GAMES PLAYED IN WEEK 24 (April 8-April 14):
Two: Hawks, Pistons, Magic, Jazz
Three: Celtics, Bobcats, Mavs, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Thunder, Suns, Blazers, Spurs, Kings, Raptors, Wizards
Four: Nets, Bulls, Cavs, Lakers, Heat, Wolves, Bucks, Hornets, Knicks, Sixers
DAY OF WEEK NOTES FOR WEEK 23 (April 8-April 14)
Monday: Zero games (due to NCAA title game)
Tuesday: Ten games
Wednesday: Ten games
Thursday: Two games (Knicks, Bulls, Thunder, Warriors)
Friday: Fourteen games
Saturday: Four games (Celtics, Magic, Bucks, Bobcats, Suns, Wolves, Clippers, Grizzlies)
Sunday: Eight games
TEAM-BY-TEAM INJURY NOTES
The Hawks are only 1.5 games up on the Celtics for the sixth seed in the East, but they don’t appear to care what seed they end up as. Therefore, Josh Smith (knee/precaution), Al Horford (hamstring/precaution), Kyle Korver (rest) and Devin Harris (toe) all sat out on Saturday. I suspect the first three will play on Wednesday, but we can’t say that for sure and owners should note that Atlanta plays just twice this week.
Kevin Garnett (ankle) made his return to the lineup Sunday, posting a solid 12/6/3 line with two steals and a block in 23 minutes. He’s certainly healthy, but the Celtics have a back-to-back on Friday/Saturday. He’s a candidate to sit out one of the games, along with Paul Pierce. That means we can count on much better days from Jeff Green, who flopped on Sunday (eight points, three rebounds, zero assists) as the starter next to KG.
Joe Johnson has scuffled in his return to the lineup, going 9-for-27 (33.3 percent) over the last two games. Better days are ahead as the Nets try to stay ahead of the Bulls for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. … Gerald Wallace is healthy as well, but just isn’t a part of the offense. He’s averaging a painful 3.0 points and 2.2 rebounds over his last four games despite playing 30.2 minutes per night. He’s over the hill at age 31. … Reggie Evans just doesn’t stop. He’s getting 8.2 points, 16.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals over his last five games.
I’ve talked plenty about how injuries have derailed a potential breakout season from Byron Mullens. His latest ailment is a bruised left elbow, sustained against the Nets on Saturday. Josh McRoberts has played 37 or more minutes in five straight games. … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t hurt, but the Bobcats strangely aren’t committed to getting him much-needed burn. He’s played 18 or fewer minutes in two of the last three games.
Following an eight-game absence that crippled owners, Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) finally returned to action on Sunday (13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, 21 minutes). He’ll be on a strict leash as his injury is one that gets worse with wear, so he’s no lock to play in the back-to-back coming up on Thursday/Friday. I’d pencil Noah in for three games. … Meanwhile, Luol Deng has a mildly sore right hip, so he sat out Sunday as a precaution. He’s questionable for Tuesday. … Even though Marco Belinelli (abdominal) returned, Jimmy Butler stuck in the starting five. He remains a very strong option. … There’s no new news on Derrick Rose (knee). I’d be surprised if he played this year.
The Cavs appear very comfortable with Kyrie Irving’s shoulder as he logged nearly 36 minutes Sunday. However, they previously said he won’t play on back-to-backs. So we’ll consider him questionable for Tuesday/Wednesday, making a four-game week a likely three-game week. … Dion Waiters (knee) appears done for the year, which locks Wayne Ellington in as the starting shooting guard. The problem is that Ellington isn’t very good. He averages 10.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 15 starts this year.
Dirk Nowitzki sat out the fourth quarter of Sunday’s near-collapse in Portland with a foot injury, but brushed it off afterward. He said he’d “definitely” play on Wednesday. … Chris Kaman is back in the starting five and playing aggressively on offense, but his minutes are subject to a thrashing at any minute. If the Mavs need offense, he plays. If they need defense, he sits.
Ty Lawson (heel) has resumed some light activity and could get back on the court at some point late in the week, but I can’t trust him. Limited minutes in anticipation of the playoffs are a lock. … With Danilo Gallinari (ACL) done for the year, the Nuggets have inserted Wilson Chandler into the starting five. I’d be thrilled to roll with either Chandler or Corey Brewer the rest of the way.
Andre Drummond has been cleared to play more minutes. The rookie logged 30 on Saturday (9 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, one steal), but then got a mere 20 on Sunday. Blame the back-to-back and lock him in if you can stomach the two-game week and free-throw shooting. … Jose Calderon can’t seem to shake this triceps strain as he’s sat out two of the last four games. Here’s an ominous quote uttered by coach Lawrence Frank Sunday: “What we’re not going to do it yo-yo him back and forth. We want to get it right before he comes back.” Rodney Stuckey is worth look.
Coach Mark Jackson has pledged not to rest his guys. On Sunday, Stephen Curry played 45, David Lee played 44 and Klay Thompson got 42. I’m still a little skeptical considering the Warriors’ place in the standings and the back-to-back looming on Thursday/Friday, but there are no injuries here.
The seventh-seeded Rockets have a three-game cushion in the playoff race. Still, Chandler Parsons (calf) wants back in the lineup after sitting out Saturday.
“I was much better [Saturday],” said Parsons, who is hoping to practice Monday. “Obviously I want to play, especially when we play like we did on [Saturday]. I think I could help the team. And it’s starting to feel better, it’s not as sore, not as tender to the touch.”
I’d be willing to roll the dice on Parsons. Owners that were shrewdly streaming Francisco Garcia in can move along as Carlos Delfino should be over his illness as well.
The Pacers mailed one in on Saturday night, losing to the Wizards by 19. With no back-to-backs this week and two home games, expect full minutes and more focus across the board.
By beating the Lakers Sunday, the Clippers clinched their first Pacific Division title in franchise history. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan rest for one leg of the back-to-back coming up on Friday/Saturday. Matt Barnes will be someone to watch if that happens.
Steve Nash (hip, hamstring) sat out Sunday, his third straight game on the sideline. Coach Mike D’Antoni hinted that Nash needs to practice before getting back in a game, so we should know more Monday. Steve Blake will be a worth a look for owners in need of 3s no matter what. … Obviously, the rest of the Lakers’ stars are going to play close to 40 minutes every night the rest of the way. They’re tied with the Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West right now.