Fantasy Forecaster: Think Celtic green
House is off to a slow start.
That would be Gregory House, the TV doctor, of course. The show "House" is just one of many shows to halt production because of the Hollywood writers' strike. Eddie House, of the Boston Celtics, though, is flourishing. And "Open House," as he was dubbed in a recent Boston Herald headline, apparently has answered the question of which unheralded Celtic will boost his fantasy value while Boston opponents pay fevered attention to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Look for him to crank it up yet another notch this week, as the Celtics' schedule includes an intriguing assortment of defensive perimeter-phobic competition.
If you've missed out on House, fear not; there's much more to watch this week. Half of the teams in the NBA play four games, and six clubs play four times in five nights. Fantasy favorites, courtesy of this NBA Fantasy Forecaster, who is not on strike, follow:
Teams with four games
Boston Celtics (@ IND, NJ, MIA, @ ORL)
Lineup locks: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
Outlook: OK, I'm done hammering the metaphor. Get Eddie House and play him this week. Each of Boston's opponents is allowing at least 6.7 3-pointers per night, with Indiana and Miami yielding more than eight 3's per game. Indiana and New Jersey also have been fairly turnover-prone, which is a good reason to play Rajon Rondo.
Detroit Pistons (@ POR, @ GS, @ LAL, @ SAC)
Lineup locks: Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace
Outlook: Antonio McDyess has been up and down minutes-wise, but this is as good a week as any to activate him. Portland, Sacramento and Golden State are three of the league's five worst teams in rebound differential. The Warriors, in fact, are getting out-rebounded to the tune of 12 boards per night. That could bode well for Jason Maxiell, too, although he has played just 29 minutes the past two games.
Houston Rockets (@ MEM, LAL, @ SA, PHO)
Lineup locks: Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady
Outlook: Bonzi Wells might be the third fantasy wheel on this team, but he has totaled 32 points and 22 rebounds in his past two games. When the Rockets are winning, we can expect Wells to keep rebounding at a nice pace. But this schedule isn't as attractive as it appears. Memphis is allowing 110 points a game, but the Grizzlies have been OK at defending the 3-pointer. And Phoenix actually is holding its opposition to fewer than 100 points on average so far.
Indiana Pacers (BOS, @ WAS, @ TOR, Utah)
Lineup locks: Jermaine O'Neal, Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy
Outlook: These four games come in a five-day span. For what it's worth, O'Neal held up pretty well in the second of back-to-back games last year. His scoring declined only a hair (from 19.4 points per game to 17.8), and his numbers in a few other key categories actually were slightly better than his full-season averages. Schedule aside, Troy Murphy's return could be a nice boost for the Pacers.
Los Angeles Lakers (@ SA, @ HOU, DET, CHI)
Lineup locks: Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom
Outlook: A tough schedule, but the Laker I would play in addition to Bryant and Odom is Andrew Bynum, who is averaging 10 points and 10 boards despite playing only 24 minutes a night. Young Bynum should be able to take advantage of the fact that opponents of the Spurs, Rockets and Pistons are blocking more than five shots per game.
Memphis Grizzlies (HOU, @ MIL, NO, @ DAL)
Lineup locks: Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay
Outlook: Another team facing the four-games-in-five-nights challenge. I'll call them four-in-fivers for short, and I bet it catches on. Somewhat surprising tidbit: Last season, Miller actually was more productive across the board in the second of back-to-back games. Second somewhat surprising tidbit: Of these four Grizzlies opponents, Dallas is allowing the most points so far.
Miami Heat (@ CHA, SEA, @ BOS, @ NJ)
Lineup locks: Ricky Davis, Jason Williams
Outlook: Again, a four-in-fiver team. (See? It is catchy, no?) After an injury-plagued 2006-07 season, Williams is just starting to find his stroke. I really like him this season and especially this week. Bobcats and Sonics opponents are shooting better than 45 percent, and Nets opponents are draining almost eight 3-pointers a night.
New Jersey Nets (NO, @ BOS, ORL, MIA)
Lineup locks: Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson
Outlook: Can you name the top three Nets scorers? Hint: The list includes only two of the three names listed above. New Jersey's current No. 3 scorer is reserve Antoine Wright, who is averaging almost 12 points a game. Wright is looking good in the hustle categories, and he also is hitting 3's. It might not be that easy early this week, though; the Hornets and Celtics are two of the top seven teams at defending the 3-pointer.
