Double OT sometimes isn’t enough… As we start the last full week of the regular season, congrats to all those fantasy owners whose teams are still playing. Speaking of still playing, I’m pretty sure the Jazz and Mavericks are now finished. They played a triple-overtime thriller in Salt Lake City last night with the Jazz ultimately pulling out the win. It had a big impact in the Western Conference Playoff picture (see below) and created some very nice lines for anyone who took advantage of all the extra minutes.
We’ll take a look at the playoff picture in both conferences, 5 to think about adding for tonight’s action, and 5 lists of 5 who were special last night in today’s edition of the Starting 5:
Eastern Conference Playoff Race Update: The Pacers won their 5th in a row to further secure their grip on the 3-seed as they lead the Celtics by 3 full games now. The Magic beat the Sixers keeping Orlando in 6th and dropping Philly back into 8th, 2 games ahead of Milwaukee and tied with New York (who has the tiebreaker). Atlanta won to keep pace with the Magic as they clinched a playoff spot by beating the Raptors north of the border. Up top, Miami won and Chicago lost, moving the Heat to 2 1/2 games behind the Bulls in the race for the best record in the East.
Western Conference Playoff Race Update: The Spurs win and the Thunder’s loss mean the two teams are tied again atop the West (SA is actually percentage points ahead but have played 2 less games). In the trip-OT classic the Jazz beat the Mavs knocking Dallas down to 7th and moving Utah just 1/2 game behind the Suns and Rockets who are tied for the 8th spot. The Nuggets beat the Rockets, while the Suns got the win to catch Houston (and they currently own the tiebraker) for the last playoff position. Denver passed Dallas into 6th while the Clippers solidified their hold on 4th by beating OKC.
5 to consider for tonight
1. J.R. Smith-NY: (57.7% ownership in ESPN leagues) Smith continues to be the only Knick not named Carmelo contributing on the offensive end. Smith had 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and a block Sunday against the Heat. He’s hitting almost 3 threes while averaging over 16 points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 1/2 steals per game over his last 5.
2. Anthony Randolph-Min: (31.0%) Randolph struggled last night and only played 18 minutes as the game got out of hand early for the T-Wolves. I think he’s still the Wolf you want going into tonight’s matchup against the Grizz.
3. Mareese Speights-Mem: (11.2%) Speights should get more time than usual with Marc Gasol sidelined with an injury. He should be around double-digits in points and rebounds.
4. Avery Bradley-Bos: (12.8%) Bradley again will start and play major minutes with Ray Allen sidelined for the Celtics in New York tonight. He had 22 in his last game Sunday and has averaged 14.6 PPG in his last 5. He’s also hitting threes, boards, and assists that can help your team out too.
5. Alonzo Gee-Cle (33.9%): Gee has averaged just 9 points over his last 5 games byt does usually contribute rebounds and assists as the Cavs travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons tonight.
5 Special lines from last night
1. LeBron James-Mia: James took over like he was forced to in his Cleveland days finishing with 40 points, 9 boards, and 6 assists to carry the Heat past the Nets.
2. Ryan Anderson-Orl: Without Glen Davis, Dwight Howard, or Hedo Turkoglu, Anderson stepped up and finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds with a block and an assist as he led Orlando to a home win over the Sixers.
3. Klay Thompson-GS: Thompson had 29 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, 2 threes, and 2 steals as he tried to get the Warriors past the Spurs. Klay had a nice night but the Warriors lost again.
4. Jeff Teague-Atl: The difference between the Hawks of last night and the Hawks of Sunday was a nice game from Jeff Teague. He finished with 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 19 points on 6-11 shooting from the field.
5. David West-Ind: The Pacers ran away and hid thanks to a quick 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists from West in just 22 minutes played.
5 who played in a Special (3OT) Game
1. Al Jefferson-Uta: Jefferson played 54 minutes and had 26 rebounds to go with his 28 points, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and 1 assist in the Jazz big win.
