We may have witnessed a Finals preview on Friday when Kyrie Irving went all loco on the Spurs, forcing overtime and ultimately a come-from-behind win for the Cavs.
Of course, a lot of things would have to happen for those two teams to meet in the Finals, but that game certainly had all the drama, intensity and excitement of a Finals game.
LeBron vs Kawhi; Kyrie vs TP; The Big Fundamental rendering K-Love a non-factor; oh and an overtime period just for good measure.
Kyrie stole the show with his Heinz Varieties line of 57 points, 5 dimes, 4 steals, 7-7 from downtown, 10-10 from the charity stripe, 20-32 overall and an assortment of crazy shots that he had no business making.
Not to be forgotten is the King, who only contributed 31 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 3 triples. Terrible huh?
He battled with Kawhi Leonard all night who also had a big night with 24, 9 & 7, while the Big Fundamental just keeps on keeping on with 18, 11, 8 dimes and 4 blocks. Tony Parker had 31 and 6 and yet the Spurs still couldn’t hold on.
While this game was not a playoff game, it certainly had that feel. And as we head into the heart of the fantasy playoffs, we’ll all be looking for big performances like this from our guys.
Looking for that extra edge to get you over the hump late in your matchup? You’ve come to the right place as Downtown is listening to the Music of the Traffic to give you a variety of ways to get that winning feeling when it matters most.
Week 21 (Mar 16 – Mar 22)
4 Games: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOR, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: CHI, HOU, LAL, PHO
Speaking of big lines, the schedule this week is huge with 26 of the 30 teams playing 4 times. The remaining teams all play 3 times and if you own any Bulls, Rockets, Lakers or Suns, you’d almost feel cheated. But don’t fret; there are plenty of games to go around so no-one should really be at a disadvantage. Just be wary of guys carrying injuries on back-to-backs as 4 game weeks could easily turn into 3 games.
The following players may be available in standard 10 or 12 team leagues.
Brandon Bass (F/C, BOS): He was supposedly being showcased for a trade before the deadline, but played so well, the Celtics kept him. Now Brad Stevens cannot keep him off the court; and for good reason. The veteran big man has averaged 14pts, 8.8reb, 2.6ast, 0.8stl and a whopping 34.4mpg, while hitting at a .600 clip from the field over his past 5 games. Despite being owned in just 32% of Yahoo leagues, those numbers rank him in the top-40 over that span. So maybe you should keep him on the court for your squad too.Marvin Williams (F, CHA): Already on watch from last week, Marvin Williams could have a huge opportunity to produce now with Al Jefferson out hurt and Cody Zeller still sidelined. Big Al thought he heard a ‘pop’ in his calf, but turns out it was a knee sprain. You’d have to think the Hornets will play it safe and keep him out at least a few games, but he may be back on Monday. Still with Zeller out, you can expect Marvellous Marvin, who scored 13pts with 7reb, 3blk and 3 3ptm after Jefferson left the game, and followed up with 12 and 7 yesterday, to deliver some nice lines for the next week at least. That could make all the difference in a 4-game Hornets week for your playoff run.
Nikola Mirotic (F, CHI): My therapy is going well – thanks for asking. However, until I complete my 12 steps for Mirotic addiction, I’ll continue to revel in his strong play for the Bulls with Taj Gibson sidelined. Over his past 8 games, Niko has shown exactly what he’s capable of to the tune of 19.5pts, 8.6reb, 1.1blk, 1.6 3ptm and 6.4 made FTs per contest. His FG% is not great at just .400, but he’s making FTs at a nice .810 clip and that’s part of his value given the frequency with which he gets to the line. He’s been playing nearly 33mpg and while that will fall as soon as Gibson is back, he should continue to be owned in all formats until then. That gives me a little more time to get cured.
Corey Brewer (G/F, HOU): Something’s brewing lately for Corey as after being relegated to a bench role in Houston and only having relevance in 14 or 16 team leagues and deeper, he’s had 3 games in a row of crazy-good production. In fact, he’s been so good that he’s ranked inside the top 50 over the past week, with averages of 24pts, 4.3reb, 1.7stl, 1.7 3ptm and a brew-tiful .596 FG%. He’s been playing 29mpg over that span is available in 65% of Yahoo and 87% of ESPN leagues. I think #BrewerWatch is back on.
Rodney Stuckey (G, IND): Speaking of hot performances, did you catch Stuckey on Tuesday versus Orlando? The ex-Piston did his best Vinnie Johnson impression as he came off the bench for 16pts in the 1st quarter in 6 minutes of action. He had 25 by halftime and finished the night with 34pts, 6reb, 7ast and 6 3ptm. Stuckey backed it up with 25pts, 6reb, 6ast two nights later and is averaging 20.1pts, 4.6reb, 4.7ast, 1.1stl and 1.8 3ptm, while shooting .503 FG%. He is locked in right now, available in 41% of Yahoo leagues and 63% of ESPN leagues and is one to ride while hot.
