March 12, 2018, 4:08 pm
March of course means Madness for basketball fans everywhere as collegiate fans prepare for the most entertaining playoff in sports.
College basketball fans aren’t the only ones with playoffs on the mind though as fantasy NBA savants have finally reached do-or-die time. That’s right – it’s fantasy playoff time.
You’ve worked so hard since mid-October to stay up to the minute on injuries, hot waiver wire pickups, schedule hiccups and teams to avoid that you’re now *this* close to seeing it pay off. However, with the current landscape in the NBA, now is not the time to let your guard down and ride with the lineups that got you to this point.
With teams tanking left and right, whether they admit it to Dr. J or not, lineups are fluctuating in the NBA on a nightly basis which is not something we used to see in March, going into April. Stars will sit thanks to being on bad teams while other stars take a breather to rest up for the NBA Playoffs.
With that said, let’s take a look at how this week is shaping up and moves you need to make to not just make the playoffs but win your league’s grand prize.
Games Played Breakdown
Four Games: Blazers, Clippers, Kings, Pelicans, Raptors, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder
Three Games: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Sixers, Suns, Warriors, Wizards, Wolves
Everybody is at least playing three this week – something we haven’t seen in the league since Week 2. Eight teams are playing four times while the rest of the league logs three games this week.
While volume is pretty consistent across the board, not all schedules are created equal. The Magic and Hornets may have three games this week, much like 20 other teams, but they can be avoided outside of their surefire producers.
Charlotte has to travel to New Orleans, Atlanta and New York. Despite a pair of great looking matchups the Hornets are only 10-21 on the road this season and have one of the worst road shooting percentages in the league.
Meanwhile, the Magic are stuck playing in San Antonio against one of the best defenses in the NBA on Tuesday night then have to travel back to Orlando for a Wednesday night game against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The Magic wrap up their week with a home game against the Celtics – the team with the best road defensive efficiency in the league.
On the flipside, the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers have schedules with loads of fantasy potential and players from those teams should be top priorities to snag if available. The Spurs are awaiting the return of Kawhi Leonard, which could come as early as Thursday against the Pelicans. San Antonio starts the week with the fast-paced Rockets in Houston, followed by the aforementioned home game against the Magic on Tuesday. After the Pels, the Spurs welcome the Wolves into town on Saturday.
The Clippers may have three road games this week but they’re firing on all cylinders as of late so away games likely won’t slow them down. LAC has averaged 118.9 points per game over their last 11 games and gone 8-3 over that span. Their week starts with the tanking Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night, followed by a road back-to-back featuring their new rival, the Houston Rockets, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clips than have their lone home game on Sunday against the Blazers.
For a week loaded with games, we strangely have several nights with limited action. Tonight, Wednesday and Sunday all have just four games on the docket. For smart streaming purposes, while no teams are active on all three nights, there are a few that play on two of those limited nights. Look out for, ironically, almost all of the Clippers’ opponents listed above.
The Rockets, Thunder and Blazers all play four games this week and play on two of the three nights with just four games. All three are in action tonight and on Sunday. It could also be a smart play to keep an eye on available players from the Sacramento Kings. They likely have more viable guys on your waiver wire and they’re on the floor four times this week including Monday and Wednesday.
JaMychal Green, PF, Grizzlies
While the Grizz continue to tumble their way into a hopeful No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Green is taking the opportunity to play his best basketball of the season. In his last fortnight, Green is putting up a double-double with 12.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He’s adding more than two assists, nearly a block and a 3-pointer while hitting 82 percent from the free throw line. JaMychal is available in nearly 60 percent of both ESPN and Yahoo leagues – and he most certainly shouldn’t be down the stretch.
Austin Rivers, SG, Clippers
Since returning from injury, Rivers has been on the floor 34.6 minutes per game. While his efficiency leaves something to be desired, when someone is getting that much time on the floor, they simply can’t be ignored. In that time, Rivers has gone for 14.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists while hitting nearly two 3-pointers per game. As the Clippers continue to tear up opposing defenses, Rivers has become a name worth owning.
Justise Winslow, SF, Heat
Winslow is enjoying one of the best stretches of his young career with a six-game run of 12.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and an efficiency we’ve never seen from this young man before. Winslow is not only hitting 53 percent of his shots during this stretch but he’s also knocking down 53 percent from beyond the arc. He will regress to his normal shooting numbers but with Justise being on the floor around 30 minutes per game, you’re likely to get some solid numbers and plenty of steals from the Heat forward.
As mentioned before, the Spurs expect Kawhi Leonard back this week. It’s been an ever-changing scenario for the last few months but reports have suggested that the Spurs are targeting Thursday night against the Pelicans. They expect to be back at full strength that night even though LaMarcus Aldridge (knee) and Manu Ginobili (rest) are expected to sit out the Spurs’ game with the Rockets tonight.
Kyrie Irving (knee) hinted at taking an extended rest after last night’s loss to the Pacers. There’s no telling how long that could be. Jaylen Brown (concussion) is questionable to return to the Celtics this week after last week’s terrifying fall and Daniel Theis (knee) was ruled out for the season today with a torn meniscus. Marcus Smart has also been diagnosed with a torn tendon in his thumb and is out indefinitely.
Stephen Curry (ankle) has missed the last two games and is considered questionable for Wednesday night’s game against the Lakers. Andre Iguodala (wrist) is expected back this week while Klay Thompson (thumb) played through the pain this weekend and is not expected to miss time.
James Harden (knee) and Ryan Anderson (hip) are game-time decisions for the Rockets-Spurs tilt tonight, though The Beard is fully expected to play while Anderson has been listed as out. We’ll see.
Rodney Hood (back) is expected back for the Cavs this week while Cedi Osman (hip) will likely miss the next two weeks.
Brandon Ingram (groin) will miss the next two games but his return date is likely going to be Friday night when the Lakers play the Heat.
Wesley Matthews (leg) has a stress fracture and will probably miss the remainder of the season.
Steven Adams (ankle) is questionable for the Thunder in tonight’s meeting with the Kings.
Tyreke Evans (ribs) is questionable to return to the Grizzlies this week. Keep an eye on his status as the week progresses.
Enes Kanter (back) should be considered day-to-day after being a limited participant in practice earlier today ahead of Tuesday night’s game with the Mavericks.
Hassan Whiteside (hip) is out for the Heat while they go up against the Blazers tonight, as is Dwyane Wade (hamstring).
Skal Labissiere (hip) is out for the Kings’ game against the Thunder tonight.
Aaron Gordon (concussion) could be back for the Magic when they play the Spurs tomorrow. Evan Fournier (knee) reiterated that he plans to return to the court this season but that likely won’t be this week.
Devin Booker (triceps), T.J. Warren (back) and Josh Jackson (knee) are all questionable for the Suns’ game with the Cavs tomorrow night.
Kent Bazemore (knee) will miss the rest of the season while the Hawks try to lock up the best chance at the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.