NBA EZ Pick Preview 03/05/19
Take a look at the matchups set for this Tuesday’s EZ Pick.
James Harden vs Russell Westbrook
All-Star guard James Harden is averaging 50 points over the past two contests and he has scored 40 or more points on 24 occasions after pouring in 42 during Sunday’s 115-104 road win over the Boston Celtics. “We’re finally healthy, so yeah. It feels good,” Harden told reporters of his club’s recent strong play. “We’re winning, guys know their roles, we’re executing defensively, we’re helping each other out, we’re talking. That’s all it’s about.” Harden made six 3-pointers against Boston to follow up a stellar performance in which he made eight 3-pointers while scoring 58 in a win over the Miami Heat on Thursday. He scored 35 points as the Rockets notched a 121-119 home victory over the Raptors on Jan. 25.
Point guard Russell Westbrook was just 7-of-20 shooting but scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter in the comeback win over the Grizzlies. Westbrook has been the Thunder player most affected by George’s absence, though. Before George’s injury, Westbrook was making strides from behind the 3-point line, shooting better than 48 percent from behind the arc over three games while making an average of more than six per game. But without George, Westbrook is shooting less than 23 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Kawhi Leonard vs Paul George
Raptors once again rested All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard on Sunday. Leonard made the decisive basket with three seconds left in Friday’s 119-117 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers but the club held him out two days later, marking the 18th game he has missed this season. “They’re just doing the right precautions to make sure I’m healthy down the road,” Leonard told reporters. “I only played nine games last year so the boost is like 200 percent or something like that. It’s all about the body. I know what the bigger picture is.”
Oklahoma City has struggled without All-Star forward Paul George (shoulder) and whether or not he misses a fourth straight game will likely be determined on Tuesday. Oklahoma City failed to reach 100 points on Sunday for the first time since Jan. 6 as the offensive attack didn’t have its typical flow without George and his 28.6 points per game average. “With Paul out, certainly offensively, it’s been a challenge the last several games,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said afterward. “I’ve been trying to find a way to keep helping our guys offensively in order to create an identity with him being out.”
Karl-Anthony Towns vs Nikola Vucevic
All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points in the loss to Washington after scoring over 30 in each of the previous three games.
Nikola Vucevic paced Orlando with 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists while shooting 13 of 16 on Sunday against Cleveland.
Stephen Curry vs Damian Lillard
Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry battled foul trouble on Saturday and went 5-of-15 from 3-point range but hit big shots in the fourth quarter.
Damian Lillard went 9-of-20 from the field and 1-of-1 from the stripe on his way to 23 points over 36 minutes in an easy win over the Hornets on Sunday. Lillard added four triples, three boards, two assists, two steals and two turnovers while he was out there, but he took a bit of a backseat to the Jusuf Nurkic and Rodney Hood show, as he spent most of his energy locking up Kemba Walker on the defensive end of the floor. It was a solid outing, but we’d anticipate a more robust stat line on Tuesday in Memphis.
Kyrie Irving vs Jimmy Butler
The general feeling for most of the season has been that Boston’s parts aren’t connecting as a whole, with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving receiving most of the blame. Irving and his teammates should have plenty of time together to get on the same page on the four-game road trip, which also stops in Sacramento and Los Angeles.
Jimmy Butler (lower back tightness) is not listed on the injury report ahead of Tuesday’s game vs. Orlando. Butler did not participate in practice Monday, but the fact that he isn’t listed on the injury report at this point is a positive sign. That being said, things could very well change between now and tipoff Tuesday night. T.J. McConnell and Jonathon Simmons are two players whose minutes would likely be impacted if Butler is unable to play. Butler scored 21 points in Saturday’s loss to the Warriors.
Draymond Green vs Tobias Harris
Draymond Green was exceptional in primetime against the 76ers on Saturday, scoring six points (2-of-4 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) with nine rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and three turnovers in 35 minutes. Green got off to a slow start, but ended up being a big reason why the Warriors got back on track with a victory. He’s only scored in double figures once in his last five games, but he’s got two double-digit assist games in that same span. He might get some nights off as the season winds down, but he’ll still be a valuable asset in the fantasy playoffs.
76ers SF Tobias Harris scored 20 or more points in each of the last six games.
Zach Lavine vs Mike Conley
Guard Zach LaVine dipped from a career-high 47 points in 56 minutes on Friday to 12 points in 28 minutes on Sunday.
Standout point guard Mike Conley (general soreness) missed the Oklahoma City game on Sunday so Delon Wright was inserted into the starting lineup. Conley will be back in action on Tuesday vs. the Blazers.
Klay Thompson vs Chris Paul
Klay Thompson (knee) will not suit up for Tuesday’s game against the Celtics. This will be Thompson’s second straight game on the sidelines, and now he’ll have another two days to rest up for Friday’s game against the Nuggets. Damion Lee or Andre Iguodala will likely draw the start tonight, and there will be more minutes available for Alfonzo McKinnie, while Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins will see an uptick in usage.
Chris Paul racked up 15 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, three steals, three 3-pointers and one block in Sunday’s 115-104 win vs. the Celtics. The Rockets improved to 12-0 when Paul gets double-digit assists this season — if you go back to last season, they’re now 27-1. James Harden is obviously the driving force for this team, but Paul’s importance was crystallized in the Western Conference Finals last season, when his hamstring injury derailed the Rockets. He’s surging with first-round value in the past month and shouldn’t be at risk of many (if any) DNPs due to the tight playoff race.
C.J. McCollum vs Kyle Lowry
Shooting guard CJ McCollum had just six points on 2-of-13 shooting against Charlotte on Sunday but exploded for 40 points – matching a season high – during a 92-83 loss to the Grizzlies on Dec. 12.
Point guard Kyle Lowry scored a season-best 35 points in Sunday’s setback against the Piston.
Otto Porter Jr vs Aaron Gordon
Bulls SF Otto Porter Jr. (rest) sat out Sunday and Chicago dropped to 0-2 with him out of the lineup. Porter is averaging 19.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in eight starts with Chicago. The Georgetown product is shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 52.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Aaron Gordon accounted for 15 points (7-of-16 FGs), eight rebounds, three assists, one blocked shot and one three-pointer in 41 minutes Sunday vs. Cleveland.