The Trail Blazers and Mavericks tied the record for the most made 3-pointers in a game with a combined 43 on Thursday evening. While Damian Lillard impressively sank eight for Portland in becoming the first player in franchise history with consecutive 45-point games and at least 100 points during a two-game span, we also witnessed recent acquisition Trevor Ariza provide a meaningful spark for fantasy mangers.
Available for the price of a roster spot in roughly 85% of ESPN leagues, the savvy veteran wing delivered 21 points, four 3-pointers and nine combined assists and rebounds with two steals in 36 minutes of action, ranking third in playing time on the team. Ariza flashed as a reliable 3-and-D fantasy force once he was dealt from Phoenix to Washington last season and could mimic such an ascent this season in a rewarding role for Portland.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: 47 points (16-28 FG), 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 TO
Avery Bradley, Los Angeles Lakers: 2 points (1-8 FG), 1 assist, 1 TO
The fallout of Dwight Powell's season-ending Achilles injury resonated throughout the Dallas rotation on Thursday in the team's win over Portland. Backup big Maxi Kleber was asked to protect the rim and run the break, and he responded with three blocks and 15 points. Sharpshooter Seth Curry shifted into a starting role and tallied 17 points in 26 minutes. Even combo forward Dorian Finney-Smith proved busier with a double-double in the victory. All three of these players appear poised to gain minutes and usage in a Dallas rotation that has consolidated roles sans Powell thus far.
Cleveland's Larry Nance Jr. was dormant for much of January from a statistical perspective but has turned in consecutive double-doubles, including last night's 22 points and 12 pulls in a busy roll off the pine. Tristan Thompson has regressed after a fun stretch earlier in January, benefiting Nance as a result. In the loss to the Wizards on Thursday, Cleveland also netted a strong performance from second-year combo guard Collin Sexton, who poured in 29 points on just 15 shots for his 10th game with at least 25 points this season after having 11 such performances as a rookie.
Despite being on the second leg of a back-to-back, LeBron impressively produced his third triple-double since turning 35 in a win over Brooklyn last night, tying him for the second-most such triple-doubles in NBA history. As the Lakers head to South Philly for a Saturday evening game that airs on ABC, he sits just 18 points shy of passing Kobe Bryant for third all-time in scoring.
In a performance that will likely go unnoticed by many, Brooklyn's Taurean Prince produced a fun fantasy line on Thursday in a loss to James' Lakers that included 18 points, 3 3-pointers and 3 steals. For the past week, Prince is averaging 2.3 3PG and 1.3 SPG, making him an interesting waiver target.
Injuries of note
The Pacers' Malcolm Brogdon will miss Friday's contests against the Warriors with a concussion.
Marvin Bagley III is considered doubtful and Richaun Holmes has been ruled out for the Kings' matchup with the Bulls on Friday night. Stretch forward Nemanja Bjelica is poised as a top streaming option and savvy DFS play, given the depleted nature of Sacramento's frontcourt.
Analytics advantage for Friday
While he's struggled of late in a limited role, we've seen the Pacers' Aaron Holiday enjoy a team-high 2.2% surge in usage rate with Brogdon off the court this season. Rostered in just 8.0% of ESPN leagues as of Friday morning, Holiday is a savvy pickup ahead of tonight's matchup with the Warriors, a team that has ceded 50.5 fantasy points per game to point guards, second most in the league (using DraftKings' scoring key).
For those in deeper formats, TJ McConnell surfaces as a worthy streaming option given a likely uptick in opportunities tonight.
Top players to watch on Friday
Two of the NBA's top-five teams in terms of win percentage meet in South Beach on Friday night when the 31-13 Heat host the 31-14 Clippers at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Miami currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, while the Clippers are third out West.
The marquee matchup for viewers offers a rematch of a tense playoff battle from last spring, as Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard meet again in Miami this evening. Beyond these superstar wings, fantasy managers will want to watch for fringe steaming options to surface, such as Duncan Robinson of the Heat and Landry Shamet of the Clippers, as their respective shooting and spacing contributions could prove critical.