The kids are alright. We could have guessed Enes Kanter (17 & 8 in 23 min.) would play well off the bench as Derrick Favors (12 & 10) got the tough start vs. Andrew Bynum (33 & 11 with 2 BLK). Another Jazz rookie to watch is Alec Burks (17 PTS in 19 min.) but the story of this shocker was a miserable 3-20 shooting night by Kobe Bryant, with seven turnovers. Starting PG Steve Blake went scoreless; backup Ramon Sessions has yet to find his shooting touch in L.A., though he will. Metta World Peace left with a hip injury, putting Matt Barnes (12 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST) back onto the fantasy radar.
ATL @ CLE: As good as Joe Johnson is at the two, he’s been even better at the three. Now averaging 25.7 in six March games, he torched the Cavs with 28 yesterday. Kirk Hinrich added 14 while playing excellent defense on Kyrie Irving, who still managed 19 PTS and 10 AST. Alonzo Gee (20 & 9) continues to play well, but Cleveland is overmatched in the middle without Anderson Varejao, whose return is indefinite.
DET @ LAC: Not the prettiest game. The Pistons scored a total of 9 points in the fourth quarter and lost in overtime. Greg Monroe had 23 PTS and 15 REB in a gallant effort. For the Clippers, new SG Nick Young was 1-6 from the floor but played 28 minutes and should take over very soon from Randy Foye as the starter. Chris Paul had 15 AST to go with his 19 PTS.
MIN @ SAC: With a completely ineffective Darko Milicic starting for Nikola Pekovic (ankle) a game I’d rated a tossup turned into a laugher. Marcus Thornton led the Kings with 24, while Jason Thompson had another double-double (13 & 10) in just 26 minutes.
WAS @ MEM: As the Grizzlies work Zach Randolph (13 PTS, 9 REB, 24 bench min.) back into the lineup, Rudy Gay took over this game with 27 points. Still waiting for Nene to suit up, the Wizards started Kevin Seraphin (12 & 12) at C and got great efforts from backcourt mates John Wall (25) and Jordan Crawford (22) to keep the score respectable.
ORL @ MIA: LeBron James is great even in his “bad” games, adding 12 REB, 7 AST and 5 STL to his 14 PTS, but the Heat went to Chris Bosh (23) early and often, while Dwyane Wade poured in 31. I was bullish on Dwight Howard in my DraftStreet leagues, but any value from his 18 & 11 was reduced by missing 10 FG, 6 FT and turning it over four times.
HOU @ PHO: Marcus Camby had 8 points and 8 boards in less than 20 minutes in his debut but the tired, undermanned Rockets were no match, as Michael Redd sparked the Suns with 25 off the bench.
POR @ OKC: James Harden jammed his index finger early, returned to the game and scored most of his 14 from the charity stripe. Teammates Kevin Durant (26) and Russell Westbrook (28) picked up the slack, with a surprising 11 PTS in just 15 minutes for Thabo Sefolosha. Raymond Felton (19 & 7) has been playing better and Wesley Matthews (16 PTS, 4 STL) has been sharp since the Blazers’ big shakeup.
PHI @ CHA: Overconfidence may be the biggest obstacle for the Sixers tonight. With Corey Maggette nursing a sore back, the Bobcats will be relying on D. J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson for most of their scoring. You already know I love Bismack Biyombo in keeper leagues; this year the teenager is getting a baptism by fire.
BOS @ ATL: Neither team is at full strength. The Celtics have not been great on this road trip, but they did get to rest yesterday, while the Hawks, despite the absence of four rotation players to illness or injury, won in Cleveland. Jannero Pargo (appendix) is out for a while, so Tracy McGrady may get extra run. I’m “feeling” a big, inspirational game from Kevin Garnett and like Rajon Rondo matched up against Jeff Teague, but my crystal ball is notoriously unclear.
CLE @ NJ: When a team loses at home then must play a road game the next night, I’m always cautious. That gives the Nets a big chance tonight, even if it’s a “homecoming” for New Jersey high school star Kyrie Irving. It’s the second game back from a sore calf for Deron Williams, and newest teammate Gerald Wallace should make a bigger contribution tonight.
CHI @ ORL: The marquee game this evening will not feature Derrick Rose, but C.J. Watson is a capable replacement. The Bulls, 9-4 without the league MVP this year, got to watch on TV yesterday while the Orlando lost in Miami; it’s a very tough back-to-back for the Magic.
DAL @ DEN: If you have followed my advice, you already own Wilson Chandler, who finally signed a five-year deal with the Nuggets. Don’t be disappointed if he is eased into the rotation, but don’t be surprised if he ends up playing big, productive minutes as the sixth man before long. JaVale McGee will make his Denver debut against Mavs backup Ian Mahinmi, as Brendan Haywood (knee) is out. Shawn Marion also has a sore knee, so Dallas will be relying on Dirk Nowitzki more than usual.
MIN @ GSW: The question now with Stephen Curry is more “if” than “when” he will return to the lineup. The Warriors deadline moves were all about next year and they have no incentive to win as this season plays out. However, the T-Wolves are tired and hurting, and if big Pek misses another, this could go either way. Derrick Williams (16 & 9 yesterday) is a strong play again.
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|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
In honor of the NCAA tournament, we gave it the old college try yesterday. I played in more leagues, and more expensive leagues, than on any previous day in this still-early experiment. No wins, but I did break even on the day and learned a lot.
After limiting my play to $2 and $5 leagues for the first two weeks, I tried a couple for $11 entry fees yesterday. There was one big difference in my first $11 Snake-Draft — chatty and knowledgeable opponents. I was “recognized” for the first time by an astute Sheridan Hoops reader who joked that I was sure to win, only to beat me by 11 points. He got $39 for the win, I settled for the $21 second prize.
I lost by 34 points in another 6-man draft, but it was good enough for second place and another $21 payout. Finished a respectable 34th of 150 in my first $11 Salary Cap league, where a better first pick than Dwight Howard might have put me in the money.
Given that I wasn’t close in a handful of $2 and $5 leagues, it’s hard to say that a lower entry fee means easier competition. If the Sheridan Hoops Freeroll is any example, even free leagues are challenging and require plenty of skill to win. A little luck never hurts, either.
Week 2 ended with a loss of $43 from my $100 bankroll. Week 1 showed a profit of $202, so after 14 days of playing, I’m $159 ahead. We reset to $100 for Week 3 today, and as always, I’m in a $5 GPP Salary Cap league with 220 teams, trying to get a share of that $1,000 guaranteed payout. Later in the day, I’ll join a $5 Snake-Draft.
While the Pick ‘Em variation is probably the simplest (no $100,000 salary cap and no live draft) and it may be the best for casual NBA fans, my expertise in deep Roto and H2H leagues translates better to the other formats. Knowledge of bench players, role changes, injuries and absences definitely helps.
Draft Street is free to join and it’s easy to get started. Play a few free games (for credits and prizes) to check it out.