Commentary

Daily Notes for Thursday: Okur, Kirilenko will shine

Updated: January 16, 2008, 1:01 PM ET
By Tony Targan | Special to ESPN.com

Matchups for Thursday, Jan. 17

Time Visitors Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff. Home Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff.
8:00 p.m. Cleveland Cavaliers 98.1 .459 +2.3
@
San Antonio Spurs 92.3 .458 +2.1
9:00 p.m. Utah Jazz 100.1 .461 +2.0
@
Denver Nuggets 104.1 .446 -0.2
10:30 p.m. Phoenix Suns 105.1 .456 -5.2
@
Los Angeles Lakers 101.4 .439 +1.4

All times ET.
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.

Injury Report

Out
Chucky Atkins, PG, Nuggets (groin/abdominal)
Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers (knee)
Grant Hill, SF, Suns (appendectomy)
Nene, PF/C, Nuggets (testicular tumor)

Day-to-day
Kenyon Martin, PF, Nuggets (infection)

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

Thursday's rematch of last season's NBA Finals pits the Spurs against the Cavaliers, but with San Antonio holding opponents to 92.3 points per game, don't look for LeBron James to come close to his 51-point performance of Tuesday night. Other than LeBron, you'd be hard-pressed to rely too heavily on any Cavs. In the past five games, Anderson Varejao (9.4 points, 10.4 rebounds in 33 minutes) is overshadowing Drew Gooden (8.8 points, 9.2 rebounds in 28 minutes), but neither blocks many shots. Daniel Gibson has 14 and 18 points and four 3-pointers in each of his past two games, but those were both overtime wins against Charlotte and Memphis. And Zydrunas Ilgauskas is only averaging 21 minutes in his past five games. The Spurs' three-headed fantasy monster of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is always dangerous, but Michael Finley's short-lived run is over, especially with Ginobili healthy and Brent Barry due back soon. … The Jazz-Nuggets game should offer more fantasy fodder as both teams score (and allow) more than 100 points per game. The Nuggets could be a bit short (literally) in the frontcourt with Nene and possibly Kenyon Martin out, so expect better than average production from Mehmet Okur (16.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 3s his past five games) and Andrei Kirilenko (whose 16-point, 7-rebound, 8-assist game Saturday against Orlando was reminiscent of the AK-47 of old). Anthony Carter won't repeat his zero-point performance on Tuesday against the Hawks. … The Lakers-Suns game also figures to be a shootout, with both teams averaging close to 110 points and allowing more than 100 on defense. Give the green light to the usual Lakers and consider Derek Fisher for a spot start. For the Suns, start the regular studs and expect multiple 3s from Raja Bell and Leandro Barbosa against a Lakers team that allows 19 3-point attempts per game.

Waiver Wire Pickups

Kwame Brown will be a popular pickup with Andrew Bynum out for eight weeks with a knee injury. Brown got a double-double in 39 minutes Monday night while starting for Bynum at center. … Luke Walton has been playing more than 30 minutes a game lately, and his 10-rebound, seven-assist game on Monday shows his upside, despite limited scoring. … Boris Diaw has been starting with Grant Hill out, and his season-high 21-point game on Saturday has garnered him some attention on the waiver wire. Don't expect similar scoring, but he could contribute in multiple categories in the short term. … Ronnie Brewer has been up and down lately, but his career-high 21-point game Thursday might make him worth another look. Starting Jan. 28, the Jazz begin a stretch in which they play four games in five of six weeks (not counting the week of the All-Star Game). … J.R. Smith has scored 12 and 21 points his past two games and could be a good source of 3s against a Jazz team that allows almost 18 attempts a game.

Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.