• It’s the last Tuesday of the NBA regular season and it’s filled with five games on the schedule. I’m not gonna lie, finding the ‘must watch’ game of the night was difficult today. I was looking over the slate of games and my initial reaction was a yawn. Most of these teams have already clinched their playoff spot while the others are just trying to finish the season out. Nevertheless, I found a game that I feel holds some gravitas and should bring a bit of excitement to your day. Here is Tuesday’s ‘must watch’ game of the night.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Thunder go up against the Spurs and the Heat make their way to the Motor City to face the Pistons.

    I know what you’re thinking, how in the world do I not have the Thunder and Spurs as the ‘must watch’ game tonight? I understand the frustration, but it’s the Spurs and the playoffs are around the corner. No news has come out yet, but with the undefeated home court record out of reach and a 10.5 game lead over the Thunder, it would not be a big surprise to hear that Popovich decides to rest some of his guys. I’m being cautious for you, the viewer, so you don’t have to sit through a boring contest. Let’s just move on to the ‘must watch’ game of the night shall we?

    (Update: Thunder to rest starters)

    Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Tip Time: 10:30 pm (est)

    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

    Player Matchup: Jeff Green vs. Matt Barnes

    The Grizzlies (42-38) sit just a half game back from the Blazers for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. The Griz are depleted and no matter who they match up against in the playoffs, a sweep is to be expected. Now with that said, if Memphis was to make any noise in the postseason, the team they would have their best chances with would be the Clippers.

    The fortitude this Memphis team has shown after losing Marc Gasol and Mike Conley has been admirable. Many people, including myself, saw the loss of their two franchise players and assumed that the team would begin to tank. Instead, they have stayed together and have found ways to scrap together a few wins to keep their heads above water.

    “We battled, we got loose balls, we got offensive rebounds, and we got into the paint,” head coach Dave Joerger told the team’s official site. “I’m just really proud of our guys and proud of our season.”

    Former Clipper Matt Barnes has been a steady contributor over his last four games, averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Zach Randolph has also stepped up as the team’s leader and No. 1 offensive option, averaging 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds over his last ten games.

    For the Clippers (52-28), it has been another year of people saying the same old thing – ‘how good are the Clips?’ I know I have said it at least once or twice this season, and even if you ask me right now that would probably be the first thought in my head.

    Blake Griffin is starting to work his way back to NBA form since returning from his injury and suspension. Sunday was the first time Griffin saw 30+ minutes of action since his return and he finished the game with 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

    The Clippers know that they need to become more creative with their lineups with the playoffs approaching. Head coach Doc Rivers would like to test his versatility of his roster in a small-ball lineup and shift Griffin to the center position.

    “I want to see him at his normal position 95 percent of the time,” Rivers said to the team’s official site. “But, yeah, I want to see him at the five at times, too.”

    Looking at the playoff picture as it stands now, the Clips would be facing the Blazers in the first round. With Memphis just a half game behind Portland, the Clippers would benefit from having the Grizzlies win. The Griz are basically looked at as a first round bye and for an L.A. team trying to reincorporate one of their star players, an easier first round matchup would be beneficial.

    The Clippers also want to stay healthy heading into the postseason. Be sure to stay close to Hoop Ball for any updates on the players’ statuses before tip-off.

     

Fantasy News

  • 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

  • Terry Rozier
    PG, Charlotte Hornets

    Terry Rozier (left knee soreness) practiced in full on Tuesday.

    Rozier missed the Hornet's final game heading into the All-Star break, but it wasn't considered to be a long-term concern. Feel free to get Rozier back into all lineups ahead of Thursday's game against the Bulls.

    Source: Rod Boone on Twitter

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Coach Terry Stotts said that he wouldn't put a timetable on when star point guard Damian Lillard (right groin strain) would return, but he is expected to be re-evaluated on Tuesday or Wednesday.

    Lillard was given a timetable of 1-2 weeks last Wednesday, as the All-Star break came at an ideal time. Lillard has a shot to avoid any missed time if his re-evaluation shows progress, but owners should prepare for a scenario in which he misses a handful of games. The Blazers have five games remaining in February.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • Dario Saric
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    The Suns expect Dario Saric (left ankle) to be available to play against the Raptors on Friday.

    James Jones said that he expects everyone outside ok Frank Kaminsky to be available for Friday's game, meaning Tyler Johnson will be out there as well. While Saric has been out, Mikal Bridges has seen his role expand while Kelly Oubre Jr. has played a lot of PF. Keep an eye on how the rotation shakes out now that the Suns are healthy shakes out.

    Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter

  • Aron Baynes
    C, Phoenix Suns

    James Jones said that he expects Aron Baynes (left hip soreness) to be available for Friday's game against the Raptors.

    Baynes will be joining Deandre Ayton and the rest of the injured Suns' players in returning for this one. Baynes hasn't played in roughly a month and should be seeing a minimal role off the bench down the stretch. He can be left on the waiver wire unless something happens to Ayton.

    Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    James Jones said that he expects Deandre Ayton (left ankle soreness) to be available to play against the Raptors on Friday.

    Ayton missed a few games to close out the first half, but it looks like the second-year big man will be good to go when the Suns return to action. Ayton was putting up top-12/16 per-game value in 9/8 cat leagues in the 13 games before going down, and owners have to be ecstatic to get him back in their lineups. Cheick Diallo will revert to a deep reserve role.

    Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter

  • Cody Martin
    PF, Charlotte Hornets

    Cody Martin (concussion protocol) fully participated in Tuesday's practice session.

    Martin found himself in the starting lineup before going down a few weeks ago, as he has started to earn a bigger role in coach James Borrego's rotation. With Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of the picture, Martin should have a reasonably safe role for the second half of the season.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • Clint Capela
    C, Atlanta Hawks

    Clint Capela (right heel) did not participate in Tuesday's practice.

    Capela doesn't have a specific target date as he continues to fight the heel issue. With Capela out, Dewayne Dedmon will continue to absorb the bulk of minutes at C with Damian Jones backing him up. Over his past four games, Dedmon has averaged 8.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 3.8 blocks and 1.0 trey in 28.3 minutes per game.

    Source: Chris Kirschner on Twitter

  • Otto Porter Jr.
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Otto Porter Jr. (left foot fracture) returned to Bulls practice on Tuesday.

    Porter added that he felt good and will return to game action when is 100 percent healthy. It was being reported earlier this week that Porter is eyeing a return before the end of the month, and this would be in line with that projection. It is unclear what type of minutes Porter can handle down the stretch, but his versatile skillset makes for an upside stash in fantasy circles.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Wendell Carter Jr.
    C, Chicago Bulls

    Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle sprain) resumed practicing on Tuesday as he eyes a return to game action.

    Carter is hopeful of playing when the Bulls return to action against the Hornets on Thursday. The Bulls may take a cautious approach and let him get in a few more practices before clearing him, but Carter's arrow is pointing straight up right now. If he is lingering on your league's waiver wire, go grab him.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter