• In 1995 the NBA decided to expand north of the 49th parallel and put new teams in Vancouver and Toronto.  While this writer had to suffer through the dumpster fire that was the Grizzlies, on the other side of the country the Raptors were building something that would give Canadian basketball fans something to get excited about.

    22 years later, while everyone is rightfully talking about the amazing start the Celtics are having, their division rivals have quietly matched the Pistons for the second best record in the East.  The Air Canada Center was buzzing as the Raptors hosted the team from D.C. to kick off another Sunday in the NBA.

    We’ll break down the six games below…

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    Wizards–91 at Raptors–100

    Two weeks ago the Wizards flew north and beat the Raptors at home without John Wall on the strength of a 38 point game from Bradley Beal.  Today Beal scored 27 with five coming from downtown but didn’t get quite enough help from the supporting cast to make up for the missing Wall.

    Marcin Gortat had a 12-12 double-double with seven dimes and Otto Porter Jr. chipped in with 15 and six boards, but Markieff Morris only managed three points while fill-in starter Tim Frazier posted 6-8-8.  Kelly Oubre managed to just hit double-figures with 10 but the rest of the bench was ineffective and the Wiz fell to 9-6 on the season.

     

    The home team’s bench played a big part in this one as C.J. Miles knocked down three 3-pointers on his way to 12 points and Fred VanVleet added 10 with five assists.  Both are seeing increased PT lately with injuries to Norman Powell and Delon Wright respectively and while VanVleet isn’t much help for fantasy owners, Miles is worth looking at in 14 team leagues or deeper if you need help with 3-pointers.

    Once again the Toronto front court was a non-factor as Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 13 points and 15 boards.  They’re both holds but its frustrating fantasy players and Raptors fans alike.

    Kyle Lowry had a quiet 10-5-6 line and just got out-of-the-way of DeMar DeRozan, who had 33 points, eight boards, six dimes, two steals and even knocked down 2-of-6 from deep.  He’s been having a good season and if he can continue to expand his range and fantasy stat-set will end up outperforming his ADP.

     

    Pacers–120 @ Heat–95

    The Pacers took their talents to South Beach and put a hurting on the Heat on the back of a break-out of sorts from Myles Turner.  He shot a blistering 11-of-14 from the field for 25 points and added seven rebounds, four assists, four blocks, one steal and a couple from downtown.  The buy-low window is likely closed.

    Bojan Bogdanovic added 25 of his own with six from deep and can be useful for owners who need those two cats, while Victor Oladipo scored 15 with 4-5-2-2 and continues to be a multi-cat help.  Darren Collison double-doubled with 12-10 and Thaddeus Young tacked three steals on to his 12 points, six boards and three assists.

     

    By contrast, Miami’s starters struggled overall and only Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson were able to crack double-digits to finish with 15 points each.  The high man for the Heat was Wayne Ellington with his 21 points off the bench but that was likely an outlier and he can be avoided.Dion Waiters missed all 10 of his shots but he’s a streaky player and could just as easily go 6-of-10 in the next game.

    Goran Dragic fared only slightly better with his 3-of-8 from the floor but he too will be fine.  Kelly Olynyk on the other hand is just not getting the PT to be effective and had his fifth straight game in single-digits.   We obviously like his stat set and he makes a great handcuff but he’s better left on the bench, if you can afford to hold him.

     

    Warriors–118 @ Nets–111

    This one looked like it was over at halftime, but the nets put up 42 in the third to make it interesting before the champs showed why they are the champs.

    Brooklyn spread the wealth around with four starters scoring over 15 points, led by Allen Crabbe who dropped six threes on his way to 25 points and seven boards.

    Spencer Dinwiddie continues to look good filling in for the injured D’Angelo Russell and just missed his second straight double-double with 21-2-8-1-1 and if by some miracle he’s available in your league stop reading this and pick him up.

    The Nets forwards showed up tonight too as DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson both had double doubles, DC finishing with 15-11-3-1 and RHJ posting 16-12-5-1.

    Trevor Booker left with an ankle injury and only saw nine minutes while Quincy Acy saw 23 but didn’t do much with them.  If Booker misses time Tyler Zeller could get starts while rookie Jarrett Allen could see time as well, although they only played 15 and 12 minutes tonight respectively.

     

    It was the Stephen Curry show for the Warriors as he went off for 39 points, 11 boards, seven dimes and three steals but an ugly seven turnovers.  He had to step up in the absence of Kevin Durant, who missed the game with an ankle sprain.

    Omri Casspi got the start in his place and finished with 12-8-1 and 2 blocks and will likely start again if Durant misses time, although we wouldn’t be rushing to the wire to add him just yet.

    Draymond Green was an ugly 1-of 8 from the field for 5-7-8-2-2 while Klay Thompson went 10-of-17 for a 23-10 rebound double-double of his own. Andre Iguodala saw 31 minutes off the bench and put up 12-5-3 and would also see a bump in minutes if KD misses time.

     

    Pistons–100 @ Wolves–97

    The aforementioned second-in-the-East Detroit Pistons picked up a huge win in Minnesota.  The Wolves actually outscored Detroit in each of the first three quarters, but the Piston’s D held them to only 17 in the fourth and the road team pulled off the win.

