- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Last week, the schedule gave us Matt Carroll; this week, it's taking him back. Not to worry. The schedule is giving love to a number of other potential fantasy free agents, including Jerry Stackhouse, J.R. Smith and (given Chris Bosh's injury) Rasho Nesterovic. There's a lot here. Let's dig in.
On tap (schedules through March 16)
Teams with 4 games
Atlanta Hawks (@ ORL, HOU, LAC, @ NY)
Lineup locks: Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Mike Bibby
Outlook: So much for the idea that the Hawks just needed a point guard. Atlanta is 4-8 since acquiring Bibby. Although he is dishing it (7.6 assists per game since the trade), his owners wish Bibby would pass even more -- as in pass up more shots. In his past eight games, Bibby is shooting just 35.1 percent from the floor and only 7-for-41 from 3-point range. It might not get any better against the Magic and Rockets, teams that hold opponents to less than 45 percent shooting. However, Clippers and Knicks opponents shoot better than 46 percent. New York, in fact, allows teams to make 47.2 percent of their field goal tries, 28th in the league.
Boston Celtics (@ PHI, SEA, Utah, @ MIL)
Lineup locks: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo
Outlook: As if the Celtics didn't have enough going for them, Kendrick Perkins suddenly is getting his Robert Parish on. In his past five games, the 23-year-old is averaging 13.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. Don't know where it came from, or whether it will last, but -- encouragingly for Perkins owners -- Sonics, Jazz and Bucks opponents all average better than five rejections per game.
Cleveland Cavaliers (POR, @ NJ, @ WAS, CHA)
Lineup lock: LeBron James
Outlook: Zydrunas Ilgauskas is expected to miss another week with back problems, so keep Anderson Varejao in your lineup. Just a hunch, but I think Joe Smith is in for a good week, too.
Dallas Mavericks (NY, CHA, IND, @ MIA)
Lineup locks: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Josh Howard
Outlook: Stackhouse replaced Jason Terry in the Mavs' starting lineup on Saturday, scoring 20 points and knocking down three 3s against the Nets. With this schedule, he looks like a great free-agent add. The Knicks, Bobcats and Heat each allow about 101 points per night, and the Pacers are across-the-board awful defensively. Indiana is 28th in scoring defense, 27th in 3-point defense and 29th in opponents' free-throw attempts per game. That latter fact comes into play when you consider Stack's 90.8 percent foul shooting.
Denver Nuggets (@ SA, MEM, TOR, SEA)
Lineup locks: Marcus Camby, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin
Outlook: Love J.R. Smith this week. The Grizzlies, Raptors and Sonics are three of the eight NBA teams that allow more than seven 3s a night. And yeah, the Spurs are here, but Smith just dropped three treys on them Friday. Speaking of Monday's game at San Antonio, Martin might not be available for it. He suffered a minor concussion Saturday against the Jazz.
Houston Rockets (NJ, @ ATL, CHA, LAL)
Lineup locks: Tracy McGrady, Rafer Alston
Outlook: Just when Carl Landry was solidifying his place in the Rockets' rotation, he sat out Saturday against New Orleans after his right knee swelled up. The injury might keep him sidelined for Monday's contest against New Jersey. In his past five games, Landry has averaged 13.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 68.4 percent shooting.
Los Angeles Clippers (@ MIA, @ ORL, @ ATL, @ WAS)
Lineup locks: Chris Kaman, Corey Maggette, Al Thornton
Outlook: In theory, this isn't a bad week to play Cuttino Mobley, given that the Wizards allow the most 3s and the Hawks -- heretofore a stingy team when it comes to 3-point defense -- surrendered 17 and 15 treys, respectively, against the Warriors and Hornets last week. But Mobley hasn't made more than one 3-pointer in a game since Feb. 9 and the Clippers have lost eight of nine. You probably have better options.
Miami Heat (LAC, NY, ORL, DAL)
Lineup locks: Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion
Outlook: With the Heat ravaged by injuries, Ricky Davis could emerge by default. He has started the past two games and is averaging 19.2 points and 2.3 3s in his past six games. Unfortunately for Davis owners, the Mavericks are first in 3-point defense (5.0 allowed per game), and the Clippers -- for all their problems -- yield just 5.6 3s, fifth-fewest in the league.
Orlando Magic (ATL, LAC, @ MIA, IND)
Lineup locks: Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu
Outlook: Howard averaged a minuscule (for him) 1.5 blocks in February but came through with five rejections Saturday against Golden State. With Hawks, Clippers and Pacers opponents all getting better than five blocks per game, look for Howard to be his shot-swatting self.
Philadelphia 76ers (BOS, @ DET, @ CHI, SA)
Lineup locks: Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Samuel Dalembert
Outlook: The Sixers offer fantasy owners little beyond Iguodala, Miller and Dalembert, especially this week. The Celtics, Pistons and Spurs are 1-2-3 in scoring defense. Ouch.
Portland Trail Blazers (@ CLE, @ MIN, @ SAC, MIN)
Lineup locks: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge
Outlook: Beyond Roy and Aldridge, the Blazers are hard for fantasy owners to figure out. Take last week: Jarrett Jack was coming off two strong games, so I gave him a benefit of the doubt. That didn't work out so well. So now I'll go the other way and recommend Travis Outlaw, even though he has had two brutal games (a combined 3-of-18 against Milwaukee and New York). But the Cavs, Kings and Timberwolves allow opponents to shoot in the 46-47 percent range. Of course, the Bucks and Knicks, the teams Outlaw just tanked against, are even worse in this regard.
