- Tony Targan
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Matchups for Friday, March 14
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.
Start 'em, sit 'em
The Rockets will be fired up as they go for their 21st straight win while hosting the Bobcats on Friday. Expect no letdown from Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier, Luis Scola (10.0 points and 8.2 rebounds his past five games) and Rafer Alston (17.0 points his past five games). Start Gerald Wallace, who had 14 points in 21 minutes in his return to the lineup Wednesday. The Hawks will have a huge rebounding edge over the Clippers with Chris Kaman likely out, so expect Al Horford and Josh Smith (22 rebounds on Wednesday) to clean up on the glass. The Clippers' Al Thornton has picked up his scoring lately with 19.0 points his past three games, but is only shooting 38.1 percent from the field in his past four. The Magic should run up the score on the Heat, so upgrade Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis (20.2 points, 3.2 3-pointers and 54.2 field-goal percentage his past five games) and Hedo Turkoglu (19.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists his past five games). Ricky Davis (20.6 points in 41.4 minutes his past five games) is carrying the scoring load for Miami. The Timberwolves and SuperSonics both allow more than 100 points per game. Seattle's only win in its past 11 games came in Minnesota, and the Timberwolves have doubled their season road victory total (from two to four) by winning their past two away games. For Seattle, start Kevin Durant, Earl Watson (12.0 points, 6.6 assists in 28.0 minutes his past five games) and Chris Wilcox (20.3 points in the three games prior to his seven-point dud against the Celtics Wednesday). For Minnesota, play Al Jefferson, Randy Foye and Rashad McCants (14.8 points on 50 percent from the field in 30 minutes his past five games, despite coming off the bench). The Spurs and Pistons are two of the NBA's stingiest defenses, so temper your expectations for all players in this grind-it-out affair.
If Miami loses any more players to injury, they'll have to change their name to the Depl-Heat-ed. Anyone left standing should get major minutes, including Mark Blount (11.3 points and 30.0 minutes his past three games, including a double-double in Wednesday's loss to the Knicks), Daequan Cook (23 points in 43 minutes on Monday, followed by six points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes on Wednesday) and Jason Williams, who has no competition at point guard with Marcus Banks out. Minnesota's Ryan Gomes may be worth a look against Seattle on Friday after averaging 16.7 points his past three games. Ditto for Marko Jaric, who tallied 12 points and six assists on Tuesday, especially if Sebastian Telfair remains out. Thaddeus Young has shown a lot of poise for a 19-year-old, and is shooting with amazing accuracy: 54.5 percent from the field this season, including 69.8 percent -- and 14.4 points -- in six games this month. Ronnie Brewer tied his season high with 21 points against the Bucks on Wednesday and is worth a claim after averaging 14.3 points with a 59.3 field-goal percentage and a 84.4 free-throw percentage in seven March games. Erick Dampier might be worth a spot start Friday against the Pacers after his 11-point, eight-rebound, five-block game Wednesday versus the Bobcats. Also consider Brandon Bass, who is averaging 14.3 points and 7.0 rebounds his past three games.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Tony Targan analyzes the best and worst fantasy plays for Friday.