• What’s up Hoop Ballers?! It feels like Christmas in October and we have real NBA basketball to discuss. It was nice to get a taste of two championship contenders who are favored to be there in the end, the Warriors and the Celtics. More importantly, the fantasy basketball season is underway and it’s time to get in to the boxscores. Cheers to opening night!!

    CELTICS 105, SIXERS 87

    We have to start off by saying thank goodness there were no injuries to kick us off. Last year Gordon Hayward barely lasted a few minutes before the basketball world was turned around with a cloud over its head.

    Hayward returned to the court for the first time in a year, making his emotional presence felt. He played 25 minutes, scoring 10 points (4-for-12 FGs) with five boards, four steals and one 3-pointer. Prior to the season, Celtics coach Brad Stevens indicated Hayward might only see 25-30 minutes out of the gate. The 25 minutes Hayward played are certainly encouraging, but it reminds us it will take time before we see Hayward at full strength. There is too much depth in Boston.

    Jayson Tatum is the best example of this. He was easily the Celtics’ best player on Tuesday night, scoring 23 points with nine boards, three assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes. He is blossoming into a star on a top contender right before our very eyes. An argument could be made Tatum is the best talent on the Celtics and I would not fight it.

    It’s easy to say this when Kyrie Irving had an absolutely pathetic line, shooting 2-for-14 from the field (1-for-8 from 3-pointers) for seven points, seven assists and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes. Reaching your rock bottom on opening night can be a good thing, because he now has nowhere to go but up. Feel free to poke at Kyrie owners for one night.

    What could eat at Irving’s playing time, in particular, is the potential for blowouts and need for defense to close games. Scary Terry Rozier (11 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one block, one 3-pointer) got the call in the final five minutes of the game, benching Irving to close it out. The main takeaway here is coach Stevens is not afraid to bench anyone. The Celtics have an abundance of depth and this limits the main Celtics as fantasy assets. It’s simply too crowded to enjoy a certain player on the Celtics.

    Al Horford was busy defensively, finishing with five blocks in a 9-4-2-0-5 line in 30 minutes. He will see more efficient nights. I wouldn’t shop him around just get. Marcus Morris also had a big night, finishing with 16 points, 10 boards, two steals and two 3-pointers in 21 minutes. With a crowded roster full of talent, Marcus Morris will not keep up this usage and should not be added in leagues.

    On the Sixers side of the ball, Ben Simmons was a man amongst boys on the court, finishing with 19 points (7-for-14 FGs, 5-for-11 FTs) with 15 boards, eight assists, four steals and two blocks. His money counting stats were a special treat. You can’t rely on those too every night, but expect these big nights from Simmons in what looks to be a huge year. He will hurt you in free throw shooting and threes, which is what holds him from being a first round talent.

    Joel Embiid also dropped a fat line, scoring 23 points with 10 boards, two assists, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer. The process is still in progress, but it looks to be almost complete. Embiid has a stat set which could launch him into a first round fantasy conversation.

    Markelle Fultz got the start and finished with five points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal in 24 minutes. He is slowly working his way back in the rotation. Depending on your format’s settings, he is worth the stash. J.J. Redick (16 points) started the second half in his place.

    Clearly, the Celtics are much deeper than the Sixers and will be a tough out no matter who gets injured. For fantasy purposes, there’s too many mouths to feed. Each Celtic will have a hard time staying consistent. I’d steer clear.

     

    WARRIORS 108, THUNDER 100

    There’s just something about these two teams playing each other, as if it has to stay close by law. The Thunder, without Russell Westbrook, kept up with the Warriors but missed key shots near the end to cost them the game. The Warriors let the Thunder hang around until finishing it off with big shots and clutch free throws to close the game.

    Steph Curry had a big line in the opener, pouring in 32 points with eight boards, nine assists, one steal and five 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Kevin Durant followed suit with a 27-8-6-1-1 line of his own. You rarely ever have to worry about inconsistency from these two.

    Draymond Green played 33 minutes, even though Steve Kerr said he would slowplay him with his knee problems to begin the year. He scored two points, but added 13 boards, five assists and three steals. He hurt 9-cat leaguers with six turnovers.

    Jordan Bell was a huge flop on opening night, as he finished with zero points, two boards and one block in less than seven minutes. The Warriors employed a center rotation with Damien Jones (12 points, three blocks in 27 minutes) and Kevon Looney (10 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks in 18 minutes). Damien Jones is interesting here. Bell doesn’t seem to be waiting for given the rotation.

    Paul George predictably led the way for the Thunder, shooting 9-for-23 from the field for 27 points, two rebounds, five assists, four steals and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes. He should satisfy early round value all season.

    The breakout here was Dennis Schroder, who looked great at times with 21 points, nine boards, six assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes. For real basketball purposes, Schroder missed a few key shots near the end. All stats are equal in fantasy basketball, so we don’t care how unclutch he was. Schroder is an excellent late-round flier and should do well even when Westbrook comes back.

    Steven Adams (back) was a game-time decision entering Tuesday, but he gave it a go and came up big. Adams dropped a casual 17 points with 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in 36 minutes. It’s safe to say his back troubles didn’t slow him down much here. Nerlens Noel (3-7-1-1-1 in 12 minutes) owners will have to wait for an Adams injury to have some relevance.

    That will do it for Wednesday’s Daily Dish. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, I’m @RiazD. Check me out on Fantasy NBA Tonight ($) where we recap Tuesday night games and answer any and all questions you have live!! Also, don’t forget to follow all of our breaking news and rumors @HoopBallFantasy. Happy Opening Night!!

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