• There are six games on the slate for Tuesday night in the NBA and we here at Hoop Ball are here to help guide you to the games you don’t want to miss.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Wizards head to Dub City to take on the Warriors, and the Thunder try to extend their nine-game winning streak in the Motor City against the Pistons.

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

    Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers

    Tip Time: 7 pm (est)

    Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

    Player Matchup: Jimmy Butler and Paul George

    The Pacers (39-34) are 3-2 over their last five games as they look to fend off the Pistons for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and avoid a first round matchup against the Cavs.

    “It’s a big game, probably the biggest game of the season for us right now,” George said. “We have a chance to push ourselves one more game up in the win column.”

    George has had himself an amazing season after suffering a horrific leg injury back in 2014. Through 73 games this season, he has averaged 23.4 points, seven rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. This game against the Bulls (36-37) – like George said – is a very big game for the Pacers, but more importantly for Chicago.

    Chicago trails the eighth-place Pistons by just 2.5 games and they are three games behind Indiana. The Bulls have been struggling as of late, dropping four out of their last five. With the season quickly coming to a close the Bulls are desperately looking for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

    A big reason for the Bulls’ recent struggles has been because of the lack of production they have received from Jimmy Butler. The fourth-year guard has recently returned from injury but through the month of March, he has averaged just 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists while shooting 38.9 percent from the field. A team that was once looked at as one of the best defensive teams in the league has now seen that label washed away this season. Chicago is ranked 13th in defensive efficiency this season and over their last five games the team has surrendered 107.2 points per game.

    These two teams are also fighting to own the tiebreaker in their season series.

    Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

    Tip Time: 8 pm (est)

    Where: Quicken Loans Arena

    Player Matchup: Patrick Beverley and Kyrie Irving

    Cleveland (52-21) is sitting comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference and is still viewed as the heavy favorites to come out of the East. It has already been reported that LeBron James will be sitting this game out for rest.

    “Not too many chances and opportunities to rest one game and have four days off, so I thought it was a good opportunity to rest him,” head coach Tyronn Lue said.

    With James now out of the lineup, the ball will be firmly in the hands of Kyrie Irving. In the previous meeting against the Rockets, Irving racked up 23 points and four assists on 52.9 percent shooting from the field.

    The Rockets (36-38) are currently tied with the Mavs for eighth in the Western Conference. Houston needs a win to take sole possession of the final playoff spot in the West, but even with James out of the lineup a win against the Cavs will not come easy.

    James Harden has placed his team on his back, putting up monstrous numbers averaging 29 points and 9.7 assists per game through the month of March. Unfortunately, Harden’s impressive play has not resulted in success for the Rockets. Houston enters Tuesday’s matchup losing four out of their last five games and giving up 104.4 points per game to their opponents.

    “We need to be more aggressive,” Harden said.

    “I think we’re playing at our best when we’re moving the basketball and defensively rebounding the basketball or just moving at a high pace,” Harden said. “That’s our brand of basketball, so no matter who we’re playing, if we play that way, we’ll be in good hands.”

    These next four games for the Rockets (CLE, CHI, OKC, DAL) will be crucial to whether or not they make the playoffs. Both of these teams are very good at scoring the basketball, but lack a consistent pressure on defense. This game is going to be a high-scoring affair and we’ll see how much fight the Rockets have left in them.

Fantasy News

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    In an interview Wednesday, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he could see Nikola Vucevic improving across all areas of his game, and echoing his player's belief that he is in his prime.

    One of the areas Clifford thought Vucevic could improve upon was his 3-point shooting percentage, and also seemed to indicate that he could contonue to up his play on defense. He's unquestionably solidified himself as the anchor of this team, and the Magic as a whole are likely eyeing to improve upon their momentum as a rising young playoff team in an Eastern Conference that looks pretty weak after the top four to five teams. Expect Vucevic to produce safe second-round value this season.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Suns General Manager James Jones said in a recent interview that Deandre Ayton is capable of playing PF if needed.

    One could chalk this up to either Ayton continuing his development in becoming a more dynamic offensive player, or the Suns covering up for the lack of depth on their roster at PF. In reality it's likley a mix of both, and is a positive for Ayton's value heading into this season. If he does end up spending meaningful time at the four, it would not bode well for the value of Dario Saric, who is already barely going at the end of drafts in 9-cat leagues.

    Source: NBA.com

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers have been granted a $1.75 million Disabled Player Exception for DeMarcus Cousins (torn left ACL).

    This now officially rules DeMarcus Cousins out for the season. The Lakers will now have the ability to go out and acquire a player that will in all likelihood occupy the end of their bench. Because they signed Dwight Howard, using this cap space on a center isn't necessarily as big a priority as it once was when Cousins initially went down.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Mohamed Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    Mo Bamba will enter training camp second on the depth chart behind Nikola Vučević.

    Head coach of the Magic, Steve Clifford, told a reporter that he plans on having Bamba as his primary backup center while Khem Birch will be third on the depth chart. The Magic also have Vučević, who was re-signed in the offseason to a four-year, $100M contract. As long as Bamba is backing up Vučević, his fantasy ceiling is capped outside of standard redraft leagues.

    Source: NBA

  • Nerlens Noel
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Brett Dawson of The Athletic believes that Nerlens Noel could see a slight bump in minutes if the Thunder limit Steven Adams' usage.

    Noel is a great per-minute producer of steals and blocks but only appeared in 13.7 minutes per contest last season. Additional playing time would make him more useful in deeper leagues.

    Source: Brett Dawson of The Athletic

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    In a video, Joel Embiid announced that he lost about 25 pounds over the summer.

    Embiid is one of the best fantasy players around but has struggled at times with conditioning. The Sixers will gladly accept any improvements from last season's averages of 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • TJ Warren
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    According to Pacers beat writer Scott Agness, Pacers forward T.J. Warren has no injury worries heading into the season.

    Warren has missed 56 games during the last two seasons, but he hopes to stay healthy for all of 2019-20. Warren is likely to start for the Pacers and could hold top-100 value if he can stay on the court.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard expects to play for Team USA during next year's Summer Olympics.

    Lillard skipped this year's World Cup but is planning to play in Tokyo. He should be a late first-round or early second-round fantasy pick this year.

    Source: news.com.au

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Warriors guard Stephen Curry expects to play at next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

    Curry will have a busy year ahead of him. Still, it's no surprise that many potential members of Team USA skipped this year's FIBA World Cup in favor of an Olympics appearance. Curry will be a popular early first-round pick in fantasy drafts.

    Source: ESPN

  • Isaiah Thomas
    PG, Washington Wizards

    Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb.

    This is rough news for the Wizards, who already have John Wall on the shelf. Thomas was a candidate to start at point guard, but instead he'll have to recover from yet another injury. Thomas averaged 8.1 points and 1.9 assists in limited action for the Nuggets last campaign.

    Source: Washington Wizards on Twitter