• You’d think it would be a quiet, peaceful Thursday night with only four games on. Well, we guessed wrong.

    Houston, we have a problem

    The Rockets are a hot mess. You can say that with confidence about the Western Conference’s top team from last season when a Westbrook-less Thunder squad shuts you down and you lose 80-98.

    While you can peg some blame on Carmelo Anthony and his 1-for-11 shooting from the field and the absence of Eric Gordon. This goes beyond the “Melo Curse” though. The Rockets are sluggish, uninspired, and downright lost right now. Chris Paul has a sore elbow and it’s hampering him. He did get six steals but outside of that, Paul was disappointing in other areas.

    James Harden and Clint Capela are simply not enough. A sneaky-good P.J. Tucker has been a pleasant surprise this season,  but scrounging for positives to point out is such a chore right now.

    Some credit had to go to Paul George and Steven Adams, who both played well for the win. The defense was key but the Rockets were just too easy to neutralize. Expect Mike D’Antoni to spend a lot of sleepless nights at the drawing board.

    Celtics, so good they’re lazy, which is not good

    The title says it all. They were lazy. Frustratingly so in their 116-109 OT win over the Suns. The fact that they needed an extra period to dispatch with the Suns is telling. Kyrie Irving had to will his team to victory in those extra minutes. His 39 points and fat line were the only things worth celebrating. No, not even the win. Frankly, the team did not deserve it. Irving did.

    As much as I’d like to credit T.J. Warren’s move to the starting five for the Suns almost winning this, or the solid 38-point game from Devin Booker, it really was more a case of the Celtics playing poorly than the Suns playing well. If Warren does stick in the starting five, which should be the case, Warren becomes worth an add in 12-team leagues, especially after his 29-point performance with seven boards, three 3-pointers, a steal and a block. I think he’ll stick. It’s the logical move. Because Ryan Anderson is just awful. Nasty-bad.

    Why Boban? Why?

    The Clippers-Blazer game was not much to look at from an “is this interesting” point of view. The sad news is that Boban Marjanovic, despite starting, managed just 12 minutes, four points, four boards and two blocks. Montrezl Harrell stole his thunder with 19-point, three-block performance. Yes, Boban was freed, but the fact is Harrell is just better. Patrick Beverley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shared the backcourt as starters and we’re seeing SGA grow right before our eyes. He’s legit and dare I say a dark horse for ROY? Nah. But maybe? Right? 19 markers and a full line was a sight to see for sure.

    Zach Collins flirted with a double-double in the Blazers’ 105-116 win. He’s going to have his ups and downs. For sure. But expect a decent leap from him this season. You can count on it. He’s ripe and ready.

    What the Bucks?

    The Bucks are the real deal. Aside from Brook Lopez making a fool of himself in fantasy, the starters did their respective things and did them well.

    The Warriors were missing Draymond Green (ankle) but Stephen Curry added injury to injury by suffering a strained adductor and is due for an MRI today. Quin Cook is a must-add for his temporary boost in value and expect bumps in production from Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

    The Warriors cannot win without both Green and Curry, so Green might rush back on Monday.

    Editor’s Note: Our In-Season Premium Membership has everything fantasy owners are looking for. Interaction with industry-leading pros on a near constant basis, articles designed to add value and save you time, tools to help you make decisions for your team and projections for owners that want to drill down and work specific angles. And yes, we have Dynasty league content, too. Check for discounts and specials, but the membership is on sale right now for $24.99 (click here) and you can get it for FREE if you sign up with DraftKings as a new user with a $10 deposit.

Fantasy News

  • Jonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next Head Coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option according to Donatas Urbonas.

    Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.

    Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of just 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.

    Source: Micha Adams on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.

    Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.

    The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.

    Source: ESPN

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry posted a solid line in Saturday's Game 6 win scoring 17 points while adding five rebounds, eight assists, three 3-pointers, one steal and only one turnover.

    After a pedestrian series against the 76ers, Lowry stepped it up against the Bucks, averaging almost 20 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did a great job making smart plays for the Raptors and they will need him to continue to operate at this high level as they head off into the NBA Finals next week.

  • Marc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol scored six points, all from behind the arc, in Saturday's Game 6 win, adding three rebounds, two assists and a block/steal in 26 minutes.

    Gasol continues to do what the Raptors ask of him though the years of grinding in the paint for Memphis are long gone. He has adjusted his game play and now acts as a facilitator for the rest of the team. Gasol continues to split time in the post with Serge Ibaka (25 minutes, nine points) and will see his minutes fluctuate based on the Raptor's offensive scheme heading into the NBA Finals.

  • Fred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet was a difference maker for the Raptors' series clinching Game 6, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting while adding two assists.

    VanVleet played 34 minutes off the bench and continues to be a menace from behind the 3-point line (4-for-5 today). In the past three games he has gone an unbelievable 14-for-17 from behind the arc. The Raptors will continue to rely on his ability to stretch the floor as they head into their first NBA Finals and will square off against the Warriors and their own formidable shooters.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in Saturday's Game 6 loss while contributing 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers.

    Antetokounmpo did all that was asked of him on both sides of the ball but could not get past the Raptors this series. Giannis continues to operate at an MVP-level but his freethrow woes continue to plague him. He was "Shaq-esque" this series (55%) and shot 5-for-10 in tonight's loss. This is a tough break for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they head into the offseason with four of their five starters entering free agency.

  • Khris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Khris Middleton scored 14 points in Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals loss adding just four 3-pointers, four rebounds and two turnovers.

    All-Star Middleton struggled this entire series as he was tasked with the unenviable task of guarding Kawhi Leonard. He was poised to continue his fabulous playoff success following strong performances against the Pistons and Celtics but failed to deliver this series, with the exception of a 30-point Game 4 loss. Middleton will be a free agent this summer and will be one of the Bucks' top priorities heading into the offseason.

  • Eric Bledsoe - G - Milwaukee Bucks

    Eric Bledsoe scored an inefficient eight points (3-for-9 FGs, 1-for-3 3-pointers, 1-for-2 FTs) in Saturday's loss while adding five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and two turnovers.

    Bledsoe seemed to ebb and flow all series and just could not find the consistency that the Bucks needed during the Eastern Conference Finals. He has always been able to produce outside of scoring but his team really needed him to put the ball in the hoop this game.