December 28 Games
PHO @ IND: That snowed-out game on Wednesday has given the Pacers a five-day rest, and Phoenix isn’t a great road team. You do the math. Make sure to start David West, George Hill and Paul George, with Roy Hibbert also a possibility against Marcin Gortat in a matchup of frustrating, underachieving centers owned by me.
ORL @ WAS: It turns out that Jordan Crawford came off the bench last game because he was late for shootaround, not to restore his former role as sixth man. New PG Shelvin Mack is still worth watching. The return of Nene to the starting five has helped Emeka Okafor string together two double-doubles. Orlando hasn’t won since Glen Davis (shoulder) got hurt, but they may be getting Hedo Turkoglu (hand) back. This ‘meaningless’ game could feature some good fantasy lines; Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic are the best plays on the Magic.
ATL @ CLE: We don’t know for sure about Anderson Varejao (knee bruise), but he was rumored to return on Wednesday and might be ready tonight. That would be a big boost for the starting five and the second unit, as Tyler Zeller returns to the bench. Kyrie Irving is even more amazing when Andy is dominating the paint. For Atlanta, look for multi-category stud Josh Smith to stay hot. Louis Williams has been starting at SG for two games and playing well enough to make the change permanent.
CHA @ BRK: Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo takes over a mess, but the firing of Avery Johnson may be just the thing for Deron Williams, whose sore wrist coincided with severe unhappiness. Also expected to return from ‘injury’ (or the doghouse) is Kris Humphries. If the Nets are in a better mood now that the Little General is gone, they might even run up the score against the hapless Bobcats, losers of 16 consecutive games.
MIA @ DET: With Dwyane Wade suspended for an ill-advised crotch kick, and Ray Allen nursing a sore shoulder, LeBron James and Chris Bosh will take on the Pistons. I like Mario Chalmers to hit a few more threes, and Shane Battier to play big minutes. Rodney Stuckey (ankle) is questionable for Detroit; Will Bynum is the spot play if he can’t go.
TOR @ NOH: Any day now (we’re guessing tomorrow) Eric Gordon will suit up and the Hornets will become much better. Greivis Vasquez and Robin Lopez have been very good, win or lose. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry comes back from a triceps injury in a new role — Jose Calderon will continue to start. However, once Lowry proves he’s healthy, we’ll often see a small lineup featuring both.