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Dose: Lakers Try To Sneak In

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Dose: Bye, Bye Steve Nash?
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Monday's Dose is packed to the gills with hot sleepers, cold stars and a ton of injury news. Steve Nash …

It’s the last day of the regular season in the NBA, meaning it’s time to plan for your playoff fantasy draft. I prefer Fantasypostseason.com for my leagues. Check it out, sign up, and get your boys ready to go on Thursday and Friday night, and Saturday morning to get a quick draft in. It should only take an hour, so go ahead and get it done. I prefer using a points format in these leagues, and LeBron James is obviously the No. 1 pick. In fact, the league could end up being boring, as LeBron’s teams could easily run away and win leagues for all his owners. But you won’t know if you don’t play, right?

Let’s go over the news from Tuesday before hitting the two games.

The Thunder have nothing left to play for in Wednesday’s home finale against the Bucks. Despite the fact Kevin Durant could win the scoring title by scoring 70 points (if Carmelo Anthony sits), it sounds like the Thunder plan on resting most of the starters tonight. Russell Westbrook will very likely keep his games-played streak alive, but could get around 10 minutes in order to avoid injury. Expect the same for guys like Durant and Serge Ibaka, meaning the backups should get heavy minutes tonight. Kevin Martin is not expected to play at all due to a back injury, and Reggie Jackson, Ronnie Brewer, Hasheem Thabeet, Jeremy Lamb, Daniel Orton and Perry Jones could all make some noise against the Bucks. Kendrick Perkins will not play tonight, while Nick Collison also sounds doubtful.

Larry Sanders’ back injury is the same one that caused him to miss time earlier in the season for the Bucks and he’s doubtful to play in Wednesday’s finale. The No. 8 seed Bucks are just hoping he’s healthy and ready to go in the playoffs, but it remains to be seen if that’s the case. If he’s out, John Henson looks like a must-add player for Wednesday, after blowing up on Monday. It doesn’t appear that the Bucks will rest any healthy players in Wednesday’s finale, as they’d like to get a win heading into the playoffs after losing their last five games. Check back for updates though, as they really have nothing left to play for other than good vibrations. I’d be surprised if Sanders or Brandon Jennings (Achilles) make an appearance tonight.

Steve Nash has already been ruled out for the Lakers’ finale against the Rockets, and after he took an epidural, his availability for the first round of the playoffs is still in doubt. Steve Blake is playing well for the Lakers right now and looks like a solid option on Wednesday, as well as in playoff leagues. The Lakers should know the outcome of the Jazz game prior to tip off tonight, and playing time could be adjusted for all starters if the Lakers have the No. 7 seed locked up before they’re set to play. Also keep in mind that a Jazz win and Lakers loss would knock the Lakers out of the playoffs. You can bet they’ll be watching the Jazz game prior to their own.

Denver’s Ty Lawson says he’s nearly 100 percent and could have played all 48 minutes on Monday. The Nuggets will finish up with the Suns on Wednesday and will be looking for a win in order to clinch the No. 3 seed. Therefore, I expect most of the regulars to play solid minutes, except for Kenneth Faried, who is just hoping to be ready for Round 1 while dealing with a serious left ankle sprain. Evan Fournier should make another start at SG on Wednesday. The Nuggets will be hoping for a Clippers loss tonight, but Denver plays at 8 p.m. and the Clippers play at 10:30, so hopefully they’ll put their destiny in their own hands and play to win. See Monday’s box score for information on who should produce again tonight.

Nikola Pekovic’s season could be over due to a calf injury, but he is traveling with the Wolves for tonight’s game against the Spurs. I doubt he’s going to play, but owners will want to watch for news in case Rick Adelman changes his mind and gives Pekovic a chance to say a proper farewell to the season.  

Tyson Chandler (neck) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) are both expected to be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs vs. the Celtics, but the Knicks have nothing left to play for on Wednesday against the Hawks. There’s no reason for the starters to play in that one, so watch for updates to see if any of them are going to go against Atlanta. The Knicks signed Quentin Richardson on Tuesday and he could play on Wednesday, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of shape he’s in. It does sound like Raymond Felton will play, but how many minutes is anyone’s guess. Jason Kidd will likely sit out, while I doubt we see Carmelo Anthony, either.

