This is a long one, so grab a cup of coffee, a beer, some fresh doogh, or whatever smokes your boat:

    An Idealized Playoff Matchup:

    Fantasy Playoffs: targeting team weaknesses. Which is why Dan Besbris’ 1-to-2 ratio gives standard leaguers two streaming spots. You may find a team that has, by skill or by luck, drafted a good team but is poor at in-season management due to fear, inattentiveness, etc.

    Let’s say he/she has Anthony Davis, John Wall, Jrue Holiday, Klay Thompson, Ricky Rubio, Anthony Davis, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Murray, Capela, Mirotic, Jarrett Allen and John Collins. Let’s say you have Rudy Gobert, Al Horford, John Henson and Jakob Poeltl with Dipo, Spyda, Ro-Co, Gary Harris and Elfrid Payton, and you have so few assists because you drafted Boogie but he dunzo.

    You’re seeded No. 6 going against No. 3. What’s your plan?

    My plan: the first thing I’d to is check team stats for the league, then analyze at least the opponent’s last 4-5 weekly box-scores, noticing trends as well as general strengths and weaknesses, significant roster additions or losses, etc. Then, I’d do the same for myself to compare and contrast.

    After that I’d count how many games I have vs. how many game the opponent has, for both teams noting how many games top-30 players have, how many players are benched on which days, and roughly project which categories I’ll have a chance at winning.

    At first glance to the pro, but confirmed by my research, I know we’ll both be competitive in threes and that he’ll dominate FG/REB/BLK. His drafter assists are heavily weighted to his three PGs, but Wall is injured, Rubio’s assists are way down and Jrue is more of a scorer these days, while mine are boosted by Lord Pakal Elfrid Payton’s game in Phoenix. Noted. My Ro-Co gets 3s like his Mirotic, but not as many boards or blocks, but more steals. Noted. Having Oladipo and Mitchell (and no Wall for the opponent) means I’ll be punting turnovers. Noted.

    Aggregating the info indicates that I should focus on PTS/FT/3PM/AST/STL. Thus, my most likely course of action would be to drop 3-cat Henson and Poeltl and stream for assists, 3s, steals with a lesser emphasis on points. I’ll be planning out the calendar and using guys like D.J. Augustin, Yogi Ferrell, J.J. Barea, T.J. McConnell, Fred VanVleet, Mario Hezonja and Wayne Ellington.

    Depending on the weekly games played disparity or scheduling blip, I’m dropping top-90-125 guys like Dwight Powell, JaMychal Green, Skal Labissiere, Bobby Portis, maybe even Jarrett Allen; if they’re sitting anyways and/or it’s getting close late in the week and I need a few extra games, even for lesser players, they gone.

    If I were to employ the opposite strategy, I’d be cutting those aforementioned guards for Montrezl Harrell, Poeltl, Henson, JaMychal, Skal, Portis, Allen, etc.

    Can’t worry about next week ‘til you get there.

    And that’s pretty much my playoff philosophy. Can’t worry about next week ‘til you get there. I will temper it when I have a beast of a team that’s been consistently winning at least 6-7 categories all year (none of those anymore this year as Boogie and Unicorn are long gone for my two No. 1 teams, and one of them doesn’t even get a Bye week).

    I know it’s a very dramatized example, and for cases that aren’t as cut-and-dry as this, it’s even harder as you have to try to be competitive in more cats. Those kinds of matchups require all of the above in addition to day-to-day management and a big ol’ dollop of good fortune.

    Those are the ones that’ll have you checking your matchup on Sunday wondering if you should bench the late West Coast games to save your turnovers or field goal percentage. That’s a regular Sunday for me.

    Now, y’all may be somewhat reticent about dropping some of your favorite end of the bench guys; you have to run your team as you see fit, so I’m just telling you how I would do it. I’ll also remind you that the mid-late round players return negative value in 9-cat. So, every time you throw out a J.J. Redick or Kyle Kuzma, you’re technically losing value (read The Case of the Statistics right here). In reality, counting stats, you know, count, so five or six games from a top-110 guy is better than two games from a top-75.

    The worst thing is when you play the averages, and someone you dropped randomly blew up, or someone you added randomly dropped a dud. The tendency is blame yourself and become more hesitant next time you need to make a snap decision. Don’t beat yourself up. Randomness means the best strategy won’t win 100 percent of the time, but playing the odds is why casinos have stayed in business for so long — with enough runs, the odds play out more often than not; that’s how you win.

