For the second straight game, LeBron James carried his team, with 34 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, four steals and a refusal to lose. Dwayne Wade did play, but had “only” 19 with 5 TO, while Chris Bosh (12) was quiet again. The Heat overcame 30 from Kevin Durant and 28 from Russell Westbrook by effectively shutting down everyone else. This game was rough and intense; if it really was a Finals preview, I can’t wait.
In Other Games
IND @ WAS: A solid team effort by the Pacers. Darren Collison (17 PTS, 11 AST) had his best game in quite a while, Danny Granger scored 20 and Leandro Barbosa is becoming a point-a-minute sparkplug off the bench. The shorthanded Wizards were led by Jordan Crawford with 28, and regular Spin readers know of my man-crush on Kevin Seraphin (19 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK) who will continue to get heavy minutes even when (if?) Nene returns.
TOR @ PHI: Did that happen? Watching a possible no-hitter in the baseball game, I missed most of the 76ers’ second-half collapse, but the box score confirms they scored just SEVEN points as a team in the fourth quarter after a mere 15 in the third. Philly missed 13 straight shots at one point and Andre Iguodala, who scored just six points playing with a painful eye injury, heard the boo-birds. Alan Anderson, on a 10-day deal, got a start for Toronto because James Johnson is still sick. Andrea Bargnani led all scorers with 24, and Jose Calderon returned from having his eye stitched up to score 12 and dish out 13 assists.
CHA @ ATL: Hey, at least Charlotte showed up and took their beating. One day after Paul Silas “confirmed” that Kemba Walker was his starting PG for the rest of the season, he trotted out D.J. Augustin for the opening tip. However, DJA left early with a sore knee, and Walker led the Bobcats with 21 PTS in 33 minutes. Josh Smith had 24 for the Hawks, who were in garbage time before the third quarter was over. That was good for Jannero Pargo (12 PTS, 6 AST) in his first game back from appendix surgery.
SAS @ BOS: Great game. It really could have gone either way. The five 3-pointers (combined) by bench guys Matt Bonner and Gary Neal were big, as were the 16 REB and 3 BLK by Tim Duncan. For Boston, Ray Allen was a bit rusty in his return but as we guessed, Avery Bradley played 34 minutes off the bench, led all scorers with 19, and will be a useful sixth man the rest of the way.
DEN @ NOH: Eric Gordon is back. After some visible rust early, his 15 points in 34 minutes was encouraging, though owners of Marco Belinelli should be unhappy. Chris Kaman, still not 100% from his illness, was also in the starting five (14 PTS, 10 REB, 5 BLK) and Trevor Ariza returned with 15. Jarrett Jack (ankle) was replaced by Greivis Vasquez (11 PTS, 10 AST) so the Hornets weren’t quite at full strength. The Nuggets got 22 from Ty Lawson but are desperate for scoring and can only hope Danilo Gallinari is back soon.
GSW @ MIN: Kevin Love (29 & 12) was himself and J.J. Barea (15 PTS, 8 AST, 6 REB) returned from missing six games with a thigh injury to take over PG duties, but the Wolves lost at home. Wayne Ellington (17 PTS in 28 min.) outplayed starter Martell Webster (scoreless in 25 min.) and it’s clear that Nikola Pekovic (10 PTS) is in pain. David Lee led the road Warriors with 31, while PG Charles Jenkins (19 PTS, 7 AST) had a nice night.
CLE @ MIL: With their one star Kyrie Irving shut down (shoulder) for at least a week, the Cavaliers played a bit better. Anthony Parker had a season-high 27 and Donald Sloan (12 PTS, 8 AST) is the new PG; he should be owned in deep leagues and is a decent streaming option. Lester Hudson is the backup if your league is really, really deep. Monta Ellis jacked up 25 shots and hit 15 to lead the Bucks. Drew Gooden got the night off, so Ekpe Udoh (11 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK) started at C and looked good.
MEM @ DAL: The Grizzlies were tired, the Mavericks inspired. Dirk Nowitzki (23 PTS, 10 REB) got some help from Shawn Marion (16 PTS, 7 REB, 3 BLK) and Delonte West (14) filled in capably for Jason Kidd at the point. Memphis struggled in the finale of a back-to-back-to-back; Zach Randolph managed just 4 PTS in 23 minutes as he’s still not in great shape.
