NBA EZ Pick Preview 03/11/19
Take a look at the matchups set for this Monday’s EZ Pick.
James Harden vs Russell Westbrook
James Harden (right wrist) got into foul trouble on Sunday, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-25 shooting, five rebounds, four assists, three 3-pointers and one block in 34 minutes. Harden had an X-ray after Friday’s game but the results were negative, and it doesn’t sound as though he needed an MRI. His wrist was wrapped tonight and when asked what else he could do to protect it, he said, “Just try to not fall on it … Keep icing it, keep getting treatment on it. But when you keep falling on it, it keeps aggravating it and it keeps getting worse.” He draws a ton of contact and gets to the line more often than any player in the league, of course, so owners can only hope he manages to avoid any spills.
Russell Westbrook picked up his 15th technical foul of the season in Friday’s 118-110 loss to the Clippers. This means that Westbrook is one tech away from an automatic one-game suspension. If fantasy owners want to plan ahead that means there’s a good chance Westy only suits up for three games in OKC’s upcoming 4-game week unless he manages to keep his cool. As for his stat line, it was just another day in the office with 32 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, one block and two triples before he fouled out in 32 minutes.
Kawhi Leonard vs Blake Griffin
Kawhi Leonard will return on Monday vs. the Cavaliers after yet another rest day. Coach Nick Nurse said on Sunday that Kawhi will continue to rest sporadically and that they have a plan laid out. “I think there’s a few games yet that he’ll probably stay out,” Nurse said. Kawhi has sat out of five of Toronto’s last 13 games, so this will be annoying for his fantasy owners in head-to-head formats. Norman Powell, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby and Jeremy Lin all lose streaming appeal with Leonard playing vs. the Cavs.
Blake Griffin dominated the Bulls during a 131-108 win on Sunday, making 10-of-14 from the field for 28 points with six rebounds, five assists, one steal, one turnover and three 3-pointers in just 27 minutes. He had a wrap on his calf in this game, but clearly it didn’t affect his play in this easy win. Griffin had been cold coming into the weekend, but two games against the Bulls has him going again with this and a 27-point Friday. His calf issue could be something to watch with a road back-to-back set in Brooklyn on Monday, and Griffin did get a game off for rest back in January — it was planned well in advance, according to coach Dwane Casey. All that said, the Pistons are in the thick of the playoff race, so that should help keep Griffin out there.
Kemba Walker vs Kyrie Irving
Kemba Walker made 11-of-22 from the field for 25 points during a 131-114 loss to the Bucks on Saturday, adding three rebounds, four assists, one block and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. He was in another mini-slump coming into this one, making just 16-of-57 (28.0%) over his previous three games. Walker continues to run into this dips in efficiency, and it’s made it even worse because of his career-high 30.2 usage rate. He has a very high nightly upside, but all his missed shots has pulled him down for nine-cat value this season.
Kyrie Irving (left thigh contusion) returned to action on Saturday against the Lakers, scoring 30 points (12-of-18 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs) with seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks, two steals and five 3-pointers in 35 minutes. Irving missed the team’s last game on Wednesday, but looked no worse for wear in his return in Los Angeles. He took a shot to the jaw on a drive by his former teammate LeBron James, but continued to play and didn’t looked dazed at all. Irving’s been a top-8 player over the last week and looks primed for a big close to the season as the Celtics fight for playoff positioning.
Rudy Gobert vs Clint Capela
Rudy Gobert struggled vs. the Grizzlies on Friday with nine points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and five blocks in 33 minutes. Jonas Valanciunas dominated the interior with 27 points, and Gobert’s struggles at the line continued — he was 3-of-7 for the night which brings him down to 41.7% over his last five games. Maybe it’s just fatigue, but this couldn’t have happened at a worse time for fantasy owners in head-to-head playoffs. The rest of his game has been awesome though as Gobert ranks 11th for the past month if you ignore/punt free throws.
Clint Capela could see reduced playing time with Kenneth Faried (adductor) returning vs. the Hornets on Monday. Clint Capela will still be healthy and starting.
Donovan Mitchell vs D’Angelo Russell
Donovan Mitchell started at point guard and went off for 38 points in a 114-104 loss to Memphis on Friday, hitting 12-of-24 shots and 9-of-12 free throws. He added five 3-pointers, five dimes, four assists, one block and three turnovers in 39 minutes. This was his fourth game with at least 30 points over his last eight, so Mitchell is heating up just in time for the fantasy playoffs. For those of you punting turnovers, Mitchell has been a top-35 asset in 8-category leagues for the past two weeks and the Jazz have two straight weeks of four games on deck.
D’Angelo Russell totaled 18 points (6-23 FG, 3-12 3Pt, 3-5 FT), six assists, three rebounds and a steal across 21 minutes in the Nets’ win over the Hawks on Saturday. Russell had a solid final stat line in Saturday’s win, though his shooting was poor, draining just over a quarter of his shots. Russell should continue to operate as the team’s leader in points (20.5) and assists (6.8) per game over the last few weeks of the regular season.
