Matchups for Friday, Dec. 21
All times Eastern. 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 a team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Josh Childress, SG/SF, Hawks (groin)
Stephon Marbury, PG, Knicks (personal)
Tracy McGrady, SG/SF, Rockets (knee)
Jamaal Tinsley, PG, Pacers (thigh)
Antoine Walker, SF, Timberwolves (ankle)
Ben Wallace, C, Bulls (foot)
Delonte West, PG/SG, SuperSonics (foot)
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
The Knicks (.485 opponents' field goal percentage) should be generous to the host Bobcats (.468 opponents' field goal percentage) as two of the softer defenses face off. In addition to regulars Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor, Jason Richardson and Raymond Felton, start Nazr Mohammed, featured below in the "Waiver-Wire Pickups" as the next big Cat-egory catch. Jamal Crawford (22.6 points, 5.0 assists, 2.6 3-pointers and 1.8 steals his past five games) and Zach Randolph have been carrying the Knicks' offense lately, but consider giving a spot start to Quentin Richardson and David Lee. Another game oozing with fantasy potential is the Pacers-Timberwolves matchup, the only Friday game in which both teams allow more than 100 points per game. In addition to Al Jefferson, consider Craig Smith, Rashad McCants, Corey Brewer and Sebastian Telfair for this shootout. For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger and Jermaine O'Neal are due for big games. If you seek rebounds, consider Pistons big men Antonio McDyess (three straight double-digit rebound games), Rasheed Wallace (a season-high 13 boards versus Boston on Wednesday) and even Jason Maxiell, since Detroit will enjoy a favorable rebound differential against the Grizzlies, especially if Pau Gasol remains out. Don't hesitate to get LaMarcus Aldridge back into your lineup, since he scored 15 points in 37 minutes in his return Wednesday. The red-hot Trail Blazers should light up the Nuggets, who allow 102.6 points per game.
To paraphrase an old saying: If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, let Mohammed go to Charlotte, where he could become a mountain in the middle. Or something to that effect. Nazr Mohammed has found new life as the Bobcats' starting center, exploding for 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 38 minutes Wednesday. He won't do this every night, but he definitely is worth a shot at center. Tyrus Thomas has redoubled his efforts lately, including back-to-back 23-minute, six-rebound, three-block, double-digit point games. If Ben Wallace misses any significant time with bone spurs in his foot, Thomas could be a big beneficiary. David Lee is coming off a 22-point, 11-rebound, 38-minute game Wednesday. Lee shoots well from the field (52 percent) and the line (83 percent) and could steal time from Eddy Curry. Quentin Richardson (30-plus minutes his past three games while Stephon Marbury remains out) could be a decent source of 3s and rebounds if his shooting percentages don't kill you. Rashad McCants still is owned in fewer than half of ESPN leagues, but after averaging 17.2 points, 3.2 3-pointers and 1.2 steals his past five games, including a 23-point game Wednesday, he won't be available for long. Marquis Daniels scored a season-high 26 points Wednesday night and could get some extra minutes if Jamaal Tinsley remains out.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.