Commentary

Daily Notes for Monday: J.R. Smith a must-start

Updated: March 22, 2009, 1:54 PM ET
By John Cregan | Special to ESPN.com

Matchups for Monday, March 23

TimeVisitorsOpp. PPGOpp. FGPRPG Diff.HomeOpp. PPGOpp. FGPRPG Diff.
7:00 p.m.Chicago Bulls93.8.435-0.2
@
Washington Wizards98.3.450-1.7
7:00 p.m.Minnesota Timberwolves103.1.474+1.1
@
Atlanta Hawks96.3.452-2.1
7:30 p.m.Los Angeles Clippers104.0.471-4.1
@
Boston Celtics93.0.429+5.3
7:30 p.m.Memphis Grizzlies99.8.474-1.5
@
Miami Heat98.6.456-2.8
7:30 p.m.Orlando Magic94.9.433+1.7
@
New York Knicks108.2.481-4.1
10:00 p.m.Denver Nuggets100.3.440+0.9
@
Phoenix Suns106.4.463+0.8
10:00 p.m.Philadelphia 76ers96.7.461+2.4
@
Portland Trail Blazers94.9.463+4.8

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
Gilbert Arenas, PG, Wizards (knee)
Leandro Barbosa, PG/SG, Suns (knee)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (shin)

Day-to-day
Caron Butler, SG/SF, Wizards (hamstring)
Al Harrington, PF/C, Knicks (Achilles)
Larry Hughes, SG, Knicks (toe)
David Lee, PF/C, Knicks (knee)
Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat (hip)
Marvin Williams, SF, Hawks (back)

Start 'em, sit 'em

All Nuggets on deck! The Suns are now also down Leandro Barbosa, but they shouldn't abandon their freewheeling ways in what looks to be an old-school offense-heavy matchup Monday night. … J.R. Smith is still unowned in a majority of leagues, so it's my duty to tell you to pick him up, start him, get him in there this second, etc. He won't score 40, as he did Friday versus the Wizards' campfire defense, but he should notch 20 versus the Suns. … Kirk Hinrich may log just 25 minutes a night, but he packs a lot of production into a short time on the court. He has five blocks over his past three games. Not bad for a 6-3 guard. He'll get plenty of block opportunities against the Wizards' backcourt, which ranks among the worst in the league. … Caron Butler is still day-to-day with a hamstring pull; look for an update Monday, but my guess is he sits. … Dwyane Wade is also going to be a shaky start for the near future, as he's been given free reign to decide whether to play or rest his balky hip. As the Heat solidify their playoff position, look for him to sit down the stretch. … Randy Foye has struggled from the field since returning from an ankle sprain, shooting only 14-of-44 during that span. I'd wait and see how he fares against the Thunder on Sunday before starting him against the Hawks. … Mike Bibby is finally startable again after a bout with the flu. He's cracked double-figures in five straight games and his assists have returned to their seasonal average (4.9). … Avoid Clippers if your games played can stand it Monday. It's not going to be pretty at Boston, but Baron Davis should put up serviceable totals if your field-goal percentage can stand the strain. … Ray Allen has shown no ill effects from his recent elbow injury. He's scored 39 points and hit four 3-pointers in the two games since his return. … Kevin Garnett is also back but isn't getting a lot of minutes as the Celtics continue to be cautious with their power forward. I don't see him cracking 20 minutes in what looks to be a blowout against the Clippers (especially since the Clippers beat them the last time they played). … Hedo Turkoglu had his best game in weeks Friday against the Knicks (20 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 3s), and should duplicate those numbers in Monday's rematch. … David Lee missed his first game of the year Saturday but said he should be back on Monday. … Leandro Barbosa is out for the next one to three weeks. Bad news for Barbosa owners, good news for the other Suns who will receive an increase in touches for the same period. Grant Hill and Matt Barnes should both see a boost.

Waiver-wire pickups

If you're in the hunt for backcourt help, give Steve Blake a shot. His stats have been steadily ticking upward over the past two weeks as he shakes off the rust from his latest injury. Blake isn't flashy, but he will provide steady numbers across the board while boosting your free-throw percentage. (He's at .859 for the year.) Over half of his FG attempts this year are from behind the arc, and he's hit 44 percent of them. … Another productive and readily available guard is Sebastian Telfair, who has quietly strung together a nice month. … Three-pointers and steals are the reasons to pick up Maurice Evans, whose minutes have soared in Marvin Williams' absence. … Despite Greg Oden's return, Joel Przybilla has put up double-doubles in three of his past four games, while adding 10 blocks in that span. … If you're trolling for blocks, Chris Andersen could give you a leg up for the rest of the week. He had six Friday night alone. … Travis Outlaw is a sure bet for at least 15 points and a 3-pointer against the Sixers. Not great, but dependable, and all the more remarkable for a sixth man (albeit one who's been starting as of late). … Ronald Murray is another solid bet for instant offense. He tallied 22 against the Cavaliers -- no small feat -- Friday and has a far more favorable matchup Monday versus the Timberwolves. … It's going to be a good night for the Bulls, who visit the ping-pong-ball-collecting Wizards. I'd start fringe fantasy players such as Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, who should see heavy minutes in what projects to be a blowout. … If Caron Butler misses Monday's game, Nick Young will be a good pickup for those in need of scoring help. He's also been improving in the steals department as of late, with six over his past four games. … Lost in the Wizards' morass of a March is the steady improvement of Andray Blatche. He's averaged 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks over his past five games, and he qualifies at center. … Kendrick Perkins will get a ton of block opportunities against the Clippers' frontcourt. … Hakim Warrick is hot again (20 points and six rebounds Friday night) and should be picked up in deeper leagues by owners looking for a power forward. … As long as Courtney Lee continues to start for the Magic, he'll be in line for double-digit points and a 3-pointer. His numbers are climbing at the expense of Mickael Pietrus.

John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

John Cregan

Fantasy Basketball
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

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