• It’s now crunch time in the in the fantasy basketball Universe and many teams out there are in do-or-die situations as they make a final push for those highly-coveted playoff spots.

    In light of this situation, we’re not going to dwell too much on the minutia of goings on in the box scores of Wednesday night’s games but instead, focus on news and highlight players who might prove to be pivotal in the success (or failure) of teams in both standard-sized or deep leagues.

    Chicago Bulls 91, Orlando Magic 98

    Nikola Mirotic was a healthy DNP-CD. At this point, it’s hard to trust him. Stay away.

    Bobby Portis logged 19 minutes (no foul trouble) and has been, for the most part, underwhelming despite being handed the starting PF job after Taj Gibson‘s departure. Joffrey Lauvergne outplayed him in 29 minutes. Bobby has fallen out of favor in standard leagues and can be dropped in favor of someone who’s been more consistent lately.

    Despite being a low-end contributor of big man stats, Robin Lopez (10-9-2) has emerged as an option in standard leagues due to his number of games scoring 10 or more points.

    Dwyane Wade (thigh) did not play making him a tough stash at this point. It’s a bit of a swing move, but even he’s a drop candidate right now.

    Cameron Payne followed up his superb, 14-point game on Monday with a 4-point dud. Reason? Rajon Rondo is back and he scored eight points, got five boards, and dished out six assists. Rondo will more than likely serve as a hard opportunity barricade that Payne will not be able to break through in the short term.

    Elfrid Payton had a solid 22-14-14 trip-dub and as much as I’ve never been a fan of him and his penchant for disappointing owners, he’s hot right now and you’ve got to go with whoever is playing well.

    Still no Nikola Vucevic (Achilles) and this time Bimack Biyombo had a “meh” six points and six boards in 35 minutes in another start. Keep him rostered until Vooch gets back, though. He’s worth the blocks and rebs.

    Evan Fournier scored 20 and has been decent again. He’s worth playing for now.

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    Brooklyn Nets 105, Atlanta Hawks 110

    Jeremy Lin is officially back in business with 16 points, three rebounds, eight dimes, and three triples. Have no more fears or concerns about deploying him from this point on.

    Without Joe Harris (concussion) to cramp his style, Sean Kilpatrick exploded off the bench for 27 points. He’s worth a look in deep leagues, but doesn’t hold enough consistency to warrant a risk-grab in standard leagues.

    All of the Hawks starters are worth it, probably with the exception of Kent Bazemore. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a better option to use. He’s solid lately and can help you win threes and points categories.

    Charlotte Hornets 101, Miami Heat 108

    Goran Dragic gave his owners a scare when he briefly left the game after getting hit in the eye. He returned to action and ended up with a cool double-double of 22 points and 10 assists.

    James Johnson returned to action after missing a game with a lacerated elbow. He was his usual stat-sheet stuffing self with 10 points, two treys, six boards, five assists, a steal, and three blocks. He looks like he’s ready to roll again. Stick with him.

    Dion Waiters was hot with 24 points (five treys) and pretty much dominated the shooting guard minutes, leaving Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson out in the cold. As much as I like Josh, Waiters has the edge in the minutes-war and is the one to deploy.

    Nicolas Batum was able to play through a sprained ankle and ended the game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and four steals. Stay tuned as sprains can swell up overnight. If he should miss time, Jeremy Lamb and Marco Bellinelli become deep-league add options, with Belli getting the slight edge.

    New York Knicks 93, Milwaukee Bucks 104

    Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton tag-teamed to kick the Knicks’ collective butts in this one. Middleton is over his injury and should be owned even in shallow leagues.

    Terrence Jones practiced and still got a DNP-CD in this one. He’s not worth stashing at this point. If you added him, find someone else to lean on for the fantasy playoffs.

    Willy Hernangomez got a 13-12 double-double and is worth a hold (but bench) over the Knicks’ upcoming two-game week ahead. Kyle O’Quinn )11 minutes) is out of the picture and can be dropped everywhere.

    Courtney Lee may have been overlooked in your league. He’s been good over the last couple of weeks in an understated way. He’s a solid player to round out your guard numbers.

    Toronto Raptors 94, New Orleans Hornets 87

    Anthony Davis left the game with what was called a bruised wrist and did not return. He played 17 minutes. X-rays came back negative, but he is in for some more tests. Considering how much value he brings to the table, any games missed by “The Brow” will obviously be devastating. Follow his situation closely here on Hoop-Ball. He’s day-to-day for now.

    Jordan Crawford followed up his 19-point debut for the Pelicans with 10 points (two treys), three boards, and three assists in 26 minutes on Wednesday. He’s a reasonable deep-league add and could be one of the Pelicans’ go-to weapons should AD miss time.

    Jrue Holiday was underwhelming in 32 minutes with seven points, six assists, and three steals. He should be the second scoring option if Davis is out for a game or two, buoying his slowly sliding value.

    Jonas Valanciunas had a solid game with 25-13 and a block. DeMar DeRozan struggled (5-of-15 from the field) and finished with 14 points. Serge Ibaka also had trouble finding his shot but as still able to stuff the stat sheet with 12 points, five boards, two triples, two steals, and four blocks. Those are the only Raptors worth considering in standard leagues, while Cory Joseph and Norman Powell are worth roster spots in deep leagues.

