NBA EZPick Preview 03/18/19: Nikola Jokic vs Andre Drummond
NBA EZ Pick Preview 03/18/19
Take a look at the matchups set for this Monday’s EZ Pick.
Stephen Curry vs Russell Westbrook
Stephen Curry netted 33 points in 33 minutes on Saturday, adding five triples, seven boards, three assists, two steals and four turnovers in an easy win over the Thunder. Curry scored his 16,000th career point in this one, becoming just the fifth player in Warriors’ history with 16,000 career points, and with his five trey-bombs, he improved his season total to 289 – which ranks as the fourth-most threes in a single season in NBA history. Steve Kerr hinted he could rest some of his stars on the upcoming Monday-Tuesday back-to-back set, so owners will want to confirm Curry’s status prior to both those games.
Russell Westbrook has been suspended for Monday’s game after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season on Saturday. Dennis Schroder should benefit the most in Westbrook’s absence, while Paul George will soak up extra usage and Raymond Felton should join the rotation. For every two techs Westbrook gets after No. 16 he’ll face another suspension, so hopefully he can keep his cool in the final 11 games for which he’ll be active. This also means he’ll play just two games in Week 23, a brutal turn of events for his fantasy owners.
Kevin Durant vs Anthony Davis
Kevin Durant (ankle) will return to the lineup on Monday vs. the Spurs. He arrived early at the arena to get some extra shots up and went through a full shootaround. Despite his questionable tag, coach Steve Kerr was expecting him back in the lineup tonight prior to this update. This is the first game of five for the Warriors this week which includes two back-to-backs, so there’s a good chance KD will be rested at some point.
Anthony Davis returned from a one-game rest with 15 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and one block in 22 minutes against the Suns on Saturday. That’s still a pretty awesome line for his fantasy owners and he’ll continue to put up high value points even with his minutes limit. The good news is that the Pels are done with the back-to-back sets, but they could still sit The Brow with even the smallest injury.
Paul George vs Kawhi Leonard
Paul George scored a team-high 29 points during Saturday’s blowout loss to the Warriors, adding 13 rebounds, four 3-pointers, two assists, one steal and two turnovers in 38 minutes. Golden State did an excellent job of running George off the 3-point line, and overall, their 3-point defense was phenomenal with them holding OKC to 13-of-41 shooting from beyond the arc. PG-13 has struggled against the Warriors this season, but he should be better on Monday vs. the Heat, particularly with Russell Westbrook likely to be suspended for that game.
Kawhi Leonard (load management) is out for Monday’s game vs. the Knicks. Kawhi played three games in a row for the first time in over a month, so this was inevitable against the Knicks. With Serge Ibaka (suspension) out and Kyle Lowry (ankle) questionable, Pascal Siakam is set up for a monster game. The last time Kahwi sat, Norman Powell had 15 points, four assists and three triples in 24 minutes, while OG Anunoby had an 11-3-1 line with two steals and a block in 24 minutes.
Damian Lillard vs Kyrie Irving
Damian Lillard scored 34 points (13-of-29 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs) with six rebounds, five assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes against the Spurs on Saturday. C.J. McCollum left the game early in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury, after which Lillard scored 26 of his 34 points. Lillard posts per-36 minute averages of 34.7 points, 5.9 boards, 6.1 dimes, 1.8 steals and 3.4 triples with a 35.6 usage rate and a 58.0 TS% without McCollum this season. If he is out for any period of time, Lillard’s role within the Blazers’ offense will only rise, making him an elite play with their 3-4-4 schedule over the next three weeks.
Kyrie Irving just missed a triple-double during a 129-120 win over the Hawks on Saturday, scoring 30 points with 11 rebounds, nine assists, one steal, two blocks and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes. He just dropped a 30-point triple double on Thursday for the second of his career, and Irving is on some kind of heater since getting a game off on Mar. 6. In those four, he averaged 27.3 points, 7.5 boards, 9.3 dimes, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks and 3.0 treys with Boston hitting 115-plus points in each of those. As long as he’s not resting, Irving has massive upside every time he steps on the floor.
Nikola Jokic vs Andre Drummond
Nikola Jokic was ejected from Saturday’s game during the fourth quarter, finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two 3-pointers and four turnovers in 34 minutes. During Thursday’s game, Jokic didn’t get his first bucket until the fourth quarter, so the Nuggets made sure to get him going early in this one and he wound up scoring 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting through his first 10 minutes of play. On the season, Jokic has been operating with a 27.1 usage rate, but his usage was at 35.1 tonight, and Mike Malone has indicated during recent interviews he wants him to be more aggressive on offense. The ejection was petty, so he shouldn’t face any additional punishment from the league.
