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Atlanta 4 Games In Week 19 – The Hawks choked near the buzzer on Sunday night and lost by a point when Josh Smith tried to pass from under the basket, throwing it right to the Lakers, instead of going up for a dunk/layup attempt and taking an automatic foul. He might have hit 1-of-2 shots and sent the game to overtime, which could have had some pretty big fantasy implications. With four games this week, Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Devin Harris (16 points, 6 assists, 3 3-pointers) and Kyle Korver all look like solid plays.
Boston 4 – Jeff Green has a sore elbow, Paul Pierce has a sore neck and Kevin Garnett is just old, but all three expect to be in the lineup this week, when the Celtics play four times. All three look like must-starts to me, while Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry might also be worth a look. Chris Wilcox had 8 & 7 in 22 minutes on Friday, putting him on the radar in some deeper leagues.
Brooklyn 3 – Joe Johnson is playing through a sore heel, but I’m assuming he’ll be out there this week, along with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. Outside of those three, using any other Nets is truly a roll of the dice.
Charlotte 4 – Byron Mullens has cooled off but is still getting minutes and I’m playing him this week, along with Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is showing signs of life, but can also disappear at any time, as he did on Tuesday when he failed to score. Ramon Sessions is an interesting call for owners, as he’s played just 18 and 17 minutes in his last two games. Mullens got into foul trouble Sunday and the Bobcats are getting blown out nightly, so there is a chance they clear the bench early, which could hurt Mullens going forward. I’m not ready to give up on him just yet, but we’ll have to see where we are a week from now. If he does disappear, Josh McRoberts could become a factor, and played 30 minutes on Sunday.
Chicago 3 – Kirk Hinrich is mysteriously in a walking boot, meaning you can’t really play him this week. Nate Robinson played just 20 minutes and gave way to Marquis Teague on Sunday, although Teague had just two points, three assists and five fouls. But it is becoming clear that Tom Thibodeau is no longer interested in letting Robinson have free reign at point guard, leaving Robinson’s owners with a tough decision. Richard Hamilton has a back injury and Marco Belinelli started and scored 20 points with five assists and four 3-pointers on Sunday, which could make him a sneaky deep-league play right now, and also gives a boost to Jimmy Butler, who scored a career-high 20 points Sunday. Joakim Noah is a must-start, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng are solid options, while Robinson, Butler and Teague could also have surprising weeks if Hinrich is out. But don’t forget that Derrick Rose could return at any time this week, and I think we’ll see him sooner than later. And while Taj Gibson is getting closer to a return from his knee injury, he belongs on the bench (or waivers) for now.
Cleveland 4 – Kyrie Irving sounds likely to play on Monday after practicing through his knee injury on Sunday, while Tyler Zeller’s status is up in the air for that one due to an illness. I’d go ahead and start guys like Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, but everyone else on the Cavs is a crapshoot, including C.J. Miles and Wayne Ellington. And if Irving plays, you can probably forget about a surging Shaun Livingston, as well.
Dallas 3 – Chris Kaman has started four straight games at center, and while no one really did much with their minutes on Sunday, Elton Brand still looks like the safest option, followed by a very shaky Kaman. With three games Dirk Nowitzki, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Shawn Marion all look like decent options, but only Dirk should be considered must-start material in weekly leagues. Vince Carter, Brand and Kaman are all worth a look, but will be much more appealing in a four-game week.
Denver 4 – Ty Lawson finally cooled off on Friday with 11 points, but is as must-start as they come. Danilo Gallinari is dealing with a thigh injury, but played 22 minutes in that one and should be ready to get it going again. Andre Iguodala and the hit-or-miss Kenneth Faried are your other must-start players for the Nuggets, while Kosta Koufos, Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, Andre Miller and JaVale McGee are all worth a look in deep leagues. Chandler is on fire right now, but probably won’t be for long once Gallo gets hot again.
