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Not that any NBA Wednesday is ever ordinary, but this NBA Wednesday was a page out of a fairytale novel, or a blast from the past movie, as we saw several NBA veterans making their return to the hardwood after multi-year layoffs. You got “Iso Joe” Johnson back on an NBA floor for the first time since 2018, with the team that drafted him 20 years ago in the Boston Celtics, you got Lance Stephenson, who was last seen with the Lakers in 2019, back in the league with the Atlanta Hawks. We’ve seen Isaiah Thomas finally get his opportunity to get back on the floor with the Lakers, and we will see Brandon Knight get a reunion with his old Milwaukee Bucks coach, Jason Kidd when he suits up for Dallas on Thursday.
This feels like 2014 all over again, and Taylor Swift’s Blank Space was firing up the charts and Beyonce’s Drunk in Love was breaking records. But it is 2021, and the holiday season is upon us, so while things are certainly not operating under normal circumstances, there is still plenty to be cheerful about. So without further ado, let’s dive into Wednesday’s action and I’ll give you my biggest takeaways from each of the five games that were played on the evening.
Celtics 111- Cavaliers 101
Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams have huge nights
On a night where most people will probably be talking about Joe Johnson making his return to the NBA, and even scoring a bucket in his first game, that’s not what fantasy managers are concerned with. Jaylen Brown had his best game since the season opener when he dropped 46 on the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. On Wednesday, Brown scored 34 points on 12-of-22 shooting with five triples, six rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal. This came on the heels of Monday’s 30-point performance against the Sixers, where Brown also grabbed five rebounds with four assists, three triples, and two steals in the loss. The hamstring issues look like they are deep in the rear-view mirror for Brown, who is averaging 26.7 points per game over his last four contests.
Robert Williams had one of the best games of his NBA career on Wednesday as he did absolutely everything for Boston, and set a new career mark. Williams scored a career-high 21 points on an ultra-efficient 10-of-12 shooting from the floor and grabbed 11 rebounds to go with seven assists, two steals, and two blocks in 34 minutes. The Cavaliers were without Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley in their frontcourt, and The Timelord took full advantage on Wednesday. It had been a down month thus far, but Williams gave his managers an early Christmas present, and he’ll try to deliver again on Christmas day against Milwaukee.
Darius Garland & Kevin Love have great nights
Ever since Collin Sexton went down with a torn meniscus in early November, Darius Garland has taken the reins as Cleveland’s lead guard and he has run with it. In the Month of December, Garland is averaging 20.7 points on 51.2% shooting from the floor (45.6% 3-pointers) with 7.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 triples, and 1.5 steals per game. On Wednesday he put up 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting (2-of-8 3-pointers) with six assists, two rebounds, and three steals. This is now Garland’s third consecutive game scoring at least 20, as he is putting up third-round value in 9-cat formats this month.
Kevin Love has also been playing well of late, and Wednesday was another solid performance for the veteran big. Cleveland was without Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Ed Davis, all of which are currently in the league’s health and safety protocols at the moment. This resulted in some extra looks for love, whose 13 attempts on Wednesday tied a season-high. Love scored 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting (1-of-5 3-pointers) and grabbed 12 rebounds with three assists and one steal in just 23 minutes. This was just Love’s fourth double-double of the season, but it was his second in the last two weeks as Love is averaging 16.7 points and 8.5 rebounds with 2.8 triples and 2.2 assists per game over this span. Oh and he is doing so in only 20.7 minutes per game, which is absurd given the numbers that he is putting up. Love is only rostered in 63% of fantasy leagues so if you need a big man that can stretch the floor and get you some points and boards, Love is your guy.
Magic 104- Hawks 98
Robin Lopez sets Career-High with 11 assists
On Saturday, Robin Lopez led his team in scoring for just the third time in his 916 game NBA career, when he scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and four assists, to lead the Magic over the Nets. On Sunday, RoLo set a new career-high with 11 assists to go with 10 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one block in 31 minutes. He even tallied six assists in the fourth quarter alone, which was tied for the most assists in a fourth-quarter by a starting center in the last 25 seasons. Over his last three games, Lopez has tallied two double-doubles and is averaging 16.0 points on 53.3% shooting from the floor with 7.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 2.7 turnovers per game. Wendell Carter Jr. (leg muscle strain) and Mo Bamba (health and safety protocols) are both currently on the sidelines for Orlando, and as long as this continues, Lopez could continue to have big nights, so if nothing else, he should be on your DFS radar for the next few nights.
Cam Reddish scores a career-high 34
The Hawks were without Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot on Wednesday due to the league’s health and safety protocols, but they did get Bogdan Bogdanovic back after almost a month due to a sprained right ankle, though he played just 22 minutes, and scored six points with two rebounds and two assists.
Wednesday was about Cam Reddish, who relished in the role as the primary scorer for Atlanta, as he scored a career-high 34 points on 11-of-23 shooting with six triples, four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and one turnover in 42 minutes. With the Hawks being as depleted as they are, we could get a few more big nights from Cam for the time being. He is certainly worth a look as a streamer for as long as Young and Huerter are on the sidelines.
