• It’s Thursday, so we all know what that means – 65 cent (boneless) wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. While you are there enjoying your meal, you might as well turn your attention to the T.V. and tune into tonight’s ‘must watch’ games of the night.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Bulls look to get a much-needed win against the Heat and the Raptors face the Hawks.

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

    Phoenix Suns vs. Houston Rockets

    Tip Time: 8 pm (est)

    Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    Player Matchup: Devin Booker and James Harden

    At first glance, you look at this matchup and you may think ‘why is this game on the list of ‘must watch’ games?’ It’s not based on the talent on the floor because it’s quite obvious that talent-wise the Rockets are the superior team. No, this matchup is on the list because of the playoff implications that come with the result of this game.

    The Rockets (38-20) are still fighting for their playoff lives after falling to the Mavericks on Wednesday, and they now trail the Jazz by one game for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

    “We all know how difficult it is, how important this game was,” Harden said following the loss to the Mavericks. “It’s not rocket science.”

    James Harden has put his team on his back as they fight for the playoffs. Over his last 10 games, the six-year veteran has averaged 28.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game.

    For the Suns (20-58) it has been a disappointing season. Injuries to their star players have turned a season that was full of optimism to a year of rebuilding. Phoenix enters the game looking to snap a seven-game losing streak.

    Rookie shooting guard Devin Booker has been a huge bright spot, however. Over his last 10 games, Booker has averaged 22.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. His ability to score off the dribble, move without the ball and knock down open jumpers has been impressive for a 19-year-old.

    Both of these teams rank in the bottom of the NBA in defensive efficiency (Houston: 22nd, Phoenix: 28th), so if you are someone that loves to watch offense with very little defense, then this is the game for you.

    San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

    Tip Time: 10:30 pm (est)

    Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA

    Player Matchup: LaMarcus Aldridge and Draymond Green

    Every time the Warriors (69-9) and the Spurs (65-12) face each other, you know it’s going to be on the list of ‘must watch’ games.  These two franchises have both had an amazing season, placing them number one and two in the standings.

    In the last meeting, San Antonio showed their defensive abilities by aggressively attacking the reigning MVP Stephen Curry every chance they could. As soon as Curry stepped over half court, the Spurs applied the pressure.

    Offensively, the Spurs were fueled by their two franchise centerpieces Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. You could tell by watching this game that the game plan was to attack down low. Aldridge took advantage of his height against Draymond Green, finishing the game with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

    Although this game is one that most NBA fans are anxious to see, Leonard – in Spurs fashion – has been downplaying their meeting with the champs.

    “I don’t think about it like that, playoffs are a different game,” Leonard said. “We don’t even know if we still will see each other in the playoffs so we will just go out and try to make our team better going into the playoffs.”

    The Warriors are chasing history, looking to pass the 1995-96 Bulls for the best single-season record in NBA history. However, after not losing a game on their home floor all season, the Warriors have now dropped two in a row in front of the home crowd. Golden State has to win their final four games if they want to break the record, meaning the margin of error is now gone.

    “It’s a miracle that we’ve gone this far without hitting a bump in the road,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “This is to be expected. Every team goes through it. It’s just probably surprising for people out there and maybe even our own guys because this season has maybe come too easy for us.”

    Draymond Green has been fantastic this season averaging 13.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. He is the backbone of this Warriors’ team and is the player that does not care about his stats — but is willing to be whatever his team needs him to be to get the win.

    You can’t talk about the Warriors without mentioning ‘the chef’ Stephen Curry. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better, Curry decides to take his game to a whole other level this season averaging 30 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game.

    In the last meeting between these two teams the Spurs were able to dominate the glass, finishing the game with a 16-rebound advantage over the Warriors. This game is without a doubt the definition of a ‘must watch’ game. One team is looking to make history while the other is looking to take down the champs for the second consecutive time. If the Warriors win they also will clinch home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

    There have been no reports of any Spurs’ players resting, but with this game not affecting their undefeated home court it would not be a huge surprise to see Popovich surprise us. Be sure to bookmark the site and stay close to Hoop Ball for updates on the players statuses before tip-off.

Fantasy News

  • Moritz Wagner
    PF, Washington Wizards

    Moritz Wagner has but cut from Germany's FIBA World Cup team.

    The move seems somewhat surprising given Wagner's youth and notoriety, but Germany still have four NBA players on their roster despite cutting Wagner. The Wizards have plenty of depth in the frontcourt and Wagner is probably lower on the totem poll when it comes to receiving minutes.

    Source: Dario Skerletic of Sportnado

  • Jonah Bolden
    PF, Philadelphia Sixers

    Jonah Bolden has opted to withdraw from Team Australia in the FIBA World Cup.

    Bolden becomes the fifth NBA player to skip out on playing for Australia in the World Cup, a trend that seems to be prevalent for several country's national teams. Bodlen could be looking at an increased role as a backup center for Philly's thin bench this upcoming season. He is not expected to be a relevant fantasy option though.

    Source: Fox Sports Australia

  • Jeremy Lin
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Jeremy Lin is in advanced discussions with the Bejing Ducks according to a report from Chinese journalist Sonx Xiang.

    Lin previosuly turned down a deal to play for CSKA Moscow, and has also discussed his openness to playing in China. The nine year guard still hopes to resmue his NBA career at some point, but a move to China may be the best career option for him at this juncture.

    Source: Sportando

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    The Lakers will soon ask Memphis permission to speak with Dwight Howard according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    Shams goes on to mention that there is mutual interest here and that Joakim Noah could be another veteran of interest for LA. The realistic options for free agents at the five really don't go much further than these two for the Lakers. Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins injury, one name the Lakers are considering is Dwight Howard, according to Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated.

    Howard is still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, but it is widely assumed that he will be waived before the season starts. A reunion in LA would certainly be pretty surprising for the Lakers after Howard famously did not resign with them after a miserable season playing with Kobe Bryant. Still, the Lakers need depth at the five and there really aren't any options on the market who compare to Howard's level of productivty, even at this stage of his career. Other center options the Lakers could pursue include Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried and Zaza Pachulia.

    Source: Rohan Nadkarni on Twitter

  • Malachi Richardson
    SG, International

    Malachi Richardson has signed with Hapoel Holon in Israel.

    Richardson played 22 games for the Raptors last season and averaged 1.4 points. At 23 years old, he still has time to develop and possibly return to the NBA in the future.

    Source: Sportando

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert scored 14 points along with nine rebounds, two assists and a block in France's 86-72 win vs. Brazil in the World Cup exhibition games.

    Gobert led the team in scoring across 22 minutes of playing time. With the new additions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic on the Jazz, Gobert may take a slight hit in scoring however you can still expect excellent field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks. Evan Fournier chipped in 13 points with five rebounds, three assists and a steal for France. Brazil's Bruno Cabloclo scored nine points, seven rebounds and a steal.

    Source: FIBA

  • 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