There are five games in the NBA Tuesday and Monkey Knife Fight has you covered, with great chances to make your picks and win.
Early in this NBA season there are some surprises. It’s not a surprise that both Los Angeles teams are good because they are probably the favorites to win the championship. But the Phoenix Suns are tied with the Lakers and Clippers atop the Western Conference.
In the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers have a league-best 6-1 record, one game ahead of the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers. It’s early.
But those early results can shape how we might evaluate a player’s production. A slow start in five or six games could be long forgotten by the end of the season but, right now, maybe it takes some adjustment to get used to playing in nearly empty NBA arenas
With Kevin Durant out of the Nets lineup that means more looks for Kyrie but this isn’t an easy number to cover. He has scored more than 27 points in two of six games this season, which includes 30 against Washington on Tuesday. He faces a Utah Jazz team that is off to a strong start with a better-than-average defensive record. It’s not exactly the ideal situation for putting up big scoring numbers.
Damian Lillard MORE THAN 27.5 POINTS
Lillard is averaging 26.3 points per game but that is dragged down by his scoring just nine points in the season opener. He has scored 30 or more in four of the five games since. Even better, he goes against a Chicago Bulls team that is allowing a league-high 121.3 points per game so there will be plenty of opportunity for Lillard to fill it up.
Anthony Davis LESS THAN 23.5 POINTS
It has been something of an uneven start to the season for Davis, who is averaging 21.7 points per game. The Lakers are going against the Memphis Grizzlies for the second straight game and, even though they have been below-average defensively thus far, they held Davis to 17 points on Tuesday night.
Jamal Murray MORE THAN 22.5 POINTS
Murray started relatively slowly but is heating up with 31 and 36 points, respectively, in the past two games, the most recent of which was against the same Minnesota Timberwolves team that he’s facing tonight. The Timberwolves are also suspect defensively – only three teams have allowed more than the 119.5 points per game given up by Minnesota.
Rudy Gobert MORE THAN 13.5 REBOUNDS
Not only is the Stifle Tower a beast on the boards, averaging 13.7 per game, with at least 14 rebounds in four of six contests this season, but he faces a Brooklyn Nets team that isn’t great on the glass to begin with. It’s a little surprising, given that they have DeAndre Jordan and Jarret Allen playing center but only three teams are allowing more rebounds per game than the Nets so Gobert should still get his.
LeBron James -0.5 assists vs. Tyus Jones
LeBron’s assist numbers are down in the early going. His 7.4 assists per game would be his lowest average since 2015-2016 and this is after leading the league with more than 10 assists per game last season. Jones is a backup point guard, albeit one that is starting now that Ja Morant is injured. Even so, Jones has had one game where he erupted for a dozen assists and has been held to four or fewer in every other game.
Nikola Jokic -2.5 fantasy points vs. Kyrie Irving
An average game for Jokic right now includes 22 points, 11 rebounds, and nearly 13 assists per game. Going up against Minnesota, there may not be a more appealing player on Tuesday’s schedule when it comes to fantasy points. Irving will get more chances to score with Durant out but unless he goes off for a huge game, he doesn’t fill the stat sheet like Jokic.
Scott is a sportswriter with a focus on analytics, rankings, fantasy. Even though he’s Canadian, his interests and analysis extend a wee bit beyond hockey and maple syrup. Eh?