The Spurs snapped a season-high four-game losing streak, thanks to yet another stellar outing from their shooting specialists. The Spurs made 62 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc in the win over Memphis, keyed by sharpshooting wing Davis Bertans, who made all four of his 3-point attempts and is currently leading the NBA with an absurd 47.6 clip from deep.
Bertans doesn't score enough to be considered a must-own fantasy asset, but he's worth streaming when in the starting lineup, as last night revealed. For a more relevant-fantasy option from this Spurs' rotation, combo guard Patty Mills, available in free agency in 95 percent of ESPN leagues, tallied 22 points with six 3-pointers off the bench on Tuesday evening. Mills has averaged 14.8 PPG and 6.8 combined assists and rebounds with a gaudy 3.3 3PG during the past week.
The longer lens suggests stashing Derrick White, who was a top-100 fantasy asset as a starter with the Spurs before getting injured. White is reportedly due to return from a heel ailment after the All-Star break and is rostered in just 15 percent of ESPN leagues.
With an eye on meaningful fantasy performances and relevant statistical trends, let's delve into the night that was in the NBA.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies: 9 points (2-7 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 TO
Even with James playing a season-high 43 minutes with a gaudy triple-double, one that tied him with Wilt Chamberlain for fifth all-time with 78 career triple-doubles, the Lakers fell to the Hawks, snapping a five-game home losing streak for Atlanta. With the Lakers now 28-29 on the season, this marks the first time a James team has had a losing record at least 40 games into a season since the 2003-04 Cavaliers finished 35-47 in James' rookie season. During the six-game road trip, the Lakers had very little room for error with James on the floor. When he was out of the game, the Lakers were outscored by 32 points per 100 possessions. Of the four teams in the 7-10 range in the West, the Lakers have the toughest remaining schedule, based on ESPN's Basketball Power Index. A bit of notable news for fantasy managers from the Lakers loss is Reggie Bullock tying for second-most minutes on the Lakers last night. Bullock made three of his six attempts from beyond the arc and could surface as a shooting specialist in the coming weeks.
Gordon Hayward helped swing another key Boston victory over the 76ers, with 26 points and six 3-pointers off the bench for the Celtics. The 76ers' bench combined for 22 points. Hayward has had these outbursts this season only to return to longer stretches of sub-par play. I'm still hesitant to buy into Hayward this season fully, but last night was an impressive performance.
The Magic drubbed a listless Pelicans team in New Orleans and have now won four straight games for the first time since 2015. Nikola Vucevic tallied his fourth game this season with at least 25 points and 15 rebounds, while the Magic are 4-0 in those games. Second-year forward Jonathan Isaac posted 20 points, 7 boards, and 3 blocks and remains one of my favorite additions for the final two months of the season.
Davis was held under 15 points in consecutive games for the first time since doing so for three straight games in 2015. It's clear that while he's going to finish out the season with the Pelicans, we're likely going to see about 60 to 70 percent of Davis' standard production, given this unique stalemate between him and the team. Jahlil Okafor netted 29 minutes and played with Davis in the starting lineup, signaling the team will continue to leverage quality usage to the former top pick.
Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson all scored at least 20 points in drubbing the Jazz last night. The Warriors improved to 41-4 when all three scored at least 20 points, and last night marked the first time all three teammates each have had as many as 20 points in three straight games.
Bradley posted a career-high 33 points, thanks to 16 points in the first quarter, a career best for any quarter of his career. It's tough to tell if this is an aberration or trend, but with plenty of minutes and shots due to Bradley in the coming weeks for a thin Memphis backcourt, he's a worthy speculative investment.
With the All-Star break coming up, gamers in ESPN head-to-head leagues will compete in a two-week window running from Feb. 11-24 to mimic a full week of NBA action amid these two shortened weeks surrounding the break. Strategically streaming can prove key in this unique two-week matchup, as managers can gain an advantage by the sheer volume of minutes by maximizing games played via free agency. Don't be afraid to open a few bench spots to maximize games played.
Injuries of note
Kyrie Irving is considered questionable for tonight's matchup with the Pistons due to a knee injury suffered this past weekend. I'd be surprised if the team plays him with the All-Star break coming up, but official word will come closer to tip. As noted yesterday, I love shares of Marcus Morris when Irving is sidelined, as he enjoys a sizable leap in usage and production in such windows.
Mike Conley missed last night's game against the Spurs with an illness and is considered questionable for tonight's meeting with the Bulls. If Conley is ruled out, shares of Bradley prove interesting.
Analytics advantage for Wednesday
Eyes will be on James Harden as the Rockets head to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves Wednesday. Harden has scored 30 points in each of his past 30 games, and if he puts up 30 Wednesday, he will tie Wilt for the second-longest streak of 30-point games in NBA history. Harden had 29 points in the first matchup of these two teams back on December 3. Harden is usually money when going up against the Timberwolves. In the bearded one's career, he's got a 29-4 record against them in the regular season (his team's record vs. them when he plays), his third best against any opponent.
For a top streaming candidate to consider tonight, Houston's Kenneth Faried (rostered in just over half of ESPN leagues) has been a revelation for the Rockets with 16.3 PPG and 10.2 RPG in 11 games with the team. For some perspective, Faried averaged only 5.1 PPG and 3.7 RPG in 12 appearances with Brooklyn earlier this season. Faried will be plenty busy corralling Karl-Anthony Towns, who has averaged 24.1 PPG and 12.1 RPG since the Jimmy Butler trade (19.9 PPG and 10.8 with Butler on the roster).
In a game pitting two potent offenses, and with Minnesota having ceded at least 120 points in three straight games, this is a fun contest to target for both streaming and DFS purposes.
Top players to watch tonight
Stacking the Warriors' rotation, including their superstar tandem of Curry and Durant, could prove rewarding tonight as they head to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. Curry (28.6) and Kevin Durant (27.5) have combined to average 56.1 points per game this season, which would be the most by a duo in a single season since Shaq and Kobe in 2002-03.
Per ESPN's Basketball Power Index (BPI), this will be the Warriors' second-toughest remaining game. Golden State is favored in all their remaining games, but the only tougher matchup they will have down the stretch will be against the Thunder (March 16). Durant enjoys seeing the Trail Blazers. Since joining Golden State, he's averaging 31.8 PPG against them, his highest against any opponent during that span. He dropped 50 on them in a loss last February.
Over the past four seasons, Damian Lillard's scoring clip against the Warriors at the Moda Center is 36.1 PPG, which includes a 51-point game back in February 2016. Loading up on shares of Curry, Durant and Lillard is a fun way to finish out the first "half" of the NBA season.