February 19, 2021, 1:12 am
Thursday night provided us two nationally televised games with the first one featuring an Eastern Conference matchup between the Raptors and the Bucks. Toronto got some disappointing news a few hours before the game with Kyle Lowry ruled out with a thumb injury. It is even more concerning considering that it is the same thumb he had offseason surgery on following the team’s 2019 Championship. He has already been ruled out of Friday’s contest and could very well miss more games. DeAndre’ Bembry got the spot start but had an uninspiring line from a fantasy perspective in his 38 minutes of action. Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam paced the team with an efficient 26 and 25 points respectively. The Bucks had a monstrous size advantage for most of the game but shot .393 from the field in comparison to .494 that the Raptors finished with. Giannis Antetokounmpo had his typical struggle at the foul line (7-of-13) and he turned the ball over six times. The Bucks’ offensive issues were on full display as they shot a dismal 10-of-35 from distance. They definitely have some kinks to work out if they want to be seen as legit title contenders.
There were two night games and the first featured both teams that are placed 11th in their respective conferences. The struggling Heat were on the second night of a back-to-back in northern California after they extended their losing streak to three straight after an overtime loss to the Warriors on Wednesday, a game in which they were leading up until crunch time. Luckily, they were matched up against an equally struggling Kings squad, that had lost four straight prior to Thursday, and they took advantage. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo both triple-doubled, and you are probably thinking that it was the first time that it has happened in their career. Incorrect! This marks just the 11th time in NBA history that two teammates triple-doubled in the same game and the second time that Bam and Jimmy did since Jimmy joined the team prior to the 2019-20 campaign. That is extremely impressive! They are now the only duo to do it twice! Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk were also excellent as they scored 27 and 22 points respectively while Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn combined for nine triples. The Kings were no match for this Heat squad, especially since they are without both Richaun Holmes (right knee soreness) and Harrison Barnes (left foot strain). DaQuan Jeffries sure made the most of his 17 minutes as he scored as many points and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field including five treys. De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley double-doubled while Nemanja Bjelica filled up the stat sheet in the loss with 25 points (11-of-21), eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. While both of these teams have similar records in their respective conferences, it was clear on Thursday that the Heat are the better team.
Last up on Thursday’s light three-game slate was a showdown between the Lakers and the Nets. However, the Nets caught the Lakers on a good night as the team is without Anthony Davis until after the All-Star break with a right calf strain and Dennis Schröder was a late scratch due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Wesley Matthews got the start in Schröder’s place and had a brief visit to the locker room due to a leg injury and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got dinged up as well. It just wasn’t a good night for the defending champs despite LeBron’s 32-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance in 33 minutes. Kyle Kuzma was also a bright spot as he provided an efficient double-double. All of the other Lakers combined for 50 points on 19-of-47 shooting from the field. Even the typical porous Nets’ defense looked good against this iteration of the Lakers. Joe Harris dropped 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting while James Harden had a 23-point, 11-assist double-double. Kyrie Irving had the worst line of the trio as he committed a game-high five turnovers. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot hit five triples to pitch in 15 points in the victory. The Lakers appear ready for the All-Star break as they definitely do not draw the same amount of fear from their opponents without Anthony Davis.
Add(s) of the Night
Nemanja Bjelica filled in for Richaun Holmes (right knee soreness) and has shown an ability to produce standard league value in a starting role, even as recent as last season. In 2019-20, the Serbian forward was ranked 85th in 8-cat and 72nd in 9-cat leagues. For now, he’s just a short-term streamer, but has the track record of being relevant for an entire season if he continues to get similar opportunity to what he saw in Thursday’s loss.
DaQuan Jeffries could be worth monitoring in deeper formats but there is no way he can be as efficient as we saw during Thursday’s loss.
Jeff Green had been on a decent stretch prior to Thursday’s loss but it just doesn’t seem like he is providing enough consistency to be trusted in standard formats. He can be considered a low-end streamer but should be sent to the wire at the drop of a hat if someone with upside emerges.
Notable players who are OUT for Friday
Taurean Prince (left ankle soreness)
Paul Millsap (left knee sprain) & Gary Harris (lett adductor strain)
James Wiseman (left wrist sprain) & =Kevon Looney (left ankle sprain)
Kyle Lowry (left thumb sprain)
Notable players who are DOUBTFUL for Friday
Shake Milton (left ankle sprain)
Steven Adams (right ankle sprain)
Notable players who are QUESTIONABLE for Friday
Will Barton (personal)
Draymond Green (right ankle soreness)
James Ennis (right groin strain)
Jaylen Brown (left knee soreness)
Sekou Doumbouya (concussion)
Dillon Brooks (right thigh soreness), De’Anthony Melton (left shoulder soreness)
Kawhi Leonard (left lower leg contusion), Paul George (right toe bone edema), Nicolas Batum (concussion), Luke Kennard (right knee soreness)
Mike Conley (right hamstring tightness)
Notable players who are PROBABLE for Friday
JaMychal Green (right shoulder strain)
Evan Fournier (back spasms)
Ben Simmons (illness)