Commentary

Daily Notes for Thursday: Spurs trio set for big night

Updated: March 5, 2008, 10:29 AM ET
By Tony Targan | Special to ESPN.com

Matchups for Thursday, March 6

Time Visitors Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff. Home Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff.
7:00 p.m. Cleveland Cavaliers 97.7 .457 +3.2
@
Chicago Bulls 98.5 .449 +1.5
8:00 p.m. Indiana Pacers 105.2 .451 -1.6
@
San Antonio Spurs 90.8 .446 +1.6
9:30 p.m. Houston Rockets 92.1 .433 +4.4
@
Dallas Mavericks 95.8 .448 +2.7

All times are 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
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C, Cavaliers (back)
Yao Ming, C, Rockets (foot)

Day-to-day
Thabo Sefolosha, SG/SF, Bulls (groin)

Start 'em, sit 'em

The Cavaliers and Bulls square off Thursday for the second time in less than a week since their big trade. Traded players often excel in early rematches against their former teams, so look for Larry Hughes (23 points against the Cavs on Sunday) and Drew Gooden (a double-double on Sunday and a 21-point, 14-rebound gem against the Grizzlies on Tuesday) to step it up. Similarly, ex-Bulls Joe Smith and Ben Wallace -- who usually plays better with a chip on his shoulder -- might have some added incentive against their former mates. … The Rockets have kept on rolling even without Yao Ming, but will face a tougher challenge in Dallas on Thursday when they put their 15-game win streak on the line. Shane Battier is coming off a season-high 20 points and is averaging 7.4 rebounds, 2.2 3-pointers and 2.0 blocks his past five games. Luis Scola had an 18-point, 14-rebound game Sunday against Denver. For Dallas, Erick Dampier is averaging 11.8 rebounds his past five games and could dominate on the boards without Yao around. … On paper, the Pacers don't appear to have much of a chance against the Spurs, but don't tell that to Mike Dunleavy, who has matched his career high (36 points) in consecutive games and is averaging 26.6 points and 2.8 3s his last five games. Danny Granger is also hot, with 23.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.6 3s in the same span. Granger has made an amazing 79 of his last 80 free throws (98.8 percent) dating back to January 23. Expect above-average performances from the Spurs' big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili against a Pacers team that allows 105.2 points per game, a total that San Antonio has exceeded only three times in their last 41 games!

Waiver-wire pickups

With Zydrunas Ilgauskas out, Anderson Varejao started and played 33 minutes at center for the Cavaliers on Sunday, and is a decent source of rebounds. Joe Smith will post similar numbers with a much better free-throw percentage (80.6 to Varejao's 62.7) and could get enough minutes to be useful at forward. Wally Szczerbiak has scored in double digits and drained multiple 3-pointers in each of his first four games with Cleveland. … Dikembe Mutombo has more blocks (11) than points (10) in his last three games while starting at center for the Rockets. Houston plays four games in three of the next four weeks, so if you need blocks, give Mutombo a shot. … Travis Diener is owned in only 10 percent of ESPN leagues, but has staked his claim to the Pacers' point guard job in the month that Jamaal Tinsley has been out. Diener has averaged 15.7 points and 8.3 assists in his last three games. … Ime Udoka is not owned in any ESPN leagues, but is worth a spot start against a spotty Pacers' defense. Udoka is averaging nine points, eight rebounds, two 3s, one block and 30 minutes in his last two games (both against the Nets).

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