The Hoops Lab
Situations to watch and Quick Hits
Avoid Haves vs. Have-Nots: The Celtics beat the Sonics by 29 points Wednesday night, 111 – 82. The starters on both teams finished their nights early, with the Sonics' ones averaging 27 minutes and the Celtics' starters averaging only 22. Consequently, none of the players on either team lived up to his fantasy potential on the night. Meanwhile, the Knicks and Heat played a hard-fought 91 – 88 game in which 10 players played 33 or more minutes and hit their fantasy numbers. This is a trend to watch down the stretch as the great teams rev up for the postseason and poor ones prepare for the lottery. If good teams play other good teams or poor teams other poor teams, the game is more likely to be close, whereas the good vs. bad matchups are more and more often blowouts where the starters sit out the fourth quarter. Keep this in mind when preparing your nightly and weekly lineups.
Celtics with huge schedule: Along that same train of thought, the Celtics are about to embark on a nine-game stretch that includes matchups with Utah, New Orleans twice, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix. For those that have been disappointed that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have been sitting out of blowout wins, this upcoming stretch should be the time of year when those players have to step up and maximize their fantasy output.
Dwyane Wade is done: As was widely predicted, Wade has shut it down for the season. The most obvious beneficiary is Ricky Davis, who has scored 27 points in three consecutive games and is clearly the new focal point of the Heat offense. With Marcus Banks also out for awhile with a hamstring injury, deep sleepers like Daequan Cook have a chance to produce.
Eddy Curry out as well?: Curry is considering season-ending surgery to repair a vertical cartilage tear in his right knee. Since the Knicks have nothing to play for, it would be pretty surprising for Curry to fight his way back onto the court this season. Actually, "shocking" is the word I'm looking for. I would not be surprised if Zach Randolph, the other disgruntled Knick big man, also scales back at some point before the season ends. On the other hand, David Lee is now a much more valuable commodity.
Andrei Kirilenko is back: Kirilenko (strained right hip) returned to action Tuesday and scored 12 points with four rebounds and four assists in Utah's loss to Chicago. He was right back in the starting lineup after missing the previous three games, and looks to have resumed his same role.
Gerald Wallace is back: Wallace returned to the court Wednesday night after missing the previous eight games with a concussion. He scored 14 points with five boards, a steal, an assist and a trey in 22 minutes off the bench as the team tries to work him back in slowly, but considering his solid play it would be surprising if he is not back in the starting lineup relatively soon.
Caron Butler back Thursday: Butler (hip) practiced pain-free on Wednesday and is expected to be back in the line-up for the Wizards Thursday night. He missed 17 games and is likely rusty, but considering that last week his return was uncertain, this is great news for those that stuck by him and are looking for a late-season boost.
Randy Foye: Sebastian Telfair hurt his ankle two games ago and is expected to be out for a week. This has opened up room for Foye to reassert himself as the starting lead guard, and he has responded by averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 assists and 5.5 boards over the two games Telfair's been out.
Charlie Villanueva: Villanueva is playing like a superstar of late, averaging 24.6 points and 9.6 boards per over his last five games.
Thaddeus Young: Young is a late-season explosion waiting to happen. He has been prominent in the rotation for the thriving Sixers recently, and has quickly become a team and fan favorite. He's averaging 14.3 points, 4.5 boards, 1.2 steals, and 69.8 percent shooting from the field in March.
Daequan Cook: As mentioned above, Cook has a real opportunity to produce in extended minutes on the injury-ravaged Heat. Considering that he is a scorer who was recently demoted to the NBDL, he should be extremely motivated to put up points in bunches.
Steve Blake: Blake has averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 assists, and 2.8 boards in 35 minutes over his last four games.
Rasho Nesterovic: Nesterovic has taken advantage of Chris Bosh's absence to average 13.2 points and 7.6 boards per over his last five games.
Article first appeared 3/13/08