Steve Alexander

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It's Jonathon, with an O

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Wednesday was a weird one with only four NBA games, as it’s traditionally been the busiest night of the week, along with Friday. The Wizards beat the Celtics in double-overtime, the Magic held off the Bucks, The Kings beat the Heat in overtime, and the Warriors beat the Lakers, despite missing several starters.

 

Wizards 125, Celtics 124 2 OT – Bradley Beal hit 14-of-27 shots and three 3-pointers for 34 points, seven boards, nine assists, two steals and a block as the Wizards overcame a sluggish start to beat the Celtics in double-overtime. Markieff Morris stayed hot with 20 points, seven boards, four assists and two 3-pointers, and Otto Porter double-doubled with 18 points, 11 boards, three steals and three 3-pointers. Marcin Gortat was terrible, which is not out of the norm, and Ian Mahinmi stepped up with 14 points, 11 boards, a steal and a block off the bench. Mahinmi’s tough to trust, but he’s been better than Gortat for the last couple games.

 

The Celtics were without Kyrie Irving (knee), Marcus Smart (thumb), Al Horford (illness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion), and while most of the attention was on reserves like Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe, it was Marcus Morris who went crazy with a season-high 31 points, nine rebounds, two steals and four 3-pointers against his twin brother. Horford is due back for the next game, but the other guys aren’t likely to play, making Morris worth a short-term look in all leagues. Rozier certainly didn’t disappoint, racking up 21 points, five boards, nine assists, two steals, three blocks and four 3-pointers on 8-of-21 shooting in a whopping 48 minutes. Rozier is a must-own player with Irving and Smart in doubt the rest of the way, although it does sound like Irving might play on Sunday after his MRI came back clean. Jayson Tatum hit 9-of-23 shots for 19 points, five boards and six assists, and should roll as long as guys are out for Boston, and Greg Monroe came off the bench to hit 8-of-9 shots for 16 points, 10 boards, a steal and two blocks. Monroe will take a hit with Horford likely to play on Friday. Shane Larkin had 11 points, four assists and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes off the bench and could be effective on Friday, but Rozier is the guy you want to own right now. The Celtics fell to 4.5 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East and are going to have a tough time catching them with so many injury woes. And while their 6.0 lead on the Pacers should be safe, it’s not exactly a done deal just yet. And in case you missed it, the Pacers have sneaked by the Cavaliers for the No. 3 seed as of now.

 

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Magic 126, Bucks 117 – Jonathon Simmons went off for a career-high 35 points, four boards, three assists and seven 3-pointers on 11-of-22 shooting in 38 minutes of the win. He’s a great performer in back-to-back sets and should continue to flourish with Evan Fournier (knee) and Aaron Gordon (concussion) banged up. D.J. Augustin came through with a season-high 32 points, three boards, four assists, two assists and six 3-pointers on 9-of-15 shooting, and also went 8-of-8 from the line. DJA’s been playing well for the Magic, averaging 13.6 points, 5.9 assists and 2.1 3-pointers in March coming into this game. He’s probably not going to score 30 again this season, but is playing well enough to be owned these days. Nikola Vucevic also went off with 22 points, nine boards, nine assists, four steals and a 3-pointer, just missing a triple-double. Despite the Magic having nothing to play for, Vuc has been playing very well of late. Mario Hezonja has had trouble getting it going, despite the absence of Gordon, and had just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting. Shockingly, he’s scored 11 or fewer points in seven of his last eight games. And Jonathan Isaac made another start, but played just 18 minutes, hit 1-of-5 shots, and finished with just four points, four rebounds and a block. Yeah, he’s intriguing, but is averaging just 5.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks on 37 percent shooting over his last five games. No thanks.

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo went crazy with 38 points, 10 rebounds, seven dimes, three steals and a 3-pointer, Khris Middleton had 22 points, five dimes and four 3-pointers, and Eric Bledsoe added 20 points, eight dimes, four steals, a block and three 3-pointers in the loss. If you recently picked up Brandon Jennings after his big game on Monday, it appears to have been a fluke, and he played just nine minutes tonight and scored two points. Ouch. This loss hurt for the Bucks, as they are now a full game behind the Sixers, sitting in the No. 7 slot, and just 0.5 games ahead of the No. 8 Heat. Luckily, the Pistons are 5.0 games out of the playoffs, so the Bucks and Heat are likely in, barring a total collapse.