Detroit 3 – It’s up for debate as to which is worse; the Pistons or their remaining weekly schedule, which goes 3-3-3-3-4-2-2. Charlie Villanueva got hot in a blowout loss on Sunday, but is far from trustworthy, but guys like Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon are the only three-game considerations for the mess we call the Pistons.
Golden State 4 – Owners of the Warriors have to be prepared to enjoy the next two weeks, as the schedule turns ugly after that. Obviously Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee are must-starts, while Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Harrison Barnes are also worth a look with four games in each of the next two scoring periods. And to say Curry is on fire would be a huge understatement.
Houston 3 – The Rockets have just three games in each of the next four weeks, which isn’t great news. However, James Harden, Chandler Parsons (awesome Sunday) and Jeremy Lin remain must-starts, while Omer Asik, Carlos Delfino (awful Sunday) and Donatas Motiejunas are all worth a look. Don’t read too much into Sunday’s box score, as the game was a blowout and featured plenty of garbage time.
Indiana 3 – Danny Granger left Sunday’s game with his ongoing left knee problem and should not be in any weekly lineups until he proves he’s healthy and that he can be effective on the court. And that hasn’t happened yet. George Hill, Paul George (must-start), David West and Roy Hibbert are all decent three-game options.
L.A. Clippers 3 – Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin, who suffered a punch to the ‘batteries’ from Serge Ibaka on Sunday, are all hot and worth putting into weekly lineups. Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan and Matt Barnes may be worth a look, but I’m not rolling any of them out there. In fact, with Jordan and the Clips going 3-2-3-4-3-3-2 to finish up the season, I actually dropped him in a few leagues, as I’m simply not going to be able to use him for most of them. Especially with just two games the week after this one. And speaking of Barnes, he’s nearing an automatic suspension due to his flagrant-foul record this season.
Memphis 3 - With three games I’m good with running Mike Conley and Marc Gasol out there, but Zach Randolph missed Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle, leaving him iffy for Wednesday. With so many days until then, I’m thinking he’ll play, but Tony Allen, Ed Davis (10 & 10 Sunday), Tayshaun Prince (14 points Sunday) and any other Grizzlies are going to be planted on my bench. If Z-Bo is out Wednesday, look for Darrell Arthur to start, and for Davis to have a solid game.
Miami 4 – There’s not much to say here. LeBron James, who has a sore knee, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who had one rebound on Sunday, are all must-starts, while Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers might also be worth consideration in your league. The Heat play four games per week for the next four.
Milwaukee 4 – Brandon Jennings finally broke out of a funk on Saturday with a career-high 19 assists and joins Monta Ellis, Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova as must-start players. J.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy are also worth a thought, but might be a little risky coming off the bench. And if you’re still holding Samuel Dalembert, it’s time to cut bait.
Minnesota 4 – With Nikola Pekovic (abdomen), Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and Kevin Love (hand) all hurting, Derrick Williams is simply a must-start fantasy player right now. He had 23 points, eight boards and three blocks on Saturday and looks like a great player to own with the Wolves’ fantasy-friendly schedule the rest of the way. Pekovic is very iffy for Monday against the Heat, and I currently have him benched in my weekly leagues, but will be watching for news on Monday. Kirilenko sounds like he’ll be out “for a while” and Love is not close. Along with Williams, Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio look like strong plays, while J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham are also worth a look for the banged up Wolves. And if you’re desperate for blocks, Greg Stiemsma should rack them up as long as Pek is out. Brandon Roy will try to play again this season, but I’m not touching him with a 10-foot pole.
New Orleans 4 – Anthony Davis didn’t take part in the contact portions of Sunday’s practice due to his shoulder injury and I have him benched in weekly leagues, as he seems pretty iffy for Monday. Greivis Vasquez and Ryan Anderson are must-starts, while Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu are worth a look, especially with Jason Smith done for the season. The Hornets go back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, so owners of Eric Gordon already know that he’s probably looking at three games this week, instead of four.
