It’s time for a break in the NBA. With zero games taking place on Christmas Eve (Tuesday), all we can do it look back at Monday’s 11 games, as well as forward to the five matches set up for Wednesday.
Christmas Day Matchups
If you’re not a fantasy fanatic, you can probably skip the first three games of the day. But if you’re a fantasy freak, and I know you are because you’re reading this column, you’ll be dialed in from noon to 2 a.m. to catch all the action. Here’s what to look for in each game.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Christmas Day's games. It's just $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 12pm ET on Christmas Day. Here's the FanDuel link. My initial lineup is: Beno Udrih, Aaron Brooks, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Andray Blatche, Tim Duncan and Andrew Bogut.
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Bulls @ Nets
Luol Deng (Achilles) missed practice on Monday, which leaves his status for tomorrow in doubt. If he’s out, look for Taj Gibson, Tony Snell and Mike Dunleavy to pick up the slack. Jimmy Butler (ankle) practiced on Monday and is hoping to play, which will also hinder the aforementioned trio. I’ve got him in my lineup. Kirk Hinrich could also return from a back injury, which would hurt the daily value of D.J. Augustin, but not kill it. If Deng is out, Gibson might be a decent play, but you can expect Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to play well for the Bulls, either way.
For the Nets, Deron Williams left Monday’s game with a sprained left ankle and didn’t return. His ankle has been a mess all year, and while the injury appeared to be behind him, it’s not. Bench him if you can, and look for Shaun Livingston to pick up the slack if he’s out on Christmas. Andray Blatche had just 11 points and seven boards on Monday, but remains a nearly must-start player with Brook Lopez out for the year. Paul Pierce cooled off in a big way (and ruined me in FanDuel) by getting ejected for clotheslining George Hill on Monday. He missed all seven of his shots and did nothing in his 15 minutes. He’ll bounce back on Christmas Day, assuming he’s not suspended. Andrei Kirilenko may play on Wednesday, but I’m not holding my breath. Mirza Teletovic, who I raved about on Twitter, played 30 minutes, but hit just 3-of-10 shots for eight points. Given the fact that he was No. 3 on the team in minutes, I’m not giving up on him just yet. Joe Johnson returned from a personal absence and had 17 points in 35 minutes.
Thunder @ Knicks
The Thunder’s usual suspects should be good to go, including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, while Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha should be decent plays in deep leagues.
For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony (19 points) is now iffy for Christmas Day with a sprained left ankle, suffered on Monday night. If he’s out, look for Andrea Bargnani to have a nice line against the Thunder. Raymond Felton, who was already dealing with a hamstring injury, felt a “pop” in his groin on Monday, and I’m guessing he’s done for the week. If you somehow rolled with Beno Udrih this week, things are looking up. Udrih had 10 points and six assists on Monday. J.R. Smith went off for 18 points, 10 rebounds and three 3-pointers on Monday, and could be in line for three more nice lines this week.
Heat @ Lakers
Dwyane Wade sat out Monday’s game for rest, but my guess is he’ll suit up for Christmas Day against the lowly Lakers. But after that, a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday could cause him to miss another game and turn his four-game week into a two-gamer. LeBron James went off for 38 points and another full stat line on Monday, and should be good again against the Lakers. Chris Andersen had 12 points, nine boards and two blocks last night, but I don’t trust him enough to use him. Ray Allen played well (19 points, four 3-pointers) in the absence of Wade, but my guess is Wade is back on Wednesday, which means Allen should struggle in that one.
The Lakers got a team-high 19 points out of Nick Young, while Jodie Meeks scored 18 with two 3-pointers. Jordan Hill played just 14 minutes and didn’t do much, but I’m going to wait until the end of the week before tossing him to the curb in most cases. Xavier Henry hit just 3-of-12 shots and a wobbly 7-of-14 free throws for 13 points and six boards, but should bounce back tomorrow, while Pau Gasol cooled off after an illness with just 10 points and four rebounds. Every guy I mentioned here is worthy of a fantasy start on Christmas Day, while Chris Kaman had just one point in 13 minutes. Bah humbug.