HOU @ TOR: We’ll be watching for news on Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard, and for the Raptors all eyes are on Kyle Lowry’s knee injury. Locked in a fight for seeding the stage is set for him to play, but this all comes down to the severity of the injury and that we don’t know about right now. I added Greivis Vasquez in a few spots where it didn’t cost me much. Though Amir Johnson isn’t on our injury report he is banged up, and Patrick Patterson played under 10 minutes in his return the last time out. I don’t have big expectations for either of them right now.
BOS @ WAS: Avery Bradley’s Achilles’ injury doesn’t bode well at this time of year and though Rajon Rondo is supposed to return tonight, owners may want to keep an eye on Jerryd Bayless in 12-14 team leagues. Nene (knee) is traveling with the team and with 2.0-2.5 games on both sides of them as they sit in the six slot they have the slightest of cushion to play things safe with his return. If Charlotte makes up ground it might be time for Nene to return whether he’s ready or not, though Indiana at No. 2 isn’t making anybody quake in their boots right now (more on that in a bit).
CHA @ PHI: Al Jefferson is going to have a big night tonight and may be a must-start player in daily fantasy hoops. As long as the Bobcats have a shot at the No. 6 seed (two games back), then he should continue to carry the load. The Sixers have found a bit of rhythm lately against the tanking Pistons and Hawks, and I’d be comfortable starting all of the usual suspects but on a busy night only Michael Carter-Williams (in 8-cat leagues) and Thaddeus Young are must-start players.
CLE @ ORL: Cleveland doesn’t have to worry about the Hawks as much as they do the Knicks when talking about the playoffs. The Cavs are two games behind the Knicks and three behind the Hawks, and they will probably get Kyrie Irving back tonight. After losing Kyrie Irving and losing to a murderer’s row of LAC, MIA, OKC and HOU, the Jarrett Jack-Dion Waiters led team has won 4-of-5 against Eastern Conference playoff contenders. The good news is that their last seven games come against all Eastern Conference teams, with the Bobcats and Nets being the only teams playing well right now. Jack’s value gets crushed with an Irving return, while Luol Deng becomes a risky play and Waiters is a borderline starter based only on some of his recent strong lines. Spencer Hawes will see a bump in minutes with Anderson Varejao (shoulder) out and should be in most, if not all lineups. Above all, if the Cavs lose it’s going to be incumbent upon Irving to play well or face a bunch of criticism for breaking his team’s flow.
Jameer Nelson is back on the floor after time off due to his balky knee. He doesn’t sound like a guy that wants to take a seat but there is no real reason for him to be taking reps from Victor Oladipo. Arron Afflalo is slumping and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him take a game off at some point, and Moe Harkless is still clinging to life as a low-end play in 12-team leagues.
BKY @ NYK: Kevin Garnett (old) and Marcus Thornton (back) are questionable and could steal some minutes, but you’re not moving the needle much on anybody else if they can go. Tim Hardaway Jr. (ankle) is talking like he wants to play tonight and he has magic rookie limbs, but his injury didn’t look good on Monday night. Look for Amare Stoudemire (rest) to get back on the floor and into fantasy lineups, while Carmelo Anthony’s hand injury isn’t going to hold him back in a big rivalry game for both teams.
DET @ IND: If the Pacers are going to break through all of the infighting and BS plaguing their locker room, the Pistons are the perfect team to show them what they don’t want to be. And if the Pacers lose to the Pistons at home, then I might start playing wack-a-mole on the panic button I pressed on Monday. As mentioned last week I’m going to wait until the end of the season before moving off of the Pacers, simply because of how well they match up with the Heat, but they look as bad as any team in the league right now. At this point they need Roy Hibbert to simply not be a liability on the floor, and the whole lot of them needs to look in the mirror. Looking at Monday’s loss, I haven’t seen game tape that bad in a while. If they can’t recover the No. 1 seed, I’ll probably switch my pick.
MIL @ MIA: It’s weird to say but the Bucks are a much stronger fantasy team nowadays, with Brandon Knight, Ramon Sessions, Khris Middleton and Zaza Pachulia all viable plays, though Knight is the only true must-start player on a busy night. Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen did not play on Monday and one has to think that nobody from the Heat is truly safe, though they may take a more aggressive stance toward winning since they can kick Indy while they’re down. The Pacers are 33-5 at home and 19-18 on the road so the No. 1 seed takes on added importance with Indy faltering.
CHI @ ATL: The Bulls are at full strength and still have playoff seeding to play for, and at the same time Hawks GM Danny Ferry admitted that he’s not all that interested in the No. 8 seed. There is no real fantasy implication there since you’re going to roll with Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, and Paul Millsap regardless. Tonight isn’t the time to take a chance on Hawks big men Elton Brand or Pero Antic against such a good defense. Ditto for suddenly productive Lou Williams. Fire your Bulls up against the lowly Hawks.
MEM @ MIN: Courtney Lee stepped out of the abyss on Monday and if he can do it again against a lax Minny defense he’ll have some low-end appeal as an add. The Grizzlies are in a dogfight for the playoffs and that’s good news for owners of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, though the latter two may end up limping to the finish with their respective ailments. Nikola Pekovic is dancing with a shutdown due to his ankle injury, and Gorgui Dieng looks like he’ll be at least moderately productive in a bench role. I like Dieng as a must-own player given that dynamic and it’s also helpful that the Wolves have four games next week. Corey Brewer is worth owning for that same fact. The Wolves look like they’re ready to pack it in, and Kevin Love may decide it’s not worth grinding through to the end after talking about how run down he is the other day. That said, we haven’t heard any news that Love has a specific ailment.
GSW @ SA: This shapes up to be one of the best games of the night and beat writer Jeff McDonald said the other night that he didn’t think this would be the game that guys got rest. We’ll see. Gregg Popovich has half-jokingly wanted a loss to break their winning streak because he thinks it’s good for a team. Danny Green has been banged up and he’d be a good place to start for guessing who is going to get Popped, but playing that game in the first place usually doesn’t end well.
NO @ DEN: Eric Gordon’s knee is a bit of a mystery given the dearth of injury reporting in New Orleans, and if he can’t go then Anthony Morrow will be worth a look. Otherwise expect Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis to go big, assuming the latter doesn’t get held out for one reason or another. Davis got a nasty elbow from Reggie Evans on Monday and has a gimpy ankle. There’s no optimism surrounding a return for Wilson Chandler (groin), so look for the Nuggets to go small and that makes Aaron Brooks worth a look in 14-team leagues on a busy night. Timofey Mozgov might get the Davis treatment while Al-Farouq Aminu defends Kenneth Faried, but with the way Aminu has played this year it could also be the Pellies’ human punching bags at center defending him.
LAC @ PHO: The Clippers look content to finish with the three-seed in the West as Jamal Crawford (calf/Achilles), Blake Griffin (groin) and J.J. Redick (back) will all be out. Matt Barnes and Darren Collison are strong starts, though the Suns will be fired up to play at home as they are up to their eyeballs in the playoff hunt. Against a depleted Clippers squad, owners can use their Suns assets like they normally would.
LAL @ SAC: The Lakers will cruise into Sacramento and my sense is that Isaiah Thomas will play, and that would all-but ruin Ray McCallum’s value in standard formats. That said, if Rudy Gay can’t go due to his foot injury then McCallum could get enough touches in what profiles to be an offensive matchup. Gay was hobbling around on Monday and if Thomas returns, that might give Mike Malone the confidence he needs to force Gay off the floor. Cousins could struggle a little bit against the size of Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman, but Gasol’s vertigo might make him think twice about banging around against Boogie Smooth.