Tonight two teams in the top five of the Western Conference face off for the second time this week. The fifth place Portland Trailblazers had a stunning overtime win against the third place Warriors on Thursday which was Golden States second loss in a row since they fell to the Lakers on Christmas Day. With Golden State just 0.5 games behind the conference-leading Nuggets and the Trailblazers at 3.5 games behind both teams will be fighting hard for a win tonight to bring them closer to the top spot.
Stephen Curry ($9,800/44.67 FPPG) is going to be working hard tonight to help his team avoid a second straight loss to Portland. Despite the loss on Thursday, Curry still performed much better across the board than he did in the loss on Christmas, with 29 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Since he has returned to the court on December 1st after an 11 game absence he has been putting up great fantasy numbers with only two games below 30 FP contrasted with five games above 50 FP. If he can continue to play well and put up similar numbers to those in Thursday’s matchup, Curry will definitely be a smart choice for fantasy players tonight.
Kevin Durant ($10,700/49.80) will also be working hard tonight to help avoid a second loss to the Trailblazers, especially since his missed shot at the buzzer Thursday would’ve ended the game with a Golden State win. He has had an elite season so far with his average 28.8 points per game the highest of his career since the 2013-14 season as well as a career high assists per game with 6.6. Despite the missed shot, Durant still put up good numbers Thursday with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists giving him his second triple double game of the season. December has been a productive month for Durant. Thru the 13 games this month he has averaged 26.3 points per game and has great rebound and assist numbers that helped bring him the one triple-double and three double-double games. His on the court performance has made him a great asset for fantasy players this month with 69.2% of his games scoring above 40 FP. Durant will be working hard tonight to help the Warriors avoid another loss to Portland making him a strong pick for fantasy rosters.
For fantasy players willing to take a risk on a less consistent pick, Jusuf Nurkic ($8,000/35.36 FP) might be worth a look. While he put up a team leading 27 points in Thursday’s victory over the Warriors, his December has featured five games where he put up only single digit points. Despite his weak scoring, Nurkic has put up great rebound numbers with 9.8 per game on average. Having these rebounds have helped Nurkic’s fantasy numbers stay relevant despite the lack of consistent scoring. While he is definitely a more risky pick for fantasy rosters there is still a good amount of upside, especially if he can once again lead the team in rebounds and points against Golden State.
With the close situation in the Western Conference standings, the Trailblazers looking for a second victory to propel them closer to the top, and the Warriors hoping for a revenge win to end their two game streak, this game has implications lasting into the season. Fantasy players will be wise to keep their eye on this matchup with its abundance of elite picks to help propel their lineups to the top.