Alexey Shved (G, NYK): I really liked Shved’s moxie during the London Olympics. Even after he clashed with Russian National Coach, David Blatt, he didn’t let it faze him and continued to play with confidence. He’s now in his 4th stop in the NBA after spending time in Minnesota, Philadelphia and Houston, but seemingly has found a home in the Big Apple. Since joining the Knicks at the trade deadline, Shved has averaged 12.9pts, 4.9reb, 3.1ast and 1.4 3ptm and has stepped that up to 17.3pts, 6.8reb, 4.3ast, 2.3 3ptm and 31.8mpg over his past 4 games. He moved into the starting line-up 3 games ago and while he may lose time when Jose Calderon eventually returns, his role and value (top 50 over the past week) are safe bets for now.
Elfrid Payton (PG, ORL): The rookie, who was expected to be a fantasy darling due to his all-around game, has struggled for relevance all season; until now. He’s stepped up his game to the tune of 14.3pts, 4.7reb, 8.2ast and 1.8stl over his past 6 games. His shooting percentages are tough to stomach (.436 FG% and .500 FT%) and he turns it over more than 3 times per contest, but if you can withstand that, then he definitely has value in 12-14 team leagues if producing at that rate. Payton is available in 39% of Yahoo and 64% of ESPN leagues.
Others to watch for now:
Randy Foye (G, DEN): His minutes are back up and he’s starting to produce under interim coach Melvin Hunt, so one to keep an eye on. Over the past 4 games he’s played 27mpg and averaged 14.5pts, 3reb, 5ast, 0.8stl, 0.8blk, and 2.8 3ptm. Good for top-25 value over that span. I’d like to see him sustain it for another few games before recommending him.
Paul George (G/F, IND): The PG-13 watch may be over. He’s progressing well, but was quoted as saying he “doesn’t want to be the guy that destroys what these guys are doing.” He’s conscious of messing with the Pacers chemistry and is no longer convinced he’ll return this year. George is progressing very well though, so physically could be ready in the next week, but whether he’ll don the blue and gold this season remains to be seen. With the fantasy playoffs here, it may be tough to stash him any longer, but you should continue to keep an eye on him of he’s available in your league.
Anthony Morrow (G/F, OKC): He busted out for 26pts with 6 triples and 3stl versus the Clips on Wednesday, but I’d like to see him get consistent minutes and have another 15+ point game before recommending you add the Morrow bar.
Ish Smith (PG, PHI): Some say he’s the fastest player in the entire league. Unfortunately, speed alone doesn’t earn you playing time; something I’m sure Smith has dreamed of over his 5 years in the league with 8 different stops. However, for those familiar with Dr. Seuss, it seems Ish has pulled out his wish dish because his recent play has translated to regular, and significant, playing time. Since landing in Philly, he’s averaged 23.8mpg and delivered 10.7pts, 5.9ast, 2.7reb and 0.7stl, but has increased that to 14pts, 7ast, 2.5reb, 0.8stl and 1 3ptm over his past 4 games. If he keeps going like that, he’s worth a look in deeper leagues.
If you’re looking to drop someone to make room for one of these names, the following players can be let go from your roster.
Jrue Holiday (PG, NOR): It pains me to say it, as I’ve been clinging to him in one league, but Holiday cannot be held any longer. He is likely still weeks away from a return to action and during the fantasy playoffs, every game counts. He belongs on waivers until he has a clear return date.
Josh Smith (F, HOU): J-Smoov is still owned in 83% of Yahoo and 78% of ESPN leagues, and despite a very nice dunk over Chris Kaman this week, he’s just not delivering. Over his past 4 games, he’s managed just 8.5pts, 5.8reb, 2.3ast, 0.8stl, 0.8blk and 0.5 3ptm in 21.8mpg. That equates to value well outside the the top 200 and he needs to be dropped in 10 and 12 team leagues.
Trey Burke (PG, UTA): With every game that Dante Exum gains more confidence, Trey Burke loses a little more value. Dante’s offense is starting to catch up to his defense and that means he’s playing more minutes. Burke’s minutes are down to just 23mpg over his past 3 games and he’s produced nothing of significance (5.7pts, 3reb, 3ast). He’s still owned in 64% of Yahoo and 36% of ESPN leagues but that needs to stop. It’s Dante’s gig now.
Some formats are already immersed in the thick of playoff action, while others get the party started this week or next. Whenever your playoffs tip off, being hot this time of year is the most important thing. So now’s the time to add that extra star power to get your squad through to your league’s Finals.
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