• The Rockets were hoping that a foundation of a dominant post presence and an unstoppable ball handler could push the team to new heights. On paper, if you surround them with strong defenders and outside shooters the sky is the limit. The reality is that Dwight Howard and James Harden have always made for a precarious pair. With the Rockets on the verge of elimination, the cracks have never been more obvious.

    Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen captured an exchange from today’s media availability where Howard was asked about his lack of touches. The big center responded by saying “You have to ask the appropriate people.

    Howard has taken only 8.5 shots per game this season, the lowest total since his rookie year. He only played 32.1 minutes per game during the regular season, a career low if we exclude his injury ravaged 2014-15 campaign (29.8 MPG). In trying to answer for his lack of involvement in the offense, Howard’s refusal to name names makes the divide all the more obvious.

    Howard will almost certainly opt-out of his deal with the Rockets this summer and look for a new landing spot. While not the force he once was, D12 can still be a game-changing defensive presence on the low block and be an above-average contributor on the offensive end. It will be interesting to see if getting away from ball-dominant Harden can help Howard get his mojo back.

    On one hand, even if the Rockets were firing on all cylinders it would be tough to see them giving this version of the Warriors a competitive series. On the other, it’s disappointing to see such a promising collection of talent completely crumble beneath pressure and personal matters. The team can diagnose their defeat however they’d like; turnovers, coaching, execution and effort are all fair conclusions to draw. At the end of the day –and at the heart of the matter– this combination just won’t work.

    It’s a sad end for a team that once had championship aspirations.

Fantasy News

  • Kevin Huerter
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    Kevin Huerter (allergic reaction) is cleared to play on Thursday.

    Huerter suffered the reaction at an event on Wednesday but he's not too much worse for the wear and is good to get into lineups tonight if you'd usually have him in there.

    Source: Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter

  • De'Andre Hunter
    SF, Atlanta Hawks

    De'Andre Hunter (right ankle sprain) will play on Thursday.

    Hunter tweaked his ankle at practice but is good to go. He's been on a nice run of late but is only returning late-round value even then. He's a no-go if you care about FG% but low-end value isn't out of the question for Hunter down the stretch. It's just more likely that he's a better asset for deeper leagues.

    Source: Brad Rowland on Twitter

  • Patrick McCaw
    SG, Toronto Raptors

    Patrick McCaw (illness) is doubtful to play on Friday.

    McCaw's absence should open up more minutes for Terence Davis and Matt Thomas, though McCaw is not a fantasy option himself even when healthy.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Dario Saric
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    Dario Saric (left ankle sprain) is probable to play on Friday.

    Saric has fallen off the map a bit, dipping in and out of a solid rotation role even before getting hurt. He's been out for the last seven games and his return will have Mikal Bridges fantasy owners sweating pretty good. We'll see if the Suns avoid a value-killing timeshare.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Elie Okobo
    PG, Phoenix Suns

    Elie Okobo (left ankle sprain) is probable for Friday's game.

    Okobo was injured in Phoenix's last game before the break but was able to play through it so this is no surprise. He's not on the fantasy radar.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    Kyrie Irving will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and miss the rest of the season.

    Irving was trying to treat his ailing shoulder to avoid missing the rest of the year, but ultimately could not stave off the procedure. He can be dropped in all redraft formats while Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert are the big winners. Irving should be ready for next season, when the Nets will try and put together a title run behind Kyrie and Kevin Durant. GM Sean Marks said that Irving is expected to be ready for summer workouts.

    Source: Stefan Bondy on Twitter

  • Aron Baynes
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Aron Baynes (left hip soreness) is listed as probable for Friday's game.

    Baynes has been out since mid-January, but he's returning at the same time as Deandre Ayton which eliminates all fantasy value. Either way, after 13 games on the shelf, Baynes should help stabilize Phoenix's defense even if he's not a fantasy factor.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Edmond Sumner
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Edmond Sumner (sore hip) is questionable to face the Knicks on Friday.

    Sumner started the year as Indiana's backup PG but a right hand fracture put him at the back of the line. Healthy or otherwise, Sumner isn't much of a fantasy asset these days.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Mike Conley
    PG, Utah Jazz

    Mike Conley (rest) will not play on Friday.

    A rest game coming out of the All-Star break is a funny look, but the Jazz go back-to-back and play Houston on Saturday, which is far more meaningful than tomorrow's tilt with the Spurs. Expect extra touches to funnel to Joe Ingles in that one.

    Source: Tony Jones on Twitter

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Deandre Ayton (left ankle soreness) is probable to play on Friday against the Raptors.

    Ayton should be returning from a two-game absence. He's been dynamite whenever he's been available this season and that shouldn't change going forward. Expect Ayton to deliver early-round lines on a nightly basis.

    Source: NBA Injury Report