Games Played for Week 21
5 Games - Portland
4 Games – Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Indiana, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, Utah, Washington
3 Games – Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, L.A. Clippers, New Orleans, Orlando, San Antonio, Toronto
2 Games – L.A. Lakers
I got knocked out of the playoffs in a few leagues last week thanks to Carmelo Anthony, but will face NBA TV’s Rick Kamla in the League Freak playoffs this week. We tied categories at 4-4 last week and should have a nice battle, as he gets five games from Damian Lillard. I’m starting Jrue Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Serge Ibaka, Al Jefferson and Derrick Williams, all with four games, and benching Bradley Beal, which makes me nervous. Kamla is using Lillard with five, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph with four, and Tim Duncan, Tobias Harris and Anthony Davis with three, while benching Carmelo Anthony (for now). Hopefully my two extra games will pull me through.
Atlanta – After pimping Devin Harris in Waiver Wired he disappeared on Sunday with four points and four assists, despite getting the start for Larry Drew. He was in foul trouble, and while the occasional off night can be expected from Harris, he should be better than this on most days. Jeff Teague came off the bench and I still have no idea what Drew tries to prove by benching his starters nearly every time they come back from an injury. Teague should be in lineups this week, along with Josh Smith and Al Horford, while Harris and Kyle Korver might be worth a shot.
Boston – Kevin Garnett missed Sunday’s practice with a strained adductor and is 50-50 to play on Monday against the Heat. The Celtics also have back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday of this week, meaning KG isn’t all that likely to play four times. If he can play on Monday, don’t be surprised to see him possibly sit against the Mavericks on Friday. And any time KG is out, Jeff Green becomes a must-start player. Keep an eye out later on Monday for news on KG’s status vs. the Heat.
Brooklyn – Reggie Evans blew up on Sunday with 14 points and 22 boards against the Hawks, but I still don’t trust him. Joe Johnson played against his former team through his sore heel and scored 18, but owners have to be a little worried about his ability to play in all four games this week. The Nets play again on Monday and also have a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, but as of now, it appears that Johnson should try to play in all four games. Deron Williams is nursing pain in his ankles, and is another player who may not be able to make it through all four games this week, but is playing well enough that he should be in your lineup.
Charlotte – Jannero Pargo led the Cats in scoring on Saturday, which should tell you what a mess they are right now. Josh McRoberts had nine points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in that one, and is officially the power forward of choice for Mike Dunlap right now. Feel free to grab him if you need one. Meanwhile, Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker remain must-start fantasy players.
Chicago – As usual, Derrick Rose still has no target return date in mind, but did practice on Sunday. He could play as soon as Monday, or sit out the rest of the regular season. Who knows? Any time Rose sits, Nate Robinson is worth using, and I’m fairly comfortable plugging him into weekly lineups right now. Even when Rose returns, he could see limited minutes. Taj Gibson (knee) and Kirk Hinrich (foot) are doubtful for Monday’s game, while Marco Belinelli looks like a solid fantasy starter this week for the Bulls.
Cleveland – Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Shaun Livingston are the only sure bets in Cleveland right now, which should tell you something about how bad this team is, with or without Kyrie Irving.
Dallas – Elton Brand started over Chris Kaman on Sunday, but neither player did much of anything. Brandan Wright continues to get the most minutes and production at center for the Mavs, but he is far from a must-start player. He had eight points and seven boards in 30 minutes. Mike James is starting at point guard and had 14 points and two 3-pointers, making him worth a look in some deep leagues, while Shawn Marion missed another game with his calf injury. Roddy Beaubois’ season might be over after breaking a finger on Sunday, which should help Vince Carter and Darren Collison see a few more minutes each night.
Denver – Kosta Koufos had 18 points, 16 boards and three blocks on Friday and looks like a must-start player with four games this week. I just picked him up in one league and am pretty excited to be able to put him right into my lineup.
Detroit – Brandon Knight is iffy for Monday with his sprained ankle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him miss another game or two, but we’ll have to see how he’s feeling at game time. As long as he’s out, Rodney Stuckey looks like a must-start and Will Bynum is also going to put up decent numbers.
Golden State – These guys are healthy and Jarrett Jack is heating up again. The problem is the constant string of three-game weeks from here on out.
Houston – Donatas Motiejunas continues to be hit-or-miss, James Harden continues to be as reliable as they come (despite a sore foot) and the Rockets play three games per week in three of the next four. Omer Asik is playing through a tweaked groin.
Indiana – Roy Hibbert is finally coming on for the Pacers and is a must-start right now, along with David West, Paul George and George Hill. And owners in deep leagues can consider Lance Stephenson, who is still starting at shooting guard.
