The NBA began its final month of the regular season with 7 games on the schedule. The first team’s out of the playoffs (in 9th in the conference) were both in action as were the top 3 seeds in the west, and the 4 and 6 from the East.
All 3 of the Western leaders won their games as the Spurs, Thunder, and Lakers all went on the road and got W’s. The Grizzlies and Mavs each got big wins in the pack that currently sit 4-9 (separated by just 2 games) while Houston fell to the odd-team out spot with their loss and the T-Wolves continued their fade.
In the East, the Sixers moved back ahead of idle Boston to first place in the Atlantic (#4 overall). Milwaukee closed to with 2 games of New York for the 8th spot as they beat Atlanta in Milwuakee dropping Atlanta to the 6-seed.
If you want to play around with simulate playoffs, ESPN has their playoff predictor out which can be a fun way to kill some time and see what is most likely to happen in the playoffs.
To catch up on what did happen last night in fantasy hoops, here’s your 5 lists of 5 to get you started this Wednesday:
5 fantasy studs
1. Josh Smith-Atl: Smith didn’t get much help in the Hawks loss but had a nice line in 41 minutes finishing with 30 points, 18 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Atlanta fell to 30-21 and behind Indiana with the road loss.
2. Russell Westbrook-OKC: Westbrook had 32 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals as the Thunder beat Portland to get to 38-12 and remain 3 games ahead of the Spurs and 7 ahead of the Lakers in the race for home-court in the Western Conference.
3. Monta Ellis-Mil: The Bucks closed on the Knicks behind Ellis’s 33 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal.
4. Kevin Love-Min: Love had 28 points, 11 rebounds, 4 three’s, 4 blcoks, 2 assists, and a steal as the Wolves fell to 3-7 and slipped 1/2 out of the 8 spot.
5. Tim Duncan-SA: Duncan had 26 points, 11 boards, 2 assists, and a steal in the Spurs road win in Phoenix. The win improved the Spurs record to 34-14 as they continued to hold on the the 2-slot in the Western Conference.
5 fantasy scorers
1. Jodi Meeks-Phi: Meeks had a career-high 31 points while hitting 7 threes and 11-16 from the field. He aded 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and a steal as the Sixers improved to 28-22 and reclaimed first in the Atlantic division despite being without Andre Iguodala who was sidelined again.
2. Kobe Bryant-LAL: Bryant went for 30 points although he took 24 shots to get them. He added 5 assists and 5 rebounds as he helped LA get the win to get to 31-19 and stay in the #3 seed in the Western Conference.
3. Kevin Durant-OKC: Durant had 25 points on an efficient 10-14 shooting while adding 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and an assist in his 32 minutes in the Thunder’s road win in Portland.
4. Tony Parker-SA: Parker shot 9-17 from the field while scoring 24 points to go with his 7 assists and 4 rebounds in San Antonio’s win.
5. David Lee-GS: Lee had a team-high 23 points with 9 boards, 4 assists, and a block in 41 minutes. He continues to put up numbers as the Warriors ship sinks… at least their draft pick should be safe (top 7 protected).
5 fantasy starters
1. Pau Gasol-LAL: Gasol had 19 points and 17 rebounds with 3 assists, a steal, and a block. The Lakers got the road win at the Oracle which is always a tough environment to go into.
2. Marcin Gortat-Phx: Gortat had 21 points and 14 rebounds with 2 blocks and an assist but the Suns still lost to the Spurs.
3. Steve Nash-Phx: Nash played well for the Suns as well, finishing with 8 assists, 16 points, a steal, and 5 rebounds. The loss dropped Phoenix back to 25-25 and 2 games behind the last playoff spot out West.
4. Luis Scola-Hou: Scola had 22 points, 8 boards, and 4 assists in his 35 minutes as the Rockets fell to 27-24. The loss dropped them 1/2 game out of the 8 spot in the West.
5. James Harden-OKC: Harden hit all but 1 of his 7 shots including 2 threes and 7 more free throws. He finished with 21 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds for the Thunder as they cruised past the Blazers,
5 fantasy slackers
1. Samuel Dalembert-Hou: Dalembert played 17 minutes and had 7 rebounds but was unable to score and had just 1 block and 1 steal. His value has dropped with his playing time and offensive opportunities in Houston and he’s droppable in all formats.
2. Daniel Green-SA: Green owners who jumped on the bandwagon can jump back off after last night’s 0-6 performance with just a single point to go with a steal and 5 rebounds.
3. Jared Dudley-Phx: Dudley played 29 minutes at the 3 since Shannon Brown took his normal SG spot. He took just 4 shots and finished with 2 points and 5 rebounds in the Suns loss.
4. Jamal Crawford-Por: Crawford came off the bench and played 20 minutes shooting just 1-7 and scoring just 2 points. He backed up Wes Matthews (5-13, 17 points) and Nolan Smith who struggled as much as he did scoring just 3 points on 1-9 shooting. Not surprisingly with guard play like that, Portland lost and fell to 23-27.
5. Ramon Sessions-LAL: Sessions played a quiet 30 minutes taking just 4 shots finishing with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. The Lakers still were able to get the win, but he’s not totally locked in to this offense yet.
5 fantasy rising stars
1. Shannon Brown-Phx: Brown exploded for 32 points for Phoenix as he started in place of the injured Grant Hill. He’s owned in just 0.5 percent of leagues. He added 5 threes, 3 assists, and a board in 42 minutes. As long as Hill is sidelined he’ll be a great addition to any fantasy team in or near the playoffs. Hill is day-to-day at this point.
2. Brandon Rush-GS: Rush has 9 or more points in his last 6 games while averaging 13.8 points almost 5 rebounds, an assist and a half, and over 2 blocks in his last 5 games. He’s getting more playing time with Dorell Wright struggling and Nate Robinson injured. As longas he’s playing big minutes he has the potential to go off like he did last night finisheing with 23 points, 2 threes, 3 boards, 2 blocks, and an assist. Not bad for a guy owned in just 15 percent of leagues.
3. J.J. Hickson-Por: Hickson is playing more minutes than starter Joey Przybilla and getting the production of a starting center as well. He played 26 minuts last night making 9 of his 10 shots from the field and finishing with 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block. Portland will give him time coming down the stretch. He’s inconsistent and going to have off nights (4 points on 207 Sunday) but he’ll have games like last night too and he’s still owned in just 11 percent of leagues.
4. Dante Cunningham-Mem: Cunningham played 41 minutes and shot 6-9 on his way to 13 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals, and an assist. He’s virtually unowned but if he sees this time while Marc Gasol is sidelined he could have some short-term value. His teammate Marreese Speights (owned in 9.5%) should receive a bump as well until Gasol returns.
5. Chandler Parsons-Hou: Parsons has been incredibly consistent filling up his stat sheet. Last night he had 15 points, 2 threes, 9 boards, 3 steals, and an assist. He continues to get major minutes (39) and can help you if you need steady multi-category production. It surprises me that he’s still available in 56 percent of leagues.