- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Tuesday, March 31
All times Eastern
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between a team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Marquis Daniels, SG/SF, Pacers (wrist)
Randy Foye, PG/SG, Timberwolves (hip)
Josh Howard, SF, Mavericks (ankle)
Allen Iverson, PG/SG, Pistons (back)
Troy Murphy, PF/C, Pacers (knee)
Wally Szczerbiak, SF, Cavaliers (knee)
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (back)
Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, Pistons (calf)
Mo Williams, PG, Cavaliers (finger)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Richard Hamilton showed no ill effects of the groin injury that kept him out for six games when he returned to post 31 points with five 3-pointers Saturday night, followed by 14 more Sunday. Rip was getting it done in a big way before the injury and should continue to stay hot despite the return of Allen Iverson. The Bulls have only two games this week, but they should put up plenty of stats against a Pacers team that is allowing 105 points per game. The Bulls have relied heavily on John Salmons (41.1 minutes per game) and Ben Gordon (38.1) as they look to wrap up a playoff spot in the East, and both players should get going in Indiana. Tyrus Thomas has been a shot-blocking machine, picking up an average of 3.4 blocks per game in his past five games. He also has added 14.0 points and 8.6 rebounds during that time and seems to have figured out the inconsistency problems that plagued him earlier in the season. Samuel Dalembert had a few nice games to start March but has struggled to find consistency and has been downright awful lately. He has averaged just 4.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in his past five games, and owners have to drop or bench Sammy D for the time being. Although Dalembert has struggled, second-year man Thaddeus Young has thrived in Philadelphia. Young is averaging a team-high 21.5 points in March and has added 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.8 3-pointers during that stretch. Jason Kidd gave his owners a scare when he missed a game with a back injury, but he looks good to get back into your lineup after posting nine points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two 3-pointers Sunday. There's just no trusting anyone in Minnesota other than Kevin Love and Randy Foye (if he's healthy). Mike Miller and Ryan Gomes have been too inconsistent to rely on, and no one else is getting enough minutes. Love, however, has averaged a solid 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks this month. The Spurs have what we normally would consider a nice matchup against the Thunder, but be careful here. In the Spurs' last blowout victory (Friday against the Clippers), Tim Duncan saw just 14 minutes of action. It is possible that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich could limit him again if this game gets out of hand early. Manu Ginobili can be very productive in limited minutes, but even he will have trouble putting up fantasy stats in just 15 to 20 minutes per game. Unfortunately, that's all he has been getting these days, as Pop attempts to keep him healthy for the playoffs. J.R. Smith owners know how frustrating it can be to play the start-or-sit game with him, but they should definitely put him in the lineup against the Knicks, who have allowed 6.9 3-pointers per game this season.
We've been talking about Brandon Rush as a high-upside player to keep an eye on for much of the season, and he's finally getting an opportunity to show us why. Rush has been brilliant since joining the starting lineup in Indiana and has averaged 19.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers in his past five games. Rush won't be on waiver wires for much longer if he keeps playing this well, so you'll need to act quickly if you want to cash in on his upside. If you're looking for a quick fix in points, 3-pointers and steals, Ronald Murray may be your man. Murray has seen extra minutes on the Hawks while Marvin Williams sits out and has averaged 18.4 points, 1.2 steals and 2.0 3-pointers during his past five games. Trevor Ariza has cooled slightly but remains an incredible value for steals. He has averaged 10.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 0.8 3-pointers in his past five games. He still looks like a solid pickup because the Lakers may start to pull back on the minutes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom now that the team has locked up home-court advantage. Despite splitting minutes with Nenad Krstic in the Thunder's frontcourt, Nick Collison has remained a solid option in the paint with 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in his past five games. Jason Thompson is still flying under the radar despite really turning his game up a notch with averages of 14.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and a steal per game in his past five. Don't sleep on the rookie for much longer. He's primed to have a big finish to the season.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Brian McKitish previews Tuesday night in the NBA from a fantasy perspective.