L.A. Clippers – Caron Butler returned on Sunday with 14 points, which makes Matt Barnes quite a bit less appealing, especially with three games this week. I’m benching DeAndre Jordan for Koufos, but Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are nearly must-starts, while Jamal Crawford should be a decent option.
L.A. Lakers – Kobe Bryant sat out Sunday’s game against the Kings with his sprained ankle and is listed as doubtful for Monday against the Suns. Given the quality of tonight’s opponent, I’d be surprised to see Kobe against Jared Dudley. The team is then off until Friday, but with just two games his week, owners of any Lakers are going to have some tough decisions to make on Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Antawn Jamison went off in Kobe’s absence on Sunday with 27 points, but the two-game week is bad news. Pau Gasol isn't expected to play Monday, so leave him on your bench.
Memphis – Jerryd Bayless went off for 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting on Saturday, but is not all that trustworthy. His explosion hurt Tony Allen’s production, but Allen still looks like the better play. The Grizzlies play four times per week for the next three, making Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol must-starts. And as long as Z-Bo is healthy, Ed Davis should be on fantasy benches.
Miami – They’ve won 22 straight games, have four games per week in three of the next four, and continue to roll. If you are going up against LeBron James or Dwyane Wade in the playoffs this week, I wish you well. Wade luckily avoided a concussion and it looks like he should be good to go this week, while Ray Allen is worth a look in some leagues.
Milwaukee – The Bucks go four times and Monta Ellis is coming off a 39-point game on Sunday. Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders are also must-starts in Milwaukee, while J.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy are hit or miss. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was out with a toe injury, opening up some extra minutes for Dunleavy.
Minnesota – Derrick Williams went nuts on Sunday with a season-high 28 points and a full stat line, and now looks like a solid four-game play this week. Just keep in mind he had been struggling recently before Sunday’s explosion. Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic were back on Sunday in limited minutes and look like decent options this week. Greg Stiemsma’s value took a big hit with their return, while Ricky Rubio is a must-start, and Luke Ridnour might also be worth using in some instances.
New Orleans – The Hornets play three times this week, leaving owners of Ryan Anderson, Greivis Vasquez, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and Robin Lopez with tough decisions. In my mind, Anderson, Vasquez and Davis are nearly must-starts. Gordon might sit on Monday after playing Sunday, so I'd lean toward benching him for now.
New York – Raymond Felton had a nice game on Sunday, Chris Copeland scored 13 points while helping fill in for Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire, and the Knicks play four times this week. Melo (knee) and Chandler (neck) remain day-to-day with their injuries, but I would have a tough time plugging them into weekly lineups unless we get good news Monday. Felton and J.R. Smith are must-starts, while Iman Shumpert, Copeland, Kenyon Martin, Steve Novak and Jason Kidd are worth a look.
Oklahoma City – The Thunder have their last four-game week of the season this week, meaning Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are must-starts, while Kevin Martin should also be a decent play.
Orlando – The Magic have three games this week meaning owners will have to weigh options carefully. Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson, Tobias Harris, Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic all look like solid options.
Philadelphia – Thaddeus Young banged his knee on Saturday but played through it. With four games this week, Young, Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Dorell Wright all look like pretty good plays.
Phoenix – With four games, Goran Dragic looks like a must-start, while Michael Beasley (21 points on Saturday) and Jermaine O’Neal are also decent options. Jared Dudley, Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker are also worth a look, but are too inconsistent to be considered automatic plays.
Portland – The Blazers go five times this week so Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson are all must-starts. Eric Maynor had three points and Meyers Leonard scored two on Saturday, meaning you can’t really use either of them despite the five-game week.
Sacramento – Patrick Patterson had 22 points on Sunday, filling in for DeMarcus Cousins who was out with a thigh injury. With four games I’d plan on starting Isaiah Thomas, Jason Thompson, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, but the list ends there. Patterson will be worth a shot if Cousins continues to sit, and he’s questionable for Tuesday, leaving owners of both players with a very tough call.
San Antonio – The Spurs play three games and Tim Duncan is hot. With no back-to-backs this week, Duncan should be a safe play, but you never know with Gregg Popovich. Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili are all worth a look this week, but would be more appealing with four games.
Toronto – Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas are all three-game options this week, but Lowry is struggling and Gay looks like the only must-start player in Toronto right now.
Utah – With four games I’d plan on starting Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap, while Mo Williams, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors may be worth a shot.
Washington – Bradley Beal played on Saturday and scored 13 points, and is hoping to play on Monday. I’m guessing he’ll play in all four this week, but there is some risk involved with him. Martell Webster is a must-start with four games, along with John Wall, Nene and possibly Emeka Okafor. Garrett Temple will fade away with Beal’s return, while Trevor Booker is coming on off the bench.