For fantasy basketball owners in head-to-head leagues, the playoffs are underway. And for many of those owners, that means pain. Lots of it.
To me, a league that locks rosters every Monday is insane. This week is a perfect example of why. In the most crucial time of year, we have star after star dealing with injury. Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, Luke Ridnour, Andrew Bynum, Marcus Thornton, and Jason Kidd are all ruining a season’s worth of extremely hard work. That’s not right.
Let’s get to some of those injuries so we know what we’re dealing with.
Dwyane Wade was the most surprising scratch of the night. The Heat are saying that he bruised his left knee in Sunday’s loss to the Celtics and was still feeling soreness on Tuesday night. That might be true, but Wade surely would have played if this was a vital game.
No one in the Heat’s organization flashed much concern, making this seem like a simple maintenance day. Wade likely knew a showdown with the Thunder loomed on Wednesday. He’s got a solid chance to return for that one.
Of course, with Wade out LeBron James took a heavier offensive load on his shoulders against the Sixers. James scored 41 points to go with six rebounds and four assists. It’s the kind of line he could put up nightly if needed.
NOT A MAGIC MAN
We knew that Dwight Howard has been dealing with back spasms for a few days now. However, the condition is not overly serious. Howard has been a game-time call in two straight games and coach Stan Van Gundy expects both Dwight and Jameer Nelson (calf) back sooner rather than later.
Ryan Anderson’s ankle situation is much murkier. Anderson was ruled out early in the day Tuesday and admitted that his ankle has swelled to the size of a softball. He was also sporting a walking boot. Fantasy’s clear sleeper of the year can only be considered very questionable for Thursday’s game against the Knicks.
Meanwhile, Glen Davis is showing that he has starting-caliber talent. Big Baby put 31 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and a block on the Pistons, showing a dominant mid-range jumper and soft hands around the hoop. On Sunday, Davis went off for 18 points and 16 rebounds against the Nuggets. He’s a must-start anytime Anderson or Howard sit.
Andrew Bynum’s ankle sprain is not serious either. He didn’t even need an MRI and was walking without much of a limp on Tuesday. Holding him out against the lowly Nets while targeting Wednesday’s showdown with the piping-hot Clippers made a ton of sense.
Bynum also made some off-court headlines Tuesday as ESPN Los Angeles reported that he’s been fined for “numerous infractions.” One of those infractions was blowing off a meeting with GM Mitch Kupchak. Yawn. The Lakers are desperate for Bynum’s All-Star caliber play. Whether he’s a good dude off the floor really doesn’t matter.
KICKING FOR APPLES
On Monday night, Marcus Thornton was accidentally kicked in the left calf by Luke Ridnour. This sounds mild, but Thornton said after that “it feels like my leg is about to explode,” Yikes.
Thornton was ruled out very early on Tuesday morning for the night game against the Suns. It’s a sign he’s going to need some time to heal. Although Terrence Williams came off the bench behind Donte Greene, it’s clear that the versatile Williams is the preferred sub here. T-Will posted 16 points, six rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes Tuesday.
A SEASON SAVIOR?
Eric Gordon (knee) participated fully in a physical practice Tuesday. He emerged from that workout saying he feels great and he fully expects to finally return on Wednesday. Stop the presses.
However, it’s worth noting that coach Monty Williams didn’t sound quite as enthused.
"We'll see; he had a good practice [Tuesday], and I hate to give you guys bad information, but he looked good in practice. It' s always the next day, whether or not he feels sore. But he's been feeling good after his workouts. … It may take him a few games to get in shape when he does start playing, but we'll see (Wednesday) morning."
Note that Gordon hasn’t played in three full months. Owners expecting a heroic savior from left field are going to be disappointed. He’ll be a contributor, but full minutes are going not going to come right away.
TUESDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS: EARLY EDITION
No one should be surprised by Baron Davis’ modest lines (six points, three assists Tuesday). He’s a shell of himself and on a minutes cap. … The Spurs absolutely destroyed the Cavs, leading to limited minutes across the board. … Kyrie Irving returned from his mild shoulder injury and looked fine in 29 minutes. … Byron Mullens continues to show rapid improvement. The 20 points, 14 boards and two blocks he put on the Raptors is for real. We know the minutes and deft shooting touch will be there the rest of the way. It certainly didn’t hurt that backup PF Tyrus Thomas left with a jaw injury. … I wouldn’t be worried about Kemba Walker’s off night. He’s starting and coach Paul Silas is committed. … James Johnson saw 20 minutes or less for the fourth straight game. It’s now a trend.
TUESDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS: MIDDLE EDITION
Andre Iguodala got scratched/poked in the left eye by Mario Chalmers in the third quarter and didn’t return. His status going forward is unclear, but it sounds like he was more shook up than anything. … Evan Turner’s 26 points were fluky as his wayward jumper was actually going, but he has now scored in double figures in five straight. A 10-13 point range is the normal expectation. … Ronny Turiaf supplanted Joel Anthony as the Heat’s starting center Tuesday. Turiaf finished with six points, six rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes. It’s an idea for those extremely desperate for blocks. … Ben Gordon (groin) returned from injury but Rodney Stuckey didn’t. Of course, that meant Gordon went off for 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds. It’s really that simple -- Gordon starts, Gordon plays enough minutes to do damage.
TUESDAY NIGHT GAME THOUGHTS: LATE EDITION
Charles Jenkins (knee) started, but had just seven points in 22 minutes. Nate Robinson came off the bench for 18 points in 25 minutes. It’s a hot-hand situation, with Jenkins locked in as the starter. … Mike Conley (ankle) returned to action and played well without any aggravation. … Zach Randolph played just 15 minutes. The only logical explanation here is that there’s more going on than meets the eye. … DeMarcus Cousins went off for 41 points and 12 boards against the Suns. Attitude issues aside, he’s one of the best talents in the NBA. Period. … Jason Thompson is certainly improved, but he was playing over his head during that binge. Now he’s nursing an ankle injury and dealing with his usual foul trouble again. Two points, 17 minutes Tuesday.
INJURY FAST BREAK: GUARDS
Luke Ridnour (ankle) is expected to be out for “a while.” Meanwhile, the Wolves are hopeful that J.J. Barea (thigh) can play Wednesday. Make the switch. … Derrick Rose (groin) is going to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. He could be targeting Sunday for his long-awaited return. … Trevor Ariza (ankle) returned to practice and is expected to play Wednesday. … Ray Allen (ankle) is fully expected to return Wednesday. He’ll get his starting job back even though the Celts have been red hot with Avery Bradley at shooting guard. … Devin Harris (ankle) is headed for a game-time call Wednesday. … Mo Williams (toe) is hoping to play “soon.” Note that he was originally expected to miss at least two weeks from March 26.
INJURY FAST BREAK: FORWARDS AND CENTERS
Wilson Chandler (groin) missed practice Tuesday and is questionable for Wednesday. Corey Brewer is worth a look if Chandler sits. … Anderson Varejao (wrist) isn’t going to get back in practice this week. … Amare Stoudemire’s timetable hasn’t changed. He’s still out 2-4 weeks from last Thursday. … Trevor Booker (foot) and Nene Hilario (foot) remain questionable for Wednesday. But note that the Wiz have a back-to-back-to-back. It’s a really bad schedule for plantar fasciitis. … Carl Landry (ankle) returned to practice. He’ll be the third or fourth big along with Chris Kaman, Jason Smith and Gustavo Ayon.