Matchups for Friday, April 4
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
Wednesday marked the unexpected early return from injuries for Gilbert Arenas, Elton Brand, Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki, who should all be activated immediately. Friday's 11 games include some high-octane matchups that should be ripe with fantasy goodness. The Warriors both score (110.5) and allow (108.3) the most points per game in the NBA, and the Grizzlies (100.2 and 106.3, respectively) allow a league worst 47.9 opponents' field goal percentage. Therefore, expect big games from Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson and Monta Ellis, and consider Al Harrington and Andris Biedrins as bounce-back candidates. For the Grizzlies, go with Rudy Gay, Mike Miller and Hakim Warrick. The Pacers and Bucks offer a similar smorgasbord of stats, as both have up-tempo offenses with sieve-like defenses. Andrew Bogut has scored 20 or more points in his past three games. For Indiana, consider Troy Murphy (he averaged a season-best 16.2 points and 9.0 rebounds in March) and Jermaine O'Neal (nine and 12 points in limited minutes since his recent activation). The Timberwolves-Suns game could get one-sided early, but with Phoenix battling for playoff position, don't expect them to take their foot off the accelerator. Shaquille O'Neal's diesel engine is once again revved up, as he is averaging 16.4 points and 10.4 rebounds while shooting 62.0 percent from the field in his past five games, and Leandro Barbosa (27 points Tuesday) could get more play if Grant Hill remains out. Other mismatches include the Hornets versus the Knicks (Tyson Chandler is coming off a perfect 10-for-10 from the field in Wednesday's win against Miami), and the Rockets versus the Sonics (Luis Scola is averaging 20.7 points and 11.0 rebounds in his past three games).
There are a lot of one-hit wonders at this late stage of the NBA season, but if you strike the right note, it can bring you inner harmony. Hopefully, these players will make some string music if you play them Friday. Kelenna Azubuike should fare better against the Timberwolves than he did against Dallas (twice) and San Antonio his past three games, especially if Mickael Pietrus remains out. Charlie Villanueva went off for 24 points and 12 rebounds after Yi Jianlian got hurt Wednesday, and should have similar success against the Pacers on Friday. Suns' subs Boris Diaw (12.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his past five games) and Gordan Giricek (16 points Tuesday, including four 3s) could shine in a high-scoring game against the Timberwolves. Minnesota's Marko Jaric is a decent source of assists (5.8) and steals (2.2) while playing steady minutes (39.2) in his past five games. Javaris Crittenton (career-high 23 points) and Mike Conley (18 points in 20 minutes) abused the Knicks in the Grizzlies' 130-114 win Wednesday, and both are possibilities against the Warriors. Rodney Stuckey scored a career-high 27 points Tuesday as the Pistons rested Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, which could become a trend as Detroit appears to be locked in to the second seed. Stuckey could be worth a look against the Nets, who allowed opponents to score 114.5 points in their past four games.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.