2. Dirk Nowitzki-Dal: You can’t blame Mavs loss on Dirk, who finished with a league-high 40 along with 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and just 3 turnovers. He had 2 three’s and shot 13-26 from the field in his 53 minutes.
3. Devin Harris-Uta: Harris hit 5 threes and handed out 7 assists to go with 23 points on 8-27 shooting from the field as he logged 53 minutes in the Jazz win.
4. Jason Terry-Dal: Terry came off the bench and only played 54 minutes (sarcasm intended). He finished with 27 points, 2 boardsd, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 4 threes as the Mavs came up just short.
5. Gordon Hayward-Uta: Hayward played a team-high 54 minutes (tied with Jefferson) and hit 6 of his 14 shot attempts including 4 threes while scoring 24 points and adding 5 assists, 4 rebounds, a steal, and a block.
5 Special Scorers
1. Nate Robinson-GS: Robinson racked up 30 points in 31 minutes off the bench for Golden State while making 3 threes and adding 7 assists, a steal, and 2 rebounds.
2. Gerald Henderson-Cha: Henderson scored a game-high 27 but he Bobcats still set a franchise-record for most consecutive losses. They’re piling up those ping-pong balls like Henderson piles up points. The former-Dukie added 2 assists, 3 blocks, and 4 rebounds.
3. Aaron Afflalo-Den: Afflalo had a game-high 26 in the Nuggets 2nd big win over the Rockets in as many nights. He hit 10-16 shots from the field in his 42 minutes and added 5 assists and 3 rebounds.
4. Ty Lawson-Den: Lawson teamed with Afflalo in the backcourt and chipped in 25 points on 9-15 shooting along with 2 steals, a block, an assist, and 4 rebounds. Lawson, Afflalo, and the Nuggets depth were too much for Houston as the Nuggets won 105-102.
5. MarShon Brooks-NJ: Brooks had 24 points in 37 minutes while making 10 of his 17 shots from the field in the Nets loss. He wasn’t just a 1-category wonder, though, as he added 6 assists, 2 steals, and 7 rebounds.
5 eSpecial-ly dominant down low
1. Kris Humphries-NJ: Humphries had 29 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block for the Nets as they tried to upset the Heat in Jersey. They came close, but the LeBron show took over late and the Nets lost 101-98.
2. Kevin Seraphin-Was: Seraphin had another great game with 21 points, 13 boards, 5 blocks, a steal, and just 3 turnovers as he led the Wizards in their upset of the Rose-less, Deng-less Bulls.
3. Chris Bosh-Mia: Bosh added his 22 to LeBron’s 37 as the only Heat in double-figures. He added 15 rebounds 2 assists, and a steal in Miami’s victorious trip to Jersey.
4. Marcin Gortat-Phx: Gortat had 20 points to lead a balanced Suns attack against the Blazers and added 10 rebounds, a steal, and a block.
5. Blake Griffin-LAC: Griffin had 4 blocks, 11 boards, 6 assists, and 17 points as the Clippers beat the visiting Thunder.
5 who Special-ized in one category
1. Ronnie Brewer-Chi: Brewer played 28 minutes against the Wizards and had 5 steals along with 2 assists, a block, 4 rebounds, and 6 points.
2. Samuel Dalembert-Hou: Sam-Dale started in place of Marcus Camby and had a season-high 7 blocks in his 24 minutes with 5 points, a steal, an assist, and 9 rebounds.
3. Andre Miller-Den: Miller played 26 minutes and handed out a league-high (tied with Steve Nash) 13 assists to go with a steal, 2 boards, and 4 points as he led the Nuggets 2nd unit which again was key in their victory over Houston.
4. DeAndre Jordan-LAC: Jordan had 12 rebounds to go with 1 block and 5 points as he played 25 minutes in the middle for the Clippers.
5. Danny Granger-Ind: Granger knocked in 5 threes and 6 of his 14 shots from the field as he scored 19 points to help the Pacers past the T-Wolves. He added 7 rebounds and 5 assists in just 26 minutes as the Pacers cruised.