• There are six underwhelming games on the slate for Sunday and Hoop Ball is here to guide you to the games you will find the most enjoyable. None of these matchups have the ‘wow factor’, but there is one game on the schedule that is beginning to have a playoff-type of feel.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Magic take on the Raptors, the Jazz go up against the Bucks and the Kings look to take down the Knicks.

    Now for the only game that matters, here is your ‘must watch’ game of the evening.

    Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Tip Time: 4 pm (est)

    Where: American Airlines Center

    Player Matchup: Damian Lillard and Raymond Felton

    The Mavericks (34-35) and the Trail Blazers (36-34) are two teams that are trying their hardest to stay in the playoff picture. Unfortunately, both teams are also struggling mightily through the month of March. Portland has gone 4-6 over their last 10 games and giving up an average of 112 points per game to their opponents.

    The Blazers have been a bit of a surprise this season. After losing four of their five starters over the offseason, Portland was supposed to be going through a rebuilding year. Instead, the team has placed themselves sixth in the Western Conference and are on the verge of making another playoff appearance.

    Leading the Blazers into their playoff fight is third-year guard Damian Lillard. Through 63 games this season, Lillard is averaging a career-high 25.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. In the month of March, Lillard has done all he can to keep his team from falling in the standings, averaging 28 points, four rebounds and six assists per game.

    Lillard took a hard fall in Friday’s 117-112 win over the Pelicans. He was clotheslined by Kendrick Perkins and was on the ground for a couple of minutes before getting back to his feet. Lillard has insisted that he is fine, and I would be shocked if he were to sit this game out.

    In the previous meeting with the Mavericks, Lillard was unstoppable and finished the game just two rebounds shy of a triple-double (25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds).

    Dallas has gone 3-6 through the month of March and with their recent struggles the Mavs have fallen under .500, sitting just one game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

    Dirk Nowitzki has been amazing this season averaging 18.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. On the fringe of falling out of the playoff picture, Nowitzki has taken his game to another level with averages of 23.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the month of March.

    Chandler Parsons suffered a strained hamstring on Friday, and it seems that it could be serious because he is already considered doubtful for Sunday’s game. Deron Williams, who scored a season-high 30 points against the Blazers in their last meeting, is listed as questionable with a (right) calf injury. Wesley Matthews is also being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with a lower-extremity issue.

    (Be sure to stay close to Hoop-Ball.com for updates on the status of these three players before tip-off.)

    The 37-year-old Nowitzki will now have to put this Mavs team on his back and try to carry them to victory. In the last meeting against the Blazers, the 17-year veteran was on triple-double watch finishing with 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Fantasy News

  • Milton Doyle
    G, Chicago Bulls

    Milton Doyle, formerly of the Nets and Spanish club UCAM Murcia, has agreed to a partially-guaranteed deal with the Bulls.

    Doyle played 10 games with the Nets in 2017-18. He's facing an uphill battle but will try to earn a roster spot in training camp.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Joakim Noah
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Joakim Noah plans to join workouts with the Clippers this week, per Shams Charania.

    Noah hasn't been in the news since he was up for consideration with the Lakers, but he would be a nice bench pickup for the Clippers. They could use a big-bodied center to crash and bang in certain matchups, and Noah would fit in as a strong defender. We'll see if anything comes of this week's workouts.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Carmelo Anthony
    PF, Free Agent

    As of right now, the Nets are "very unlikely" to sign Carmelo Anthony, according to a report from Shams Charania.

    Brooklyn is more likely to sign players that they have worked out recently, with Charania naming Lance Thomas and C.J. Williams as possibilities. At least more people can complain about Melo being unsigned now.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Chuma Okeke
    PF, Orlando Magic

    According to Shams Charania, the Magic plan to redshirt rookie Chuma Okeke, who is recovering from a torn left ACL.

    Earlier in the summer Magic POBO Jeff Weltman said that he believed Okeke could return this season, but there's no rush for him to get back on the court. The 16th overall pick will be able to focus on rehab this season, and he's off the board in all redraft formats.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Chris Paul
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Though the Thunder are prepared to open the season with Chris Paul as a "veteran star and leader," Shams Charania is reporting that the Heat have "a level of interest" in CP3.

    The Heat and Paul were said to have mutual interest back when CP3 was first traded to Oklahoma City but the teams couldn't work out a deal. It is now expected that Miami will play out the start of the season and see how things are going before they make a big play for Paul, as acquiring his three years and $124 million would require a trade of major contracts. A deal would certainly improve Paul's fantasy outlook but as it stands he figures to stay on the cusp of early-round production as long as he's on the court, even for a Thunder team that's looking to the future.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Antonio Blakeney
    SG, Chicago Bulls

    Antonio Blakeney has agreed to a deal with Jiangsu in the CBA.

    Blakeney was let go by the Bulls a couple weeks ago. A strong scorer at the G-League level, he should be able to drop some huge games in China. We'd expect to hear his name on the mid-season free agency market if all goes well overseas.

    Source: Sportando

  • Furkan Korkmaz
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign for the Sixers, Furkan Korkmaz knows this season will be crucial for his future and he is hoping to make big strides this year.

    The one thing Korkmaz has going for him is his shooting ability and that is something the Sixers could surely utilize on this roster. It did not click last season, but Korkmaz will get another chance to prove his worth at some point this season. Still, it is hard to picture him coming out of the gate with a big role on opening night.

    Source: Sixers.com

  • Nikola Mirotic
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    On Sunday, Nikola Mirotic dropped 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting for Barcelona.

    Mirotic's opening appearance for his new EuroLeague club, Barcelona, resulted in a victory, and he did not have to work too hard for most of his buckets at the Supercopa Endesa versus Valencia. Mirotic should find quick success during his return to European basketball, but NBA fantasy players will surely be missing his presence stateside.

    Source: Eurohoops

  • Bruce Brown
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey spoke highly of Bruce Brown’s defensive play, calling him an ‘elite defender.’

    Brown remains in contention for a starting spot with the Pistons, but he is not a high-usage player, and the Pistons have stocked up with offensive threats such as Derrick Rose and the immortal Joe Johnson. It will be tough for Brown to rack up enough touches or minutes this season.

    Source: Pistons.com

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    There is some optimism in league circles about Kevin Durant's (Achilles) chances of playing this season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

    Looking back on Durant's decision to return during the Finals, the Nets may want to exude caution when considering KD's return to action. However, Durant is pursuing his rehab with a sense of purpose, and it would be great to see him get back on the court this season. We'll keep you posted when a real timeline on Durant's rehab emerges. This news does not make him a target on draft day for standard leagues.

    Source: New York Post