April 9, 2018, 5:00 pm
Another NBA regular season is almost over, confirming the age-old expression – time really does fly when you’re having fun. With just three days remaining in the season, your fantasy season may already be over and if you’ve been visiting HoopBall throughout the season, odds are good that you’re lifting your league’s trophy over your head – or at least collecting your friends’ money as league champion.
If your league is going to the end of the regular season, this is the place to check in and see what to expect in these next few days. You have a lot at stake in these final 72 hours of the 2017-18 NBA season. And you’re not the only one.
The Eastern Conference is clinched for all eight teams headed to the playoffs. All that remains to be determined is seeding. The red-hot Sixers appear to be destined for the 3-seed but the Cavs haven’t been counted out just yet. The Bucks, Heat and Wizards all have two games remaining and are trying to sort out where they end up at the bottom of the East’s playoff picture.
The Western Conference is a whole lot more complicated and dramatic. The Rockets and Warriors locked up the top two spots a long time ago and the Blazers and Jazz have also sealed playoff spots. After that though, things get interesting as there are five teams competing for four spots, separated by only one game in the standings. Let’s take a look at what these teams have remaining over the final three days of the season.
Pelicans (46-34) – @ Clippers, vs. Spurs
Spurs (46-34) – vs. Kings, @ Pelicans
Thunder (46-34) – @ Heat, vs. Grizzlies
Wolves (45-35) – vs. Grizzlies, vs. Nuggets
Nuggets (45-35) – vs. Blazers, @ Wolves
The two biggest games mentioned above occur on the final night of the regular season when the Spurs travel to New Orleans to play Anthony Davis and the Pelicans and the Nuggets head to Minnesota. If spots aren’t clinched before Wednesday, those two games loom large and could very well be elimination games.
However, there’s a chance all that drama goes away tonight. The Pelicans, Spurs and Thunder can all clinch playoff spots with wins tonight. Minnesota gets in with a win, a Spurs win and a Nuggets loss to Portland. All Denver can do tonight is hang on for dear life.
While it’s a wild finish out west, let’s help you get a better fantasy finish with a look at the final games of the regular season.
Games Played Breakdown
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
With so few games left, it’s hard to predict who will be active in the home stretch. Teams locked into the playoffs, especially that have their seed clinched, may rest their stars. Tanking teams have been finding reasons to sit their best for weeks now.
One team guaranteed to go all-out in their final days is the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the Sixers win out, the best the Cavs can do is the 4-seed and a tough first round matchup with the Pacers. But if Philly slips up once in their last two games, Cleveland can jump to the 3. The Cavs’ last two games of the season are against the same team – the tanking New York Knicks. Cleveland has a top-five offense that has exploded recently. Jeff Green is still available in a lot of leagues and has been a top-100 play over the last month, averaging 12.7 points per game, nearly a full steal and block plus 46/33/88 shooting splits.
Beyond that, it’s all about playing the matchups as the season comes to a close. The Clippers may be out of playoff contention but they have two home games left, tonight against the Pelicans and Wednesday against the Lakers. The Clips have scored 109.1 points per game in their last 13 games and are already digging deep into their bench. Watch for Tyrone Wallace in the absence of Lou Williams. Wallace scored 18 and added a pair of steals last time out.
Kyle O’Quinn, C, Knicks
O’Quinn has been a monster on the glass for the last four games, averaging 14.3 boards per game in that span. 5.3 of them have been on the offensive glass, showing off his fantastic level of effort. Add in the fact that this former Norfolk State alum has posted 12.5 points and 3.3 blocks per contest and there is no better big to add this late in the season.
Josh Hart, SG, Lakers
Speaking of monsters on the glass, Hart has been awesome since returning from injury. He’s averaging 13.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals and he’s shooting 48 percent. Hart has had three double-digit rebounding efforts in the last six games and he’s recently found his scoring touch, pouring in 20 and 25 in his last two. The Lakers finish things with two fast-paced opponents, the Rockets on Tuesday and the Clippers on Wednesday.
Johnathan Motley, PF, Mavericks
This Baylor rookie has come on strong in the first three starts of his career. He’s put up 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and a steal while hitting 53 percent from the floor. The Mavs only have one game remaining but Motley will get the opportunity to add to his rookie resume against the hardest working tank in the league, the Suns, on Tuesday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) is questionable for tonight’s game against the Magic.
Gary Harris (knee) is expected to take the floor tonight as the Nuggets fight for their season against the Blazers.
Blake Griffin (ankle) has not been officially shut down but he will not play in tonight’s game against the Raptors. With Detroit eliminated, it seems unlikely that Griffin would play in Wednesday’s regular season finale.
Lou Williams (ankle) has been ruled out for the Clippers’ game with the Pelicans tonight. Austin Rivers (elbow) is also out.
Lonzo Ball (knee), Kyle Kuzma (ankle) and Brandon Ingram (concussion) are all doubtful to return this season.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (ankle) is doubtful to play in the Knicks’ tilt with the Cavs tonight.
Eric Gordon (knee) and Ryan Anderson (ankle) are questionable for the Rockets’ game with the Lakers tomorrow night.
Josh Jackson (quad) and Marquese Chriss (hip) both sat out on Sunday and should be considered questionable ahead of the Suns’ game with the Mavericks on Tuesday — Chriss, as well as Phoenix’s usual cast of absences, have already been listed as out in the game notes.
JaMychal Green (knee) is out for tonight’s game with the Wolves.
December 7, 2019, 1:21 amDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard put forth a valiant effort with 29 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two threes in Friday's 113-136 loss to the Lakers.
Even as the Blazers continue to scuffle, Lillard is locked in as an elite fantasy talent. It's looking increasingly unlikely that the Blazers make the postseason this year but, A: Never count out Lillard and B: He doesn't seem like the kind to accept a shutdown. We're a long way off from that point, thankfully, and you can continue to enjoy first-round value in the meantime.
December 7, 2019, 1:18 amHassan WhitesideC, Portland Trail Blazers
Hassan Whiteside had another productive game with 17 points (8-for-12 shooting), 13 rebounds, three steals and a block in 32 minutes on Friday night.
Whiteside is rolling along in fantasy land even as his on-court lapses continue to harm the Blazers. We wouldn't expect him to finish at his current top-35 standing so there's a bit of a sell-high window, though the numbers he's bringing back in blocks and rebounds might change the calculus since you probably won't be able to replace them in a trade.
December 7, 2019, 1:16 amKent BazemoreSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Kent Bazemore logged 25 minutes in Friday's loss to the Lakers, notching 10 points, two rebounds and a 3-pointer.
Bazemore is staring at a much heavier workload with Rodney Hood now out for the season and Portland completely devoid of other viable wing options. He's been a top-100 guy in starter's minutes in the past, so he's a pickup in all competitive leagues.
December 7, 2019, 1:14 amAnthony DavisPF-C, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis and LeBron James both torched the Blazers in Friday's road win.
Davis put up 39 points (12-for-21 FG, 13-of-15 FT), nine rebounds, two steals, three blocks and a pair of 3-pointers while James had 31 points (11-of-23 FG, 5-for-7 FT), seven rebounds, eight assists, a block and four threes. They're alright at this.
December 7, 2019, 1:10 amAlex CarusoSG, Los Angeles Lakers
Alex Caruso played 24 minutes on Friday night, posting eight points, three assists, a steal and a three.
Caruso got some extra run with Rajon Rondo departing early because of hamstring tightness, and given the likelihood that he misses some time you can consider Caruso a potential pickup in deep leagues.
December 7, 2019, 1:09 amJaVale McGeeC, Los Angeles Lakers
JaVale McGee finished Friday's win with 13 points (6-of-7 shooting) and two blocks in 15 minutes.
McGee isn't nearly as fun to rock with as he was last season but he's still blocking shots and boosting your field goal percentage enough to return late-round value in 12-teamers. Dwight Howard is doing the same thing with more boards and slightly fewer blocks, as he had five points, 10 rebounds and two steals tonight. Neither is a must-own in 12-team leagues.
December 7, 2019, 1:07 amDanny GreenSG, Los Angeles Lakers
Danny Green had a lackluster showing, to be polite about it, on Friday with a 3-pointer, five rebounds, a steal and a block in 21 minutes.
Green is just a late-round guy and doesn't have a ton of upside given that he's only getting 25.5 mpg on the year. He's worth holding onto in general, but a drop won't hurt you that much. The same goes for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had five points, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes.
December 7, 2019, 12:54 amKevin LovePF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Cavs are prepared to listen to trade talks involving Kevin Love.
The Cavs simply have no use for Love, who can be a series-shifting player as a second or third option on a good team. Cleveland is predictably seeking young players and future draft picks, but it remains to be seen if they'll get much considering Love is still owed $90 million over the next three seasons. That's not inconsequential, and most teams in position to get pushed over the top by adding Love to the mix also don't have the ability to add such a big financial commitment to their books easily. While Love would be bumped down the pecking order on a better team, he might also end up playing more games. We won't go too much deeper than that until Love starts getting connected to specific suitors.
December 7, 2019, 12:50 amDeMar DeRozanSG, San Antonio Spurs
DeMar DeRozan's 3-point binge continued in Friday's 105-104 OT win over the Kings, as he hit three more triples on his way to 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
DeRozan has now hit five threes in his last four games after hitting zero in over a full year. That obviously won't keep up but DeRozan is back in the top-50 area after scuffling early in the year. He's about as reliable as they come.
December 7, 2019, 12:47 amJakob PoeltlC, San Antonio Spurs
Jakob Poeltl returned to the bench on Friday with LaMarcus Aldridge back but still delivered three blocks in 18 minutes.
Poeltl also tallied 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and a less-perfect 3-of-5 from the line. He's now climbed up to top-170 value on the year and should be on any rosters where fantasy GMs are short on blocks. In the past two weeks he's been a top-60 player.