    Maybe you’re not into all that. Maybe your league isn’t that competitive. Maybe you think you’ve got the win sewn up. If anything, check your schedule and your opponent’s schedule. It would suck if you lost because you had a crappy schedule that you could have easily streamed around.

    If you’ve made it thus far (in the article and in fantasy), may the basketball gods richly bless you and the great random be in your favor.
    And now, to the schedules!

    Playoff Schedules

    *Click here for a visual graph of every team’s playoff schedule. Don’t be a lazy manager. Just do it.

    Weeks 22-24 (March 12 through April 1)

    ATL: 3-4-3
    BKN: 3-4-3
    BOS: 3-3-3
    CHA: 3-4-4
    CHI: 3-4-4
    CLE: 3-4-4
    DAL: 3-3-4
    DEN: 3-3-4
    DET: 3-4-4
    GSW: 3-3-4
    HOU: 4-4-3
    IND: 3-3-3
    LAC: 4-4-4
    LAL: 3-3-4
    MEM: 3-4-4
    MIA: 3-4-3
    MIL: 3-4-4
    MIN: 3-3-4
    NOR: 4-3-3
    NYK: 3-4-3
    OKC: 4-3-3
    ORL: 3-3-3
    PHI: 3-4-4
    PHO: 3-3-4
    POR: 4-3-4
    SAC: 4-3-4
    SAS: 4-4-3
    TOR: 4-4-2
    UTA: 3-4-3
    WAS: 3-3-4

    Week 22 Schedule (March 12 – 18)

    If you’re blessed with a bye week, enjoy it, but don’t sleep the whole week. There might be (opponent) trends to be noticed and you have to plan your Week 23 schedule so you can preemptively add players before your weekly add-limit refreshes.

    4 games: HOU, LAC, NOR, OKC, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR
    All other teams play 3 games.

    Monday has 4 games: Spurs at Rockets, Bucks at Grizzlies, Kings at Thunder, and Heat at Blazers.

    Tuesday has 11: Pacers at Philly, Wolves at Wizards, Thunder at Hawks, Raptors at Nets, Mavs at Knicks, Clippers at Bulls, Hornets at Pelicans, Magic at Spurs, Pistons at Jazz, Cavs at Suns, and Nuggets at Lakers.

    Wednesday has 4: Bucks at Magic, Wizards at Celtics, Heat at Kings, and Lakers at Warriors.

    Thursday has 9: Raptors at Pacers, Hornets at Hawks, Sixers at Knicks, Clippers at Rockets, Bulls at Grizzlies, Pels at Spurs, Pistons at Nuggs, Suns at Jazz, and Cavs at Blazers.

    Friday has 6: Celtics at Magic, Nets at Sixers, Mavs at Raptors, Clippers at Thunder, Kings at Warriors, and Heat at Lakers.

    Saturday has 11: Hawks at Bucks, Pacers at Wizards, Rockets at Pels, Mavs at Nets, Hornets at Knicks, Cavs at Bulls, Nuggs at Grizz, Wolves at Spurs, Kings at Jazz, Dubbs at Suns, and Pistons at Blazers.

    Sunday has 4: Thunder at Raptors, Celtics at Pels, Rockets at Wolves, and Blazers at Clippers.


    Mon/Tues: OKC, SAS
    Tue/Weds: LAL, ORL, WAS
    Weds/Thurs: none
    Thurs/Fri: LAC, PHI, TOR
    Fri/Sat: BRK, DAL, GSW, SAC
    Sat/Sun: HOU, MIN, NOR, POR
    Sun/Mon (of Week 23): none

    Unlike a typical week, this week’s Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are loaded, with the other days having 6 or fewer games. Boston (Weds/Fri/Sun), Miami (Mon/Weds/Fri) and Sacramento (Mon/Weds/Fri) have 3 off-day games; Houston (Mon/Sun), Clippers (Fri/Sun), Milwaukee (Mon/Weds), OKC (Fri/Sun) and Orlando (Weds/Fri) have 2.

