Commentary

Varejao taking advantage of Wallace's absence

Updated: March 16, 2009, 12:58 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com

Matchups for Tuesday, March 17

Time Visitors Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff. Home Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff.
7 p.m. Sacramento Kings 108.5 .479 -5.1
@
Atlanta Hawks 96.6 .453 -2.1
7 p.m. Orlando Magic 95.1 .435 +1.5
@
Cleveland Cavaliers 91.2 .432 +2.8
8:30 p.m. Boston Celtics 92.7 .429 +5.5
@
Chicago Bulls 102.1 .454 -0.4
8:30 p.m. Detroit Pistons 94.3 .448 +0.1
@
Dallas Mavericks 99.9 .461 +1.2
8:30 p.m. Minnesota Timberwolves 103.4 .475 +1.3
@
San Antonio Spurs 93.4 .452 +0.4
9 p.m. Washington Wizards 102.4 .480 -1.9
@
Utah Jazz 99.7 .459 +1.4
10:30 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers 103.5 .467 -4.4
@
Golden State Warriors 111.5 .466 -5.0
10:30 p.m. Philadelphia 76ers 96.3 .457 +2.6
@
Los Angeles Lakers 100.4 .449 +3.0

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
Tony Allen, SG, Celtics (thumb)
Gilbert Arenas, PG, Wizards (knee)
Andris Biedrins, C, Warriors (ankle)
Elton Brand, PF, Sixers (shoulder)
Corey Brewer, SF, Timberwolves (knee)
Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers (knee)
Glen Davis, PF, Celtics (ankle)
Ricky Davis, SG/SF, Clippers (knee)
Luol Deng, SG/SF, Bulls (leg)
Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics (knee)
Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs (ankle)
Brendan Haywood, C, Wizards (wrist)
Allen Iverson, PG/SG, Pistons (back)
Al Jefferson, PF/C, Timberwolves (knee)
Jameer Nelson, PG, Magic (shoulder)
DeShawn Stevenson, SG, Wizards (back)
Ben Wallace, PF/C, Cavaliers (leg)
Marvin Williams, SF/PF, Hawks (back)

Day-to-day
Caron Butler, SF, Wizards (hamstring)
Eddie House, SG, Celtics (ankle)
Josh Howard, SF, Mavericks (ankle)
Bobby Jackson, PG, Kings (cheek)
Mike Miller, SG/SF, Timberwolves (ankle)
Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, Pistons (calf)

Start 'em, sit 'em

The Orlando Magic will be looking to send a message Tuesday when they head to Cleveland to take on the 53-13 Cavs in a battle for Eastern Conference supremacy. Expect this to be a hard-fought battle, as Orlando would like to prove that Cleveland is beatable at home despite their 29-1 home-court record. However, as good as this game likely will be in real life, there's not much to get excited about for fantasy purposes. These are two of the best defensive teams in the league, and points will be hard to come by. Aside from Dwight Howard, LeBron James and perhaps Mo Williams, I just can't get too excited about a game that probably will see both teams score in the 80s or low 90s. … Since they traded away Brad Miller, the Kings have had to rely on a young frontcourt duo of Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson. Both have shown flashes of brilliance this season but were too inconsistent to rely on in fantasy leagues on a day-to-day basis. Until now. Hawes is averaging 18.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 0.8 3-pointers over his past five games while Thompson is providing a steady 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks during that same span. Both are getting ample opportunity to prove themselves on the court, particularly Hawes, who leads the team with 40.2 minutes per game this month. It looks like they'll be safe to use the rest of the way, so be sure to get them in the lineup Tuesday even though they'll have to go up against Al Horford in the paint. … Speaking of Horford, he has been solid in the paint with 14.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game over his past five games. Expect him, Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson to go off against the defensively challenged Kings. … Currently in a dogfight for the final playoff spot in the East, the Bulls have relied heavily on Ben Gordon (37.9 minutes), John Salmons (40.4 minutes) and Derrick Rose (40.3 minutes) this month. Salmons has caught fire with his new team and is averaging a well-rounded 19.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.7 3-pointers over his past seven games. … Joakim Noah has stepped up his game in the Chicago frontcourt to average 8.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks this month. The Celtics are still a tough matchup for any opposing team, but Noah should have more room to grab boards and block shots with Kevin Garnett out of the lineup. … Richard Hamilton owners have to be hoping Allen Iverson stays out of the lineup. With AI down, Rip has absolutely dominated to the tune of 22.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1.1 3-pointers in eight games this month. The assists are a surprise, but with Iverson down, Hamilton has assumed the role of the playmaker for Detroit. … Though he's listed as day-to-day, the Wizards figure to be without Caron Butler for Tuesday's game against the Jazz. Butler's troublesome hamstring injury needs rest, and the Wizards are unlikely to risk further injury by running him out in a meaningless game. … Don't look now, but Monta Ellis is finally starting to look healthy in Golden State. Ellis has caught fire since returning from a seven-game absence, with 24.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals in his past three games. Get him back in your lineups ASAP.

Waiver-wire pickups

Ben Wallace's leg injury has opened the door for Anderson Varejao to shine in Cleveland, and shine he has, with 10.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.6 blocks and a steal over his past five games. He should average close to a double-double the rest of the way. … With both Kevin Garnett and Glen "Big Baby" Davis out, the Celtics have turned to Leon Powe to help provide some offense from the low post. Powe is still an inconsistent fantasy option, but he did put up 30 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks against Memphis on Friday. He still has a few more big games in him while the Celtics heal up for the playoffs. … Antonio McDyess has been getting it done for a little while now, but he has been completely dominant in the paint with Rasheed Wallace out of the lineup. Rasheed could miss a few more games because of the injury, so be sure to give McDyess a look, as he is averaging 15.0 points, 15.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks over his past five games. … Keep a close eye on Andray Blatche and Dominic McGuire in Washington. If Caron Butler decides to shut it down for the season, both Blatche and McGuire would benefit with increased minutes and more opportunities.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and is a two-time Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year, as named by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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