• ‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas which means the NBA loaded up on their schedule so they could give players and staff the day off on the 24th. This means there were tons of games to comb through and lots of notes you’ll want to read as you prep your team heading into the the new year. Sadly news broke that Nikola Vucevic went down with a fractured left hand and will be out six to eight weeks. It seems like this year the injury bug has hit harder and faster and if you’re in fantasy hoops, it’s become a war of attrition.

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    Wolves 115 @ Suns 106

    The Wolves took care of business on the road in Phoenix as Jimmy Butler continues his tear with 32 points, six boards and an astounding 12-of-13 mark at the line. Karl-Anthony Towns double-doubled again with 16 & 14 to go with two blocks while Gorgui Dieng played the most minutes off the bench, scoring 10 points with seven boards, three assists, a steal and two blocks in 23 minutes. If he can continue to play near the mid-20s, Dieng will be able to produce low-end value with high upside if anything were to happen to Taj Gibson.

    Greg Monroe picks up another DNP-CD and he looks like the odd man out of the big man rotation for Phoenix now. This team is a mess to read in fantasy apart from T.J. Warren (24-9-2-2-1). Troy Daniels got hot off the bench for 18 points and Marquese Chriss swatted three shots and hit a triple.

    Nuggets 96 @ Warriors 81

    Nikola Jokic is up and running again with an 18-9-4-1-1 line and Jamal Murray continues to produce well for owners who have held on patiently. There’s still some skepticism on whether or not he can maintain this as his numbers seem unsustainable over his past five games with 52 percent shooting from deep and 1.4 steals a game. Gary Harris is still a stud and scored 19 points with two triples and two more steals with a block for good measure.

    This was one of the worst games for the Warriors in recent memory and missing Stephen Curry changes their whole dynamic. Draymond Green picked up five cash counters, but is having his elbow X-rayed. Crushing news for owners that just got Gren back from a shoulder injury. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both didn’t shoot the ball well but put up enough volume stats while Jordan Bell continues to impress with 7-10-2-2-2 and he should be starting over Zaza.

    Thunder 103 @ Jazz 89

    OKC has ripped off some impressive wins and a road win in Utah on the second night of a back-to-back shouldn’t be taken lightly. Russell Westbrook triple-doubled with 27-10-10 and Paul George found his shot again, hitting 10-of-17 shots on his way to 26 points with four triples and six steals.

    Smokin’ Joe Ingles had a 7-8-5 line with a 3-pointer, but his stealsh have been lacking lately. He should pick it up and there’s a buy-low window there. Besides Donovan Mitchell (29-5-1-1-1) n oother Jazz players produced any serviceable lines and the emergence of Mitchell has stifled Ricky Rubio’s production.

    Clippers 112 @ Grizzlies 115

    DeAndre Jordan pulled down 18 boards while Lou Williams and Austin Rivers provided all the scoring punch for the Clippers as they scored 36 and 38 points respectively. The Clippers have no bodies so Rivers should continue to provide value, but this is the best stretch of games you’ll get from him this year and it’s a massive sell-high opportunity, Sweet Lou is here to stay though.

    Marc Gasol posted 17-15-4-1-1 on 7-of-16 shooting and is as steady as they come while Tyreke Evans stayed healthy and hit six triples towards his 30-7-11-3 line and he’s been a monster this year. Keep him rolling until the wheels fall off.

    Pelicans 109 @ Heat 94

    The twin towers did their damage with Anthony Davis notching 17-6-3-1-4 and DeMarcus Cousins adding his 16-7-8-2-3. They’re both going to cruise this year while Rajon Rondo has slowed down a bit, but he’ll have another stretch of good games coming eventually. Jrue Holiday has found his footing and was solid with 13-6-4.

    Miami is still playing without Hassan Whiteside, but Kelly Olynyk (10-8-3-0-1) is more than capable of filling in the gap. Josh Richardson is back to posting serviceable lines and he’ll provide stats in every category which makes him a must-own guy. Dion Waiters sat this one out with an ankle injury and Tyler Johnson made the most of his start with 20 points, two triples and two steals. James Johnson also returned to action with seven points, a steal and a triple on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting in eight minutes. Glad to have you back James.

    Bulls 92 @ Celtics 117

    The Bulls streak has been snapped and everyone suffered tonight. Kris Dunn went an ugly 1-for-12 and Niikola Mirotic finally cooled off, shooting 3-for-10 for nine points, but managed nine boards. Dan Besbris isn’t worried though as Niko will be fine.

    Jaylen Brown returned to action with 20 points, a steal and four triples, but hit 2-of-4 at the line. He’ll be inconsistent and not as good as Jayson Tatum (13-7-5-1). Kyrie Irving did the heavy lifting with 25 points and seven assists.

    Mavs 107 @ Hawks 112

    J.J. Barea had a big double-double with 15 points and 12 assists and Dirk Nowitzki had a great night from the floor, hitting 7-of-11 shots on his way to 18 points. Harrison Barnes chipped in 22, but added zero peripheral stats which is why he’ll be a late-round player at best.

