March 29, 2017, 10:45 am
If I would have told you two months ago that Jusuf Nurkic would play against his former team and outplay Nikola Jokic, you probably wouldn’t believe me. That was the case on Tuesday night, as Nurkic took it to the Nuggets in full force. More on that below. Amidst the action, there were some close calls in the injury department on Tuesday night, with Draymond Green owners holding their breath for a few moments. An eight-game Tuesday slate had me punching the keyboard in blurbs with all of the big news dropping. Let’s cover the highlights in a wacky dish.
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NURK ALERT! BIG MAN LEADS BLAZERS TO IMPORTANT WIN
Coming in to Tuesday, only half a game separated the Nuggets and Blazers for the final spot out West in a tight race to experience a first-round exit against the Warriors in the eighth seed. Who can forget the integral trade between these two teams just six weeks ago, when the Blazers traded Mason Plumlee for Jusuf Nurkic and a protected 2017 first-round draft pick.
The Nuggets made it clear that they did not need the services of Nurkic anymore, as budding superstar Nikola Jokic ended all doubts that he was the superior big man in Denver. Fast forward six weeks, and here we had a showdown of two desperate teams vying to make the playoffs. Leading the charge was the former Nugget, Nurkic, who had ice in his veins against his old team.
Nurkic shot 12-for-15 from the field and 9-for-11 from the line for 33 points with 16 boards, two assists and three blocks in 33 minutes. As the Blazers got the key win, it’s safe to say that it was the perfect scenario for Nurkic, leading his new team ahead of the team that gave up on him for the final playoff spot.
C.J. McCollum had a huge hand in the victory as well, shooting 15-for-24 from the field for 39 points with five boards, three assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 40 minutes. It was the second-highest scoring output of McCollum’s career (43 is his career-high). As the Blazers chase the final seed, expect maximum effort from all of your Blazers the rest of the way.
In case you were wondering, Nikola Jokic didn’t disappear on Tuesday, he was just outplayed. He still put up a solid line, shooting 7-for-14 from the field for 17 points with eight boards, eight assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes. It wasn’t enough to carry the Nuggets in their biggest game of the season.
DRAYMOND ROLLS ANKLE, WARRIORS STILL ROLL OVER ROCKETS
Two Western Conference contenders clashed on Tuesday night as the Warriors took on the Rockets in a classic battle. The big three came up huge for the Warriors, accounting for over two-thirds of their points.
The team did survive a scare, however, as Draymond Green rolled his ankle early in the third quarter and left the game in a strong limp. To the surprise of fans and fantasy owners, Green made it back before the end of the third quarter with his ankle wrapped and ready to rock. Green finished with 19 points (9-for-15 FGs), nine boards, four assists, three steals and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes.
The star of the show was Stephen Curry, who has amped up his play in recent weeks. Curry shot 11-for-22 from the field and 7-for-10 from the line for 32 points, 10 boards, seven assists, two steals and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. I bet he loves facing the Rockets.
Klay Thompson was a monster as well on Tuesday, helping out in cats across the board. Thompson shot 10-for-20 from the field for 25 points with five boards, one assist, two steals, two blocks and five 3-pointers in 37 minutes.
As the Warriors play a back-to-back on Wednesday against the Spurs, coach Steve Kerr made it a point to tell the media that everyone is expected to suit up for the game, including Draymond Green. Start your Warriors with confidence.
The Rockets were a mess behind James Harden, who claims he is experiencing soreness in his wrist. The stats reflect his injury, as Harden shot a putrid 5-for-20 from the field on Tuesday, including 1-for-9 from downtown. He still nailed 13-for-13 free throws, finishing with a triple-double of 24 points, 11 rebounds, 13 dimes, one steal and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes. Harden plans to play through the injury, but he said it is up to Mike D’Antoni if Harden plays Thursday against the Blazers. The Rockets have a back-to-back on Thursday and Friday, with Friday being a rematch with the Warriors again.
Clint Capela tried to make up for Harden’s poor shooting by going 9-for-10 from the field, scoring 21 points with seven boards and one block in 30 minutes. He has been a top-50 player in the fantasy playoffs. Keep rolling him out there.
WHITESIDE HITS BUZZER BEATER TO KEEP HEAT IN 8TH SEED IN EAST
With the playoff picture out of balance for the Heat, who found themselves down one point to the Pistons with 11 seconds left, they needed a hero. Goran Dragic took a runner with one second left and it fell short, but Hassan Whiteside was there to tip it in with 0.2 seconds left on the clock as the Heat escaped with a 97-96 thriller to remain in eighth place in the Eastern conference.
Whiteside finished the game with 17 points (7-for-13 FGs), nine boards, one assist and one block in 30 minutes. No stat was bigger than his season-saving tip-in.
Goran Dragic led the Heat with 28 points (9-for-16 FGs, 9-for-13 FTs), four rebounds, four assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes. The Heat are fighting for their lives so no rest games are in sight for any of the Heat studs.
The big news out of Detroit on Tuesday was Reggie Jackson‘s possible shutdown for the rest of the season. That bodes well for Ish Smith owners, as he will have the keys to the offense the rest of the way. Ish was solid on Tuesday, scoring 19 points (7-for-13 FGs, 5-for-6 FTs) with three boards and six assists in 31 minutes. Adding Ish is a championship move.
Tobias Harris got benched for the remainder of the season in favor of Jon Leuer (2-4-2-1-1), but it didn’t change either players’ outlook. Harris scored 19 points (7-for-14 FGs) with six boards, two assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes. Don’t sweat his benching. We have seen this before.
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KAT AND RUBIO THROW A WRENCH IN PACERS PLAYOFF PLANS
With a two-point lead and three seconds left, Jeff Teague fouled Ricky Rubio on a game-winning three-point attempt. Rubio nailed all three free throws to give the Wolves a 115-114 lead. Monta Ellis missed the game-winner at the buzzer. The Pacers fell to 37-37, just two games ahead of ninth place in a tight playoff race.
Rubio was the hero for more than just the final free throws. He dropped 21 points (4-for-12 FGs, 13-for-13 FTs) with 10 dimes and five rebounds in 38 minutes. You weren’t starting him for his efficiency anyway.
Karl-Anthony Towns was huge for the Wolves on Tuesday, racking up 37 points (12-for-22 FGs, 10-for-10 FTs) with 12 boards, one assist, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes. KAT will be a top pick next season.
The Pacers had some fireworks of their own from a fantasy perspective, nearly mirroring the production of KAT and Rubio. Paul George went to work with 37 points of his own (12-for-21 FGs, 9-for-9 FTs) with seven boards, two assists, four steals and four 3-pointers in 39 minutes. He will remain a top-25 pick next season.
Jeff Teague double-doubled with 20 points (6-for-12 FGs, 8-for-9 FTs), 10 assists, three boards and one steal in 41 minutes. He has been up and down this season. Tuesday was definitely up.
Myles Turner continued to rock his big man stats, scoring 15 points with eight boards, four assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes.
The Pacers announced on Wednesday that they have waived Rodney Stuckey and signed Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $12 million deal. He will blow in ears back where he belongs. Ignore him for the near future in terms of fantasy help.
That will do it for Wednesday’s Daily Dish. Check me out on Fantasy NBA Tonight ($) where I breakdown the happenings of Tuesday’s action in a live format where you, the readers and Hoop-Ballers, can ask me questions and we can converse back and forth. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter, I’m @RiazD. Don’t forget to follow all of our breaking news and rumors @HoopBallTweets. Happy Hump Day!!