• I can’t believe that we are less than a week away from being done with the NBA regular season. It feels just like yesterday when I was prepping myself for the first game of the year. We are now at the point where most teams know what they are doing to end the season. Some have decided they are tanking while others are resting players to prepare for the playoffs. However, there are a couple of teams that are still fighting for their playoff lives and playing with a sense of urgency, knowing that just one mistake could cost them their season. With that all being said, let us look to Monday’s ‘must watch’ games of the night.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Hawks face the Cavs, the Hornets test their luck against the Celtics and it’s a battle of the youngsters as the Bucks go up against the Magic.

    Now for the games you don’t want to miss.

    Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Tip Time: 8 pm (est)

    Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    Player Matchup: Dwight Howard and Karl-Anthony Towns

    This is a must-win game for Houston (39-41), who is trailing the eighth-seeded Utah Jazz by just one game. It has been a roller-coaster of a year for the Rockets. This team has gone from making it to the Western Conference Finals just a season ago to now just hoping to sneak into the playoffs. They’re a team on the fence right now and just one mistake away from being on the outside looking in.

    “I mean first, you got to win. It’s simple for us,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We understand the situation and the position we put ourselves in. There’s games left; there’s minutes to be played and we need to win.”

    When talking about the Rockets we’re always talking about James Harden. Statistically, he has been a force all season long. Over his last 10 games, the six-year veteran has averaged 30.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game. Defensively, he still has his issues but through the month April, Harden has shown small signs of life averaging 2.5 steals and 0.8 blocks per game.

    As for the Timberwolves (28-52), this has been a season of hope as the team has struck gold with their rookie Karl-Anthony Towns. The Wolves now have a strong base of young players to build around with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng and Towns. It’s a solid young foundation that has shown signs of what it could be after a few years of development.

    Towns has been incredible this season with averages of 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. If you haven’t seen him play, you need to treat yourself to the future of the NBA. At just 20-years-old, Towns has shown great intangibles and has solidified himself as the number one option for his team on a nightly basis.

    The Wolves are more interested in development while the Rockets are fighting their hearts out. Daily fantasy players, I highly recommend you play James Harden in this one. Not only is it a must-win for his team, but in his two meetings against the Wolves this year he has averaged 28 points and 12.5 assists per game.

    Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz

    Tip Time: 9 pm (est)

    Where: Vivint Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

    Player Matchup: Wes Matthews and Gordon Hayward

    These two teams are separated by just a game in the standings for the seventh seed in the Western Conference. However, the Memphis Grizzlies are also dropping in the standings sitting just two games ahead of the Jazz and one game ahead of the Mavericks for the sixth seed.

    Dallas (41-39) has been playing a lot better as of late, despite being without their starting point guard Deron Williams. Before Williams’ return on Sunday, the Mavs were on a six-game winning streak and holding their opponents to 87.1 points per game in that span. A big reason for their success was because of the play they were getting from J.J. Barea, who has now gone down with an injury.

    Like many assumed it would, fatigue has set in on this veteran-heavy Dallas team. Wesley Matthews seems to have found a rhythm averaging 16 points per game and scoring in double figures in nine out of his last ten outings.

    For the Jazz (40-40), this meeting with the Mavericks is the biggest game of their season. Utah does not hold the tie-breaker over the Houston Rockets, so they need to avoid a loss to make the playoffs.

    “I don’t have to talk a whole lot about it,” coach Quin Snyder said about Monday’s game against the Mavericks. “It speaks for itself.”

    Derrick Favors was a last-minute scratch from Sunday’s game against the Nuggets due to soreness in his right knee. He is currently listed as a game-time decision. If Favors is to sit out a second consecutive game, then look for rookie Trey Lyles to step in as the team’s starter.

    (Be sure to stay close to Hoop Ball for updates of Favors’ status before tip-off.)

    Gordon Hayward has been playing on another level in April, averaging 20.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 48 percent from the floor. The five-year veteran is going to be asked to carry even more of the offensive load if Favors is forced to sit.

    This will not be the flashiest game and there is a good chance that these two teams hold each other under 100 points.

Fantasy News

  • Eric Gordon
    SG, Houston Rockets

    Eric Gordon (sore knee) is being listed as questionable for Wednesday's game against the Grizzlies but expects to suit up.

