Matchups for Saturday, Feb. 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.
Chauncey Billups, PG, Nuggets (ankle)
Chris Bosh, PF/C, Raptors (knee)
Daequan Cook, SG, Heat (thigh)
Drew Gooden, PF/C, Bulls (groin)
Joe Johnson, SG/SF, Hawks (virus)
Kyle Lowry, PG, Grizzlies (ankle)
Kenyon Martin, PF, Nuggets (illness)
Craig Smith, PF, Timberwolves (ribs)
Start 'em, sit 'em
With Zach Randolph and Baron Davis returning to health, big games will be few and far between for Eric Gordon and Al Thornton. The two aren't the most efficient of scorers, so any loss in shot attempts will hurt their value tremendously. Gordon's attempts have already decreased -- he's averaging 10 in two games this month compared to 16 shots per game last month -- and Thornton will have to take a backseat to Davis and Randolph once they fully work their way back, which could be any game now. Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin are closer to probable; make sure they suit up Friday, but don't dare sit them against once of the worst defenses in the league in the Nets. If Craig Smith's sore ribs sideline him again, it should go without saying that Kevin Love (16 points, 14 rebounds in 30 minutes Wednesday) will be in line for another superb game.
Lou Williams is a popular start in deep leagues, but he can be benched for Saturday's contest against the Heat. The Heat are ninth in defensive efficiency and fifth in opposing field goal percentage; Williams is shooting only 40 percent from the field on the season. Despite Denver's up-tempo style -- currently fourth in possessions per game at 97.3 -- the Nuggets are actually a superb defensive team, sitting fourth in opponents' field goal percentage, sixth in defensive efficiency and ninth in opponents' 3-point percentage. Ryan Anderson has made some noise recently, averaging 18.5 points and 3.0 3-pointers in his past two contests, and is probably worth a play in deeper leagues based on those gaudy numbers alone. But don't be surprised if his percentages come back down to earth. Chris Bosh isn't expected to suit up Friday against the Hornets, which seems like a good implication he won't be ready to go the following night, either. If he sits out the contest, that should be good news for Joey Graham, who has played well of late when given an extended opportunity, most recently exploding for 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting against the Lakers. Against the Grizzlies, scoring in double digits for the fourth consecutive game seems like a safe bet, with upside for more. Mike Conley is quietly averaging 13.0 points, 7.0 assists, 1.7 3-pointers and 1.5 steals in his past four games. It seems like every time Aaron Brooks puts pressure on Rafer Alston's starting job, nothing comes to fruition, but at least Alston gave coach Rick Adelman his permission, as if he needed it. With Tracy McGrady constantly hobbled and Ron Artest shooting below 38 percent, the team needs Brooks' scoring more than you would think, and he's not a bad gamble against a porous Timberwolves defense if you value scoring and 3-pointers out of your point guard.
Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.