    Dennis Schroder hung 33 on the Mavs and Ersan Ilyasova outplayed John Collins in this one, scoring 21 points with seven boards, a steal and a block. Taurean Prince was relatively quiet, but still posted 10-5-3-1 with a triple and 4-of-7 shooting. He should be owned everywhere.

    Magic 103 @ Wizards 130

    Elfrid Payton burst onto the scene with 30-5-10-4-1 and 11-of-16 shooting and Mario Hezonja is still steady with 16 points, two triples, three steals and a block. Nikola Vucevic fractured his hand is projected to be out for 6 to 8 weeks which is devastating news. This means Elfrid Payton will have a much higher usage and Aaron Gordon will be primed for a larger role when he returns.

    John Wall double-doubled with 10 points and 13 assists and Otto Porter Jr. hit four triples and grabbed a steal. Bradley Beal scored 17 points with three triples and his hot streak has passed, but a new one could start at any moment. Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 18 and 16 each, but this game can be viewed as an outlier due to the Wizards’ 130 points.

    Nets 119 @ Pacers 123

    DeMarre Carroll put up a strong 20 points and 13 boards, he looks healthier which is the main reason for his bounce back year. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continues his breakout campaign with 18-8-3-1-1 and Spencer Dinwiddie is still stellar with 26 points, eight assists and five 3-pointers. Hopefully you listened to us and didn’t panic on him.

    Victor Oladipo posted another All-Star line with 38-4-6-1-1 with two 3-pointers and he’s going to be an early-round player with a much higher ADP next season. Darren Collison is quietly having another mid-round year and Myles Turner shut the buy-low window with 23 points, nine boards, three triples and six blocks. He was the league leader in blocks during his slump which was enough value by itself. The rest will follow.

    Bucks 106 @ Hornets 111 

    John Henson didn’t block a shot which was odd, but he might swat four in the next one. Khris Middleton continues to dazzle with 31-5-4-1-1 and isn’t talked about enough because he plays next to Giannis Antetokounmpo who sat this one out with knee soreness. Eric Bledsoe is back to producing mid-round value and Malcolm Brodgon played 33 minutes, but couldn’t do much with the minutes. Brogdon is worth hanging onto in 12-team leagues.

    Dwight Howard had a classic Dwight game with 21 & 16 with two blocks and 7-of-12 foul shooting. Nicolas Batum posted a full line with 12-5-6-1-2 and owners are just happy he’s playing. Jeremy Lamb only played 19 minutes which isn’t where we want him to be, but still gave a strong effort with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

    Sixers 86 @ Raptors 102

    Joel Embiid returned, but only played 23 minutes. He did damage with 14 points, eight boards and three blocks. Those block numbers are starting to climb and JoJo is looking great out there. Robert Covington is a monster and even on a quiet six point night, he manages a triple and five steals. Richaun Holmes played garbage time only as he was buried behind Amir Johnson and the Sixers are going to have to give this guy playing time. Four garbage time minutes is unacceptable, but for now fantasy owners will have to deal with this as a luxury stash situation, just be quick with your trigger finger when adding him.

    Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan did damage as usual, with DeRozan hitting four more triples and this is a trend that owners are praying stays. O.G Anunoby went scoreless and his impact is better measured when watching him play rather than the box score. Serge Ibaka has been great as of late, with 17 points, six boards, a triple and a block.

    Spurs 108 @ Kings 99

    Kawhi Leonard is still having his minutes managed so he sat this one out, which meant LaMarcus Aldirdge got more burn again. Aldridge double-doubled with 29 points and 10 boards on 13-of-22 shooting and owners will have an extended sell-high period while Kawhi is being nursed back into game shape.

    Willie Cauley-Stein was great for the Kings with 22 points and 11 baords while Buddy Hield lit it up in a start, shooting 9-for-17 on his way to 24 points and four 3-pointers. George Hill didn’t do much with his 34 minutes and Bogdan Bogdanovic went a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from deep off the bench with no other supporting stats.

    Blazers 95 @ Lakers 92

    Damian Lillard missed this one with a hamstring strain, but it’s minor and owners need not worry. Shabazz Napier scored 21 with four 3s and three steals in a start while C.J. McCollum struggled shooting, going 7-for-23 for 17 points and two steals.

    Brandon Ingram is out with a quad injury which meant Josh Hart playing 34 minutes. Hart was fine with 11 points, 10 boards, a triple and a steal while Lonzo Ball was awful from the field again, hitting 4-of-13 shots. His line was still strong going 10-8-11-2-1 with two triples. Ball’s defensive numbers are better than expected and they’re here to stay. Kyle Kuzma cooled off, going 6-for-19, but scored 18 points with two triples. He’s been one of the steals of the draft and is one of the more fun fantasy players to own because you love rooting for him when watching this young and exciting Lakers squad.

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