Andre Drummond helped the Pistons earn their ninth straight home win on Sunday with 15 points, 17 rebounds, two steals and one assist in 33 minutes. That gives Drummond his sixth consecutive season with at least 1,000 rebounds. He didn’t block any shots today but also committed just one turnover, while making 5-of-8 FGs and 5-of-5 FTs. His efforts helped cement the Pistons’ hold on the No. 6 seed in the East, while giving coach Dwane Casey his third straight win vs. his former team. That’s no small feat, given Toronto’s position near the top of the standings.
Devin Booker vs Jrue Holiday
Devin Booker scored 40 points with five rebounds, 13 assists, one block, seven turnovers and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes during a 138-136 overtime win at New Orleans on Saturday. The Suns got lucky in this one with the Pelicans calling for a timeout when they ran out, so Booker hit the go-ahead free throw. The Suns have won five of their last eight games and they’re only 2.5 games “up” on the Bulls for top lottery odds. Booker has played excellent ball lately as a top-25 player since the break, so keep him locked and loaded.
Jrue Holiday (abdominal strain) and E’Twaun Moore (quad) will remain on the sidelines for Monday’s matchup with the Mavericks. Holiday and Moore were scheduled to be re-evaluated today, and while we didn’t get word on those results, the fact that they’ve already been ruled out for Monday’s game isn’t a great sign. Alvin Gentry has hinted that both these guys could be headed for a shutdown, and with each missed game, that scenario becomes more and more likely. Frank Jackson and Kenrich Williams will continue to start with these two on the sidelines.
Luka Doncic vs Draymond Green
Luka Doncic (right knee contusion) is being listed as probable for Monday’s matchup with the Pelicans. Doncic sat out Saturday’s game, but it looks like the knee contusion will only force him to spend one game on the sidelines. With Doncic expected back in action on Monday night, Dorian Finney-Smith or Tim Hardaway Jr. could return to the second unit and Trey Burke could drop out of the rotation entirely.
Draymond Green scored nine points on 3-of-6 shooting Saturday, to go with three 3-pointers, eight rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 34 minutes. Green had his 3-point stroke working for him in this one, drilling two treys through the first quarter of action, and this was the first time he had multiple three-balls since January. Green has been shooting his worst 3-point percentage (24.6) since his rookie year, but he’s been knocking down a somewhat more respectable 30.4% of his 3-point attempts since the All-Star break.
Kevin Love vs Lauri Markkanen
Kevin Love (lower back contusion) is questionable for Monday’s game vs. Detroit. Love has been productive lately but the Cavs are likely to play it safe any time he’s banged up, so his inclusion on the injury report is ominous. Cleveland does play four games next week, though, so even if he misses Monday’s game he could still put together a solid three-game slate.
Lauri Markkanen had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and one block in 23 minutes during Sunday’s blowout road loss in Sacramento. Markkanen was one of just two Bulls starters with double-digit points tonight, joining Zach LaVine, and coach Jim Boylen opted to bench his key guys for most of the second half. This was a fluky result for Markkanen, in other words, but at least it wasn’t a total loss — he also shot 4-of-8 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line with one 3-pointer. Expect much better vs. the Suns (Monday) and Wizards (Wednesday).
Klay Thompson vs Kyle Lowry
Klay Thompson scored 23 points on 9-of-21 shooting Saturday, to go with three 3-pointers, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block and one turnover in 34 minutes. Thompson passed up Peja Stojakovic for the No. 17 spot on the NBA’s all-time 3-point list in this one, and he was aggressive in seeking out his shot with Kevin Durant (ankle) on the sidelines. As a team, the Dubs dropped in 40 points through the first quarter of action, which accounted for the most points OKC has allowed through any first quarter this year, and they never really let up at any point throughout the game.
Kyle Lowry (ankle) has been upgraded to probable for Monday’s game against the Knicks. Lowry has missed the past two games, but it appears there’s a chance he’ll be able to make it back to the court tonight. If he does play, he could see some more shots falling his way with Kawhi Leonard (rest) unavailable, but he could also take an early seat on the bench if the game turns into a blowout, so he’s not the best DFS target.
DeMarcus Cousins vs Steven Adams
An MRI on DeMarcus Cousins’ sore right ankle revealed no structural damage and he is being listed as day-to-day. Boogie will sit out Monday’s game against the Spurs, and there’s a decent chance he’ll miss Tuesday’s game vs. the Timberwolves, but even if he skips those two he’d still have the opportunity to play in three games this week. Kevon Looney will likely get the start in his place tonight, and Andrew Bogut will have the opportunity to make his Dubs’ debut.
Steven Adams scored nine points on 4-of-7 shooting (1-of-4 from the line) on Saturday, adding nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and two turnovers in 33 minutes. Adams did tweak his left ankle midway through the third fighting for a loose ball with Stephen Curry, which required a trip to the locker room, but he eventually returned to the game during the fourth quarter despite the Thunder being down by 20. Adams is one of the toughest dudes out there, so he’ll likely play through the pain, but owners would be wise to just confirm his status prior to Monday’s game against the Heat.