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Atlanta 4 Games In Week 19 – The Hawks choked near the buzzer on Sunday night and lost by a point when Josh Smith tried to pass from under the basket, throwing it right to the Lakers, instead of going up for a dunk/layup attempt and taking an automatic foul. He might have hit 1-of-2 shots and sent the game to overtime, which could have had some pretty big fantasy implications. With four games this week, Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Devin Harris (16 points, 6 assists, 3 3-pointers) and Kyle Korver all look like solid plays.
Boston 4 – Jeff Green has a sore elbow, Paul Pierce has a sore neck and Kevin Garnett is just old, but all three expect to be in the lineup this week, when the Celtics play four times. All three look like must-starts to me, while Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry might also be worth a look. Chris Wilcox had 8 & 7 in 22 minutes on Friday, putting him on the radar in some deeper leagues.
Brooklyn 3 – Joe Johnson is playing through a sore heel, but I’m assuming he’ll be out there this week, along with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. Outside of those three, using any other Nets is truly a roll of the dice.
Charlotte 4 – Byron Mullens has cooled off but is still getting minutes and I’m playing him this week, along with Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is showing signs of life, but can also disappear at any time, as he did on Tuesday when he failed to score. Ramon Sessions is an interesting call for owners, as he’s played just 18 and 17 minutes in his last two games. Mullens got into foul trouble Sunday and the Bobcats are getting blown out nightly, so there is a chance they clear the bench early, which could hurt Mullens going forward. I’m not ready to give up on him just yet, but we’ll have to see where we are a week from now. If he does disappear, Josh McRoberts could become a factor, and played 30 minutes on Sunday.
Chicago 3 – Kirk Hinrich is mysteriously in a walking boot, meaning you can’t really play him this week. Nate Robinson played just 20 minutes and gave way to Marquis Teague on Sunday, although Teague had just two points, three assists and five fouls. But it is becoming clear that Tom Thibodeau is no longer interested in letting Robinson have free reign at point guard, leaving Robinson’s owners with a tough decision. Richard Hamilton has a back injury and Marco Belinelli started and scored 20 points with five assists and four 3-pointers on Sunday, which could make him a sneaky deep-league play right now, and also gives a boost to Jimmy Butler, who scored a career-high 20 points Sunday. Joakim Noah is a must-start, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng are solid options, while Robinson, Butler and Teague could also have surprising weeks if Hinrich is out. But don’t forget that Derrick Rose could return at any time this week, and I think we’ll see him sooner than later. And while Taj Gibson is getting closer to a return from his knee injury, he belongs on the bench (or waivers) for now.
Cleveland 4 – Kyrie Irving sounds likely to play on Monday after practicing through his knee injury on Sunday, while Tyler Zeller’s status is up in the air for that one due to an illness. I’d go ahead and start guys like Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, but everyone else on the Cavs is a crapshoot, including C.J. Miles and Wayne Ellington. And if Irving plays, you can probably forget about a surging Shaun Livingston, as well.
Dallas 3 – Chris Kaman has started four straight games at center, and while no one really did much with their minutes on Sunday, Elton Brand still looks like the safest option, followed by a very shaky Kaman. With three games Dirk Nowitzki, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Shawn Marion all look like decent options, but only Dirk should be considered must-start material in weekly leagues. Vince Carter, Brand and Kaman are all worth a look, but will be much more appealing in a four-game week.
Denver 4 – Ty Lawson finally cooled off on Friday with 11 points, but is as must-start as they come. Danilo Gallinari is dealing with a thigh injury, but played 22 minutes in that one and should be ready to get it going again. Andre Iguodala and the hit-or-miss Kenneth Faried are your other must-start players for the Nuggets, while Kosta Koufos, Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, Andre Miller and JaVale McGee are all worth a look in deep leagues. Chandler is on fire right now, but probably won’t be for long once Gallo gets hot again.
Detroit 3 – It’s up for debate as to which is worse; the Pistons or their remaining weekly schedule, which goes 3-3-3-3-4-2-2. Charlie Villanueva got hot in a blowout loss on Sunday, but is far from trustworthy, but guys like Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon are the only three-game considerations for the mess we call the Pistons.
Golden State 4 – Owners of the Warriors have to be prepared to enjoy the next two weeks, as the schedule turns ugly after that. Obviously Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee are must-starts, while Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Harrison Barnes are also worth a look with four games in each of the next two scoring periods. And to say Curry is on fire would be a huge understatement.
Houston 3 – The Rockets have just three games in each of the next four weeks, which isn’t great news. However, James Harden, Chandler Parsons (awesome Sunday) and Jeremy Lin remain must-starts, while Omer Asik, Carlos Delfino (awful Sunday) and Donatas Motiejunas are all worth a look. Don’t read too much into Sunday’s box score, as the game was a blowout and featured plenty of garbage time.
Indiana 3 – Danny Granger left Sunday’s game with his ongoing left knee problem and should not be in any weekly lineups until he proves he’s healthy and that he can be effective on the court. And that hasn’t happened yet. George Hill, Paul George (must-start), David West and Roy Hibbert are all decent three-game options.
L.A. Clippers 3 – Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin, who suffered a punch to the ‘batteries’ from Serge Ibaka on Sunday, are all hot and worth putting into weekly lineups. Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan and Matt Barnes may be worth a look, but I’m not rolling any of them out there. In fact, with Jordan and the Clips going 3-2-3-4-3-3-2 to finish up the season, I actually dropped him in a few leagues, as I’m simply not going to be able to use him for most of them. Especially with just two games the week after this one. And speaking of Barnes, he’s nearing an automatic suspension due to his flagrant-foul record this season.
L.A. Lakers 4 – Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark are all players I’d be comfortable starting this week, depending on your other options.