New York 4 – Carmelo Anthony hyperextended his right arm on Sunday but isn’t concerned about it. I’m not either. With four games, Melo, Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler are must-starts, while Raymond Felton still doesn’t look right since returning from pinkie and heel injuries, but I would probably roll the dice on him this week. Jason Kidd had a nice game on Sunday, but it was his first one in forever and he’s not to be trusted as long as Felton is healthy.
Oklahoma City 4 – Serge Ibaka could be suspended for one game after punching Blake Griffin in the groin on Sunday, and I’ll be surprised if he isn’t. That would give him three games this week, meaning he’s probably still worth starting, along with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Weigh options carefully when looking at Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins this week.
Orlando 4 – Jameer Nelson was out again on Sunday and is iffy for Monday due to his knee. E’Twaun Moore and Beno Udrih are worth a close look anytime he is out. Tobias Harris (3-of-14, 6 points) came back to earth on Sunday, but it was a blowout and I’m not too concerned. I’d play him, along with Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless, while Andrew Nicholson may be worth a deep-league look.
Philadelphia 4 – Spencer Hawes bounced back on Sunday, Dorell Wright is heating up with Nick Young out (ankle), while Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner all look like must-starts this week. And yes, Andrew Bynum is considering knee surgery.
Phoenix 3 – Goran Dragic says he’ll play on Wednesday despite a back injury and Marcin Gortat also looks like a solid three-game option, but I’d shy away from other Suns, including Jermaine O’Neal, whose daughter will have heart surgery on Tuesday. I’d consider JO a little iffy for Wednesday, and we’ll just have to wait and see how many games (if any) he’ll miss for personal reasons. Start him at your own risk. If JO misses time, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris would both see a boost, along with starters Gortat and Luis Scola.
Portland 4 – Wesley Matthews is dealing with a sore ankle and Nicolas Batum aggravated his wrist injury on Saturday, but I’m starting both players with four games this week. LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and J.J. Hickson are your other must-starts, while center Meyers Leonard and guard Eric Maynor may also be worth a deep-league look after playing well recently.
Sacramento 4 – The Kings destroyed the Bobcats on Sunday as starters Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, John Salmons (22 points) and Jason Thompson (18 & 14) all scored in double digits, along with Marcus Thornton (18 points) off the bench. I am putting all of them in my lineups with four games this week and hoping for the best. Thornton is on a tear, scoring between 18 and 36 points in each of his last four games, while hitting 14 3-pointers.
San Antonio 2 – Tony Parker is out for a month, they’ve got a relatively unknown, four-headed reserve point guard (Cory Joseph started Sunday), and the Spurs play just twice this week. I’m not starting any of them in weekly leagues, although Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green should all have a couple nice games.
Toronto 4 – Rudy Gay missed Saturday’s game with a back injury, allowing Landry Fields and Alan Anderson to play well, while Kyle Lowry triple-doubled, Amir Johnson had 19 & 9 and Andrea Bargnani scored 11 points in 33 minutes in a rare start. DeMar DeRozan joins Lowry and Johnson in the must-start category, while we’ll have to wait and see if Gay is ready for Monday. My guess is that he will be.
Utah 4 – Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are both iffy for Monday due to ankle injuries. As long as they’re out, Enes Kanter (22 points, 23 rebounds Friday) and Derrick Favors are strong plays, but the opposite is true if the two big men are healthy enough to go. Gordon Hayward is a must-start player, while Alec Burks is also worth a look, but for now, I’ve got Jefferson and Millsap benched until we get more info.
Washington 3 – Bradley Beal suffered a sprained ankle on Sunday and it could be severe. X-rays were negative, but he left the arena on crutches and I don’t have a great feeling about it. I’m benching him in my weekly leagues for now. John Wall and Emeka Okafor look like strong plays, while Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza and Nene might be worth a three-game shot. Nene (shoulder) returned from a two-game absence on Sunday and had 15 points and nine boards.
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