lines of 29/9/7/1/1 & 26/5/10/0/1, and Russ going off to the tune of 26/7/8/6/0 & 30/9/12/1/0. Both guys are near locks to finish the season as top-10 fantasy assets in just about any scoring format you can think of. A healthy combo of these two is a scary sight for the rest of the league.
Victor Oladipo – One week his coach essentially calls him the best defensive player in the league, the next he plays him 18 minutes in a close game. VO was only able to post 8/2/4/0/0 and has scored in double figures only once in his last four games (including a goose egg on nine shots a couple games ago). Scott Skiles is making the forecasting of any Magic player – outside of perhaps Nikola Vucevic – darn near impossible. If you still believe in Oladipo’s ability to carve out a consistent role on a Skiles-led team, now would be the time to throw out a lowball offer to his owner.
Ish Smith – I’m not even going to get into the transaction history of Philadelphia and Ish Smith. I’ll rather just say that Ish is the starting point guard; he has proven to have fantasy value in that role as recently as last year; he has new Assistant Coach Mike D’Antoni’s full support; and he went 14/2/5/1/1 with a three in 31 minutes in his first game with the team. Pick him up now, but give him a week or two to re-acclimate himself to his teammates and I’ll bet he’s posting top-100 value in a week or two.
Eric Bledsoe – Ugh. Likely out until around the All Star break (see: roughly six weeks) with a significant – though not season-ending – knee injury. If you have an IR spot, you stash him. If not, he’s a risky hold because there is no incentive for Phoenix to rush him back in what looks like a lost year for the franchise. I can’t recommend a drop, but he’s going to be burning a roster spot for a long time. Brandon Knight shifts to pure point guard and will probably see a rise in popcorn stats but a decrease in efficiency as there just aren’t any other legitimate offensive threats on the Suns roster. There will be value bumps to guys like Ronnie Price, Devin Booker, and to a lesser extent T.J. Warren, P.J. Tucker and others. The Suns can’t run a two-PG lineup like they were with Knight/Bledsoe (though the voices in Hornacek’s head may tell him to try), and I would imagine their starting lineup will take a few different shapes over the next couple weeks before it’s sorted out and “stable.”
Meyers Leonard – The popular pre-season sleeper/enormous bust-t0-date is finally starting to show signs of life. Leonard went 13/5/4 with a pair of threes on Saturday and followed it up with 16/11/2 and four hits from beyond the arc last night. Over his last three, the Portland big man has nine three-pointers and better than 50% shooting, while scoring in the teens each time out. He still isn’t providing anything in the way of defensive statistics (no steals and only two blocks in his last ten outings), but if his marksmanship from deep continues, he’s worth a roster spot.
Rudy Gay – While teammates DeMarcus Cousins & Rajon Rondo post monster lines on a seemingly nightly basis, Rudy’s production has been a little more sporadic. On Sunday he scored only seven points, but salvaged his line with a season-high 14 rebounds. Unfortunately Rudy hasn’t been able to find the range from behind the arc as he’s now 0-9 from distance in his last three games. The defense is there though as he now has a block in eight straight. The minutes are there, having played 31 or more in every December game, so as the Kings figure out their identity, so too should Rudy Gay. He’s sitting just outside the top-50 for 9-cat leagues (on a per-game basis) and has upside beyond that if he can get his 3PT% back up to his normal range (currently shooting a career-worst .303).
Danny Green – I’ve held on as long as probably anyone, but it’s time to drop him. I’m out of excuses. He got 32 minutes on Saturday and couldn’t get into double figure scoring. He has six multi-steal games (none since December 11th) and two multi-block games in his 32 contests so far this year. For perspective he had 13 multi-steal games and 10 multi-block games at the same point last year. I don’t get it, but at this point I’m not sure I need to. The sample size is plenty big enough to believe that his most recent production is the “new normal.”
Bismack Biyombo – In a way it’s really too bad that Jonas Valanciunas is due back on Monday. Biyombo has been a monster in the paint for the Raptors and he gives the team a shot-blocking presence that JV never has. Bis went for 14 & 12 with four swats on Saturday and has six straight games of at least a dozen boards plus a block. It remains to be seen how many minutes he’ll get coming off the bench, but an even timeshare with Jonas of 24 minutes apiece wouldn’t be unreasonable given how each has produced when given opportunity.
