February 22, 2018, 3:32 pm
All-Star weekend has come and gone and the NBA season now hits the home-stretch. This isn’t a normal Week Ahead, after all it’s a Thursday, but we’re now entering the second half of games during this two-week fantasy matchup. Let’s take a look at what can help you snag a win over the next four days.
Games Played Breakdown
Three Games Remaining: Cavs, Hornets, Sixers, Wizards
Two Games Remaining: Blazers, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pelicans, Pistons, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Warriors, Wolves
One Game Remaining: Hawks, Nets, Pacers, Raptors
On the back half of this two-week extravaganza, four teams are only playing one game. Owners of Pacers’ players have been doomed from the start. They had one game on the front half and now just one game this week.
The flip side shows the retooled red-hot Cavaliers playing three times over the next four days. The Cavs haven’t scored less than 120 points in their last four games. Their new pieces, Rodney Hood, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson are all worth adding for the rest of the season if they’re available in your league.
The other team to watch the rest of the week is Cleveland’s opponent tonight – the Washington Wizards. The Wiz also have three games over the next four nights and it’s a group that represents a lot of fantasy potential, starting in Cleveland tonight and followed up by matchups with the Hornets on Friday night and the Sixers on Sunday.
For teams with two games remaining this week, the Rockets and Warriors are the usual suspects to find great value. But you shouldn’t ignore the Clippers over these next four days. Their high-powered offense heads to Golden State tonight in what should be a fast-paced, high-scoring affair. The Clips then travel to Phoenix tomorrow night. The Suns haven’t allowed less than 107 points in their last seven games.
There’s one guy that stands out for the rest of the week. This player will not be available on your waiver wire but if you already own him, you’re in for a treat. Jimmy Butler is feeling quite rested after sitting out the All-Star game in Los Angeles this past weekend – a nice reminder that L.A. nightlife is undefeated. Butler will be fresh when the Wolves travel to Houston to play the Rockets tomorrow night. He follows that up with a home game on Saturday night against his former team – the Chicago Bulls.
Elfrid Payton, PG, Suns
This former lottery pick was cast aside by the Magic for a second-round pick just two weeks ago but Payton has absolutely crushed in three games with the Suns. Not only did he go for a triple-double last time out but he’s averaging 20.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 57 percent from the floor and a 3-pointer in a Suns uniform. Elf could end up bringing a lot more value than that second-rounder.
Mario Hezonja, SF, Magic
The Magic may have sold off one former lottery pick but this one is getting more playing time than ever before. In Hezonja’s last ten games, Mario has been super – averaging 16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks with 50/43/86 shooting splits in 29 minutes per game. He’s scored 20-plus in his last three games. The Knicks need to watch out for Mario tonight, even off the bench.
Darius Miller, SF, Pelicans
Miller’s 3-point volume has been excellent over the last month. He’s had only one game without a 3-pointer made in that time and is averaging 2.4 makes and 44 percent from deep. With DeMarcus Cousins out for the rest of the season, there’s more shots to go around. Watch for Miller’s volume to continue to see an improvement.
Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) has apparently been cleared and his return is up to him at this point. That said, head coach Gregg Popovich has said that he would be “surprised” if Leonard returns this season. Needless to say, things are looking bleak.
Ricky Rubio (hip) didn’t practice on Wednesday and should be considered questionable for the Jazz’s game with the Blazers on Friday.
Marcus Smart (hand/thigh) is expected to return to the Celtics to play the Pistons on Friday.
Lonzo Ball (knee) is expected to return to the Lakers on Friday night.
Jordan Bell (ankle) will not play tonight against the Clippers but is expected back for the Warriors as soon as Saturday against the Thunder.