April 2, 2018, 8:00 pm
April is here and we are embarking upon the final full week of the NBA regular season.
Tonight, we actually have zero NBA games on the schedule as the Association allows the college game to take center stage on this Monday night with the NCAA Championship on the line between the Villanova Wildcats and Michigan Wolverines.
Tomorrow though, the NBA goes back to business as usual and begins their sprint toward the regular season finish line. Every team has anywhere from four to six games remaining in their season to be settled over the next nine days. For this week’s Week Ahead, we’re going to take things a little bit further into the future than normal. Most head-to-head leagues will be wrapping up this week, coming to a head this Sunday, April 8, while Roto leagues stretch just a bit further with the regular season ending on Wednesday, April 11. Below, we have our usual “games played breakdown” but this time it’s broken into two parts – the immediate week ahead and the short three-day NBA week that follows.
If you’re still in the mix to win your league, congratulations. Here’s what you need to know to turn the fantasy basketball championship dream into a reality.
Games Played Breakdown
(Tuesday, April 3 – Sunday, April 8)
Four Games: Celtics, Hawks, Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Pacers, Raptors, Sixers, Warriors
Three Games: Blazers, Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Knicks, Nets, Nuggets, Pelicans, Pistons, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Wizards
Two Games: Kings, Thunder, Wolves
(Monday, April 9 – Wednesday, April 11)
Two Games: Blazers, Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Pelicans, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Sixers, Spurs, Thunder, Wizards, Wolves
One Game: Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, Pacers, Suns, Warriors
To simplify things a bit, the Hornets, Kings, Suns, Thunder and Wolves all have four games remaining in the regular season. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Celtics, Lakers, Magic, Raptors and Sixers all have six games left. The other 20 teams play five.
With such little time remaining, there’s not a ton of difference in volume as everyone is wrapping up their season. To truly look at the value of a team’s schedule this week and next, you’d have to look at the matchups they have in front of them. Even then, it’s a complicated time in the league. Some teams are sitting stars in an effort to tank. There are still four teams mathematically eligible to qualify for the best chances at the number one pick in the 2018 Draft. Nine teams are still fighting for positioning in the lottery by giving games away.
The “rest your stars” pattern is also true for teams that are locked into their seed in the playoffs. We’ve seen the Warriors, who have dealt with many injuries as of late, have no problem sitting their stars as they comfortably sit in the 2-seed in the West. You could expect to see the same thing from the Rockets, Raptors or Celtics as soon as their next game to not risk injury before their playoff run.
So, the teams that have something to play for need to be identified as those could be the ones that will be most useful to you in this final stretch. The Sixers are one of just five teams with six games remaining and they’re certainly playing for something – trying to sneak their way up to the 3-seed in the East before season’s end. They don’t get much bigger than Friday’s affair with the team they’re trying to jump in the standings, the Cavs. Despite their recent success, the Cavs’ defense still leaves plenty to be desired, leaving Philly with a lot of fantasy potential in that game. The Sixers have the Nets followed by a road game in Detroit, the Cavs and Mavericks at home, a game in Atlanta and their season-finale against the Bucks. They’ve got the volume and the matchups to have a strong fantasy finish. Word on the street is that that Markelle Fultz guy is playing these days. Fultz is nearly 75 percent available in ESPN and Yahoo leagues and with Joel Embiid out for the time being, Fultz should see an increase in minutes and offensive workload.
The San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz also have schedules to be jealous of to finish the season – and plenty to play for.
The Spurs have high-ceiling contests coming off their big 17-point win over the Rockets on Easter. They’re in Los Angeles for the Clippers on Tuesday and the Lakers on Wednesday followed by a Saturday game back at home against the Blazers. They end the season with a home game against the Kings and a road game in New Orleans. After holding Houston to just 83 points on Sunday, the Spurs have a ton of defensive fantasy potential. Danny Green is always an excellent target. He had two blocks, two steals and seven rebounds in the win.
The Jazz also travel to LA this week but first they’ve got the LA squads at home. The Lakers come to Salt Lake on Tuesday followed by the Clippers on Thursday. The Jazz head to Staples Center for another game with the Lakers on Sunday and finish their season with a Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back that pits them against the Warriors at home and the Blazers in Portland.
Utah has some of the finest depth in the league so if you’re looking for an extra piece to help out, look no further than the Jazz bench where you can find guys like Dante Exum. In the last two weeks, Exum has had top-125 value with excellent shooting percentages and a lack of turnovers.
Isaiah Taylor, PG, Hawks
Dennis Schroder has been shut down for the season with a knee problem – it doesn’t help that the Hawks have no current intention of winning – but with Schroder’s season being over, Taylor has taken advantage. He’s gotten the last four starts and has put in some of the best work of his career. He’s averaging 16.8 points, 5.8 assists and a steal. In this four-game run, the first two were quite a bit more successful than his last two. But with Taylor getting all the minutes, it’s worth giving him a shot and seeing if he finds the hot hand again.
Anthony Tolliver, PF, Pistons
Speaking of finding the hot hand, Tolliver has done just that while the Pistons go on a win streak to stay alive. They’ve won five in a row and Tolliver has done this during the winning streak: 16.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 3.2 3-pointers, 54/47/88 shooting splits. Wow. Blake Griffin is expected to miss the next few games so the Tolliver train isn’t stopping yet. Hop aboard before it’s too late.
Troy Daniels, SG, Suns
There’s no telling if Devin Booker will return this season. The Suns are tanking finer than any other team in the league, currently owning a 2.5 game lead for the best odds at the number one pick in the draft and they’ve lost 15 straight games. Booker’s hand issue coupled with Phoenix’s primo tank skills could mean Booker won’t play. That means big things for Daniels who went on an incredible seven-game run for a 3-point specialist before coming back to Earth in the team’s loss to the Warriors last night. In the seven games, Daniels averaged 17.7 points and 4.6 triples per game. He is likely still going to be getting plenty of shots up in the Suns’ final four games and you can benefit huge in the 3-point category.
Chris Paul (hip) has been listed as questionable for the Rockets’ game with the Wizards on Tuesday. This could be a move by the Rockets to begin resting stars before their playoff run.
Blake Griffin (ankle) has a bone bruise on his right ankle and will still miss a few games. When he’s good to return, only expect him to do so if the Pistons have not yet been mathematically eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.
Gary Harris (knee) will not play in the Nuggets’ game against the Pacers tomorrow night and could miss the entire week. Meanwhile, Wilson Chandler (nose) is questionable for tomorrow night.
Brandon Ingram (concussion) will be held out of all activities until he’s symptom-free. There’s no telling when that will be. Lonzo Ball (knee) is doubtful to play in the Lakers’ game against the Jazz tomorrow night.
Terry Rozier (ankle) is questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Bucks but says he’ll be out there while Shane Larkin (illness) will miss that game and Wednesday’s game against the Raptors.
Dario Saric (elbow) is questionable for the Sixers’ game with the Nets tomorrow and could miss further time with a bacterial infection in his elbow.
Jeff Teague (knee) is likely to return to the Wolves when they play Thursday against the Nuggets. There’s a chance Jimmy Butler (knee) could also return that night after participating in 5-on-5 practice on Monday.
George Hill (ankle) and Kyle Korver (foot) are questionable for the Cavs’ game with the Raptors on Tuesday.
Ed Davis (ankle) says he’ll be back April 8 against the Spurs or April 9 against the Nuggets. When he returns, he could eat into the minutes that Portland has established for Zach Collins or even Jusuf Nurkic.