- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Friday, March 6
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.
Anthony Randolph, SF, Warriors (groin)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Andris Biedrins will miss the game against Detroit while dealing with family matters, which opens up playing time for Ronny Turiaf, which means blocks aplenty. Seriously, he could have 10 blocks in the next two games with Biedrins out, and is in line for increased minutes. Brook Lopez is coming off a 10-point, five-rebound performance Wednesday night, and he gets the privilege of being guarded by Dwight Howard on Friday. The rookie wall could be right around the corner for Lopez, and I'd be surprised if his stats didn't dip a bit for the final stretch of the season. Richard Hamilton has been fantastic with Allen Iverson sidelined, and it looks like that'll continue for at least the next two weeks. He has an ideal matchup Thursday against the Warriors, who allow 111.4 points per contest. Roger Mason is coming off scoring 23 points with four 3s Wednesday, and he could top that 3-point total against the Wizards, who allow teams to shoot 39 percent from behind the arc and nearly 48 percent from the floor. Luol Deng could miss the rest of the season if he needs surgery on his tibia, and he'll almost surely miss his fourth consecutive game Friday. How will this affect the Bulls' frontcourt? Well, Joakim Noah had 14 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks Wednesday night, and John Salmons started at small forward, dropping 23 points and nine boards. An injury to Deng is just what Salmons needed to be able to regain the value he had in Sacramento, where he was a key cog in the offense. He'll once again be heavily leaned upon, so consider Noah and Salmons upgrades if Deng misses significant time.
Luke Ridnour scored no points off the bench Wednesday night, and he's failed to recapture the glory he was experiencing before the injury that sidelined him for the first half of February. He shares too much time with Ramon Sessions and basically provides two categories (assists, steals), although if you need those he should provide a handful against the Bulls. He had 12 points, 10 assists and four steals in the teams' last meeting in December. Delonte West nabbed eight steals Wednesday night to go along with 13 points, four assists and a 3-pointer. He's back as a crucial player for the Cavs, and is quickly becoming a must-start again due to his ability to contribute in multiple categories (points, steals, assists, 3s and both percentages). He does have a tough matchup against the Celtics, but based upon his recent play, he's still worth starting, a testament to his value. As I've mentioned before, West's return seriously harms Mo Williams' value. It'll be nearly impossible for him to maintain his No. 18 ranking on the Player Rater, especially now that Sasha Pavlovic is back as well, which could rob him of an additional minute or two. It's hard to believe, but with 10 games on the docket and the Cavs playing the Celtics, Williams isn't an automatic start in shallow formats. Kyle Lowry outplayed Aaron Brooks on Wednesday night, scoring 14 points in 22 minutes. It's hard to believe one of them will emerge and play 35 minutes per night, as it looks like we've got another case of a time-share harming both players' value. Matt Barnes continues to play well lately, as he's a perfect fit in the Suns' up-tempo offense. He's started in three of the past four contests, including March 1, when he scored 27 points with 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, three blocks and five 3s. He dropped another five 3s Wednesday night and I expect big things from Barnes from here on out. Caron Butler may sit again with a sore hamstring, and if he does, Andray Blatche will get the nod. Blatche is a nice spot-start after averaging 13 points, one steal and one block in his past two games.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
17hBy Jackie MacMullan