• 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

  • Jacob Evans
    SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    The Wolves announced this morning that the team has assigned Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Iowa Wolves, the team’s NBA G League affiliate.

    All of them were acquired at the trade deadline and they are unlikely to receive much playing time with the main squad.

    Source: Nba.com

  • Kris Dunn
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    The Bulls announced this morning that Kris Dunn will continue his current rehabilitation program of his medial collateral ligament sprain for the next 4-6 weeks before progressing to functional training.

    A determination will be made at that time if additional treatment is required so it’s not certain that Dunn will be able to return to action this year. He is now a drop in standard leagues and the Bulls will rely on Tomas Satoransky and Coby White for the foreseeable future.

    Source: Nba.com

  • Aaron Gordon
    PF, Orlando Magic

    The Magic tried mightily to trade forward Aaron Gordon before last week's deadline, according to veteran NBA reporter Sean Deveney.

    The Warriors and the Suns were among the teams that spoke to the Magic but talks obviously didn’t materialize. Orlando is waiting for first-round pick Chuma Okeke as he recovers from ACL surgery, and his recovery could potentially spell the end of Gordon with the Magic. AG has taken a step back this year, sitting outside the top-150 in standard leagues but hopefully the All-Star break helps him get back on track.

    Source: Heavy.com

  • Nicolas Claxton
    PF, Brooklyn Nets

    The Nets assigned Nicolas Claxton to their G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, on Wednesday.

    With DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen healthy it’s gonna be hard for the rookie center to find any minutes. He is only a stash in dynasty leagues right now.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    After a full month of increasingly intense individual workouts, Stephen Curry joined on Tuesday his Warriors teammates on the practice court for the first time since last October.

    If all goes well next week, it’s conceivable Curry would immediately begin scrimmaging, with a possible return a few days later. The Warriors have 27 games remaining and after March 1st that number drops to 21. Their final 20 begin with a four-game homestand from March 5th to March 12th and, assuming there are no setbacks, it’s likely that Curry will return during that stretch. Make sure that he is not available in any leagues as he could be the difference-maker during this year’s fantasy playoffs.

    Source: Monte Poole on Twitter

  • Andre Drummond
    C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Greg Swartz of BleacherReport is reporting that Andre Drummond’s stay in Cleveland could be short, as, according to a former NBA general manager, the Cavs could move their new center this summer.

    Cleveland put together one of the most bizarre trade deadlines in recent memory by trading for Drummond and holding on to Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Drummond somewhat fits agewise with the Cavs’ young core of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr., but his contract status is still up in the air as he has a $28.8 million player option for the 2020-21 season. Drummond seems to be a safe play on fantasy for the rest of the year, even after the expected coaching change, but his status beyond that seems to be up in the air.

    Source: Bleacher Report

  • Mitchell Robinson
    C, New York Knicks

    Villanova coach Jay Wright has no interest in the Knicks, as reported on Monday, but Tom Thibodeau very much would like to coach at the Garden, according to Marc Berman of the NY Post.

    Thibodeau’s reputation took a hit after he was fired last season during his third year in Minnesota, even after he took the Wolves to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. He reportedly did not connect with the young players, practicing them too hard and being too vocal on the bench. Thibs has ties with the Knicks, as he was a former assistant, and it’s likely that he gets an interview in the upcoming months but it remains to be seen what kind of roster the Knicks try to assemble for next year.

    Source: NY Post

  • Jeremy Pargo
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Guards Jeremy Pargo and Zach Norvell Jr. will not re-sign with the Warriors after their 10-day contracts ended on Tuesday.

    “I know we have a list of players we’d like to take a look at,” Steve Kerr said. It seems that the Warriors will take the time to evaluate more guys in the upcoming weeks making it hard to count on any players they bring in. In three games with the Warriors, Norvell averaged just 3.3 points on 27.3 percent shooting. Pargo meanwhile had a nice showing with the team and it’s not out of question that another franchise takes a look at him.

    Source: San Francisco Chronicle

  • Maurice Harkless
    SF, New York Knicks

    During an appearance on ESPN, Sam Amick of The Athletic said on Tuesday that the Lakers are monitoring Maurice Harkless' situation in the event that the Knicks part with him.

    The Lakers missed out on Reggie Jackson but they are still looking to add more firepower ahead of the playoffs. Harkless could give them more defensive versatility but it remains unclear whether New York is willing to let him walk. Regardless, it’s unlikely he has much fantasy value even if he lands with the Lakers.

    Source: Sam Amick of The Athletic

  • John Beilein
    , Cleveland Cavaliers

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski, John Beilein is leaving as the Cavs’ coach and J.B. Bickerstaff will be elevated to head coach.

    It’s still not official, but once Woj says it’s happening, it’s happening. A shake-up is likely to be a great thing for this roster that contains at least a few unhappy star players in Kevin Love and Andre Drummond. Be ready to act on any significant role changes that come with this move. For example, will Larry Nance Jr. and/or Kevin Porter Jr. take on expanded roles?

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter