Collin Sexton spoiled the debut of Brooklyn's "Big Three" in a double-overtime thriller on Wednesday evening. The Cleveland Cavaliers guard scored a career-high 42 points in the win, including an incredible 15 in the second overtime period. That amazing effort tied him for the second-most points ever scored in any regular-season overtime period in league history.
Sexton scored 20 straight points for the Cavaliers during the two overtimes, joining LeBron James as the only member of the Cavaliers to score 20 straight points over the last 20 seasons. With an ADP of No. 73 overall in ESPN fantasy drafts, Sexton is currently seventh in scoring average in the entire NBA -- just a tick behind two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
For the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had 35-plus points each and James Harden posted a triple-double, marking the first time in Nets history that two players had 35-plus points and another player had a triple-double. Overall, it's just the ninth instance of that happening in NBA history.
Cleveland's Taurean Prince -- who was dealt to the Cavaliers in the Harden blockbuster last week -- scored 17 points numbers in his debut with the team, to go along with solid rebounding and defense. Rostered in just 4.8% of ESPN leagues, it's not clear if Prince's strong showing is indicative of his new role with Cleveland or if it was just an outlier performance against his former team. It's worth watching Prince's production over the next few games.
A noticeable trend is just how well Cedi Osman has been playing for Cleveland. He has scored 25 points in consecutive games and has had 14-plus points in five of his last six games. Even with lead playmaker Sexton back in the mix, Osman still collected seven assists on Wednesday and now has a total of 18 over his last three games. Yet somehow, he remains a free agent in more than 75% of ESPN leagues.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers: 42 points (16-29 FG), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 TO
Embiid became the first 76ers player to record a 40-point, 10-rebound game against the Celtics since Hall of Famer Charles Barkley did so back in December of 1987. Embiid also joined Wilt Chamberlain (31), Barkley (13) and Billy Cunningham (10) as the only players in 76ers history with at least 10 career games of 40 points and 10 boards. Embiid is now up to No. 9 overall on the ESPN Player Rater.
Atlanta's Capela became the first player with 25 points, 25 rebounds and five blocks in a single game since Shaquille O'Neal back in 2004. He's the first Hawks player with at least 25 points and 25 rebounds in a single game since Dikembe Mutombo in 1999.
Indiana's Doug McDermott scored 16 points in a loss to Dallas. The combo forward is averaging 18.3 PPG and 2.7 3PG over the last three games and is only rostered in around 10% of leagues. McDermott should continue to serve an important offensive role for the Pacers with both Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren sidelined. Domantas Sabonis continued his stellar play for Indiana and became just the fourth player in the last 35 seasons with a double-double in each of his first 14 games of the campaign.
In the win over Indiana, Kristaps Porzingis was brilliant for the Mavericks, missing just three of his 15 shots from the floor, good for the best field-goal percentage of his career (min. 10 attempts). The Mavericks are deploying Porzingis more at center of late and the mismatches he's enjoying on offense are notable.
Despite being listed as doubtful heading into the game, Orlando's Evan Fournier returned from a nine-game absence (due to back spasms) to score 24 points in a win over Minnesota. Quite valuable as a fantasy option last season, Fournier is a free agent in just over half of ESPN leagues. Rookie G Cole Anthony has struggled with his shot this season, but hit a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to defeat the Timberwolves, becoming the first rookie with a game-winning buzzer-beater in Magic history. Anthony has scored in double figures in four of his last five games.
Injuries of note
Washington's Russell Westbrook continues to recover from a quad injury but will travel with the Wizards for the team's four-game road trip that begins on Friday. Coach Scott Brooks told reporters Westbrook won't play on Friday, but a return during the trip is possible.
Analytics advantage for Thursday
Alec Burks of the Knicks is listed as probable this evening after having missed the last 12 games due to an ankle injury. As noted above, both Rivers and Ntilikina are likely to miss Thursday's matchup against the Warriors. Burks averaged 20.7 PPG in three games to begin the season and could have a sizable role as a perimeter scorer. Burks averaged a stellar 1.27 PPP (points per possession) as the lead ball-handler in pick-and-roll sets in his three appearances this season. Kawhi Leonard leads all qualified players at 1.21 PPP on such plays. During a light three-game slate, it's probably worth noting that Burks is a free agent in nearly 75% of ESPN leagues.
Top players to watch on Thursday
The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks both hope to avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season. The Lakers haven't yet lost on the road and claim the league's best defensive rating. The Bucks have lost just once at home and claim the league's best offensive rating. Obviously, superstars like James, Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis will play key roles in the contest, yet I'm focused on how Milwaukee's Brook Lopez matches up with Montrezl Harrell of the Lakers. Lopez claims a significant size advantage over Harrell and is somehow available in free agency in over 40% of leagues -- despite being tied for sixth in the NBA in blocks and having just as many made 3-pointers this season as Devin Booker.