You read that right. Valentine’s Day is an objectively stupid holiday, and after 18 years of marriage the wife and I were good with a nice cup of coffee and takeout for the day. Then I watched the Bucks vs. Celtics game on TNT, and took a huge gamble at that! It paid off though, but please honor my sacrifice for your benefit and click on this article multiple times. I took the huge risk for all of you.
Celtics rest entire team vs. Bucks
The entire starting lineup for the Celtics was out for this one, leading to much confusion. Am I the only one who can’t tell Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams apart? Similar height and builds, and neither have distinguishing tattoos, headbands, sock length, weird tights, or anything.
So what do you do with a game like this for the Celtics? Keep an eye on who does well for streaming. Derrick White continued his excellence with 27 points and 12 assists. The Celtics love him and he’ll be on the court for his defense. I’d roll him out there over Brogdon, who had a solid 26-4-4. Minutes are minutes, though. Personally, I think White is better than Marcus Smart, but the Celtics didn’t ask my opinion. Keep going with White until and after Smart gets back.
Mike Muscala had an absurd 43 minutes with 18 points and 8 boards. Celtics need his minutes in their bigs rotation and I think he could provide sneaky value with threes and boards for the rest of the way.
For the Bucks, Jrue Holiday hit for 40 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had his typical 36-13-9, and yes saying that is a typical line says all you need to know about the best player in the league. Khris Middleton is rounding back into form and had 16 points plus 11 boards. If he’s on waivers, he could be a difference maker, but be prepared for a lot of injury maintainance.
Raptors over the Spunky Magic
The Raptors for sure aren’t regretting buying Jakob Poeltl at the deadline. 30 points on 15-17 shooting (weird, how do you not have a single free throw?), 9 boards and 6 blocks! Raptors are now in the play in tournament, and look for Jakob “don’t call me Jacob” to get all the minutes he can handle. I’m wondering if he was the piece that unlocks the Raptors. They can all play their natural positions.
Precious Achiuwa took advantage of a start with 13-11, Pascal Siakam 26-4-6 with 10-15 shooting, and made up for Fred VanVleet‘s 3-12 night. Ol’ Fred did have 15 assists to give stitches to the gaping wound that is his shooting percentage. No real bench production as OG Anunoby and Gary Trent both missed this one.
Look for the Raptors though to make a huge late season push, and I’d be very happy to own any of their top 7 guys.
For the newly minted Kelder’s Favorite Team to Watch Orlando Magic, Wendell Carter led the way with 26-6-5 but no defensive stats, Jalen Suggs came off the bench with 24 on 9-12 shooting, and the rotation was only about 7 deep in meaningful minutes.
One dynamic I’ve noticed is the resurgence of Markelle Fultz. Well, he’s never done it before; is that a “surgance?” In February, he’s averaging 16 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists. Just enjoy the ride, I think the kid is here to stay. Unfortunately for Franz Wagner owners, his production is directly affected. Franz is in the same time span averaging 12 points, down from 18, and his assists have stayed steady at 3.8 instead of increasing. I think this is how it’s going to be going forward as Fultz seems to be the future for Orlando as a lead playmaker.
Phoenix Rises over the Kings
Okay, Chris Paul, you might still have it! I know you are thicker and slower, but 19 points and 17 assists will shut me up. He’ll probably be elite the rest of the year. Until Kevin Durant comes back (he’s practicing, I’m guessing soon after the all star break), Josh Okogie will get more shots. 19 last night, 17 and 25 points also going back to the trade deadline. Keep riding him, but jump off as soon as KD gets back.
I haven’t had much to say about the Kings because they are just so steady. You know with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis what you’re going to get, and the rest of the team just fills their roles. 15 bench points from last night’s effort though just isn’t going to get it done. I would stick with the two main guys, but the rest of the roster isn’t to be trusted.
Full Strength Clippers over the Steph-less Warriors
I should talk about the Clippers at full strength (for the first time in like, forever)
Kawhi Leonard is as good as ever, 33-7-4 and 2 stocks. Ivica Zubac is a good low end center (10 points, only 2 boards) but gets played off the court by speedy teams Terance Mann is so important to what they do, I think his minutes are totally safe. 16-5-6 and always finds a way to contribute. Definite riser. Norman Powell can score 25 off the bench at any time, good if you need scoring. Of course, he only had 24 last night, thanks proofreading.
Shiny New Toys Mason Plumlee, Eric Gordon, and Bones Hyland played 17, 21, and 15 minutes respectively, so their value will be entirely due to games missed by other players. Good streamers.
For the Warriors, you all know the deal. Kevon Looney continues to be sneaky good with 11 points and 14 boards. I’d love to see Jonathan Kuminga get some extended run, but he won’t this year, which makes him tempting but ultimately a pass to me (16-4 last night. It’s just so obvious how hard things are without Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins, and I wonder if they’ll ever truly get going.
Wizards Cast a Spell and Blaze the Trailers
Worst heading ever?
Kyle Kuzma returned after a ten day absence with 33 points and the Wizards are at full strength. Kristaps Porzingis was great with 28-12-5, and run your big men out there against Portland. They are tiny little guys. Like, Kuzma would be their nominal center yesterday. So the takeaway is: Don’t ever watch the Wizards, but play big guys against Portland.
The Blazers rotation is working itself out in the absence of Jerami Grant (concussion, probably back after the break.) Blazers got some Shiny New Wing Toys and are running them out there. My least favorite player, Cam Reddish, played 32 minutes with 18 points and nothing else but I’m sure he thinks he played great and that all the coaches are still out to get him. Matisse Thybulle did NOT follow up his strong first game. He did have four steals, which is also the total of his points, rebounds, and assists combined. He’s still a fun player in real life who just can’t do the offense thing. Shaedon Sharpe, who I think could be a future star, is getting more run. 28 minutes and 15 points, we shall see if that lasts. I’d hold and just watch.
Of course, Anfernee Simons rolled his ankle and had to be carried off the court. In the missing minutes, Sharpe came in and did this thing:
i'll be watching this on repeat with a tear in my eye during all-star saturday night pic.twitter.com/oIUG1lKOqB
— Michael Pina (@MichaelVPina) February 15, 2023
So my basketball Valentine’s Day was worth it, right? Thanks again for the honor of reading my stuff.