Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pick ‘em Today, Play ‘em Tomorrow

Only a few games on the schedule tomorrow, and you're running out of chance to use up those games.

Cleveland vs. New York
Anderson Varejao is a great one-category boost guy this last week. In his last four games he's averaging just under 10 boards per game, and it would be surprising to see Zydrunas Ilgauskas back in the lineup, even though Mike Brown says it might happen. The Puffy Haired One won't help you anywhere but boards, but since he qualifies at SF, if you have a game to use there, he should give you more than the norm there. If you're desperate for 3s, there's always huge 05-06 disappointment Donyell Marshall. He simply couldn't shoot this year. His PT was the same, his boards, steals and blocks were all pretty close to last year's totals. But his shooting fell from 44% to 39%, and it fell from 42% to 32% behind the arc. That’ll do it. Still, he’s always capable of hitting up to five 3s in a single game.

On principle, I refuse to recommend anyone from the Knicks.

Orlando vs. San Antonio
I'm going to give it up for the Orlando Magic. This is a team that should make the playoffs next year. OK, so that's really not saying much, but the Magic have won five in a row, with impressive victories against Dallas, Milwaukee, Detroit, Miami ... and, well, Atlanta. They solved the Steve Francis and John Weisbrod problems and have legitimate building blocks in Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, and maybe -- just maybe -- Darko. And maybe even Hedo Turkoglu. It's highly, highly unlikely he's available, but if someone dropped him when it looked like he could miss some time -- hey you never know – grab him. He hasn't been as strong the past couple of games, but it's nice to see someone toughing it out in the final weeks, even without anything on the line. Turkoglu never shot above 42% in his first five seasons so his 45% this year may not last, but he's finally looking like a legit NBA player. Not a star by any means, but a nice complementary piece.

Remember when the Spurs signed Brent Barry last year and everyone was claiming that it was the most astute signing ever and he'd be the secret weapon that would lead them to the championship? Well, the Spurs did win it all, but it certainly wasn't because of Barry, who had the worst season of his career. That is until this year. So even though he's been the one starting in place of Manu Ginobili -- who might be back tomorrow, but we've heard that one before -- I'll suggest Michael Finley instead. Barry came through with 16/3/5 and 4 3s in 28 minutes last night, but that’s on the heels of a scoreless 30 minute performance. Finley has been the more consistent performer, as he put up 17/1/2 with 3 3s and a steal in his 28 minutes last night. Another person to consider is Bruce Bowen. He’s perennially one of those guys who always starts and gets minutes but never has fantasy value, but the last week of the season is a different best entirely. He blocked three shots, nabbed two steals and hit a 3 last night. He’s still playing his usual minutes, so he might be worth looking at.

Dallas vs. Phoenix
Blocks is probably the easiest category to make a late push in, so a forgotten man like DeSagana Diop becomes a wanted man in this final week. He has swatted 10 in his last three games, and has at least one block in 36 of his 42 starts. Marquis Daniels won't really help you in any one category but has been seeing around 25 mpg lately and is good for a bit of everything. He's one of my favorites -- put him in the right situation and he could be a real asset, sort of like Richard Jefferson. Solid percentages, won't really hurt you anywhere.

Mike D’Antoni has followed through with his pledge to reduce Steve Nash’s minutes, but it hasn’t been too drastic. He played 30 last night after getting 31 the previous night. Not as good as the 36 he’s been averaging this season, but still good enough to average 12 assists. This hasn’t really created any extra time for Eddie House, though. The shameless gunner (9.2 FGA in just 17.2 mpg) hasn’t cracked 20 minutes in his last eight games, so he’s not a realistic option, even though he is capable of hitting four 3s in 15 minutes. The musical chairs SF game saw Tim Thomas replace James Jones last night, so he might be worth grabbing for some 3s, but he’s still Tim Thomas. Remember how Jones and Raja Bell were very popular sleepers before the season started? Well things worked out rather well for one, but not the other. Bell’s consistency and good health have him just outside the top 50 on the Player Rater, while Jones is languishing at #137.


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