    Additionally, the Clippers and Pelicans start their 4-game weeks on Tuesday, while the Spurs (Mon/Tues/Thurs), Lakers & Magic (Tues/Weds/Fri), Sixers (Tues/Thurs/Fri), Warriors & Kings (Weds/Fri/Sat) and Portland (Thurs/Sat/Sun) also have a 3-games-in-4 nights stretch.

    Tuesday, March 13 and Saturday, March 18 have 11 games, and either is overbooked on three of my teams if you want to stream around them.

    Week 23 Schedule (March 19 – 25)

    All other teams play 4 games.

    Want to see the daily schedule? Click Besbris’ link, fool!

    Thursday and Saturday are the only days with fewer than 7 games: Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Lakers, Memphis, New Orleans, Orlando, and Philly play both of these days.

    Friday, March 24, is the only day with at least 10 games so double check if you have players benched and need or want to stream.

    Week 24 Schedule (March 26 – April 1)

    2 games: TOR
    All other teams play 4 games.

    Monday, Thursday and Saturday all have only 5 games. Detroit plays all 3; Boston, Charlotte, Golden State, Miami, NY and Sacramento play 2.

    There’s an overloaded final day of the fantasy playoffs with Sunday, April 1, having 13 games. If you have a weekly or season long transaction limit, save one or two and preemptively drop your worst players the previous Friday to get extra games on Saturday (since you can’t play 13 guys on Sunday).

    Weeks 25 & 26 schedules (April 2 – 11)

    If you happen to be one of those unfortunate souls that play H2H into the silly season, petition the commissioner to bump up the playoffs by a few weeks. It didn’t happen in mine until the commish lost due to some missed games (rest), same for losing the EJC category- he only tossed it after it impacted him. Alas, it’s my buddy league so most people don’t really care that much, so maybe we’ll have to wait for the commish to lose in the Quarterfinals before he finally gives the top-2 seeds a Bye week (he’s rarely seeded that high, so it’ll be a minute).

    6 games: BOS, LAL, ORL, PHI, TOR
    4 games: CHA, MIN, OKC, PHO, SAC

    ATL 4-1
    BRK 3-2
    BOS 4-2
    CHA 3-1
    CHI 3-2
    CLE 3-2
    DAL 4-1
    DEN 3-2
    DET 3-2
    GSW 4-1
    HOU 3-2
    IND 4-1
    LAC 3-2
    LAL 4-2
    MEM 3-2
    MIA 3-2
    MIL 3-2
    MIN 2-2
    NOR 3-2
    NYK 3-2
    OKC 2-2
    ORL 4-2
    PHI 4-2
    PHO 3-1
    POR 3-2
    SAC 2-2
    SAS 3-2
    TOR 4-2
    UTA 3-2
    WAS 3-2

    Phew, OK, back to this week…

    Working The Wire

    Point Guards

    -Tomas Satoransky is in play for next week, though after their Tues/Weds back-to-back next week, the Wizards only play one game the rest of the week.

    -D.J. Augustin’s got 12.5 points, 2.0 threes and 5.3 assists last week. Orlando plays Tues/Weds/Fri next week so that spot frees up for Saturday and Sunday should you need it. Shelvin Mack is in play for deeper leagues with 9.5 points, 1.5 threes, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steals over the last two weeks.

    -Milos Teodosic put up 10.3 points, 1.3 threes and 5.3 assists last week. As a bonus, the Clippers are the only team to play four games in each of the next three weeks, including next week where they have a tasty Thurs/Fri/Sun. I’m also assuming Austin Rivers is already owned in your league(s).

    -Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea are options, and though Dallas only has three games, you could stream either for their back-to-back on Fri/Sun.

    -Fred VanVleet’s been pretty pedestrian over the last two weeks, but 9.3 points, 1.1 threes, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks might get the job done in four games this week if you have a low-end guard that only plays two (due to sitting a day or two).

    -Terry Rozier is worth a look for the week Jaylen Brown (concussion) is going to miss, though Boston only has three games.

    Shooting Guards

    -Caris LeVert blew up for 16.6 points (1.8 threes), 3.6 boards, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals over the last five games, and that’s including a 6-point dud. The shooting (49.2) is high but you can roll with him while he’s hot, though his schedule is pretty spaced out this week (Tues/Fri/Sat).