 

Kings 123, Heat 119 OT – Zach Randolph made another start with Skal Labissiere still out with his hip injury and had 22 points, nine boards, a block and two 3-pointers. Buddy Hield finally got hot and scored 24 points to lead the Kings to go along with six boards, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Hield’s shot comes and goes like the wind, but he’s played very well in three of his last five games, but really poorly in the other two. De’Aaron Fox came through with 20 points and three assists, Bogdan Bogdanovic had 14 points, three boards, three assists and two 3-pointers, and Willie Cauley-Stein was fine with 10 points, nine boards, three assists, three steals and two blocks. Those are the Kangz you want to own. Garrett Temple has had some big games, but is completely unreliable. He had five points in 22 minutes, and not much else.

 

Josh Richardson was out with a foot injury and is day-to-day, and Goran Dragic went off with 33 points, three assists and three 3-pointers in the loss. James Johnson was one of the surprises of the night with 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block, and it appears that the emergence of Richardson is the reason for Johnson’s free fall all season. Johnson’s played well in two of his last three games and if Richardson’s going to miss more time, Johnson’s worth picking up in most leagues. Bam Adebayo had six points and 16 rebounds in 27 minutes with Hassan Whiteside (hip) out again, and Kelly Olynyk added 13 points, eight boards, five assists, a block and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. The absence of Whiteside, who is day-to-day, also helps Johnson. Dwyane Wade might be out for a while with his hamstring injury and Wayne Ellington had 22 points and six triples, and I like the idea of picking him up with Wade on the shelf. Tyler Johnson is also interesting with Wade out, and had 14 points, five boards, two assists, a steal and four 3-pointers. Justise Winslow wasn’t great, but played 38 minutes and had 10 points, seven boards, four assists, a steal and two 3-pointers. He’s also worth using with all the injuries in Miami. The Heat have lost two straight and are now 15 games behind the Raptors, but hold a 5.0 game lead on the Pistons for the final playoff spot in the East. They should be fine.

 

Warriors 117, Lakers 106 – The Warriors held off the hot Lakers despite the fact that Stephen Curry (right ankle), Klay Thompson (broken right thumb) and Draymond Green (sore right shoulder) were all in street clothes. The big news on Wednesday was that Thompson’s thumb is broken and he’ll be re-evaluated on March 23. Curry’s going to miss at least three more games, and the injuries are building up in a hurry in the NBA’s silly season, which would be much sillier if so many teams weren’t battling for playoff position, or just getting in the big dance. Season-long leagues look like a MASH unit right now, with red crosses everywhere, and the days of ending your league a couple of weeks early to avoid the injury plague appear to be coming to an end. It’s really not fun trying to manage your team in the fantasy playoffs when half your roster is hurt, but I don’t know how to fix it. There’s a reason Daily Fantasy Leagues (Draft, Fanduel, etc.) have become so popular among NBA fans.

 

Kevin Durant led the way with 26 points, five boards, six assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer, while starters Kevon Looney, Zaza Pachulia (double-double), Quinn Cook and Nick Young, and reserves Omri Casspi and Shaun Livingston all scored in double figures for the Warriors. Young is probably the guy to grab with Thompson out, but there aren’t any must-own Warriors bench players sitting out there right now. Looney is also interesting as long as Green is out.

 

For the Lakers, Julius Randle hit 8-of-10 shots for 22 points and 10 boards before fouling out, and Brook Lopez and Isaiah Thomas each scored 20 points, as Thomas started for Kyle Kuzma, who sat out after spraining his right ankle on Tuesday night. Bro-Lo actually had six rebounds, a steal, five blocks and two 3-pointers, and should be owned in all leagues at this point, as the Lakers are finally using him. Thomas hit five triples and handed out seven assists, and played very well, despite an argument on the bench with Randle during the game. They kissed and made up, so it’s all good. Lonzo Ball hit just 3-of-11 shots and 1-of-8 3-pointers, but still had eight points, five boards, 11 assists, three steals and a block, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13 points, four boards, three steals and two 3-pointers on 4-of-13 shooting in the loss. Every player I mentioned for the Lakers should be owned at this point.

 

Thursday will bring us an uncharacteristic nine games, Friday features a light six-game schedule, Saturday looks like a traditional Friday with 11 games, and Sunday is incredibly light with just four games. Here’s to hoping you’re surviving the weird schedule and the crazy injury list in your fantasy playoffs. 



Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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