Friday, March 25, 2005

Weekend Preview

The last weekend in March. We might not be in the "stretch run" just yet, but we’re certainly rounding the corner. We’re already seeing teams and players pack it in for the season. I mean, it can’t be a coincidence that with the Lakers falling fast, that rumors are starting to sprout claiming that Lamar Odom’s sore shoulder is going to keep him out the rest of the year. Or that Seattle, with a 10-game lead in the Northwest, might be without Rashard Lewis for a little while with a sore knee. So with that in mind, let’s look at the next team to possibly drop out of playoff contention:

New York Knicks (3.5 games out of 8th spot in East)
Games this weekend: Friday at Seattle, Saturday at Portland

The Knicks could very well provide you with a nice fantasy prospect over the last few weeks of the year. Trevor Ariza saw over 25 minutes in each of the last 2 games and responded well, averaging 10.5/8 and netting 3 steals and a block in Wednesday’s blowout win against the Celtics. Now, he may have gotten those minutes due to Kurt Thomas’s infected elbow, but if the Knicks end up 5 or more games out of the race after this weekend, we can only hope Isiah Thomas decides to play the youngster a little more often. They do have a fairly light April schedule in front of them, though, which may unfortunately keep their hopes up. On top of that, it’s not like these players are going anywhere anytime soon, so they may as well try to learn to play together. Nonetheless, we here at FBB would like to see Ariza get some consistent minutes.

Game of the Week(end)

Minnesota Timberwolves at New Jersey Nets, Saturday, 1pm

Here are two other teams that are currently on the outside looking in right now in the playoff race. Neither has particularly good chances of getting in, but they’re both definitely still in the race. The Wolves are currently closer to falling out for good, though, and that has to scare the pants off of KG owners. He’s been dealing with a sore knee for a couple months, and despite playing like a maniac in March, his team still isn’t any closer to the streaking Nuggets. I’d be particularly worried about the Wolves shutting him down in early April if things don’t improve. KG owners might want to look into grabbing the consistently inconsistent Eddie Griffin as insurance.

The Nets just keep on hanging around in the East, and after having their 5-game win streak broken by Memphis last night, they’re still just 2 games behind Philadelphia. Savvy fantasy owners with a spot on their IL will be considering picking up Richard Jefferson if he’s available. Jefferson promised to be back for the playoffs, and maybe sooner. If the Nets find themselves in a must-win situation in their last few games, Jefferson might find himself on the court for a couple games at the end of the year.

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