    -With the Heat at near full-strength, Wayne Ellington doesn’t look as good as he did earlier in the season. Still, he’s their designated long-range bomber and his Mon/Weds/Fri works well with many fantasy teams’ schedules if you need a boost in 3s. Tyler Johnson is an option for fewer threes, but a more well-rounded line.

    -Ben McLemore: Who would have thought lil’ James Brown would ever be a productive player? I mean besides Vlade Divac. I didn’t but apparently McLemore is part of the Grizzlies tanking plan, so he’s starting and averaging 11.4 points, 1.6 threes, 4.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocks. The Grizzlies play Mon/Thurs/Sat, which isn’t ideal, but go four times in Weeks 23 and 24.

    -We’ll see if The Demolition Man, David Nwaba and Denzel Valentine pick it up or get improved roles if the Bulls change their starters (again) cuz Justin Holiday’s decreasing minutes aren’t helping.

    Small Forwards

    – Not to be outdone with their own tankjob, the Mavs have been giving Dougie McBuckets extended run off the bench and McDermott has gotten 11.8 points and 2.2 threes on 51.1 percent from the field. Despite his sharpshooter reputation, he never was a volume 3-point shooter for the Bulls, though he’s never had such a pressure-less environment. Again, Dallas goes thrice this week, but I’m looking to stream the Fr/Sat (where my Sat isn’t already full). Still, he’s a risky play.

    -All facets of the Croat who shall not be named’s game fell off last week, even though Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier missed the last two. If you want to roll the dice, he plays Tues/Weds/Fri which opens up Saturday and Sunday for additional streaming.

    -Reggie Bullock’s been doing what he does, scoring 16.1 points and 2.4 threes over the last few weeks, though the Pistons only play Tues/Thurs/Sat which means he could be overkill on the busiest days. Check your schedule.

    -Dillon Brooks was hitting last week and he got 21.3 points, 2.5 threes and little else. He’s seems locked in as a starter and is pretty widely available. Memphis only has an unattractive three games this week (Mon/Thurs/Sat) but four in each of the next two weeks.

    -Kyle Anderson: Slo-Mo has been a steals monster, getting 2.8 per contest, good for No. 4 in the league since the break. Throw in 0.8 blocks, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 steals and he’s a top-60 guy in 9-cat. With Kawhi Leonard reportedly targeting next week, you can get some early games in with the Spurs’ Mon/Tues/Thurs. That also puts Patty Mills in play if you need 3s more than steals and Dejounte Murray who is probably tooken.

    -Justise Winslow scored in double figures five out of the last six, and over the last week averaged 11.5 points, 1.3 threes and 1.5 steals. That looks pretty good until you realize that he’s trending down and his free throw shooting (41.7) will hurt. The Heat play Mon/Weds/Fri and there you go.

    Power Forwards

    -Dwight Powell got 11.3 points, 8.3 boards, 1.3 steals and didn’t brick the majority of his free throws. Dallas only plays three times this week, but the Fri/Sat back-to-back looks attractive.

    -JaMychal Green put up 10.3 points, 0.8 threes, 9.5 rebounds and 0.5 blocks which is pretty good; as explained above his schedule next week isn’t. Jarell Martin is a less-consistent option with the same schedule.

    -Marcus Morris was top-100 last week mostly with increased threes (3.0 per game). Put that with 15.0 points and 1.3 steals and you have a useful player, but again, the three games.

    -Jae Crowder also gives you three games with a similar skillset, but less production. He also plays the packed Tues/Thurs/Sat set. Yuk.

    -Weekly Marquese Chriss Watch: Last Sunday, Chriss blew up for 17 points (four treys), five boards, four blocks and a steal in 18 minutes. The next night he played 27 minutes and got 12 points (two treys), six boards and a block. He followed that up with five points four boards and a steal. In his last game he got seven points and six boards in a game that almost nobody but Elfrid Payton played. He could blow up at any time but is too risky to use hoping on it. Also, the Suns only play three times on loaded days (Tues/Thurs/Sat).


    -From four weeks ago: “Montrezl Harrell continues to kiss standard-league value and is a player you can use for a low-end boost in field goal percentage, points and blocks…” Quadruple Ditto and he’s been a top-75 guy post ASB. As a bonus, the Clippers are the only team to play four games in each of the next three weeks, including a nice end of week Thurs/Fri/Sun.