The Spurs signed Tracy McGrady (yes, T-Mac) on Tuesday and I expect to see him make an appearance on Wednesday against the Timberwolves. However, keep in mind that despite tearing it up for his Chinese team this year with 25 points per game, T-Mac averaged just five points during his last NBA stint. In other words, I’m just not expecting much. As for which Spurs will play heavy minutes tonight, it’s anyone’s guess. Gary Neal and Patty Mills both went off on Monday, but only Gregg Popovich has an idea of who will star for the Spurs tonight. We’re guessing that Danny Green has a decent shot of bouncing back from Monday’s dud, but that’s just a guess.

Andrew Bogut will travel with the Warriors for Wednesday’s finale against the Blazers, but I just can’t see him playing on his bum left ankle. He’s a game-time decision, so watch for updates later today. The Warriors can clinch the No. 6 seed with a win and Stephen Curry is chasing the all-time 3-pointers made record for a season, and given Mark Jackson’s mindset, it looks like most of the Warriors’ regulars are safe to play tonight. That now includes Festus Ezeli and Carl Landry, as long as Bogut is out.

Byron Scott is expected to be fired as the coach of the Cavaliers at the end of the season. We have no idea who might become the next coach of the Cavs, but it appears that Scott has worn out his welcome. And my guess is this should mean even bigger things for Kyrie Irving next season. In other Cavs news, don’t look for C.J. Miles tonight, as he’s likely done due to a concussion.

Andray Blatche may not be in ideal shape, but he had a double-double on Monday and could be ready for another big game on Wednesday, if the Nets sit their starters again as they prepare to enter the playoffs healthy. The Nets will either get the Bulls or the Hawks in Round 1, and we’ll have to see what Wednesday’s news brings to find out if the starters are going to play or not. They were mostly held out on Monday, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get more time off tonight.

Raptors Crush Hawks

The Raptors destroyed the Hawks last night, who now have to win on Wednesday against the Knicks, and see the Bulls fall to the Wizards in order to wrap up the No. 5 seed. In other words, it looks like the Hawks are going to be the No. 6 seed and face the No. 3 Pacers in Round 1, while the No. 5 Bulls will get the No. 4 Nets if they win and the Hawks lose tonight.  Josh Smith hurt his knee on Tuesday and never returned to the game. He played just 13 minutes last night and with the Hawks seemingly locked into the No. 6 seed and a date with the Pacers, I’m not expecting Smith to play on Wednesday. Al Horford missed Tuesday with a sore shoulder and DeShawn Stevenson was out with an illness. The Hawks’ starters played extremely limited minutes last night and it’s possible that they all sit on Wednesday. John Jenkins, Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack, Anthony Tolliver, Dahntay Jones and Johan Petro could end up being the stars for the Hawks on Wednesday. As usual, watch for news regarding who is in and who is out prior to game time, as Larry Drew could suddenly decide that the Wizards have a chance against the Bulls, and then try to beat the Knicks.

The Raptors got 30 points from DeMar DeRozan, eight points and 11 assists from Kyle Lowry, 13 points, eight boards and three blocks from Jonas Valanciunas (who returned from a neck injury), 11 points, eight rebounds and six blocks from Amir Johnson, and 22 points and a full stat line from Rudy Gay, as all of them started for the Raps on Tuesday. Look for all of them to go again on Wednesday when the Raptors finish with the Celtics, but owners should obviously keep an eye out for news to make sure Dwane Casey and I are on the same page. Terrence Ross suffered a left ankle injury tonight and went to the locker room, meaning he’s not likely to go tonight.  

Blazers Fall To Clippers

LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum’s seasons appear to be over for the Blazers, as all three sat out on Tuesday. Injuries and inconsistency held Batum back this year, but we’ll be all over him as a hot early pick in next year’s drafts due to his ability to produce in nearly every single fantasy category. Aldridge and Matthews are still a possibility to play in tonight’s meaningless finale, but I’d be surprised to see either one of them go. Will Barton, Damian Lillard, J.J. Hickson, Joel Freeland, Meyers Leonard, Victor Claver and Sasha Pavlovic should all see decent minutes tonight.

Caron Butler returned from a sore knee to go off for 22 points, four rebounds and four 3-pointers on 9-of-14 shooting in 25 minutes as the Clippers waxed the Blazers on Tuesday. Chris Paul was quiet with eight points and 11 assists in 25 minutes, Blake Griffin scored 16, and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, nine boards, a steal and three blocks in the win. Chauncey Billups returned from his groin injury, but missed all five of his shots for four points and five assists, while Jamal Crawford came off the bench for eight points and two 3-pointers. The Clippers face the Kings tonight and will either be the No. 3 or 4 seed, and homecourt is still in jeopardy regardless. In other words, look for them to try to beat the Kings, meaning most of the regulars are a decent bet to play solid minutes in tonight’s finale. 

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