Chris Paul vs Kyle Lowry
Chris Paul had nine points, nine assists, three rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers on Sunday, shooting 2-of-11 from the field in 33 minutes. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said CP3 will play in the second half of this back-to-back on Monday. “[Paul] wants to [play] and the medical staff thinks he can,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll watch his minutes or try to.” It’s a busy stretch for Houston, but they’ve won eight straight games and will try to keep that momentum going while limiting CP to around 30-32 minutes per game — he went slightly over tonight, but not enough to threaten his status for Monday’s game vs. Charlotte.
Kyle Lowry flirted with a triple-double during Sunday’s easy win over the Heat, tallying 24 points, 10 assists, seven boards, six 3-pointers and six turnovers in 35 minutes. Lowry’s usage rate has been at 16.2 this season when he shares the floor with Kawhi Leonard, but with Leonard taking a rest day on Sunday, Lowry saw his usage spike to 25.9 and his 24 points accounted for a team-high. Unfortunately, the Raptors are scheduled for a matchup against the 16-50 Cavs on Monday, and after seeing a relatively heavy workload, there’s a decent chance Lowry will be hit with a rest day on Monday.
De’Aaron Fox vs Buddy Hield
De’Aaron Fox put on a matinee show at Madison Square Garden during a 102-94 win on Saturday, making 11-of-17 from the field for 30 points with five rebounds, eight assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Besides Fox, the Kings came out flat with the rest of the team starting 0-of-11 while Fox started 3-of-4. He had been in a small slump coming into this game with each of his previous four games having a usage rate below his season average (23.6), and this was his first efficient scoring game since Feb. 10 against the Suns (60-plus TS%). Fox’s minutes are back on the rise again with 34.4 over his last five, and the Kings still have several games to go as they make their playoff push. They’ll be leaning heavily on Fox to help overcome their current 3.5-game deficit from the eighth-seeded Spurs, so expect a strong finish from the second-year guard.
Buddy Hield made 7-of-22 from the field for 19 points with four rebounds, two assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes against the Knicks on Saturday. He struggled early with five missed shots in the first nine minutes, but he had an uncharacteristic tip slam to get him going. Hield is getting his shots basically every night with a 25-plus usage rate in seven games, and his playing time continues to rise with 37.2 minutes per game over his last five outings. He has cooled off from his tremendous start, but Hield is still an absolute stud in fantasy going forward.
Steven Adams vs Serge Ibaka
Steven Adams fouled out vs. the Clippers on Friday, finishing with six points, 10 rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes. His value has stalled for the past month, as he entered tonight’s game with 12th-round value in standard leagues over that span with 11.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks. The biggest issue is that he was hitting 39% on 3.4 free throw attempts per game, and his scoring is down by a few points as well. Other than that it’s been business as usual for Adams and he remains a must-start player for OKC’s upcoming 4-game week.
Serge Ibaka sent away another three shots during Sunday’s win over the Heat, on his way to 10 points, eight rebounds and one assist across 22 minutes. Ibaka got off to a hot start in this one, only missing once through the first half of action, but he wasn’t as aggressive through the second half of action and took an early seat on the bench during the fourth quarter with the game being a blowout. The timeshare between Marc Gasol and Ibaka hasn’t been great, but Ibaka has been in a nice groove as of late, racking up a total of 13 swats over his past three games.
Pascal Siakam vs Jayson Tatum
Pascal Siakam went 8-of-12 from the field and 3-of-5 from the stripe on his way to 20 points during Sunday’s 125-104 win in Miami. Siakam added one 3-pointer, five rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and one turnover in his 29 minutes of floor time, and he played some phenomenal defense against Kelly Olynyk, holding him to just one point without a single make from the field. D’Angelo Russell has been campaigning for the Most Improved Player Award this season, but Siakam, who averaged just 7.3 points per game last year, has a much stronger case for the award.
Jayson Tatum (right shoulder soreness) will not play on Monday vs. the Clippers. Tatum told the training staff about the injury on Sunday and he’s been sore since the game vs. the Warriors, but coach Brad Stevens said he’s day-to-day. With Tatum out, Gordon Hayward should see an uptick in usage, while guys like Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris become viable streaming options on a six-game slate. Tatum’s next chance to play will be on Thursday vs. the Kings.
Jeremy Lamb vs Spencer Dinwiddie
Jeremy Lamb (sore left hamstring) is listed as probable for Monday’s game against the Rockets. Lamb was listed as probable heading into Saturday’s game and suited up without issue.
Spencer Dinwiddie played 30 minutes off the bench against the Hawks on Saturday, scoring 23 points with six rebounds, seven assists, one block and four 3-pointers. While it’ll be tough for Dinwiddie to win Sixth Man of the Year over Lou Williams, he set a new single-season franchise record for most points off the bench in a season, surpassing Armen Gilliam in 1994. It took him a few games to get going after a thumb injury, but he’s heating up in a hurry with this game and a 28-point Wednesday. With four games in the upcoming week, Spence should be in all standard-league lineups.