- John Cregan, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Monday, March 30
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.
Start 'em, sit 'em
When contemplating the Magic-Heat tilt, you should expect a 3-point barrage. Orlando leads the league with 10.3 3s a game (on 39 percent shooting), while Miami is near the bottom in 3-point defense (7.3 3s allowed on 39 percent shooting). With both teams still jockeying for playoff position (Orlando is trying to hold onto the No. 2 seed ahead of Boston), expect a late-season shootout. Marc Gasol is in line for a monster game matched up against Golden State's less than stout frontcourt. His recent totals versus Sacramento (27 points, 5 rebounds) are within range. You should also count on the recently struggling Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo as strong bounce back candidates. I've always believed that team field goals attempted per game is an underrated fantasy stat (since it's generally a good barometer of an upcoming game's tempo.) Monday's slate features two of the NBA's top three teams in attempts with the Knicks (86.7) and Warriors (86.0). The Knicks are also another 3-pointer-friendly squad (10.2 per game), but face a stingier defense in Utah (6.4 allowed on 35 percent shooting). Jermaine O'Neal has tailed off in a major way as of late, especially in the rebound department (2.8 per over his past five games). When your coaching staff has to resort to spending extra time in the film room to break down why you're not hitting the glass, it's not a good sign. Personally, I'd rather have Udonis Haslem (see below.) Ramon Sessions seems to have put his recent shooting woes behind him. He's scored in double figures in four straight games, collecting 26 assists over the same span. Devin Harris returned from a five-game layoff Friday night and responded with a double-double (13 points, 14 assists). He shot only 4-of-13 from the field, but should fare better against the Bucks. In a nice development for Paul Millsap owners, he played alongside Carlos Boozer Friday night to positive effect. Millsap has remained viable as a fantasy factor since Boozer's return. Both players are night-in, night-out double-double candidates, and you have to like Millsap's chances of being the future at power forward for Utah. Ronnie Brewer has been in a mini-slump, but it's due more to fewer shot attempts than poor shooting (49 percent over his past five games). He's got a great matchup -- at home against the Knicks -- to get things rolling again. Monta Ellis is looking at a big week, as he finds himself as the new No. 1 option on the highest-scoring offense in the league.
If you're looking for a jump start in 3s to your (hopefully) big fantasy week, Courtney Lee can help. Now entrenched as a starter in one of the NBA's most offense-friendly lineups, he's continued to push Mickael Pietrus to a distant waiver-wire memory. Pick Lee up and pencil in at least two 3-pointers as he's had eight over his past three games. The hottest pickup for Monday night should be Kelenna Azubuike, who will see heavy minutes and field goal attempts in the wake of Stephen Jackson's season-ending surgery. The red-hot Anthony Morrow won't be far behind as the other main beneficiary of Jackson's absence (Morrow has 47 points in his past two games.) With all of the late injuries befalling the Warriors, even Don Nelson can't ruin Morrow's prospects. Mike Conley may have endured his worst night of the season Saturday in Portland, but he's a primo pickup opportunity going into Monday night at Golden State. Conley's been one of the best waiver-wire finds in fantasy since the Kyle Lowry trade, and you should expect 15-18 points and 6-8 assists against Golden State. Conley's feast or famine from behind the arc (4-of-13 over his past five games), but the Warriors have a way of making everything better, don't they? Jermaine O'Neal's recent struggles have resuscitated Udonis Haslem's fantasy prospects. He has two double-doubles in his past three games, and is averaging 14.8 points and 9.0 rebounds over his past five and he qualifies at center. With the Bucks sliding out of playoff contention, Joe Alexander should be in line for a bump in minutes. When given the minutes, he has shown potential in the defensive categories. Wilson Chandler has been solid the past couple of weeks, and is looking like a nice sleeper going into next year (Danilo Gallinari's back notwithstanding). Chandler can score, but his hidden strength is his defense and 3-point shooting. There aren't a lot of players who can average a steal, a block and a 3-pointer a night. Larry Hughes got the start Friday night against the Bobcats, and should log at least 30 minutes Monday against the Jazz. He's hit or miss, but I'm guessing Kyle Korver should make for a nice speculative add if you're trolling for 3-pointers.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
John Cregan previews a light schedule in the NBA and notes that Memphis has a great fantasy matchup versus Sacramento.