• There are six games on the NBA schedule for Saturday and last night we saw a huge upset as the Celtics took down the Warriors on their home floor. With less than two weeks left in the regular season, each day has the potential for great basketball and we here at Hoop Ball want to help guide you to the games you don’t want to miss.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Heat go up against the Blazers and the Raptors look to take down the Spurs.

    Now for the ‘must watch’ game of the night.

    Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls

    Tip Time: 8 pm (est)

    Where: United Center, Chicago, IL

    Player Matchup: Andre Drummond and Pau Gasol

    The Bulls have shown resilience as they have not given up on their playoff hopes. It was just a few days ago that we were talking about how the Bulls have fallen off. Now, Chicago trails the seventh-seeded Pistons by 1.5 games and they’re just one game behind the eighth-seeded Pacers.

    “We played with low energy,” Nikola Mirotic said. “Basically when they got a lead we gave up. Look at the difference today. They got a lead 14 points; we don’t give up, we fight. We played much better defense in the fourth quarter; we find some hot guys, Jimmy (Butler) and E’Twaun (Moore) in the fourth quarter, and that is how we should play because we know every game is important right now. Sometimes you need to find differently how to win the games; now I am seeing much more focus.”

    Mirotic has been a big contributor in Chicago’s two big, ‘must win’ games over the Pacers and Rockets. Getting more opportunities with Taj Gibson (ribs) sidelined, Mirotic has now scored 28 points in back-to-back games. Gibson is already considered ‘doubtful’ for Saturday’s contest.

    Along with Gibson, Derrick Rose (elbow) is also considered ‘doubtful’ for the Bulls’ meeting with the Pistons. If Rose is to sit out, E’Twaun Moore and Aaron Brooks would be on track to see a big boost in minutes, making them both intriguing daily fantasy options.

    (Be sure to stay close to Hoop Ball for updates on the players statuses before tip-off.)

    With the Bulls once again getting hit by the injury bug, the 14-year veteran Pau Gasol will now be a big focal point on the offensive side of the floor. Through three meetings against the Pistons, Gasol has averaged 25.7 points, 13 rebounds, 3.7 assists and an impressive 3.7 blocks per game.

    “All you can ask for is the guys who are on the floor give everything they’ve got, compete and play hard and try to do the right thing,” Gasol said. “If you have that you have a chance, especially when you have a certain level of talent. We can’t replace something that Tex Winter used to say, ‘There’s no substitute for hustle.’ You have to hustle out there, you have to play together and compete and that’s something that we’ve been insistent with throughout the year.”

    It seems the gameplan for the final seven games of the season is to play motivated and hustle. The Bulls are fighting for their playoff lives and they know that. The team now has positive vibes from their recent two-game winning streak, and it has built confidence inside of the Bulls’ locker room.

    “They’ve been big (these last two games),” Butler said. “I think they’ve given us confidence moving forward. I think all the guys want to win, of course; we are all in this together. Hopefully this will be a consistent streak. Win the rest of these games and find us in, I don’t know, seventh, eighth, sixth, whatever it may be.”

    The Pistons have fortified their position by going 6-4 over their last 10 games which included a nine-game homestand. Six games remain on the schedule and they won’t be quite as welcoming. Four of their next six games will be played away from home, and four of their upcoming six opponents are teams with a winning record.

    Reggie Jackson has been relied upon heavily to spark the Pistons’ offense this season, but he has been struggling over his last 10 games with averages of 13.5 points and 6.6 assists while shooting an abysmal 34 percent from the field.

    “I didn’t think his decision making in terms of shot selection and turnovers was very good,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said following the loss to the Mavs. “He did have ten assists. I thought he was trying to make plays, but I didn’t think his decision making was real, real good. It was a rough night.”

    These two teams gave us a show back in December when the game needed four overtimes before the Pistons were able to squeak out the victory. With both of these teams looking at this as a ‘must-win’ game, we’re going to look at it as our ‘must watch’ game of the night.

Fantasy News

  • Cory Joseph
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.

    Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.

    Source: John Casey on Twitter

  • Tyronn Lue
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.

    The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • PJ Tucker
    SF, Houston Rockets

    P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.

    The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.

    Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter

  • Jaylen Adams
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks officially announced the signings of guards Jaylen Adams and Rayjon Tucker on Tuesday.

    Adams and Tucker have their work cut out for them in their bid to claim a roster with the big club, as the Bucks have a reasonably deep guard rotation. Adams and Tucker are more than likely competing to get playing time in the G-League this season and can be ignored in fantasy.

    Source: NBA

  • Jeff Ledbetter
    G, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs have offered summer league guard Jeff Ledbetter an Exhibit 10 deal, but he is still mulling over his options which include playing in Europe.

    Ledbetter had a productive summer league and now finds himself with a chance to play for the Austin Spurs of the G-League. Ledbetter is sure to be staring at a bigger payday in Europe, so his choice will be an interesting one. We should have a decision soon.

    Source: Nicola Lupo on Twitter

  • Eric Mika
    C, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings announced on Tuesday that they signed summer league standout C Eric Mika to an exhibit 10 contract.

    The former BYU big man is now set up to play for the Stockton Kings of the G-League. The Kings have a deep big man rotation, and it's unlikely that we'll see much, if any, of Mika on the roster this season.

    Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter

  • JA Morant
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Ja Morant (right knee) said that he is completely healed from the minor knee surgery earlier this summer, saying he is "100 percent right now."

    Morant will look to get back into the swing of things in the coming weeks as he prepares for his rookie season. Morant has the talent and the role on rebuilding team and is undoubtedly going to cost a pretty penny in fantasy drafts.

    Source: Peter Edmiston on Twitter

  • Derrick Alston
    Team, New York Knicks

    The Westchester Knicks have named Derrick Alston as the new head coach, replacing Mike Miller who was promoted to join David Fizdale’s staff.

    Alston, a former NBA player, has been an assistant for Westchester for four years. Before that, Alston was a player development coach with the Rockets. This will be Alston’s first head coaching gig as he continues to move up the ladder.

    Source: Ian Begley on Twitter

  • Cory Joseph
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    Cory Joseph is not expected to play for Team Canada in the FIBA World Cup.

    Team Canada has been taking a beating the last few weeks with NBA guys continuing to pull out. This news won't have any effects on Joseph's role heading into the season, but it does create another dent in Team Canada's chances of making noise in the World Cup.

    Source: Doug Smith: Raptors on Twitter

  • Marcus Georges-Hunt
    SG, Free Agent

    Jay King of The Athletic is hearing that Marcus Georges-Hunt is in Boston working out with the Celtics for the next few days.

    Georges-Hunt last played in the NBA for the Wolves in the 2017-18 season. Last season Georges-Hunt was waived from the Celtics in mid-October and played nine games for the Red Claws. Georges-Hunt is a longshot to make the team and carries no fantasy relevance regardless of the outcome.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter