It’s crunch time and I hope you don’t have to set your lineup until just before the games tip off tonight. I know that’s not possible for many of you, but some leagues allow it.
Tuesday’s Six-Game Schedule
Detroit @ Atlanta
Paul Millsap injured his thumb on Sunday and the Hawks didn’t practice on Monday. That means we won’t have an update until later on Tuesday, but because he was able to play through the pain on Sunday, my guess is he’ll be out there as the Hawks try to cling to the final playoff spot over the Knicks in the East. Lou Williams missed that game with a sore hamstring and had been playing well. He’s iffy for tonight with the injury and Kyle Korver would likely see more minutes if Williams is out.
The Pistons appear to be pretty healthy (except for Will Bynum – foot) and Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Singler appear to be sneaky, and risky, options.
Brooklyn @ Miami
To no one’s surprise, Kevin Garnett will sit this one out with his sore back and the Nets won’t play him in back-to-back games. He played on Saturday, but isn’t doing enough to be in fantasy lineups.
LeBron James is expected to play, as far as I know, but I will be surprised if he makes it through all four games this week. By the time the Heat have their second back-to-back of the week and face the Hawks on Saturday, James may be primed for a rest. They play on Tuesday/Wednesday and Friday/Saturday, so owners of LeBron need to hope the Pacers get their heads out of their you-know-whats and start pushing the Heat. My good buddy Dwyane Wade, of course, missed Sunday’s game and remains day-to-day as the Heat look to protect his fragile body. And with two sets of B2Bs this week, there’s almost no way Wade plays in more than two games, if that many. When he’s out, Toney Douglas is a sneaky fantasy option, but also a risky one. Wade has missed six straight games and eight of his last nine, so no one should be holding their breath on his return this week. Chris Andersen was out on Sunday with a knee issue, leaving him a little iffy for this one, as well.
San Antonio @ Minnesota
Tony Parker has already been ruled out for the next two games and could miss more due to a sprained joint in his back. Patty Mills is the guy you want to own, but just beware that Gregg Popovich will likely switch things up to keep Mills from getting all the glory. But I expect Mills to have a couple big games this week. The Spurs play on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, and the Thursday game is on TNT against the Mavericks. A back-to-back AND a TNT game against Mark Cuban on top of each other? This sounds like a Pop special, and anything goes for what lineups he might present on Thursday and Friday. Good luck figuring out what to do with your Spurs this week, but owners of Parker can at least find some comfort in not having to guess as to whether or not he’ll play.
Dante Cunningham was arrested and has since been released on bond after being charged with domestic assault on Friday, and then terroristic threats via text messages over the weekend. It’s hard to see the Wolves using him anytime soon. Kevin Love’s owners got some good news on Monday, as it sounds like he’ll play against the Spurs. The Wolves are not in the playoff hunt and really have no reason to run Love into the ground, so owners will have to hope this isn’t another season with an early shutdown for Love. I’m thinking it wouldn’t take much to see him miss another game or two. But he’s just too good to consider benching, unless you have a serious gut feeling.
Kevin Martin will miss his fourth straight game with shooting pain in his right heel. This should work in favor of Corey Brewer, while J.J. Barea should also benefit from his absence. It’s possible Martin’s season is over. Nikola Pekovic is likely to miss his fourth straight game with a bum ankle, meaning Gorgui Dieng should be in all lineups going forward. Pekovic’s season could also easily be over. Chase Budinger is out with a sprained ankle tonight, and Shabazz Muhammad has also been ruled out with a knee injury (and is also probably done for the year). If I had to guess at the starting five tonight, I’m going Ricky Rubio, Barea, Corey Brewer, Love and Dieng, although other possibilities include Robbie Hummel and Alexey Shved. Ouch.
Dallas @ Utah
The Mavs are still being pursued by both the Suns and Grizzlies, so look for them to be in ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mode the rest of the way.
For the Jazz, Marvin Williams, who started on Sunday, missed Monday’s practice due to left knee inflammation. While the loss of Marvin isn’t a big deal in the real world, it does mean that Enes Kanter could find himself back in the starting lineup if Williams is going to miss time. If you were on the fence about using Kanter this week, this news makes him look like a pretty decent prospect.
Oklahoma City @ Sacramento
Isaiah Thomas may or may not return to action this season due to a quad injury, but he’s missed seven straight games and I’d be surprised to see him again this week. Ray McCallum is a must-start player in his absence. Rudy Gay has been given clearance to leave the Kings at any time to be with his wife, who is expecting his first child any day now. I’m not sure there could be more frustrating news for Gay’s owners, but the fact remains that the Kings have nothing to play for and Gay is probably not going to risk missing this event. And the fact tonight’s game is at home doesn’t really matter, as his wife is in Memphis. Start him at your own risk.
Houston @ LA Lakers
We don’t have any new info on Dwight Howard’s injury as of Monday night and I think owners have to assume he’s going to continue to rest his ankle. He’s supposedly feeling better and it’s possible he could play at any time, but given how Omer Asik is playing right now, the Rockets would probably be wise to get Howard ready for the playoffs.
Kent Bazemore’s foot injury was as bad as we feared and his season is over. Wes Johnson should be the winner in Bazemore’s absence. Steve Nash will supposedly play tonight, but I have no idea why. At least Patrick Beverley won’t be around to harass him. Chris Kaman (calf), Pau Gasol (vertigo) and Xavier Henry (knee, wrist) are also out. Henry is done for the season, while I’d be surprised to see Kaman or Pau again, as well. My best guess at tonight’s starting 5: Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wes Johnson, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, with Nick Young (should play despite sore ankle) and Jordan Farmar big off the bench. Oh, and some Nash sprinkled in there for 10 minutes or so.
News & Notes
David Lee has nerve inflammation in his hamstring and there is no timetable for his return. I would actually be surprised to see him again before the playoffs. Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green are your starting forwards, while Jermaine O’Neal and Harrison Barnes will also see some extra run in Lee’s absence. Green is worth a look in all leagues with Lee’s status in doubt.
Rajon Rondo is expected to start on Wednesday and may play in both games of a back-to-back on April 11 & 12 (Friday & Saturday). The key word there is ‘may,’ as there are no guarantees that he’ll play in both games. But again, if you were on the fence about using Rondo this week, this may be enough to push him into your lineup. Kris Humphries sat out Monday’s practice with knee tendinitis, leaving him very iffy for Wednesday against the Hawks. Jared Sullinger also sat out with a quad injury, but all indications are that he’ll play on Wednesday. And if Humps is out, that should help Sully’s cause. Avery Bradley returned to practice from a three-game absence with an Achilles injury and if he’s back, Jerryd Bayless doesn’t look nearly as enticing.
Jonas Valanciunas was popped for a DUI on Monday morning and has a court date of April 22. That could put him in court during a potential playoff game day, while a suspension of some sort prior to that is not out of the question.
Kyle Lowry (knee) and Amir Johnson (ankle) are both hurting a bit and are listed as day-to-day in advance of Wednesday’s game against the Sixers. If they do play, look for them to possibly see limited minutes if the Raptors open up a big lead, as the Raptors are in the playoffs. They just need everyone healthy for the playoffs, although they are in a tight race with Chicago in a battle for the No. 3 and 4 seeds in the East.
Trevor Ariza missed Wizards practice on Monday with the flu, leaving him iffy for Wednesday’s game against the Bobcats. If he’s out, Martell Webster would see a boost. Nene practiced in full despite a knee injury and it sounds like he will play on Wednesday. I’m not sure I’d trust him enough to use him, as he’s been out since late February. Trevor Booker and Drew Gooden would take the hit, while he could also eat into Marcin Gortat’s production slightly.
Jamal Crawford sounds likely to miss the rest of the regular season with a strained left calf. J.J. Redick is now starting and Darren Collison will remain relevant with Crawford on the shelf.
Roy Hibbert was benched for the entire second half on Sunday for looking “worn down,” and he was clearly not happy about it. He was also disinterested in what his coach had to say, or what his team was doing in a blowout to the Hawks in Indiana. His leadership is being called into question, but the Pacers clearly need him on board for the playoffs. Hopefully he’ll use his anger as motivation this week as the Pacers still have a chance to catch the Heat for the No. 1 seed in the East, if they can figure out how to play basketball again.
Josh McRoberts was supposed to return to Bobcats practice on Monday, but I couldn’t find anything about that. As the Bobcats are setting up for a very winnable series against the collapsing Pacers, Rick Bonnell chose to rank beat writers in Monday’s blog. Odd, I say.
We don’t have any new information about Ty Lawson’s ankle injury, so owners will have to wait until news breaks on Tuesday. I don’t own him, but would be very nervous if I had to put him in a lineup right now. Aaron Brooks has become a must-own player in case Lawson misses more time.