    -Kelly Olynyk was very effective last week, returning top-75 value with 10.3 points, 1.0 threes, 7.8 boards, 4.3 assists and over 2 stocks. Miami goes three times this week, but the Mon/Wed/Fri is highly accommodative, and you still have the weekend to stream.

    -Skal Labissiere was maintaining his top-90 last week before leaving Friday’s game with a hip injury. He still averaged 12.0 points, 0.5 threes, 7.3 boards and 2.0 blocks. Hopefully he won’t be out too long and if he’s ready to return to the starting lineup the Kings go four times this week with a Fri/Sat back-to-back.

    -Jakob Poeltl lost his excellent shooting and dropped to just top-150 value last week. He still brought home some defense with 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks and is streamable as a defensive specialist. The Raptors have four games this week and next.

    -Ed Davis: over the last two weeks he’s been getting 11.3 rebounds to go with 7.7 points and 0.8 blocks. The Blazers go four times, including a Sat/Sun back-to-back if you need to pad your end-of-week rebounds.

    -Now at the 5! Davis Bertans had three straight games of 10+ points and averaged over 2s. The Spurs open up this week with a nice Mon/Tues/Thurs set. They also play Saturday if you haven’t dropped him already.

    -Nerlens Noel is available in many leagues and is worth a shot especially if you have a bye week. If you don’t, the Mavs only go three times next week, and while they do have a Fri/Sat set, Noel missed Saturday (injury maintenance) of last week’s back-to-back games so two games from Noel isn’t looking very good.

    Random Observations

    I didn’t tank in any of my leagues to improve my standings, but I did in one league to kick a team out. My No. 1 Porzingis/Steph-less squad was floundering, so I just sat everyone on Saturday and Sunday to win turnovers with the No. 1 seed locked up and me not having a chance at the other cats. That would give my surging No. 7 opponent one less win, which would tie him with the meh No. 6 team. Based on their season matchups, team No. 6 would advance to the playoffs, I’ll still get a bye and avoid No. 7 in later rounds, and that’s how you do it.

    All team No. 6 has to do is win BLKS and FG against his opponent. He has two less game to finish the week but three more games from high-usage big men, so he should pull it out and get (and win) the tiebreaker. I’m writing this super early on Saturday morning with two days to go, but it’s only a 50/50 but it’s worth a shot and it don’t hurt me none.

    Per Shams Charania, the Bulls were warned by the league about their tank job. The league felt that since Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday were healthy, they shouldn’t be missing games. Apparently the league hasn’t heard of “reverse analytics” (h/t Brian Windhorst). Justin Holiday is playing but I’m not touching him; also, welcome back Sideshow Bob; mascots can resume cowering. Meanwhile the Grizzlies have lost 17 in a row with nary a fine nor warning. When it comes to tanking, this is how we do it (sampling a track with less commercial success but far more importance in the history of hip-hop).

    Some days, I wake up and a song is randomly in my head. Sometimes it’s a classic that I recently heard, and it just stuck. Other times, it’s an obscure track I haven’t heard in over a decade, haven’t heard in so long that I can’t remember the name or artist, but the melody keeps reasserting itself until I can (usually) track it down. Those are life-reaffirming moments that exemplify the beauty and mystery of music, and consciousness itself.

    The flipside of this is when it’s a horrible song that you just can’t shake. This kind of song is most exemplified is by vapid arena songs- there are few things worse than taking a shower with an internal brain speaker blaring:  I can make your hands clap *clap clap clap clap clap clap clap* And why are a bunch of Sub-Zeros in the video? ARGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!

    In times like this, the need to cleanse my musical palate is paramount. I’ll swim in some strings or I might want it jazzier. Maybe more organic. I might want some 808s with those bastard blues I can go heroic or I can go hard. I can go local post-rock. I can do theater, or an almost story-arc cinematic feel, perhaps with added Kung-Fu/Blaxploitation funk. I can get funky and trippy and I can also get funky in French (both 70s classics!). If all else fails, I can always fall back on the old standby.

    Music Lovers: That’s your birthday/Christmas/New Years present with well over an hour of instrumentals; caaan yooou digg iiiit?

    If not, pass it on.


    Get at me for hoops, old music and older music.

    Follow @HoopBall Fantasy for up-to-the-minute fantasy updates.

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