Trevor Booker – Talk about not seizing your opportunity. No Rudy Gobert for multiple weeks and Booker was a whole lotta “meh.” Put Derrick Favors on the shelf for a game with a bad back on Saturday and all Book has to show for it is 6/6/1/0/0 in 28 minutes. You should be able to do better on the wire.
John Wall – No Bradley Beal, no problem! Johnny Boy, despite a litany of injuries, is killin’ it lately. 22/4/14/1/2, 9-17 from the field including 2-3 from downtown on Saturday against Brooklyn. Again, he’s a guy who will hurt your FG% on average and your TOs, but despite that fact only Kawhi, Steph and Brow have been better in December on a per-game basis.
The 7 Ahead
- 5-game week: PHX
- 4-game week: CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, GSW, IND, LAC, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, ORL, PHI, TOR, UTA, WAS
- 3-game week: ATL, BKN, CLE, DET, HOU, NOH, NYK, OKC, POR, SAC, SAS
- 2-game week: BOS, MEM
- Weekly league streamers (by Y! ownership percentage/games this week): P.J. Tucker (30%/5), Jon Leuer (30%/5), T.J. Warren (20%/5)
- Stream days: Tuesday (5 games), Friday (5 games), Sunday (5 games)
Overall Thoughts: More than half the league’s teams will hit the hardcourt four times this week, so your weekly streaming options really only come from the 5-game Phoenix Suns. But if you’re an owner of a Celtics big (Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk) or a Grizzlies wing (Matt Barnes, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee) you would be wise to opt for the volume coming from a Suns role player like a Tucker/Leuer/Warren. Those three may not post studly lines game-in, game-out considering coach Jeff Hornacek’s wildly inconsistent rotations, but at even 20-25 MPG you’re looking at over 100 minutes of opportunity for the week; something the 2-game Celtics and Grizzlies players can’t do without the help of several overtimes. It bears keeping in mind that the final four of five games for Phoenix are on the road, including two back-to-back sets so there is the potential for a DNP-CWHYFT (Coach Who Hates Your Fantasy Team). The extended absence of Eric Bledsoe will also factor heavily into the calculus of minutes, usage and opportunity, making guys like Ronnie Price and Devin Booker potentially useful. The daily streaming opportunities are somewhat limited this week by the heavy schedule with no single day seeing less than 10 teams in action. Tuesday, Friday and Sunday have five games apiece and only the Knicks and Heat play on each of those three days, making fringe options like Langston Galloway and Gerald Green (each owned in 26% of Yahoo! leagues) worth consideration.
Monday: Week 10 kicks off with only two teams (LAL & SAC) on the tail end of a back-to-back. The Lakers are in the midst of the most densely scheduled portion of their season (six out of seven weeks are 4-gamers from late-November to mid-January) so I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Kobe Bryant pick up a few DNPs during the first few weeks of 2016. Look for Golden State to get up big early against the visiting Kings; this game has blowout written all over it so I wouldn’t be paying top dollar for a Steph Curry in DFS with 21 other teams in action. Atlanta, Cleveland, Miami and Milwaukee all head into B2Bs and you can look for the Cavs to put a major hurtin’ on the Eric Bledsoe-less Suns after getting embarrassed by the Blazers in Portland on Saturday night. The Hawks at 20-11 and riding a 6-game winning streak have been good, but not 2014/2015 good, so there’s no reason to anticipate Coach Bud resting his main guys just yet.
Tuesday: The Denver Nuggets are the only team heading into a Tuesday/Wednesday B2B and they get the aforementioned Cavaliers who are very likely to rest Kyrie Irving. I doubt we’ll see any other Cavs as healthy scratches as they don’t have to play again until Saturday, but the mile high factor plus second night of a back-to-back may just equal a 12-man rotation with nobody playing minutes in the 30s. That is a definite avoid for DFS players. Both the Pistons (@ NYK) and Rockets (vs. ATL) are coming in with two full days off and there is no combination of Knicks big men that should keep a rested Andre Drummond from a minimum 15 & 15 outing. It will be interesting to see how J.B. Bickerstaff’s rotation shakes out after hinting at changes over the weekend. He is emphasizing playing the game “the right way,” but it remains to be seen how that will take with point guards Patrick Beverley & Ty Lawson, and big men Terrence Jones, Clint Capela & Donatas Motiejunas. The Rockets are featuring Lawson a bit more lately – presumably to pump up his trade value – making Beverley a risky start (he hasn’t seen more than 31 minutes in any of his last six games).