Bucks 126- Rockets 106
Jordan Nwora & DeMarcus Cousins step up
The Bucks remain without their MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is in the league’s health and safety protocols along with Bobby Portis, and Donte DiVincenzo, who was scheduled to make his debut right before he was forced to quarantine. This opened the door for a number of players to step up into some bigger roles, but two stood out on Wednesday. Jordan Nwora and DeMarcus Cousins had nearly identical stat lines on Wednesday night as both were in starting roles. Nwora scored 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting with four triples, nine rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 27 minutes. Cousins also scored 18 points on seven made field goals, but he needed just 13 attempts (1-of-4 3-pointers) to go with eight rebounds, two assists, and one block in 28 minutes.
The Bucks have one more game before they are expected to get Giannis Antetokounmpo, and possibly Donte DiVincenzo back for a Christmas day showdown with Boston, so if you need a DFS filler on Thursday, Cousins o Nwora could get you some decent production.
Alperen Sengun & Kenyon Martin Jr. play well off the bench
After winning eight of ten games, including a seven-game winning streak, the Rockets have now lost five straight. Christian Wood tallied his third straight 20-point game on Wednesday, and his second straight double-double, but we have seen these types of performances regularly from Wood this season.
Kenyon Martin Jr. came off the bench and scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting with two triples, five rebounds, one block, and a season-high six assists in 31 minutes. The Rockets also got a solid line from Alperen Sengun, who scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting with eight rebounds, and four assists in 24 minutes. Sengun did turn the ball over four times, which gives him nine in his last two games, so 9-cat managers are hoping that this does not become a trend for the foreseeable future.
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Thunder 108- Nuggets 104
Shai Gileheous-Alexander triple-doubles, Bazley double-doubles
On Wednesday, Gilgeous-Alexander notched just his second career triple-double against the Nuggets. The former Kentucky star put up 27 points on 10-of-24 shooting (7-of-7 free throws) with 12 assists, 11 rebounds, one block, and one steal. Over his last four games, he is averaging 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and only 1.8 turnovers per game. SGA started the season a bit slow, and he still isn’t shooting the ball great, at 28.7% from three on the season, but he is starting to get it going everywhere else.
The Thunder also got 17 points and 11 rebounds with two blocks, and an assist out of Darius Bazley off the bench. This was Bazley’s second double-double and his second-highest scoring game of the season for the Thunder. He had been very inconsistent this season, but he has now scored in double-figures in three straight games, and he has tallied eight blocks over his last three contests. If nothing else, Bazley could be worth a look as a DFS streamer for some rebounds and blocks.
Nikola Jokic looked uninspired Wednesday
Listen, I know it is a long NBA season, and it is unrealistic to expect these guys to come out and put their best foot forward every single night. So I can understand why on a Wednesday night in December, in the penultimate game before the Christmas break in the middle of Oklahoma, Jokic and the Nuggets might sleepwalk through 48 minutes of basketball.
With that being said, the reigning league MVP taking nine shots in 25 minutes, and producing just 13 points as his team scores only 94 in a loss to one of the worst teams in the NBA, is still disappointing. He did add seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks, but he turned it over three times, so with just three assists, they tend to cancel out. To say the least, this was a stinker for the Nuggets, and they will try to get back on track in game two of a back-to-back at home against Charlotte on Thursday.
Clippers 105- Kings 89
Serge Ibaka, Eric Bledsoe shine in win
Ibaka played in just his 13th game on Wednesday, and it was by far his best one of the season. In 20 minutes off the bench, Ibaka scored 17 points on an efficient 7-of-9 from the floor (2-of-3 3-pointers)and added five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Ibaka has missed time this season due to back issues, a stint in the league’s health and safety protocols, personal reasons, and he even logged a few DNP-CD’s this season, so Wednesday’s performance was certainly encouraging for the veteran big man. Though we want to see him produce consistently before we get too excited.
Speaking of needing to produce more consistently, another Clipper who fits that description is Eric Bledsoe, who also balled out on Wednesday. Bledsoe scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting (1-of-4 3-pointers) and grabbed eight rebounds with seven dimes and four turnovers in 36 minutes on Wednesday. If Bledsoe could get into that ballpark more often, he could actually be a decent fantasy prospect, but he is just too inconsistent to rely on at this point.
Richaun Holmes returns, Tyrese Haliburton stays hot in loss
The Kings got Richaun Holmes (eye laceration) back in the lineup on Wednesday after he had missed the last seven games. This was a bit of a consolation prize, given the fact that the Kings were down seven guys due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, including De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, and Davion Mitchell. Holmes played just 17 minutes and scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting with seven rebounds and one block.
Outside of Holmes, the biggest bright spot for the Kings on Wednesday was Tyrese Haliburton, who continued his stellar play with Fox on the sidelines. In 43 minutes, Haliburton scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting (3-of-8 3-pointers and dished out a career-high 13 assists with three rebounds, three steals, and one block. This was Haliburton’s fourth straight game scoring at least 20 points with at least 10 assists, making him the first Kings guard to accomplish such a feat since Larry Drew in 1982.