Chris Bosh poised to finish strong
I hesitate to get excited about one performance, but Chris Bosh played Thursday night's game against the Lakers in Miami like a man who has changed his ways. He was aggressive taking the ball to the hoop off the dribble, took as many shots as LeBron James, and racked up as many rebounds (nine) as he had in the previous two games combined.
Obviously, 24 points and nine rebounds are the kind of numbers you would expect Bosh to tally on a regular basis given his skill set, but given how active he looked and the heavy fire he's been under of late, I'm tempted to believe that we're about to see a sea change out of Bosh. The Heat certainly need just that.
The other big story for the Heat (beyond Dwyane Wade's fantastic defense on Kobe Bryant down the stretch) was the re-emergence of Mike Miller, who snapped out of his slump by putting up 12 points and seven rebounds in just 16 minutes of action off the bench. In fact, overall, it was a positive change for the Heat that all four of their bench players had positive plus-minus numbers for the game (along with LeBron James). Miller, in particular, could be a major fantasy factor the rest of the way if he can find his stroke.
J.R. Smith showed once again why he belongs in fantasy lineups every night. Even on a bad shooting night (4-for-13 from the floor), in which he played only 24 minutes, he managed 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 3-pointers against the Suns. Gary Forbes got the start with Arron Afflalo out of the lineup for the Nuggets with a hamstring injury, and while it's uncertain how much time Afflalo will miss, it's clear that, as deep as the Nuggets are right now, it's probably not worth playing Forbes in fantasy. I'm not sure why some of the Knicks starters played nearly 40 minutes in a game that was out of hand almost by the end of the first quarter, but it's a good reminder that Mike D'Antoni keeps a short bench and that Toney Douglas should remain a viable fantasy player after Chauncey Billups returns to the lineup; Douglas had another 18 points and eight assists on Thursday night. Rodrigue Beaubois played more than 20 minutes for the first time in a couple of weeks for the Mavs and finished with 14 points, six assists, two 3s and a steal in 21 minutes of action. Clearly, he doesn't need much time to be fantasy-worthy, but I'd wait for another game like this before I put him in my lineup. Meanwhile, Brendan Haywood had a nice night for the Mavs with 12 points, eight boards and two blocks off the bench, but his 30 minutes were a result of foul trouble for Tyson Chandler, so it shouldn't be a recurring theme. Kobe Bryant salvaged an awful night (both in real basketball and fantasy basketball) by knocking down a couple late 3-pointers in order to keep the game close down the stretch, but those are not great shots for Kobe, and it is a concern that his March numbers through the first week and a half are significantly down from his February numbers, which were a bit down from his January numbers, too. I get chastised for bringing it up every year, but you can get great value trading away Kobe down the stretch in fantasy leagues; he's going to save himself for the playoffs and is not getting any younger.
Stephen Jackson is probable for the Bobcats' Friday night game against the Trail Blazers. I'm curious to see what his return does to Gerald Henderson's playing time, but I'd be tempted to play Henderson anyway given that he's been one of the Bobcats' better players of late. With the Celtics still plenty banged up, it's probably a good night to get Jeff Green into your lineup, especially considering all of the athletes the 76ers have at the forward spots. The way the Sixers play D, it'll be a tough night, but if Green is on your roster, this is the time to play him. The Sixers do, however, tend to give up some numbers to big guys, and Nenad Krstic has been putting up decent numbers for the C's since his arrival (13.5 points on 60 percent shooting to go along with 5.5 rebounds as a Celtic). Tyler Hansbrough has been great for the Pacers of late (he was the only bright spot in their awful loss to the Timberwolves, and is averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds in his past five games. He's still available in more than 90 percent of leagues, so he's a great pickup against the Raptors on Friday night.