What an effort by Orlando, to force overtime on the road in a must-win game for Utah. The Jazz are going more often to their big lineup: Al Jefferson (21 PTS, 10 REB, 3 BLK) was a force at C, Paul Millsap played 46 minutes at both PF and SF (18 PTS, 9 REB) and Derrick Favors got 36 minutes off the bench, adding 16 points and 11 boards. Glen Davis (17 PTS, 13 REB, 4 STL) and Jameer Nelson (23 PTS, 11 AST) led a balanced Magic attack.
DEN @ PHO: Ty Lawson scored 29 points and handed out 10 assists to lead the Nuggets to a road win. Kenneth Faried was in full Manimal mode, with 18 PTS, 14 REB and 3 BLK, while Danilo Gallinari (13) showed a bit more life. The Suns, devastated by the defeat, are now on the outside of the playoff picture with two games remaining. They lost Channing Frye to a shoulder injury after 12 minutes and could never catch up, despite the efforts of Marcin Gortat (18 & 11) and Shannon Brown (28).
PHI @ IND: I was mistaken about the Pacers possibly resting people. David West had 32 PTS and 12 REB as all the starters played, but they still lost in overtime. The highly motivated Sixers were led by Elton Brand (20 PTS, 9 REB, 4 AST) and got big contributions off the bench from Louis Williams (19) and Thaddeus Young (15) to all but clinch a playoff spot.
WAS @ MIA: Quoting myself from yesterday: “The Wizards have been playing spoiler but not tonight.” Wrong again. Predictions are hard, especially about the future. It turned into a perfect storm for an upset; LeBron James was given a well-deserved night off, Chris Bosh missed his third straight game with “minor bumps and bruises” about which nothing specific is known, so Dwyane Wade was primed for a big night. Then he dislocated a finger in the third minute. Kevin Seraphin (17) and Cartier Martin (22) had nice games vs. what was left of the Heat.
DAL @ CHI: Derrick Rose played almost 32 minutes (11 PTS, 8 AST) on a still-sore foot and Luol Deng scored 22 points to lead the Bulls, whose stifling D held the Mavs to just eight points in the first quarter. Dallas rested both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, leaving Rodrigue Beaubois (16 PTS, 5 AST, 6 REB) to handle the ball even after he dislocated a finger.
GSW @ HOU: The Rockets got the win they needed to stay mathematically alive for the postseason, but it wasn’t easy. Courtney Lee (20) was their high scorer and Goran Dragic had 18 PTS and 7 AST; Kyle Lowry played just seven scoreless minutes. 24 points by Klay Thompson helped keep the Warriors close, while PG Charles Jenkins (16 PTS, 8 AST, 5 REB) had a solid game.
POR @ MEM: The Blazers showed up and made a game of it, with J.J. Hickson (23 PTS, 13 REB) and Jamal Crawford (23) at the forefront. Memphis rested Zach Randolph, so Marreese Speights (13 PTS, 11 REB) got extra run and Rudy Gay (21) made a key block to preserve the narrow win. You get the impression that the Grizzlies have been on cruise control all week, winning four games without wasting any energy .
NJN @ MIL: It was the Brandon Jennings show — 30 PTS, 6 AST, 6 REB, 4 STL — with Ersan Ilyasova (17 PTS, 17 REB) in a strong supporting role. The Bucks’ playoff hopes remain on life support. With nothing to play for and their best players injured, the Nets got 18 from Gerald Wallace and 17 from MarShon Brooks to make it respectable.
NYK @ ATL: Nine games on the final Sunday of the regular season tip off at noon with this interesting battle. The entire Knicks team was lethargic on Friday in Cleveland. Carmelo Anthony should take this one more seriously and needs to re-establish some chemistry with Amare Stoudemire. Atlanta wants to hold on to home-court advantage in the first round; Joe Johnson is coming off a huge game and Josh Smith is always a force.
