• 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

  • Dennis Schroder
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dennis Schroder scored 19 points to lead Germany to a 83-62 win vs. Hungary as the teams prepare for the Wold Cup.

    Schroder filled the box score tonight by adding three rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and four treys. He will come off the bench again next season behind Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Anyone who drafts the often-injured Chris Paul may want to handcuff him with Schroder. Fellow countryman Daniel Theis scored 11 points with six rebounds, two assists and one steal.

    Source: FIBA

  • Tyler Dorsey
    SG, International

    Tyler Dorsey has signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C. of Israel.

    Dorsey played 21 games for the Grizzlies last year after being acquired midseason from the Hawks via trade. He played well over that span with 9.8 points in 21.3 minutes but will take his talents overseas where, "He'll have a chance to showcase what great things he can do," according to his new head coach. Maccabi has signed several former NBA players this offseason as Dorsey will be joining Omri Casspi, Nate Wolters, Quincy Acy and Tarik Black.

    Source: Macabi Tel Aviv on Twitter

  • Rayjon Tucker
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Rayjon Tucker will be signing with the Bucks on a partially guaranteed deal.

    Tucker is a little older than most rookies and will be 22 before the start of the season but he played well enough at Little Rock last year to deserve a look, scoring 20.3 points per game and knocking down 2.4 triples per game at a 41.1 percent clip. He rounds out the Bucks 20-man training camp roster but since they already have 15 guaranteed contracts and both two-way spots occupied, he is very unlikely to make the team and could very well end up in the G-League.

    Source: Darren Wolfson on Twitter

  • De'Aaron Fox
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    Per Chris Hayes of Yahoo, De'Aaron Fox will be withdrawing from the FIBA World Cup in order to focus on the upcoming season.

    Fox follows the trend set by many other players that have withdrawn for the same reason. Maybe this is related to him only playing six minutes in the exhibition against Spain on Friday but either way, he should be in line to improve last year's huge leap in production and could even be in the All-Star conversation. Derrick White is much more likely to make the final roster now with Fox out.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker leads US in 90-81 victory over Spain on Friday.

    Walker impressed in the exhibition with 11 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals in 22 minutes with Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Khris Middleton also playing well as his co-stars. Four Celtics are expected to be on the final roster which will serve as a great opportunity for Walker to develop a good rapport with his new teammates ahead of training camp. Marc Gasol was the top scorer for Spain with 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks while Ricky Rubio finished with 16 points, seven assists and five steals.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Khem Birch
    C, Orlando Magic

    Khem Birch led all scorers with 18 points as Canada lost to Australia in the second game of their mini-series exhibition.

    Birch also chipped in four rebounds, two steals and a block in 23 minutes. He recently signed a two-year extension with the Magic but he currently sits as their third string center so he is off the fantasy map for now. For Australia, captain Joe Ingles put up eight points on 2-of-10 shooting with six assists and three steals in 31 minutes while Jonah Bolden chipped in 12 points, five rebounds, a steal and two triples in 18 minutes off the bench.

    Source: FIBA

  • Juancho Hernangomez
    PF, Denver Nuggets

    Juan Hernangomez was back in action on Friday after undergoing core surgery in May.

    Hernangomez did not do much in his 20 minutes of action in Spain's exhibition against the US on Friday but at least he has recovered from his surgery. He is entering a contract year but it will be difficult for him to get much playing time with the Nuggets at full health. He played only 8.4 minutes per game over the last two months of last season.

    Source: Nick Kosmider on Twitter

  • Jayson Tatum
    SF, Boston Celtics

    Jayson Tatum's intent is to increase his scoring this season according to Keith Smith.

    Tatum has been working on being stronger with the ball, drawing fouls and finishing through contact which should result in an increase in free throws, points and efficiency. He was already a top-60 player in only his second year in the league by providing a little bit of everything from a fantasy perspective and should only continue to grow going into his third season.

    Source: Keith Smith on Twitter

  • Daulton Hommes
    SF, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs have signed rookie Daulton Hommes.

    This is likely a camp deal for Hommes as the Spurs already have 15 guaranteed contracts on their roster. The NABC Division II Player of the Year averaged 8.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.4 triples and 1.0 threes in in 17.7 minutes for the Bucks in summer league action. He is unlikely to play in the NBA this season.

    Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    In the NBATV broadcast on Friday night, Marcus Smart said he is "100% confident" that his health won't be an issue to start the World Cup.

    With the news of PJ Tucker having to drop out due to an ankle injury, it's good to see Smart won't have to do the same. His presence will be a key factor on defense for Team USA.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter