Monday, April 17, 2006

Pick ‘em Today, Play ‘em Tomorrow

Remember how all season long we were telling you to stay on pace with your games played? Well, we hope you did. There are very few teams with anything left to play for as we get to the last week or two, and you see how not only do players call it quits early on, but they also call it quits early on in the games they actually play. Only a few more days left … here are some guys that might be able to put you over that proverbial hump.

Miami vs. Atlanta
The Heat have nothing left to play for and rested their stars for much of the game yesterday, even though it was an important game for the Bulls. Hey, it’s their right. It was a fantasy disaster, as Antione Walker led the team with 30 minutes and a whopping 10 guys played at least 15 minutes. That’s never good. Michael Doleac might actually be a decent option at center, as it’s hard to see Shaq playing more than 20 minutes again. If you need 3s, Jason Williams returned yesterday and will likely fire up a few. For the Hawks, Marvin Williams put up very nice numbers the past two games (20.5/8.0/2.5) but didn’t really get me any of the blocks I wanted. Oh well. Josh Childress returns tonight and should eat into some of his time and put up some solid numbers.

New Jersey vs. Philadelphia
Another game with absolutely no meaning. New Jersey will probably limit their Big Three to no more than 30 minutes, but their supporting cast is just so lame that there’s not too much help to be found. If you need to fill a game at center, Uncle Cliffy Robinson might not be a bad choice. He’s played at least 25 minutes in each of the last three and has averaged 11.0/6.0/1.0 1with a 3. Hey, it’s better than not using a game at all. Philadelphia’s a hard team to get a read on for the last couple games. After crashing out of the playoffs they have to be a dejected bunch, as well they should. If Stephen Hunter is still available he may be of a little value, but that’s it.

Milwaukee vs. Washington
Ah, a game with actual meaning. Both teams will be giving their best efforts as they try to grab the 5th seed in the East. Personally, I don’t think drawing New Jersey in the first round is as much of a death knell as people are making it out to be. Yes, they went on an incredible streak and are clearly the third best team in the conference, but you simply cannot put them in the same class as Detroit and Miami. I’d certainly like my Wiz to face Cleveland in the first round, but I won’t be too upset if they end up with the Nets. Anyway, since both of these teams are playing for real, you aren’t likely to find much help. All of Milwaukee’s starters should be long gone – maybe Jamaal Magloire is available. As for the Wizards, Brendan Haywood has had a couple of nice games with Etan Thomas out, especially in the blocks department. He’s swatted 8 in the past two games, so he could be worth snagging.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis
This game has some meaning, too. Sort of. It’s a weird situation out West. The Grizzlies currently hold a one game lead over the Clippers, but all that does is earn them a first round matchup with one of the three teams everyone thinks can win the whole thing, the Mavs. Meanwhile the Clippers are sitting in sixth with a prospective matchup against the Nuggets. So both teams might actually be playing to lose tonight. We’ll see. Jake Tsakalidis has been getting the starts the past few games, but Lorenzen Wright has been playing more minutes, for those looking for a center. Based on past experiences, I just assume that’s a position that people are scrambling to fill at the end. The Clippers are clearly content to finish sixth, as they barely put up a fight at home against the Sonics the other night. Shaun Livingston is your man if you’re looking for assists. He only had 3 in 29 minutes last game, but he could reach double digits with that time again.

Seattle vs. Sacramento
The Sonics are playing themselves right out of a top draft pick the past month, as they have moved ahead of Boston, Houston, Golden State and Minnesota in the standings. With Robert Swift done, Johan Petro is back as the starting center and maybe he’ll get a few blocks for you. Nick Collison has had some nice games since returning from injury, but even at this point in the season he seems a bit too risky. The Kings accomplished their goal and are in the playoffs for the eighth straight year. They have an outside chance at grabbing the seventh spot, but that involves Kobe losing at home to the Hornets, so that’s not going to happen. Expect lots of people to play 20-25 minutes. Kevin Martin was great for many teams earlier on, but then he got hurt and Bonzi Wells came back and he was rendered obsolete. He’s put up some decent numbers the past couple games and could be a good plug in for last week duties.

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