- Tony Targan
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Matchups for Thursday, Feb. 7
All times are ET. 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
Expect the 76ers to declare their dominance over a struggling, injury-depleted Heat squad that has lost 19 of 20 games. Andre Miller has been shooting and passing with uncanny accuracy lately, averaging 20.0 points and 9.4 assists while shooting 59.4 percent from the field and 81.8 percent from the line his past five games. Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert should also control the boards against a Heat team that is missing its top two rebounders in Shaquille O'Neal and Udonis Haslem. Dwyane Wade is the only recommended Heat regular. With Tracy McGrady back in the fold, the Rockets are in for a competitive home game against the Cavaliers, who are coming off a one-point win over the Celtics on Tuesday. Rafer Alston should look to pass more and shoot less with McGrady back, which will help his assists and shooting percentage. Shane Battier continues to earn his keep, with 10.0 points, 2.2 3-pointers, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks his past five games. For the Cavaliers, Larry Hughes is making the most of his opportunity, averaging 16.0 points, 3.6 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 3-pointers in 32 minutes while shooting an almost tolerable 41 percent from the field in his past five games. The same cannot be said for Drew Gooden, who has only 7.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and zero blocks his past five games, despite the absence of Anderson Varejao. The Bulls enjoy a sizable rebounding differential against the Warriors, so expect Ben Wallace to clean the glass against Golden State. Run with the Bulls' Andres Nocioni and Ben Gordon in what should be a high-scoring game, but check the status of Kirk Hinrich's ribs before starting him. With almost a full week off since their last game, the Warriors should be well rested. The Monta Ellis show continues to get good ratings, with 23.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and a 58.7 field goal percentage his past five games.
Chris Webber is supposed to start for the Warriors on Thursday, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Don Nelson said, "I'm planning on starting him every game." Webber may get more minutes than originally projected, but expect some rust at first. Thaddeus Young scored a career-high 17 points on 8-for-9 field-goal shooting in Tuesday's win over Washington. The 19-year-old 76ers forward has averaged 12.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in 28 minutes in his past five games. Dorell Wright also scored 17 points in his last game, and despite some inconsistency, could be a decent source of points, rebounds and free-throw percentage (12-for-13 his past two games). Ricky Davis is available in most ESPN leagues, and while he has not done much lately to inspire confidence, he should get plenty of minutes while the Heat remain short-handed. Joe Smith returned to fantasy relevance with a 25-point, 10-rebound, two-block performance against the SuperSonics on Monday.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com
1hAdam Rubin and Kieran Darcy