Matchups for Thursday, Jan. 31
All times are ET.
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.
Start 'em, sit 'em
Thursday's four games feature three of the NBA's most dominant defenses, so fantasy stats may be somewhat suppressed. The Cavaliers–SuperSonics matchup figures to be the most highest scoring. With Anderson Varejao out, Drew Gooden is due to bounce back, despite missing all seven field-goal attempts his past two games. Daniel Gibson should connect from beyond the arc against the SuperSonics, who allow over seven made 3-pointers per game. For Seattle, only Kevin Durant is a lineup lock, since eight SuperSonics average between 20 and 28 minutes per game, but Earl Watson is worth a start after averaging 9.4 points, 6.4 assists and 1.6 steals his past five games. The Lakers have struggled since Andrew Bynum went down, and it's hard to recommend anyone other than Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom against a Pistons team that allows only 90 points per game and is 15-4 at home. For Detroit, expect Antonio McDyess and Rasheed Wallace to control the glass and Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton to drive the lane without Bynum to defend the paint. The Celtics didn't miss Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen against the Heat on Tuesday, but Dallas is a different story. Rajon Rondo has been on a roll, with 14.0 points and 3.2 steals his past five games, but only 3.6 assists in that span. For the Mavericks, saddle up Jason Terry with Devin Harris out. Terry is averaging 16.0 points and 2.0 3s in his past four games. The Suns-Spurs game should be a classic clash of offense versus defense. Grant Hill is back in the lineup but might not yet be 100 percent, so expect a few more good games from Boris Diaw, but slightly less production from most Suns.
Larry Hughes will get steady minutes with Sasha Pavlovic out six to eight weeks. Hughes is a good source of steals (1.66 per game) and is shooting an amazing 87 percent from the foul line this season. He has scored 25 and 16 points in consecutive games, but his Achilles' heel is his .349 field goal percentage. Jacque Vaughn could be worth a look at point guard if Tony Parker is out for any length of time. Vaughn's stats project to 12.6 points and 7.3 assists per 48 minutes, although he doesn't get many steals or 3s for a point guard. Chris Wilcox has started three consecutive games for Seattle and is taking time away from Nick Collison. Wilcox is Seattle's third leading scorer at 12.5 points per game, but averages fewer than seven rebounds and 0.6 blocks, which limits his upside. If Garnett and Allen miss another game, the Celtics have several spare parts that might be worth a spot start on Thursday. Leon Powe (a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds), Tony Allen and Eddie House all scored 20 or more points on Tuesday against the Heat. The Spurs' Ime Udoka had averaged 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.2 3s in his five games prior to Tuesday's scoreless effort versus Seattle. Jordan Farmar has made the most of his minutes lately, averaging 12.2 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 3s in 24.5 minutes in his past six games.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.