- Tony Targan
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Matchups for Thursday, Jan. 3
All times are expressed in Eastern time. Statistics from 2007-08 regular season.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
The SuperSonics (104.4 points allowed) and Suns (103.7) feature two of the league's most generous defenses. With Phoenix averaging 109.4 points on offense, it should be a Wild West shootout, so run with all your Suns. In addition to standouts Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, stick with Grant Hill (17.8 points per game in his past five), Leandro Barbosa (3.0 3-pointers in his past five games) and even Raja Bell (despite his making just one of his past 15 from beyond the arc). If SuperSonics' leading scorers Kevin Durant and Chris Wilcox remain grounded, look for Wally Szczerbiak, Nick Collison and Jeff Green to pick up the slack. ... The Bulls' coaching change seems to have resulted in a shorter rotation: Ben Gordon is thriving in his return to the sixth-man role, going off for 31, 25 and 39 points in his past three games. Andres Nocioni, coming off a 19-point game, is still in the mix, but Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah appear to be the odd men out. ... The Trail Blazers' depth -- eight players who average more than 20 minutes a game -- makes it hard to recommend anyone other than Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge against a Bulls squad that has been playing better of late. ... The Nuggets will struggle to score against the Spurs' stingy defense, so start only Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Marcus Camby.
With Manu Ginobili and Brent Barry banged up, the "Spur of the moment" is Michael Finley, who has scored 20 and 22 points in consecutive games, while making eight of 17 3-point attempts. ... Jeff Green has surged since being inserted into the SuperSonics' starting lineup for Damien Wilkins, scoring 18 and 16 points while averaging 37 minutes in his past two games. Green has also averaged 1.4 blocks in his past five games and could offer some good short-term value. ... Nick Collison had 15 points and 11 rebounds on New Year's Eve and could continue to prosper in the New Year if Wilcox's sprained knee gives him trouble. ... The Trail Blazers' bandwagon hit a bump -- their 13-game win streak finally ended Monday -- but some of their role players are finally getting some love. Steve Blake's ownership jumped to more than 20 percent in ESPN leagues after he scored double digits in three straight games. While Blake will get you about five assists, he's averaging 2.2 3s while shooting 50 percent from the field in his past five games. James Jones' 12.4 points and 2.0 3s in his past five games have also gotten him some notice. ... While consecutive games against the Warriors will inflate anyone's numbers, Denver's Linas Kleiza is in the midst of a nice run, averaging 13.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 3s and 1.0 blocks in his past five games. ... Joe Smith seems rejuvenated for the new-look Bulls; in his past five games, he's averaging 14.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and a block in 24 minutes per game.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.