We're down to the final weeks of the NBA regular season.
The Western Conference standings remain ridiculously tight, the East has its share of battles, and the MVP debate is becoming more heated by the day. Congrats if you are still competing in your H-2-H playoff bracket or if you have yet to be mathematically eliminated from a potential roto crown. Given the sad state of My Friends and Family League team over the past week, I'm down to one league in which I still have a shot at the title.
Keep plugging away and read on for updates that will affect fantasy fortunes over the coming days.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
• Shawn Marion remains sidelined indefinitely because of a sore back and doesn't figure to come back this season, although the Heat have said nothing official along those lines. While Marion himself has indicated a desire to play again, the team doesn't want to take any chances and seems content to let its youngsters play out the season. … Dirk Nowitzki won’t play on Monday, but the Mavs are hopeful that he’ll be back in the lineup at least by the end of the week, according to the Dallas Morning News. The team should make a decision regarding his availability for Wednesday's game on Tuesday. … Pau Gasol's ankle has progressed enough that a return on Sunday was at least a consideration. He was having trouble planting and cutting, according to the Los Angeles Times, so he ended up missing his ninth straight game. Still, he remains a possibility for Wednesday. … Gilbert Arenas has yet to receive medical clearance to return to the court, but he is hopeful that it will come as soon as Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. … Jermaine O'Neal will be active on Monday night, but he won't start and doesn't expect to play more than 20 minutes anytime soon, according to the Indianapolis Star. Don't expect miracles over the season's final few weeks. … Andrei Kirilenko is questionable for Monday's game because of an injured right calf, according to the Deseret Morning News. Teammate Mehmet Okur, out for the past two games with a stomach flu, is considered "possible" for Monday's game. … Jerry Stackhouse will be a game-time decision on Monday after missing Sunday's game with a sore groin. … While Elton Brand’s conditioning remains an issue, he is medically cleared to play and now has gotten enough work in that he could return to the lineup sometime this week, according to the Los Angeles Times. … Andrew Bogut has missed the past two games with a broken nose. He's considered day-to-day by the Bucks, and will wear a protective mask when he returns to the lineup. Expect his numbers to take somewhat of a hit over the season's final weeks. … Mickael Pietrus' injured groin has improved but his right hamstring remains an issue and he's considered doubtful for the Warriors' next two games (Tuesday and Wednesday). … Drew Gooden will have an MRI on Monday to see if his abdominal strain has improved over the past few days, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and he remains day-to-day in the interim. Tyrus Thomas filled in for Gooden on Saturday. … Zach Randolph has missed the past two games with flu-like symptoms, and he's day-to-day at this point. … Jameer Nelson is expected to be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday, according to the Orlando Sentinel, after missing Friday's game with concussion-like symptoms.
… Beno Udrih has missed six of the past seven games and remains day-to-day because of a strained lower back. … Andrew Bynum is making progress and will travel with the team on their road trip early next week so that he can participate in workouts and practices. "Whether he can play or not, it may not be that time," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Rasho Nesterovic (C – Toronto) Rasho is back in the starting lineup for the Raptors and is in a real groove. He has scored in double figures in nine straight games, averaging 14.8 points on 59 percent shooting, 6.3 boards, and 1.2 blocks in 33 minutes per game.
Chris Quinn (PG – Miami) You can't whitewash the fact that the Heat are terrible, but Quinn has at least been doing enough to help some fantasy teams. Over the past six games, he's averaged 13 points, one 3-pointer, 3.7 boards, 5.7 assists and 2.8 steals in 34 minutes per game.
Marko Jaric (GF – Minnesota) Jaric's playing time will remain steady now that Sebastian Telfair is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Over the past 10 games, Jaric has averaged 9.7 points on 50 percent shooting, 0.9 threes, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals in 34 minutes per game.
Joakim Noah (FC – Chicago) Noah is in the midst of a very productive streak. He's scored in double figures in four of the past five games and has averaged 12.6 points on 56 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.4 blocks in 27 minutes per game over that stretch.
Vladimir Radmanovic (PF – LA Lakers) VladRad has settled into his role as the long-range sniper for the Lakers, averaging 12 points on 51 percent shooting, 2.3 threes, five boards, and 2.6 assists in 29 minutes over the past eight games.
Mike Dunleavy (GF – Indiana) Dunleavy could end up being the difference-maker for some of his fantasy owners down the stretch. He's been among the most productive players in the game in recent weeks, averaging 23.3 points on 50 percent shooting, three 3-pointers, 4.6 boards, 4 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks over the past 10 games.
Tracy McGrady (GF – Houston) T-Mac's battles with a sore shoulder have translated directly to the box score. Over his past eight games, he's shot just 33 percent from the field (55-of-165), 12 percent from long rage (3-of-25), and 60 percent from the foul line (30-of-50).
It's starting to look more and more likely that I'm going to finish no better than second in the league. The combination of Pau Gasol's injury, Tracy McGrady's shooting woes, and paltry contributions from Jason Terry and Jose Calderon has all but doomed me over the past week. Recent league transactions included Ronny Turiaf, Jeff Green, Travis Outlaw, Louis Williams, Nate Robinson, Sasha Vujacic, Delonte West and Michael Finley, among others.