    Detroit’s starters did all the damage in this one as they all played at least 29 minutes and Andre Drummond shook off a poor first half to finish with 20-16-4-1-2 and made 4-of-5 from the line.  He’s is an absolute beast this season and owners could sell high if they want to, but this owner isn’t.

    Avery Bradley shot 8-of-14 from the field on his way to 18 points and Tobias Harris added 18 of his own with nine boards.   

    Reggie Jackson was the starter with 29 minutes and scored 16 with nine assists while Stanley Johnson got the start, played a team-high 38 minutes and finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting.  Johnson is worth a speculative add but keep your expectations in check as he’ll be the fifth option on offense.

     

    It was a heart-breaker for Minnesota fans as they watched their team do next to nothing in the fourth quarter.  Like the Pistons, the Wolves played with a very tight rotation and the starters all saw at least 31 minutes.

    Jimmy Butler had his second double-double in four games with 26-10-4 and a whopping five steals and actually had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but missed the shot.  The buy-low window for him Is also likely closed.

    Andrew Wiggins actually stepped up on the defensive end in this one and added three blocks and two steals to his 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting.  That’s back-to-back games with at least two steals and he’s averaging almost two a game so maybe playing with Butler is rubbing off on him.

    Karl-Anthony Towns just missed his sixth straight double-double and finished with 16-9-3 with a couple of 3-pointers and while this wasn’t one of the monster lines we’ve become accustomed too it still helps owners and Towns is still elite.  Taj Gibson keeps starting and saw 31 minutes, finishing with 10-6-1-1-1.

     

    Bulls–105 @ Suns–113

    The “who cares” game of the day saw Phoenix defend their home court against the really, really, really bad Bulls squad.

    Bad teams have fantasy goodness though and rookie Lauri Markkanen continued rewarding savvy fantasy owners with a 26-13-2 night on 10-of-19 shooting with 4-of-10 coming from deep.  The Bulls are going to continue to look to him to be their best player until Zach LaVine comes back.

    Robin Lopez had a nice game with a 16-10 double-double of his own but didn’t do much else while Justin Holiday had an off night with only 5-of-20 from the floor but chipped in three 3-pointers, two steals, three assists and two boards.

    Denzel Valentine and Jerian Grant rounded out the starting five but combined for 11 points while Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis were more effective off the bench with 17 and 12 points respectively.  Dunn added six rebounds and assists and should be starting sooner than later and Portis is a hold for now, but it’s looking like he’s going to struggle to see 20 minutes in the front court rotation.

     

    T.J. Warren led the way for the Suns with 27 points, seven boards, one dime, one steal and a block while Devin Booker had a 5-of-15 night for 15 points with six assists.

    Greg Monroe got the start again and posted 10-6-4 but saw fewer minutes than Alex Len who came in and had 10 points with eight rebounds, two assists and a block.  Neither is standard league relevant as long as they’re in a time-share.

    Speaking of time-shares, Mike James came off the bench to play six more minutes that Tyler Ulis on the strength of his 15 points with five assists, compared to just three points on 1-of-5 for Ulis.Like the centers in the desert, the point guard situation is best avoided in standard leagues until one of them emerges.

    After three straight scoreless games Troy Daniels had his third straight double-figure game off the bench with 14 but we don’t trust him, and your Marquese Chriss update saw him post 8-6-3-1 in 20 minutes. Keep practicing patience, even if you have to just leave him on the bench.

     

    Nuggets–109 @ Lakers–127

    The prime-time game had the Nuggets go in to Hollywood and have to finish the game without both of their big men as Nikola Jokic got ejected for arguing a call and Paul Millsap leave the game with an injury.  Milsap was questionable to return but the Nuggets decided to play it safe since they were down big.

    Gary Harris did his best to put the team on his back with his 20 points and Wilson Chandler tried to help share the burden with 17 of his own.

    Jamal Murray was off-again and made only 2-of-11.  He salvaged his scoring line by making 6-of-6 from the line and is coming off of two 30 plus point games in his last four so his owners are just going to have to take the bad with the good at this point.

    Four other players scored in double-figures with Mason Plumlee, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Lyles each scoring 10 and Will Barton chipping in 12. Barton and Mudiay have solidified roles and have value in mid-to-deep leagues but Plumlee and Lyles benefited from Jokic and Milsap leaving early and can be avoided unless Milsap misses games.

     

    The Lakers were about as balanced as could be with all seven players who saw at least 21 minutes scoring at least 13 points.  Field-goal percentage killer Lonzo Ball  got his second triple-double of the year with 11-16-11 and two blocks on 5-of-13 from the floor.

    Brook Lopez scored 21 points in 22 minutes with four assists, two blocks and a paltry three rebounds.  It’s his second decent scoring game in row and hopefully a sign that he’s figuring out how to play with these kids.

    The leading scorer for the Lakers was Julius Randle with his 24-7-5 line off the bench as he saw more minutes that rookie Kyle Kuzma, who still had a decent night with 17.  Brandon Ingram shot the same from the field as Ball and finished with 13-5-6 and is quietly contributing in multiple categories.

    The shooting guard tandem of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson got in on the action with 15 and 18 points respectively.  KCP filled out his line with five boards, three assists, four steals and a block while Clarkson managed just 3-1-1 but is still worth owning in most leagues for his instant offense off the bench.

     

    That wraps up another Sunday in the League.  Thanks for reading and make sure to check out all of the other great content at Hoop-Ball.

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