Wednesday: Seven teams (GSW, IND, LAC, MIN, PHX, POR, UTA) are on the front end of B2Bs and all of them require travel for at least one of the games. It could be fun to watch Indiana start their big lineup in Chicago with Paul George at SF. If they do, PG13 would be matched up with Nikola Mirotic on the perimeter and that has disaster (for Niko & the Bulls) written all over it. The Celtics play their only game in a five-day stretch, hosting the defensively-challenged Lakers. Isaiah Thomas & Avery Bradley should have a field day against the overmatched trio of Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams & D’Angelo Russell. We could see a couple of track meets in Denver (hosting the Blazers) and Dallas (vs. the Warriors), and you’ll want to have everyone active in those two games with plenty of fantasy goodies to go around.
Thursday: With six games on the docket, this is a heavier than usual Thursday night in the NBA. It’s New Years Eve and I really don’t know if that has any impact on the players participating in the games, but I doubt it. They’ll find time to celebrate – win or lose – after the final buzzer. The Bucks visiting Indy marks their third road game in four nights, while the Suns head to OKC after playing the Spurs the night before. I doubt the visitors will be competitive in either of those contests. The Thunder may not need to run Russ or KD out there for more than 25 or so minutes, and it could be extended opportunity for the Dion Waiters/Anthony Morrow/D.J. Augustin (Cameron Payne?) types. The Clippers head down to New Orleans with tired legs – like MIL it’s their third road game in four nights. Expect the Brow to post a monster line against whatever combo Doc throws out there to fill the Blake Griffin void. With the last game of the night tipping off in Utah at 9am eastern time, all the action should be wrapped up before the ball drops on the Atlantic Coast.
Friday: Happy New Year! We only get five games to kick off 2016, headlined by a real clash of the titans – Sixers @ Lakers. You’re not going to be using footage from this game in a “How To Succeed At Basketball” video, but these are the types of games where off-the-radar players like Larry Nance Jr. and Nik Stauskas can drop 20 points out of the blue. It’s often a fool’s errand trying to predict which “streaky guard on lousy team” will go off and there are plenty of options in this one: Ish Smith, Isaiah Canaan, Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, and D’Angelo Russell. If I’m looking at this from a DFS angle, I’m trying to get exposure to the hottest guy from each team coming into this game and crossing my fingers. Charlotte, Orlando, Dallas and Philly all head into back-to-backs meaning they’ll have Sunday off to rest up heading into another heavily scheduled week.
Saturday: Only eight teams are not in action so you should have full rosters in daily lock leagues. Despite the huge slate, only two teams (Denver & Phoenix) play both weekend days. I could see one or both of LeBron and Kevin Love posting monster lines on three days rest. The Cavs host the Magic and without any back-to-back concerns we can reasonably expect this to be the game where Kyrie shakes off the last of the rust. The 76ers can watch the Staples Center night crew change the hardwood from Lakers to Clippers as they complete the Hollywood B2B. Houston is in tough as they face state rival San Antonio, with the Spurs looking for revenge after their Christmas Day dud in H-Town. Memphis, well rested having had Wed/Thu/Fri off, travels to Utah in a game that pits two of the six slowest paced teams in the league against one another. Avoid this one altogether in DFS.
Sunday: Our week ends with a smallish five-game slate. The Nuggets come back home and host the Trailblazers while the Suns play their fourth road game in five nights in a game the Lakers might actually be favored to win. The Raptors play Chicago for the second time this week, this time at the United Center. I think the DeMar DeRozan vs. Jimmy Butler matchup will be a lot of fun to watch (twice) as both guys are vying for an Eastern Conference All Star guard spot. The Hawks, on four days rest, travel to Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks. Expect Atlanta’s versatile frontcourt duo of Paul Millsap & Al Horford to post big lines to close out a quiet week for them.
Don’t worry kids – this was just a one-time holiday fill-in for JB and you’ll have him back next week for the usual weekend breakdown and 7 Ahead. I’ll catch everyone on Wednesday morning for my normal weekday recap piece. Cheers!