February 23 Game Previews
CLE @ ORL: Let’s hope the three new Magic players are available. Beno Udrih has the most fantasy value, Tobias Harris could be very useful in a 16- or 20-team league and Doron Lamb is strictly a wild card. Logically, Kyrie Irving should be able to carve up E’Twaun Moore and this won’t be close. At PF, friendly rivals Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson are both from the 905 (an area code immediately west of Toronto) and will represent Canada internationally for years to come.
HOU @ WAS: It’s a back-to-back for both teams, but the Wizards didn’t have to travel. Defense will take the night off; Houston is averaging almost 114 points in their last 13 games and Washington poured in 119 last night. If he’s cleared to play, the Rockets will unveil Thomas Robinson tonight, and their other addition Francisco Garcia could be useful off the bench.
DEN @ CHA: The Nuggets ran into a fired-up opponent last night and Charlotte got run over by the Bulls. Sometimes these situations depend on who is more resilient and determined. Other times — like tonight — it’s purely about talent, where Denver has a tremendous edge. It might not be a classic.
IND @ DET: Often in a home-and-home, the split is a logical and fair conclusion. The way the Pacers dominated last night’s game, it’s hard to see Detroit bouncing back. It wasn’t just the starters; Indiana’s second unit kept up the pressure. They should finish the sweep, though perhaps not by 32 points. We’re still waiting for Danny Granger (knee) to appear. He’ll see limited action off the bench at first, but can only make a very good team better once he’s up to speed.
MIA @ PHI: This is a very difficult season for the 76ers and their fans. Andrew Bynum has done nothing, while Jason Richardson tore up a knee. Thaddeus Young is still out with a sore hamstring. While Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner might put up decent numbers, what’s left of this team is overmatched by Miami. Given the Heat’s recent focus on defense, don’t expect this to be high-scoring.
ATL @ MIL: Will J.J. