April 9, 2018, 11:03 pm
The Wolves came into this game not necessarily needing to win, but with a chance to clinch a playoff berth they were going act like this was a must-win. Technically they could have lost this game and still had a chance to get into the playoffs by beating Denver on Wednesday. It would have been one of the most embarrassing losses in the NBA this season, but not necessary.
For awhile it seemed like things were headed down that dark path. The Grizzly cubs (running a lineup with an average age of 21.6 years old) put up a huge fight without their lead bear Marc Gasol (and countless others) and led by 10 points at multiple points in the second quarter.
The Wolves were getting open looks but nothing was falling for them, especially in the paint where the team shot just 4-of-16 in the first quarter.
Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns decided enough was enough, though, and along with Tyus Jones and Derrick Rose the Wolves went on a big run in the second quarter to take a three-point halftime lead.
Jimmy with some words pic.twitter.com/DjeQQ0Nprf
— Kevin Brand (@KBranded) April 10, 2018
The four players combined to score 31 of the team’s 36 points in the second quarter on 12-of-16 shooting. From there the Wolves took control and outscored the Grizzlies by 16 points in the latter half, never quite threatening again.
Butler looks like he was never injured the way he’s been flying around the court, despite the limited minutes. Tonight he finished with 15 points, three assists, two rebounds and three steals in 23 minutes. He played 23 minutes in his last game as well.
Depending on the importance of this final game against Denver (even if the Wolves clinch, seeding could be on the line), Butler will probably once again be on a minutes restriction. If it’s all hands on deck, expect Butler to be fully unleashed.
Towns had the best line of the night with 24 points, 18 rebounds, two assists and one block on 11-of-14 shooting. He didn’t attempt a 3-pointer tonight. This season Towns was averaging under 12 points and under 40 percent shooting against the Grizzlies, but tonight broke out in a major way. It had been the one team he couldn’t quite solve yet.
Jeff Teague also had a nice game with 24 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer. He was attacking the paint off the dribble especially well tonight. After shooting 25 percent in the paint in the first quarter, the team shot 71 percent the rest of the way (25-of-35) and Teague was a major part of that. As was this pass from Jimmy Butler.
This is a nice find from Jimmy Butler pic.twitter.com/rvkPOF6Etg
— Kevin Brand (@KBranded) April 10, 2018
The Wolves are still playing too inconsistent to feel comfortable going into Wednesday, and hopefully beyond, but they’ve shown flashes over the past few games that are encouraging and having Butler back is obviously a massive plus.
All the Wolves can do now is sit back and watch things play out. They can potentially clinch a playoff berth tonight with some help from the Spurs and Blazers, but regardless of the outcomes will be ready for their final game of the season on Wednesday.
Either way it will be a huge game. Whether it’s because everything is on the line, or a 48-minute celebration remains to be seen.
One final note, Taj Gibson exited the first quarter and didn’t return with a neck injury. It’s unknown how serious the injury is at the moment, but Taj is a huge cog for the defense and would be a huge loss if it’s a long term issue.
December 7, 2019, 1:21 amDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard put forth a valiant effort with 29 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two threes in Friday's 113-136 loss to the Lakers.
Even as the Blazers continue to scuffle, Lillard is locked in as an elite fantasy talent. It's looking increasingly unlikely that the Blazers make the postseason this year but, A: Never count out Lillard and B: He doesn't seem like the kind to accept a shutdown. We're a long way off from that point, thankfully, and you can continue to enjoy first-round value in the meantime.
December 7, 2019, 1:18 amHassan WhitesideC, Portland Trail Blazers
Hassan Whiteside had another productive game with 17 points (8-for-12 shooting), 13 rebounds, three steals and a block in 32 minutes on Friday night.
Whiteside is rolling along in fantasy land even as his on-court lapses continue to harm the Blazers. We wouldn't expect him to finish at his current top-35 standing so there's a bit of a sell-high window, though the numbers he's bringing back in blocks and rebounds might change the calculus since you probably won't be able to replace them in a trade.
December 7, 2019, 1:16 amKent BazemoreSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Kent Bazemore logged 25 minutes in Friday's loss to the Lakers, notching 10 points, two rebounds and a 3-pointer.
Bazemore is staring at a much heavier workload with Rodney Hood now out for the season and Portland completely devoid of other viable wing options. He's been a top-100 guy in starter's minutes in the past, so he's a pickup in all competitive leagues.
December 7, 2019, 1:14 amAnthony DavisPF-C, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis and LeBron James both torched the Blazers in Friday's road win.
Davis put up 39 points (12-for-21 FG, 13-of-15 FT), nine rebounds, two steals, three blocks and a pair of 3-pointers while James had 31 points (11-of-23 FG, 5-for-7 FT), seven rebounds, eight assists, a block and four threes. They're alright at this.
December 7, 2019, 1:10 amAlex CarusoSG, Los Angeles Lakers
Alex Caruso played 24 minutes on Friday night, posting eight points, three assists, a steal and a three.
Caruso got some extra run with Rajon Rondo departing early because of hamstring tightness, and given the likelihood that he misses some time you can consider Caruso a potential pickup in deep leagues.
December 7, 2019, 1:09 amJaVale McGeeC, Los Angeles Lakers
JaVale McGee finished Friday's win with 13 points (6-of-7 shooting) and two blocks in 15 minutes.
McGee isn't nearly as fun to rock with as he was last season but he's still blocking shots and boosting your field goal percentage enough to return late-round value in 12-teamers. Dwight Howard is doing the same thing with more boards and slightly fewer blocks, as he had five points, 10 rebounds and two steals tonight. Neither is a must-own in 12-team leagues.
December 7, 2019, 1:07 amDanny GreenSG, Los Angeles Lakers
Danny Green had a lackluster showing, to be polite about it, on Friday with a 3-pointer, five rebounds, a steal and a block in 21 minutes.
Green is just a late-round guy and doesn't have a ton of upside given that he's only getting 25.5 mpg on the year. He's worth holding onto in general, but a drop won't hurt you that much. The same goes for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had five points, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes.
December 7, 2019, 12:54 amKevin LovePF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Cavs are prepared to listen to trade talks involving Kevin Love.
The Cavs simply have no use for Love, who can be a series-shifting player as a second or third option on a good team. Cleveland is predictably seeking young players and future draft picks, but it remains to be seen if they'll get much considering Love is still owed $90 million over the next three seasons. That's not inconsequential, and most teams in position to get pushed over the top by adding Love to the mix also don't have the ability to add such a big financial commitment to their books easily. While Love would be bumped down the pecking order on a better team, he might also end up playing more games. We won't go too much deeper than that until Love starts getting connected to specific suitors.
December 7, 2019, 12:50 amDeMar DeRozanSG, San Antonio Spurs
DeMar DeRozan's 3-point binge continued in Friday's 105-104 OT win over the Kings, as he hit three more triples on his way to 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
DeRozan has now hit five threes in his last four games after hitting zero in over a full year. That obviously won't keep up but DeRozan is back in the top-50 area after scuffling early in the year. He's about as reliable as they come.
December 7, 2019, 12:47 amJakob PoeltlC, San Antonio Spurs
Jakob Poeltl returned to the bench on Friday with LaMarcus Aldridge back but still delivered three blocks in 18 minutes.
Poeltl also tallied 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and a less-perfect 3-of-5 from the line. He's now climbed up to top-170 value on the year and should be on any rosters where fantasy GMs are short on blocks. In the past two weeks he's been a top-60 player.