Matchups for Thursday, Jan. 24
All times are ET. Statistics from 2007-08 regular season.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Jermaine O'Neal, PF/C, Pacers (knee)
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Of Thursday's three games, the Nets-Warriors matchup offers the greatest fantasy potential. The Nets have given up 111, 120, 116 and 128 points in their past four games, and the Warriors average 109 points and a league-high 107 points allowed on the season. For Golden State, run with Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis (23 or more points in four of his past seven games) and Al Harrington (averaging 3.2 3-pointers his past five games). For New Jersey, stick with regulars Richard Jefferson (if his hip is OK), Vince Carter and Jason Kidd (season averages of 8.3 rebounds, 10.5 assists and 11.4 points). In the Pacers-Bucks game, Milwaukee is in the midst of a five-game week and may tend to spread the minutes around, so only Michael Redd, Mo Williams and Andrew Bogut (21.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his past six games) are surefire starters. For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy (20.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 3-pointers in the past five games) and Danny Granger (21.4 points, 2.2 3-pointers and 1.2 blocks in that span) have been carrying the team lately. Jamaal Tinsley has had double-digit assists his past three games, but is not doing much else. The Spurs-Heat contest sounds one-sided on paper, but San Antonio hasn't been blowing out anyone lately, with only one double-digit win this month. Stick with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and hope that they play down the stretch. For the Heat, who haven't won in a month, only Dwyane Wade is a reliable scorer, but Udonis Haslem is still hitting the boards, averaging 10.0 rebounds and 9.6 points his past five games.
The Bucks have been popular pickups during their five-game week, and several players are available in most leagues. Here's how I'd rank them based on their production over the past six games: Yi Jianlian (7.8 points, 1.3 blocks); Charlie Bell (8.3 points in 28.7 minutes), Charlie Villanueva (coming off an 18- and 14-point games), Royal Ivey (8.2 points and 3.3 assists) and Bobby Simmons. In deep leagues, most of these players are worth a spot start against the Pacers, who are thin in the middle and less able to defend the paint than usual. Speaking of Indy, Jermaine O'Neal's knee injury initially opened the door for Troy Murphy, but now with Murphy also gimpy, Jeff Foster could benefit the most. Murphy has three straight double-digit rebounding games but has blocked only two shots total since November. If you need scoring (and who doesn't?), Kareem Rush has 19, 22 and 25 points and is averaging four 3-pointers his past three games. The Nets continue to get production from youngsters Josh Boone (12.4 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks five games prior to Tuesday night's 2-point, 3-rebound effort) and Sean Williams (9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks his past six games), so ride the wave while you can with Nenad Krstic expected back soon. Matt Barnes is coming off the Warriors' bench, but don't overlook his multi-category contributions: 15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals in 30.3 minutes over his past five games. Despite the Heat's struggles, Jason Williams remains a serviceable point guard (if you can tolerate his 37.9 field-goal percentage); in his past five games, he's averaging 10.2 points, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.0 3s.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com