No, that horrific shooting night for Kobe Bryant (3-for-21) wasn’t an early April Fool’s joke and he did hit a late, clutch 3-pointer to prevent the Lakers from losing. Jarrett Jack had been solid all afternoon despite a sore ankle (18 PTS, 10 AST) but missed a huge layup near the end. I was bullish on Carl Landry, a surprise — and very late — scratch with a sore ankle. Jason Smith (17 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK) held his own against Andrew Bynum (19 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK) and should continue to be a mainstay for the Hornets.
Another Saturday Night
CHA @ DET: We “gave” you Reggie Williams here yesterday, and he put up a nice line: 17 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL. We didn’t anticipate Byron Mullens (20 PTS, 9 REB, 2 BLK) starting at PF, but B.J. should continue in that role after helping the Bobcats force overtime in a road game. Tayshaun Prince led the Pistons with 24, but it was Jonas Jerebko and Will Bynum, with 18 and 17 respectively off the bench, who deserve credit for the victory.
CLE @ NYK: Without Kyrie Irving (shoulder) the Cavaliers had no chance. Donald Sloan had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists as the emergency starting PG. The Knicks won easily, as J.R. Smith got over 34 minutes, had three triples among his 20 points, grabbed nine boards and stole the ball five times. Iman Shumpert also had 5 STL but his shot wasn’t falling (3-12) or I would have won even more money on DraftStreet (scroll way down for those details.)
ATL @ PHI: You have to wonder about NBA teams sometimes. 24 hours after that stinker in DC, the 76ers were terrific at home against a much tougher opponent. Elton Brand (25 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST, 3 BLK) led the way and Andre Iguodala played 43 minutes on that tender knee, scoring 18 points. By far the best Hawk was Josh Smith — 34 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK — but Smoove didn’t get enough help.
MEM @ MIL: Three Milwaukee players scored 20 or more points, although Monta Ellis had a rough shooting night (2-12) and the Bucks’ bench was no match for the Grizzlies’ backups. O.J. Mayo poured in 24 points and Zach Randolph added 13 to spark the road win for Memphis, which played without starting PG Mike Conley (ankle.)
IND @ SAS: The Spurs went ten men deep in this one. Roy Hibbert texted his close friend Tim Duncan to ask how he should guard him. “Go for every pump fake,” came the reply, before the old man schooled the youngster with 23 points and 11 boards. Hibbert (15 PTS, 7 REB, 4 BLK) played well too, but the Pacers’ bench was no match for Manu Ginobili (18) and Tiago Splitter (10 & 7 in just 16 minutes.)
NJN @ SAC: Wow, the Nets have won two straight, on the road, out west. Deron Williams took over, with 19 points, 15 assists and 6 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas, at least six inches shorter, couldn’t get going against D-Will. Gerald Wallace had 18 and Johan Petro, now the starting C, added 12. Anthony Morrow, 0-6 the night before in just 11 minutes, played over 30 minutes and hit six 3-pointers for 24 points. Tyreke Evans, back in the lineup after sitting out on Friday with back spasms, the Kings with 23.
UTA @ LAC: Ho-hum, 26 points for Chris Paul and another 24 for Blake Griffin as the Clippers, a sinking ship two weeks ago, have won five straight. The coach wasn’t fired, they didn’t fall out of the playoffs and are suddenly a solid fourth in the West standings, one game back of their fellow Staples tenant. The Jazz played well after falling behind 38-22 in a disastrous first quarter; Al Jefferson had 26 in defeat.
The most common playoff format in head-to-head leagues is four weeks, beginning tomorrow, among six teams, with the top two receiving first-round byes. Some leagues started last week and will be finished before the insane final week of this wacky compressed NBA season. Others involve eight teams, some only four. They all put a great deal of emphasis on games played and therefore streaming.
To win, you have to consider painful cuts. From Jan. 25 to Mar. 16, not even Jeremy Lin was more fun to own than Nikola Pekovic. I simply can’t carry Pek, whose return from bone spurs is indefinite, in a 12-team playoff week. We have a 4-move limit, so I’m dropping him for Delonte West today, who will be flipped for a Tuesday starter tomorrow. Moves for Thursday and the weekend will squeeze an “extra” 5 GP from my injured guy’s roster spot.
Here’s a quick look the upcoming schedule for all 30 teams, from best to worst. The fourth number may not matter in your league, in which case Mavs, Lakers and Rockets are a tiny bit better to own than players from the other teams with 13 games left. We have been telling you every Sunday for weeks to load up on Grizzlies and Spurs. Good luck!
CHA, CLE 4-5-4-3
GSW, MIA 4-4-5-2
DET, IND, LAC, OKC, PHO 4-4-4-2
MIL, WAS 4-4-3-3
DAL, LAL 4-4-4-1
POR, TOR, UTA 4-4-3-2
DEN, NOH, NYK, ORL 3-4-4-2
ATL, CHI 3-3-4-2
CHI @ OKC: There will be hoops on TV all day; this excellent matchup gets things rolling at 1:00 Eastern, so be sure your daily lineups are set. Logically, C.J. Watson will be no match for Russell Westbrook. Luol Deng, who has been playing with a very sore left wrist, has a tough assignment in Kevin Durant. The big men on both teams will be physical. Fun to watch, it might be a Finals preview, if only Derrick Rose could play.