OKC @ LAL: The other matinee (3:30 Eastern) is a dandy. Kobe Bryant shook off some rust on Friday and should be better today. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will have to battle Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka up front, so the Thunder’s big edge is Russell Westbrook, who is both more talented and healthier than sore-shouldered Ramon Sessions. That Kevin Durant guy isn’t bad, either.
TOR @ DET: One of a few “who cares?” games today, between two slumping teams going nowhere. If I didn’t live in Toronto, I might not even recognize the current Raptors. Jose Calderon (eye) will be dressed in case of emergency, but Ben Uzoh is the starting PG and world traveller Alan Anderson is the SF. Their best player of late has been James Johnson, providing energy off the bench at both forward spots. The Pistons have rested after a back-to-back-to-back and Greg Monroe is a good play.
HOU @ MIA: Don’t expect D-Wade to play again until the postseason. LeBron almost went in cold last night, so he’s quite likely to start today. Bosh’s status remains a mystery. Tenth-place Houston is desperate, but tired and on the road, so this will be no easy task.
SAC @ CHA: Here’s another “classic” between two bad teams. However, the Kings (tied for last place in the West) play entertaining basketball and are much, much better than the Bobcats. The thing is, Charlotte — losers of 19 in a row — is on the verge of the worst record in NBA history and will be trying very hard to get win #8 and prevent that humiliation. Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker are actually good spot starts, and Bismack Biyombo will be doing his best to keep DeMarcus Cousins in check.
GSW @ MIN: It’s possible that Kevin Love (concussion) and/or Luke Ridnour (ankle) will return, but in both cases, don’t count on them or expect full minutes. J.J. Barea is still the primary PG and the courageous Nikola Pekovic has refused to let two bad ankles shut him down. This is the third road game in as many nights for the Warriors, who have their own injury woes, so use them at your own risk. I’ll pass.
CLE @ SAS: One of these games where the Spurs’ veteran stars won’t play much, if at all. Nor will they be needed, especially if Cleveland rests their best player, Kyrie Irving. The sneaky fantasy play is Manny Harris, who got 41 minutes beside Irving on Friday (19 PTS, 12 REB) and will be the main man today if Kyrie sits.
ORL @ DEN: There’s a suspicion that the Magic fired all their remaining guns last night and may not be as energetic this evening. The Nuggets clinched their playoff spot last night, so there may be an emotional letdown for them as well. I’m predicting no defense will be played on either side, and George Karl has indicated his team needs to play together more than rest, so you can start the usual guys.
NOH @ LAC: The Hornets could have tanked, but they have been playing very well, especially at home. Eric Gordon should be inspired against his former team, and Carl Landry has been productive off the bench. The Clippers just have too many weapons, assuming they take this one seriously. I’m slightly concerned about their big guns resting, or garbage time coming early.
|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
Sure, I got crushed last night, finishing out of the money with all my teams. That happens — in the seven weeks we’ve been doing this, there were two entire weeks with zero payouts — but there’s always another league the next day.
Even on an “o-fer” night, my newly-adopted strategy of playing the maximum three teams in Guaranteed Prize Pool leagues was encouraging. One of my teams in the $2 game finished 37th of 275 entries, far ahead of my other two lineups. In the $5 pool, my best finish was 28th out of 165. I’ve come to believe that you never know which lineup will succeed. Playing only one team is an “all your eggs in one basket” approach that can still pay off, of course.
Today, the now-standard play of $21 gives me three chances each in the $2 and $5 leagues. I’m guaranteed a profit of at least $22 for Week 7, which will leave me ahead $122 or more for the entire DraftStreet adventure. That’s four winning weeks out of seven, and I’m still learning.
Note that the GPP leagues close at 6:00 p.m., so they don’t include the two afternoon contests, but there are still seven evening NBA games to choose from. Many other leagues close at 1:00 if you want to use anyone on the Knicks, Hawks, Thunder or Lakers.
Click here to get started on DraftStreet. It’s always free to register and no deposit is required — you can play in leagues with no entry fees.