PHO @ UTA: Seven guys scored in double figures for Phoenix, led by bench gunner Michael Redd with 19, as they somehow won this exciting game. Steve Nash (13 PTS, 9 AST) was clutch at the end. The Jazz got 25 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL and 2 BLK from the criminally-underrated Paul Millsap, but missed injured Devin Harris at PG, where Earl Watson (2 PTS) started. Gordon Hayward had 20, plus ten boards, in another good effort.
NJN @ POR: Deron Williams was scratched with a stomach virus, so the Nets had no chance. Because it was Hump day, Kris Humphries double-doubled (21 & 11) and Gerald Green (20) continued his strong work off the bench. For the Blazers, Raymond Felton flirted with a triple-double (14 PTS, 9 AST, 8 REB) and LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers with 24. J.J. Hickson got his groove back with 18 off the bench and should continue to outperform starting C Joel Pryzbilla.
LAL @ LAC: Andrew Bynum not only played, he dominated: 36 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots. Kobe Bryant added 31 as the “visiting” Lakers beat the Clippers in their shared arena. Chris Paul (22 PTS, 16 AST) did everything he could and Caron Butler had a terrific night (28 points) but it was not enough. Blake Griffin had 15 points, 14 rebounds and some highlight-reel dunks, but was -16 in +/- for the night.
NYK @ ORL: Obviously, the key to this onee is Dwight Howard. If he returns after missing two games with a sore back, the Magic is in much better shape. They will be missing Ryan Anderson and maybe Jameer Nelson, but the Knicks have their own injury woes. Carmelo Anthony is playing PF, where he is way too quick for most bigs to guard, and should have another huge scoring night. Tyson Chandler will try to cancel out Howard, but if Glen Davis is the starting C again, Chandler could be hard to handle.
WAS @ DET: The Pistons, while on nobody’s radar, have been on a roll. Greg Monroe is the main man, with Tayshaun Prince averaging 20 in his last five games. Rodney Stuckey is an injury question mark, but Brandon Knight and Ben Gordon were a solid starting backcourt in their latest win. The Wizards are very tired, have lost eight of nine and will be glad when this season is over.
BOS @ CHI: Derrick Rose is a game-time decision. He did practice yesterday and isn’t quite 100%, but that’s very encouraging news for the Bulls and their fans, not to mention his frustrated fantasy owners. Given that the Celtics played last night and lost a heartbreaker, we like Chicago either way in a low-scoring game. Luol Deng has been mostly great despite playing with one hand and Carlos Boozer killed Boston back in February.
LAC @ SAC: Not sure if the Kings can’t play defense, or won’t. I do love their games from a fantasy perspective. DeMarcus Cousins could be huge again tonight, but I’m on the fence about using Isaiah Thomas against CP3. The sneakiest play is Terrence Williams, whose minutes and production just keep increasing. The Clippers need this game and will probably win despite being drained by last night’s loss.
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When My Sugar Walks Down DraftStreet
|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
Throughout my losing streak, I’ve been preaching patience. Last night, it paid off. I was convinced LBJ would be great again and liked Kobe a lot. Entered three teams in a $2 league with a $500 Guaranteed Prize Pool, as I couldn’t decide on a third high-priced star. The one with Millsap finished 2nd of 220 for an $85 payout, the lineup with Dirk came in sixth ($25)and the one with Josh Smith was 18th, worth another five bucks. That $125 for my $6 investment puts me well ahead for Week 5 and back in the black for this entire adventure.
Also earned $15 for finishing 15th of 220 in a $5 Salary Cap league and $9.25 for coming second in a 6-man Snake-Draft. Oh, and my weekly team is first of ten at the moment.
Tonight, I’m not going to go crazy with the profits, as there are limited choices with only four NBA games and some tired players. It’s not that there aren’t opportunities, and you could even argue that it’s easier to win on nights with fewer games. It’s just a personal thing — I’m not as confident about players in road games and on back-to-backs as I am when they are at home with a day of rest. So even my “Sure Things” in the chart — like CP3 — have (in my perception) a slight element of extra risk.
I’m still going to be in the $2 and $5 GPP leagues that I join every day and am considering a Snake-Draft. Tomorrow, with a much busier NBA slate, we’ll try the multiple-teams approach again at the $2 level and I might even jump into an $11 pool.
If you haven’t checked out Draft Street yet, it’s free to join and there are free leagues where you can get started. See you there!