    Gordon got the start on Monday with Russell Westbrook sitting, but left early and did not return. It looks like he shouldn't miss any time as a result, and will look to slot back in as a scorer off the bench. Gordon is averaging 14 points, 1.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.5 threes in two games since the All-Star break.

    Source: Cayleigh Griffin on Twitter

  • Russell Westbrook
    Team, Houston Rockets

    Russell Westbrook (sore thumb) is expected to suit up when the Rockets take on the Grizzlies on Wednesday.

    Westbrook missed Monday's game with the issue, but it was never thought to be anything more than for precautionary reasons. Westbrook cut down on his three-point attempts in early December and has been a per-game beast ever since, sitting on top-16/8 per-game value in 9/8 cat leagues over the past three months. Westbrook owners can also breathe a sigh of relief that the Rockets have just one remaining back-to-back set on the schedule.

    Source: Kelly Iko on Twitter

  • Chandler Hutchison
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Chandler Hutchison (shoulder), Denzel Valentine (hamstring) and Luke Kornet (ankle) will all be held out against the Thunder on Tuesday.

    The Bulls will once again have only nine active players for tonight's game as Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaquille Harrison and Adam Mokoka should again see minutes in the high teens. None are worth much of a look, as the Bulls have five days to get their roster healthy before their next game on Saturday.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Otto Porter Jr.
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Otto Porter Jr. (left foot fracture) is being ruled out ahead of Tuesday's matchup with the Thunder.

    The Bulls continue to take the cautious approach with Porter Jr. and will give him an additional five days to ramp up his activity before potentially being activated for Saturday's game against the Knicks.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Wendell Carter Jr.
    C, Chicago Bulls

    Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) is being ruled out ahead of Tuesday's matchup with the Thunder.

    Carter Jr. returned to Bulls' practice over the All-Star break eyeing a return, but he will now miss the first four games after the break. Luke Kornet (ankle) remains out as well, as Daniel Gafford and Christiano Felicio should continue to stay busy. Carter's next opportunity to return will be on Saturday against the Knicks.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Mitchell Robinson
    C, New York Knicks

    Mitchell Robinson said that he has added 10 pounds to his frame since the start of the 2019-20 NBA season.

    Robinson has put up top-40/60 value in 9/8 cat formats on the year despite playing only 22.6 minutes per game. Over the past month Robinson has averaged 8.3 points, 7.0 rebonds, 1.1 steals and 2.5 blocks on an astronomical .840 percent from the field. Robinson remains one of the highest-upside players to target in hopes that the Knicks finally let him loose down the stretch.

    Source: Newsday

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Speaking to reporters after Monday’s game, Luka Doncic acknowledged that he is still trying to recover from the ankle sprain that sidelined him before the All-Star game.

    “I mean, it bothers me sometimes. Obviously, it’s not healed 100%. That’s why I missed the game in Atlanta. It was swollen and, you know, I’m just trying to keep the swelling down.” The Mavs are trying to secure a playoff berth but it’s certain that they will be cautious with their All-Star guard. He was fantastic on Monday and owners can only hope that he won’t be missing many games down the stretch.

    Source: Callie Caplin on Twitter

  • Rodions Kurucs
    PF, Brooklyn Nets

    The Nets have recalled Rodions Kurucs from their NBA G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

    Kurucs has fallen out of the rotation in the last few games and he is not worth holding expect from dynasty leagues.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Danilo Gallinari
    SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    The Thunder held trade talks at the deadline with the Heat on a deal involving Danilo Gallinari, but he ultimately remained with the franchise and he is happy about it.

    “I really wanted to stay here. It would be tough to leave such a great atmosphere, great teammates, a group that is winning," said Gallinari. "I wanted to stay.” Oklahoma has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season and this has to do with Gallinari playing at a high level, averaging 19.1 points and 5.6 rebounds while making a career-high 2.9 triples per game. The Rooster is returning top-50 value for the season and the hope is that he can remain healthy until the end.

    Source: The Daily Thunder

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    Brian Windhorst of ESPN said on Monday that there’s “no chance” that the Pistons will consider buying out Derrick Rose’s contract this season.

    Rose is having a nice season with the Pistons averaging 18.0 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 48.6 percent from the field. Dwane Casey has been able to connect with the veteran guard who is under contract with the Pistons for next year as well. Windhorst added that the Lakers inquired for him at the trade deadline but it’s clear that he will be staying in Detroit. Rose is a must-own player in standard leagues even though there is the potential of a shutdown later in the season.

    Source: ESPN