    Utah Jazz 115, Houston Rockets 108

    George Hill missed his second game (rest/toe). He should be benched, however, is still worth the hold considering how well he does when he plays.

    Rodney Hood had 19 points and played a whopping 35 minutes in this game as a starter. He’s worth an add in standard leagues but is a risky play considering he’s been injured so much this season.

    It’s officially time to give up on the dream of a miraculous Derrick Favors bounce-back recovery this season. As Elsa said sang it in Frozen, “Let it go!” Drop him. His knee just isn’t right and if you’re desperate for a big man, Favors can be swapped out for the best available big in the FA market.

    Ryan Anderson (back) missed his second game. Let’s be realistic. He’s just a three-point specialist who has better than average rebounding numbers. That’s it. He’s not worth a hold at this point if you’re trying to make that playoff push. If he accounted for a big chunk of your team’s threes, well there’s almost always plenty streaming options on the wire for sure.

    Clint Capela has been a shining bright spot for the Rockets as of late and is a safe bet to bring those big man numbers home for your team. He will kill your FT% though, so be ready to bite that bullet.

    Los Angeles Clippers 91, Minnesota Timberwolves 107

    If you had any questions about Gorgui Dieng (and I’ve had my fair share of them on Twitter), his stat-sheet stuffing night with seven points, nine rebounds, four steals, and two blocks should allay any concerns.

    Lance Stephenson may have signed a 10-day contract with Minnesota but he is not worth your time, even if you are playing in a very deep league.

    Chris Paul had an off night with seven points and 10 dimes but should be okay in their next game and there should not be any serious concerns regarding his thumb as of now. Still, a re-injury is a risk that should be watched out for.

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    Detroit Pistons 98, Indiana Pacers 115

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is in a fugly slump lately. Believe me, I know because it’s probably costing me a fantasy playoff berth this week. With streaky shooters like him, you just gotta ride it out somehow. He’s too good when he plays well to just drop in standard leagues as of now.

    The cult favorite Ish Smith fell flat on Wednesday with two points, four rebounds, and six assists. I’d stick with him at least for Detroit’s four-game week ahead.

    Thaddeus Young finally showed signs of life with 18-8 in 34 minutes. It’s his first decent game since the All-Star Break. He’s worth a look if he’s been dropped in your league.

    C.J. Miles continues to do well as a starter and is worth a look in standard leagues if you need help in the threes department.

    Sacramento Kings 104, San Antonio Spurs 114

    Three-straight double-doubles screams must-add, right? But Kosta Koufos? Yes. He’s been more consistent than Willie Cauley-Stein and is the one who’s locked in for minutes in the Kings’ frontcourt. 12-10 isn’t mindblowing, but you could do worse, like say, Bobby Portis.

    Tyreke Evans played 29 minutes and led the team with 26 points, four assists, three treys, and two steals as a starter. He’s expected to be rested in back-to-backs, so take this fantasy eye-candy with a grain of salt. Skal

    Skal Labisserie scored 15 points in 15 minutes and looks like a solid guy to own in deep leagues for the final stretch.

    Darren Collison was awful with 5-5-4 in 24 minutes. You can drop him in standard leagues. Garrett Temple, on the other hand, is looking like an interesting add in deep leagues with his six points, seven rebounds, three assists, and four steals.

    David Lee started for a resting LaMarcus Aldridge and dropped an 18-10 double-double. He’s only a marginal guy to keep in deep leagues.

    Pau Gasol played 16 minutes off the bench but that was just in lieu of a full rest day for maintenance.

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    Washington Wizards 123, Denver Nuggets 113

    Both Nikola Jokic and Danilo Gallinari missed this game due to illness, which is a good thing, at least compared to an actual injury. Both guys should be back on the court soon enough and there’s nothing much to worry about.

    As a result, Gary Harris and Wilson Chandler stepped up with 26 and 21 points, respectively. Both guys have been solid.

    Mason Plumlee also did well in the absence of Jokic, notching a double-double with 19-10-5 for the night. His brief run of productive games might have earned him some extra minutes even when Nikola returns.

    Jamal Murray looked good off the bench as he contributed 17 points, three triples, and five assists in 24 minutes. He’s worth a spot in deep leagues.

    Bojan Bogdanovic didn’t hit any threes, which allowed Otto Porter to see daylight and be productive with 22 points, three boards, two treys, and four steals. Porter obviously has the more consistent upside here, but the tug-of-war in value is real between these two.

    Markieff Morris was ejected after kicking Mason Plumlee in the family jewels and his 11 points, six rebounds, and two assists were already an upgrade from his recent run of disappointing games.

    Boston Celtics 99, Golden State Warriors 86

    The good news that came out of this game is that

    A. The Warriors lost. While it stings as a dubs fan, it also means it is less and less likely that my Stephen Currys and Draymond Greens will not be rested down the stretch. Silver linings, people! Silver linings.

    B. Al Horford is healthy and got back into the thick of things with a 10-6-6 line in 32 minutes.

    Jae Crowder continues his rebounding spree in this game with 10 boards.

    Deep league managers should take a long, hard look at Andre Iguodala. Seriously. He’s worth it.


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