Commentary

Nellie's lineup tinkering tough to predict

Updated: March 23, 2009, 1:30 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com

Matchups for Tuesday, March 24

Time Visitors Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff. Home Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff.
8:00 p.m. Detroit Pistons 94.5 .451 +0.4
@
Chicago Bulls 102.3 .455 -0.2
8:00 p.m. Los Angeles Lakers 100.4 .449 +3.2
@
Oklahoma City Thunder 103.0 .475 +2.3
8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors 112.3 .467 -5.2
@
San Antonio Spurs 92.9 .450 +0.5
10:30 p.m. Houston Rockets 94.6 .445 +2.6
@
Utah Jazz 99.6 .458 +0.9

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
Andris Biedrins, C, Warriors (ankle)
Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers (knee)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (leg)
Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs (ankle)
Carl Landry, PF, Rockets (leg)
Allen Iverson, PG/SG, Pistons (back)
Desmond Mason, SF, Thunder (knee)
Tracy McGrady, SG/SF, Rockets (knee)

Day-to-day
Richard Hamilton, SG, Pistons (groin)
Mehmet Okur, PF/C, Jazz (eye)
Anthony Randolph, SF/PF, Warriors (groin)
Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, Pistons (illness)
Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, Pistons (calf)

Start 'em, sit 'em

Monta Ellis
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMonta Ellis has picked up his scoring output -- possibly at Jamal Crawford's expense.
Jamal Crawford's situation in Golden State went from bad to worse last week; he sat out three straight games thanks to coach Don Nelson's ever-changing rotations. Nellie has given Crawford an ultimatum to either opt out of his contract or be traded at season's end. That's not a good sign considering that Nellie is playing with his lineups to give his younger players a good look in preparation for next season. Crawford would be a nice option if he's in the lineup, but we can never tell if he'll actually see the court on any given night. … While Crawford has struggled, Monta Ellis has taken off, with 26.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals over his past five games. He has a tough matchup against the Spurs on Tuesday but is playing so well that he needs to be in the lineup no matter who the opponent is. … The Pistons are dealing with a ton of injuries, and if they are shorthanded again Tuesday, they'll rely heavily on Antonio McDyess in the paint. McDyess has been a beast under the boards lately with 16.6 points, 14.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks for the depleted Pistons. … In four games since returning from an ankle injury, Kevin Durant has picked up where he left off, with 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers per game. With numbers like those, there should be no concern regarding the strength of his ankle going forward. … Luis Scola has quietly enjoyed a nice season and is averaging 13.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this month. Get him in your lineups, but only if you can afford to not get much from him in the shot-blocking department. … Paul Millsap would be the main beneficiary if Mehmet Okur needs to miss another game because of an eye injury. Millsap's value has taken a hit since the return of Carlos Boozer, but he is still averaging a productive 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.7 blocks in just 25.5 minutes per game this month.

Waiver-wire pickups

Don't look now, but Trevor Ariza has joined the starting lineup for the Lakers and has caught fire with 16.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.0 3-pointers per game over his past five games. He makes for a fantastic end-of-the-season acquisition, as the Lakers will rely on him more once they lock up home-court advantage in the West. … Thabo Sefolosha has lost his scoring prowess since the return of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, but he's still getting after it on the defensive end with 2.4 steals and 1.4 blocks over his past five games. … The Warriors are always a fun team to look at for free-agent pickups, though we never really know how long they'll last as valid options with Nellie's propensity to switch things up. Recently Brandan Wright and Kelenna Azubuike have been Nellie's flavors of the week. Buike is putting up 17.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.6 3-pointers over his past five games, while Wright has shown some serious upside, with two straight double-digit-scoring games, including a 25-point effort Friday. … Kyle Lowry has begun to eat into Aaron Brooks' minutes in Houston, but Brooks is still a valuable commodity for those needing 3-point shooting. Brooks has drained seven 3-pointers over his past five games and is averaging 12.8 points and 0.8 steals during that time. Give him a look in deeper formats.

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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