- John Cregan, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Monday, Feb. 23
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.
Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics (knee)
Ray Allen, SG, Celtics (thumb)
Carmelo Anthony, SF, Nuggets (knee)
Andris Biedrins, C, Warriors (ankle)
Marcus Camby, PF/C, Clippers (ear infection)
Tyson Chandler, C, Hornets (ankle)
Drew Gooden, PF/C, Kings (groin)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Let's start with the obviously wicked upsetting: Kevin Garnett is on the shelf for two to three weeks with a bum knee, and no, Kendrick Perkins is not going to fill the void. If I were an Andre Miller owner, I wouldn't let that little red "DTD" trouble you too intensely. It's going to take more than a calf strain to disturb his games-played streak (currently at 502). There are rumblings about Marquis Daniels' back issues, but he's really got no choice but to keep running out there and putting up 20-plus points a night until Mike Dunleavy returns (if and when he does). And if you own any Pacers or Knicks, get them in Monday's lineup. Their combined 214.3 points allowed per game portend a box-score bonanza at the Garden. Al Harrington stepped up his shooting Friday (20 points, 7-for-10 field goals, but only 5 rebounds) after hitting only 11 of his previous 35 shot attempts. With all the new blood in New York, one has to wonder if his minutes are about to dip. Minutes are definitely dropping for Chris Duhon, whose recent dings have put the clamps on a career year. Start Harrington, but sit Duhon if you've got a better option. I'm going to watch Sunday's Suns-Celtics matchup attuned to how the Celtics defend Western Conference offenses sans KG. You normally can't find much to recommend for a team going up against the Celtics, but the Celts will be coming off a track meet going into Monday night's game versus the Nuggets. I have a hunch that Carmelo Anthony and Nene could have better-than-expected outings. Carlos Boozer's return is imminent, and you have to wonder if the power forward situation in Utah is about to regress into a time-share between their two banged-up low post players. (I'm referring to Paul Millsap. Mehmet Okur doesn't count as a low post player.) Those of you who have been enjoying Ronny Turiaf's Cinderella run may be in for a rude awakening when Andris Biedrins returns, perhaps as early as Monday night.
I've been waiting for Marreese Speights to raise his production to the level that his newfound minutes should demand, but he has disappointed, logging only one double-double this month. Much has been made about the 76ers' return to an up-tempo offensive style since Elton Brand went on the shelf. But what makes them frustrating in fantasy is their lack of night-in, night-out impact players. Those of you looking for front-court help should keep a close eye on the recently returned Yi Jianlian. The Nets are struggling, and plugging Yi back into the starting lineup would seem like a natural move. He owns some special fantasy upside (decent blocks and steals plus 3s equals "special"), and is owned in only about a quarter of all leagues. With both Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy out, waiver-wire opportunities abound in Indiana. Marquis Daniels has been a hot pickup, but I've also pinned some hope on Jarrett Jack, who has been starting at shooting guard. He's putting up assists and has averaged six rebounds a game over his past three contests. If you're looking for a one-night plug-in for blocks, Roy Hibbert is good for a couple of swats before fouling out, usually sometime late in the second quarter. Chris Wilcox and Larry Hughes have had rough seasons, but anyone who may be in line for 25 minutes a night under Mike D'Antoni needs to be on your fantasy radar. If you're looking for a red-hot and motivated player currently available in your league, check and see whether Wilson Chandler's sitting on your wire. He's averaging better than 25 points per game over his past three. For those pouting over Garnett's current status, find some salve in Leon Powe. He's almost like Garnett, only without the points, rebounds, blocks, steals and assists. Pouting aside, he could be a double-double threat over the next couple of weeks. Ronald Murray was back from a personal matter Friday night and picked up where he left off, scoring 17 on 6-of-8 shooting. He's also good for a steal and a 3-pointer, and is available in 98 percent of leagues. I hope you take my hint. Need another streaky shooter who's knocking down out 3s? Rasual Butler has hit 10 of them since Friday. He's been letting owners down all year, but all signs favor picking up the much-maligned Beno Udrih. He's averaging 18 points over his past three games and is stepping up post-deadline (and post-Salmons).
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
2hMichael C. Wright