MIA @ BOS: The second half of the ABC doubleheader is another great attraction. The edge goes to Miami because the Celtics are so thin with injuries. Ray Allen has missed five games with a sore ankle and his replacement Avery Bradley has been putting up good numbers against weaker teams than the Heat. It’s really the Boston bench that is devastated; Greg Stiemsma is the only backup big man and Keyon Dooling, who looks older than 32, is the next-best guard.
DEN @ ORL: The inconsistent Magic have lost two straight, so I expect them to be fired up tonight. The Nuggets did beat Charlotte on Friday but have yet to replace the scoring of Danilo Gallinari and may be without Wilson Chandler (groin) so it’s going to take a fantastic effort by Ty Lawson in this sixth of seven straight games on the road. I’ll take Dwight Howard over JaVale McGee as the main difference-maker but Ryan Anderson could also have a big game.
WAS @ TOR: This is an afterthought for “serious” fans but an opportunity for fantasy junkies. The Wizards will probably go young, as Nene and Trevor Booker both left Friday’s game with strained foot ligaments. Kevin Seraphin might play 40 minutes, and is capable of a double-double with a handful of blocks. Recent 10-day signee Cartier Martin scored 20 points off the bench in just his second game of the season. Meanwhile, the Raptors have Andrea Bargnani rounding into form and got 28 from DeMar DeRozan in a surprisingly close loss to Miami.
IND @ HOU: The Pacers lost in San Antonio last night while the Rockets rested at home. The big question concerns Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert. Sammy was under the weather on Friday (and Patrick Patterson benched for the first half for missing shootaround) so Camby started and played great, with 16 REB and 6 BLK. Goran Dragic has saved Houston’s season with amazing work in place of Kyle Lowry, whose return from a serious illness remains uncertain.
NOH @ PHO: Grant Hill (knee surgery) is out and Steve Nash is in a scoring slump (single-digits in five of his last eight) but the Suns are a good home team and the shorthanded Hornets must be exhausted. The sneaky fantasy play is Shannon Brown, now starting at SG with Jared Dudley playing SF. Brown had 32 on Thursday but was quiet in a road game the next night. Marcin Gortat should be able to dominate in the middle as New Orleans is playing without Chris Kaman (bronchitis) and Emeka Okafor (knee).
MIN @ POR: The Kevin Love MVP express wasn’t derailed the other night, it merely slowed down when it encountered a determined Kevin Garnett. If LaMarcus Aldridge (elbow) can’t play, Love will be matched up against J.J. Hickson, never known as a stopper. Luke Ridnour is also a decent play for the Timberwolves, and you never know who might step up for Portland. Nicolas Batum is one hunch, as Wesley Matthews is playing through an assortment of nagging injuries.
GSW @ LAL: This ought to be the biggest mismatch of the day. However, the Lakers were overconfident and listless against another weak opponent last night, and may take this one lightly as well. It’s actually a good opportunity for the L.A. bench: Steve Blake hit three 3-pointers and Matt Barnes played with energy in the narrow win over N’Awlins. The tanking Warriors are playing David Lee and a bunch of rookies; Klay Thompson is due for a big scoring game.
The Spin is here by 8:00 Eastern every day but Sundays, when we post before noon. On Twitter (click to follow) I often pass along breaking news that affects fantasy lineups.
|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
OK, this isn’t exactly a tale of woe. I won small prizes in two leagues last night and it should have been three. Regular readers know I’m an “automatic” entry in the $5 Salary Cap league. Most nights, I join for the next day before going to bed. The next morning, while writing this segment, I make my picks.
Well, on Friday night, I forgot to enter Saturday’s $5 league in advance. No problem, I thought yesterday at 5:45 a.m. — there will still be room. Wrong again; it was already full. Not that I was sure to win, but for once my picks were mostly accurate. I finished 20th (out of 330) in the $2 GPP league, and won a $2 league limited to 20 teams. The total payoff was just over $20, but it could have been more had I also been in the one league I’ve played every other day since we started this experiment. The learning curve continues…
There’s now $40 left in the $100 bankroll for Week 4. I’ll be back in my usual $2 and $5 Guaranteed Prize Pool leagues today and may even try the $11 league, where there are “only” 150 teams and the prize pool is a guaranteed $1,500, with $375 for first — even fifth place gets $110, or ten times the entry fee.
While eight NBA games is unusual for a Sunday in most seasons, this compressed schedule gives fantasy owners a multitude of choices. It’s a bit thin at the very top of the salary range today, strong in the middle and there are several other interesting Bargains to consider.
It’s always free to join Draft Street and you can get started in free leagues for credits and prizes.