San Antonio Spurs (DEN, @ NO, @ DET, @ PHI)
Lineup locks: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker
Outlook: Kurt Thomas seems to be settling in in San Antonio. After averaging just 12 minutes over his first five games with the Spurs, Thomas has played 27 and 23 minutes, respectively, in his past two. He's worth considering as a second center, though this schedule doesn't favor him. The Hornets, Pistons and Sixers are all in the league's bottom third in fewest total rebounds allowed.
Seattle SuperSonics (@ IND, @ BOS, MIN, @ DEN)
Lineup locks: Kevin Durant, Chris Wilcox
Outlook: The Tacoma News Tribune says that Nick Collison or Francisco Elson could start at center today in Toronto. The Sonics had expressed a desire to see what Johan Petro can do. Petro has been decent (7.3 points, 7.3 rebounds) in starting the past 10 games, but on the surface, it's hard to imagine why the team doesn't leave Collison be. (Collison has 10.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in 21 starts.) Seattle's primary center, whoever he is, should get a ton of boards this week, with the Pacers and Nuggets ahead of only the Warriors in total rebounds allowed.
Toronto Raptors (@ LAL, @ GS, @ DEN, @ SAC)
Lineup lock: Jose Calderon
Outlook: Bosh isn't expected to play today against Seattle, and it's unlikely he'll be ready when the Raptors head west to start a five-game, seven-day road trip on Tuesday. That makes Nesterovic a good add at center for deep leaguers -- he's averaging 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in Bosh's absence -- especially with the Warriors and Nuggets allowing the most and third-most total rebounds.
Utah Jazz (@ CHI, @ MIL, @ BOS, @ NJ)
Lineup locks: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur
Outlook: Kirilenko will travel with the team this week, but Utah won't decide until Monday whether he'll be available Tuesday in Chicago. The 27-year-old has missed three games because of a right hip strain.
Teams with 3 games
Charlotte Bobcats (@ DAL, @ HOU, @ CLE)
Lineup locks: Jason Richardson, Emeka Okafor, Raymond Felton
Outlook: Even though Carroll has averaged 3.3 3s and 1.7 steals in his past six games, the Mavs, Rockets and Cavs are first, fourth and ninth, respectively, in 3-point defense. Another factor here is Gerald Wallace, who might return as soon as Wednesday at Dallas. The Charlotte Observer says that coach Sam Vincent would like Wallace to play at small forward when he returns. Not sure how that will work. Does that make Richardson the shooting guard? Does Nazr Mohammed see more time at center? Despite Carroll's best efforts, he might not be able to hang on to his minutes.
Detroit Pistons (PHI, SA, NO)
Lineup locks: Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton
Outlook: Wallace is day-to-day with his left ankle sprain. See whether he plays tonight against Chicago.
Golden State Warriors (TOR, @ PHO, MEM)
Lineup locks: Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis
Outlook: It's tough for fantasy owners to rely on Mickael Pietrus, but maybe the best explanation for his recent solid (though not completely consistent) play is the simplest: He is, as the San Francisco Chronicle points out, a pending free agent. Pietrus is averaging 11.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 3s, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks over his past seven games. With the undermanned Raptors and overwhelmed Suns and Grizzlies ahead, you might as well play him this week.
Memphis Grizzlies (@ PHO, @ DEN, @ GS)
Lineup locks: Mike Miller, Rudy Gay
Outlook: After missing seven games because of a back injury, Miller returned last week, scoring 22 points in a win over the Nets on Wednesday. Though he did little in Saturday's blowout loss to the Celtics, this is another glorious three-game set. The Suns, Nuggets and Warriors allow more than 105 points per game.
Milwaukee Bucks (@ WAS, Utah, BOS)
Lineup locks: Michael Redd, Mo Williams, Andrew Bogut
Outlook: Williams has missed the past two games because of an abdominal strain. See whether he's active today against the Sixers.
Minnesota Timberwolves (POR, @ SEA, @ POR)
Lineup locks: Al Jefferson, Randy Foye
Outlook: Sebastian Telfair has a sprained and swollen ankle, and coach Randy Wittman told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he'll be out awhile. In his absence, expect more big games from Foye, who takes over as the Wolves' starting point guard. On Saturday in Los Angeles, Foye tied a career high with 26 points against the Clippers.
New Jersey Nets (@ HOU, CLE, Utah)
Lineup locks: Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson
Outlook: Devin Harris is taking a lot more 3s in New Jersey. If only he were making a lot more 3s. In his four starts for the Nets, Harris is a combined 1-of-20 from beyond the arc. Breaking the slump won't be easy this week, as the Rockets are fourth in the league in 3-point defense and the Cavs and Jazz also are above average in this regard.
New Orleans Hornets (SA, LAL, @ DET)
Lineup locks: Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic
Outlook: West, who has missed three games because of a left ankle sprain, is expected to be ready Wednesday when the Hornets host San Antonio.
New York Knicks (@ DAL, @ MIA, ATL)
Lineup locks: Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Nate Robinson
Outlook: Crawford told the New York Daily News that he should play Monday in Dallas. He seems a less risky play than Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry. (Curry isn't traveling to Texas.) Even if Crawford goes, the short-handed Knicks need all the scorers they can get, so Robinson -- he of the 48 points against Portland on Saturday -- isn't a bad guy to have in your lineup this week.
Sacramento Kings (POR, @ PHO, TOR)
Lineup locks: Kevin Martin, Brad Miller
Outlook: Ron Artest can opt out of his contract at season's end, and The Sacramento Bee is speculating that he might be checking out on this season. He reportedly has a sore right foot, but there might be more going on here. Don't expect him to play any time soon, and put John Salmons back on your fantasy radar.
Teams with 2 games
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
19hBy Ian O'Connor
3hFantasy Football Insiders