Monday, April 18, 2005

Weekend Review

It was almost all good news for fantasy basketball players this weekend, as only one team really fell out of contention – the Timberwolves – and only 3 others – the Grizzlies, Sonics and Nuggets – graduated to the "nothing left to play for ‘till the playoffs" stage of the season. That said, now that the weekend is over, there are only 8 teams left WITH anything to play for over the next 3 days, fighting either for a playoff spot, or a better playoff spot. Obviously, if you’ve got any players on these teams (Chicago, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New Jersey, Houston, Sacramento, or Denver), you can almost definitely count on them performing near peak levels until they have no more reason to. Meanwhile, players on the other 22 teams in the league are going to have more unreliable finishes.

There was no better proof of this than in the Indiana-Miami game on Sunday, which saw the return of Jermaine O’Neal to the Pacers, coming back from a sprained shoulder and trying (in vain) to lead his squad over the Miami Heat. The Heat, meanwhile, with nothing to play for until the playoffs, lost Shaq midway through the game after hurting his right thigh. Shaq, who is notorious for sitting out when he can afford to, might have returned to the game had this been a meaningful game for his team. But with nothing to play for, he sat out the second half and now might sit out the final two games of the season, to the chagrin of his owners. But they can’t be too unhappy with the big fella – he did play in 73 games this year, his best total since 2000. (Minor aside on Shaq - he has shot the worst FT% of his career, just 46.1%, but also put up the highest FG% of his career, 60.1%. Just thought that was interesting.)

So the lesson here is, if you’re looking to pick up players for the final 2 games of the year, if you’re in between a guy on one of the 8 remaining "have something to play for" teams, or a guy who isn’t, go for the guy with more riding on these last two games. He’ll give the effort you need from him.

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