February 1 Game Previews
MIA @ IND: The Heat are a somewhat disappointing 11-10 on the road; the Pacers are 17-3 at home. This is a rematch of January 8, when Indiana held Miami to 77 points and Paul George outplayed LeBron James. Assume that both teams will be fired up, and there will be slightly more defensive intensity than a ‘normal’ regular-season game. That makes it exciting to watch, but harder to predict huge fantasy lines for anyone.
LAC @ TOR: Sadly for Raptors fans, Rudy Gay won’t play until Sunday. The big trade leaves them shorthanded, with Aaron Gray likely to play big minutes at C until Jonas Valanciunas (hand) returns, and Amir Johnson starting at PF until Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is ready. For one more night, SF is a mix of Landry Fields and Alan Anderson, both of whom will take a back seat once Gay starts getting 35+ minutes every night. The Clippers are by far the better team, even with Eric Bledsoe at the point while Chris Paul (kneecap) is out. Blake Griffin and their deep, talented bench should find a way to win, even if this is closer than anticipated.
ORL @ BOS: It’s all over for the Magic, who might as well focus on their lottery position. Glen Davis (broken foot) needs surgery and if he does return this year, it will be in the last week of the season. Arron Afflalo (calf) has missed two straight games and is doubtful. Fantasy-wise, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick are still worth using, and Nikola Vucevic is always a double-double threat. Maurice Harkless will start at SF again if Afflalo can’t go, but it will take a committee to fill Big Baby’s shoes. The Celtics will be 3-0 without Rajon Rondo (knee surgery) after winning tonight; his absence will be felt more in the postseason — if they make it. Jared Sullinger (back spasms) is questionable, with Brandon Bass in line for extra minutes.
SAC @ PHI: You never know when DeMarcus Cousins will turn it on. He can dominate Spencer Hawes if in the mood, but so far on this road trip, Boogie has been disinterested. The Sixers should win no matter what, as Jrue Holiday is too good for any of the Sacramento guards. Cousins can make it close, or a rout, depending on his effort. John Salmons (flu) is expected to return and Tyreke Evans has been consistent since getting over his knee problem. I like Thaddeus Young quite a bit tonight, and Nick Young has been very good while Jason Richardson (knee) has missed the last five games.
MIL @ NYK: There are two good games in the Big Apple tonight. Milwaukee’s guard tandem of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will try to outscore Carmelo Anthony at Madison Square Garden. Veteran Tyson Chandler has the edge at center over Larry Sanders, who missed Wednesday’s game with the flu, and Amare Stoudemire is contributing off the bench, now with seven straight games in double-figures and shooting 65% during that stretch.
CHI @ BRK: When Brooklyn got thumped at home on Wednesday, Deron Williams wasn’t feeling well and Reggie Evans had foolishly insulted the Heat in the media. Tonight, assuming D-Will is sharper and Evans quieter, the Nets should be more competitive. For the Bulls, Carlos Boozer (hamstring) is questionable; Taj Gibson is a very capable replacement. Joakim Noah vs. Brook Lopez will be an interesting battle up front. It sounds like Derrick Rose (knee) will be back right after the All-Star break, if not before.