In head-to-head fantasy basketball, matchups often come down to games played. Among the multitudes of reasons I strongly oppose H2H, this is Exhibit A.
In the fantasy playoffs, this games played issue is magnified even further than usual. A 5-4 loss in the regular season because you played three less games than your opponent can be brushed off. A 5-4 loss in the playoffs means it’s time to hit the showers.
Therefore, knowing who is hurt and who plays on what day of the week is virtually (and sadly) all that matters these days. Here’s a trip around the league, with that in mind.
GAMES PLAYED IN WEEK 23 (April 1-April 7)
Three: Nets, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Hornets, Thunder, Sixers, Suns, Kings
Four: Hawks, Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Cavs, Mavs, Pistons, Rockets, Grizzlies, Wolves, Bucks, Knicks, Magic, Blazers, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
DAY OF WEEK NOTES FOR WEEK 23 (April 1-April 7)
Monday: Eight games
Tuesday: Three games (Bulls, Wizards, Knicks, Heat, Mavs, Lakers)
Wednesday: Twelve games
Thursday: Three games (Bulls, Nets, Mavs, Nuggets, Spurs, Thunder)
Friday: Twelve games
Saturday: Seven games
Sunday: Nine games
*Note that only the Bulls and Mavs play on both Tuesday and Thursday.
TEAM-BY-TEAM INJURY NOTES
Al Horford has missed two straight games due to a stomach illness. His status for Monday is unclear. With Zaza Pachulia (Achilles) done for the year, I’d call Anthony Tolliver the best insurance policy.
Kevin Garnett (ankle) did travel with the Celtics to New York Sunday, but he’s expected to stick to his original two week timetable. That means he could return as soon as Friday. The Celtics will certainly need him, as Paul Pierce rolled his ankle Sunday and is not expected to play Monday. He’s a hard guy to trust, as his four-game week will probably be three at the most. Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee are worth a look.
Joe Johnson has missed four straight games due to heel and quad injuries. Here’s his latest quote, from Saturday:
“Today is probably the best it’s felt since right before the All-Star break. I feel good. I’m able to cut and kind of get up and down the floor, man, and be pain free to an extent.”
Based on these words and the fact that the Nets’ first game of the week isn’t until Wednesday, Johnson appears to have a good chance to return. That would make C.J. Watson expendable.
Also, be sure you’re aware of the recent tear Reggie Evans has been on. Over his last 10 games, he’s averaging 9.1 points, 16.3 rebounds and 0.6 steals while shooting 53.1 percent from the field.
As I noted in last week’s Rotations, Byron Mullens’ breakout season has been trampled by injuries. The severe left ankle sprain he sustained back in December is still bothering him, opening up tons of minutes for Josh McRoberts and Bismack Biyombo.
In typical Bulls fashion, Joakim Noah (foot) and Marco Belinelli (ab strain) are listed as day-to-day. They’ll be reevaluated Monday and will likely then be listed as game-time calls for Tuesday. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler are very viable plug-n-plays as the Bulls have one of this week’s best fantasy schedules. As for Derrick Rose, he’s said “only God knows” when he’ll wake up and feel ready to play.
When Kyrie Irving went down on Mar. 10 with a shoulder injury, he was slapped with a 3-4 week timetable. Given the Cavs’ place in the standings and Irving’s checkered injury history, many owners made the calculated move to drop him. Big mistake.
Irving returned on Sunday, exactly three weeks after his injury. He was probably eased back in, right? Wrong again. Irving played 28 minutes, going for 31 points, six assists and two rebounds while shooting 11-of-20 from the field. Shaun Livingston played just 18 minutes, a number that figures to go down as Kyrie gets further and further away from his injury.
Meanwhile, there’s been no update on Dion Waiters’ knee injury. About a week ago, the team said that he might need surgery if the situation doesn’t improve. Wayne Ellington is the low-upside starting two-guard right now.
No, O.J. Mayo was not at 100 percent when he went 1-of-13 from the field on Saturday night. He was playing through a sprained AC joint in his non-shooting shoulder and will continue to do so this week. Mayo is in little danger of missing games with the Mavs battling for the West’s final playoff spot.
Chalk up a medical blunder to the Nuggets. Ty Lawson was originally diagnosed with a heel strain/contusion. He missed three games, but didn’t feel right in 19 minutes last Wednesday. So Lawson went for another MRI, and was subsequently diagnosed with a full-blown tear of the plantar fascia in his right heel. He never should have played in that game. Yikes.
Lawson will not need surgery and is listed as day-to-day, but it’s impossible to say when he’ll be back on the court. Coach George Karl doesn’t mind resting players ahead of the playoffs, but they are off until Wednesday. Gun to my head, I sit him.
Credit Brandon Knight for battling through ankle and nose issues for 36 minutes Sunday. He’s not mailing it in. One injury concern here is Jose Calderon, who was dealing with a shooting arm injury late in the loss. Keep an eye out for updates Monday.
Andre Drummond (tailbone) in his first two games back: 12.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals. Just note that he airballed two straight free throws Sunday and is now at 35.2 percent on the season (43-of-122).
Uncharacteristically, the Warriors are incredibly healthy right now. Stephen Curry has given owners some scares, but he hasn’t missed a game since January. Even Andrew Bogut has played in 14 straight games, averaging 27.9 minutes a night.
James Harden was a surprise scratch on Saturday due to soreness in his right foot. It’s something that’s been bothering him off-and-on for a few weeks now. There’s no word on his status for Monday, but owners would be hard-pressed to sit Harden in a four-game week. It’s not like he aggravated the injury or sustained a new one – he just took a rest day.
Danny Granger (knee) is done for the season. George Hill (groin) and David West (back) are both back from their respective injuries and appear ready to rock.
Chauncey Billups (groin) has missed five of the last six games and is in no rush to return. Even when he plays, he’s at 19.1 minutes a night this season. Owners should have moved on a long time ago. Chris Paul’s knee looks like a non-issue as he’s logged 32 minutes or more in five straight. Still, a couple random DNPs down the stretch would not surprise me. Eric Bledsoe is healthy and a worthy handcuff if Paul owners can squeeze it.
Metta World Peace (knee) is done for the regular season, locking Jodie Meeks into the starting five. Over the last three games, Meeks is averaging 10.0 points, 1.6 treys and 1.6 steals while playing 37.4 minutes a night.
Meanwhile, Steve Nash left Saturday’s win in Sacramento after one minute due to a right hip strain. He’s hoping to play Tuesday, but we’re looking at another true game-time call. Owners should be exploring safer options.
Add an ankle injury to the list of Kobe Bryant’s injuries, but I’d be stunned if he missed any time. He played 47 minutes on Saturday.
Marc Gasol (abdomen) made a shocking, early return to the lineup on Wednesday. After shaking a little rust off, he’s averaged 21.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over the last two games. Lock him in.