New Orleans Hornets (@ NJ, PHI, @ MEM, @ MIN)
Lineup locks: Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic
Outlook: After burying 10 3-pointers against the Lakers, Stojakovic did absolutely nothing in subsequent games against the Blazers and Spurs. In truth, he has been very inconsistent so far; he has had three good games (19, 18 and 36 points) mixed with three bad ones (five, five and two). Memphis and Minnesota have been decent at defending the 3, so this could be another frustrating week for Peja owners.
New York Knicks (@ PHO, @ LAC, @ SAC, @ DEN)
Lineup locks: Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford
Outlook: Four-in-fiver. David Lee should be all over the glass in these games. The Suns, Kings and Nuggets all are forcing a lot of turnovers, so expect to be extra-annoyed by Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, Z-Bo (Randolph) and Crawford.
Orlando Magic (SEA, @ CLE, @ NJ, BOS)
Lineup locks: Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu
Outlook: Speaking of annoying, there's Jameer Nelson. Given that Nelson has done all right against bad teams (Wizards and Knicks) so far, he could be in for a good night against the Sonics. However, if you need a reason to sit the enigmatic point guard, note that the Nets and Celtics currently are fourth and first, respectively, in the NBA in opponents' field goal percentage.
Portland Trail Blazers (DET, @ DEN, @ PHI, @ WAS)
Lineup locks: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge
Outlook: Four-in-fiver. Martell Webster hit double figures in his first five games until turning in a two-point clinker against Dallas on Nov. 10. The good news for Webster is that the Wizards allow the most 3-pointers in the league, with more than nine per game. But the 76ers actually are third-best in scoring defense. The Pistons, as you might have figured, lead the way in that category.
Sacramento Kings (@ UTA, @ MIN, NY, DET)
Lineup locks: Kevin Martin, John Salmons
Outlook: The Kings have four games without any back-to-back contests. Brad Miller has three straight games of double-digit rebounds but is struggling with his shot. Perhaps that will change this week, since the Jazz, Timberwolves and Knicks are three of the NBA's eight worst teams in opponents' field goal percentage.
Seattle SuperSonics (@ ORL, @ MIA, @ ATL, @ CHA)
Lineup locks: Chris Wilcox, Kevin Durant
Outlook: The Sonics are the final team in this listing with four games in five days (thus giving my new term a rest). Damien Wilkins is third on the team in per-game scoring. If you play him this week, though, don't expect great things. The Magic, Hawks and Bobcats are three of the better teams in terms of opponents' 3-point field goal percentage.
Utah Jazz (SAC, @ TOR, @ CLE, @ IND)
Lineup locks: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Ronnie Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko
Outlook: Okur is averaging just 10 points and 31 percent from the field over his past four games. But with the Kings, Raptors and Pacers all allowing around eight 3-pointers per game, perhaps he will get it going.
Teams with three games
For teams playing three and two games this week, stick to your locks (unless otherwise noted).
Atlanta Hawks (CHA, SEA, @ MIL)
Lineup locks: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams
Outlook: Williams has reached double figures in every game and is shooting 61.5 percent for the season. The Bobcats and Sonics, in particular, should do little to change this.
Charlotte Bobcats (MIA, @ ATL, SEA)
Lineup locks: Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor
Outlook: Perhaps the Heat (8.6 3-pointers allowed per game) and Sonics (7.5) have the cure for Jason Richardson's recent ills. J-Rich is just 8-of-36 (22 percent) from the floor in his past three games.
Chicago Bulls (@ PHO, @ LAC, @ LAL)
Lineup lock: Luol Deng
Outlook: Kirk Hinrich might be the one guy struggling more than Richardson. Don't assume he gets well against the Suns, who, with the exception of Miami's Jason Williams, have contained opposing point guards so far.
Cleveland Cavaliers (@ DEN, ORL, Utah)
Lineup locks: LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Outlook: Monday's game in Denver is the last of a six-game western road trip. Hard as it is to bench a guy who's shooting 56.3 percent from beyond the arc, there will be better weeks to play Daniel Gibson.
Los Angeles Clippers (NY, @ GS, CHI)
Lineup locks: Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman
Outlook: Probably the week's most favorable three-game schedule. Unfortunately, Cuttino Mobley has a groin problem. But I'd play Tim Thomas. Only the Pistons have held him down to this point.
Toronto Raptors (UTA, IND, GS)
Lineup locks: Chris Bosh, T.J. Ford
Outlook: Andrea Bargnani is coming off the bench now, but don't let that keep you from starting him this week. Go with Anthony Parker, too.
Team with two games
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball writer for ESPN.com.
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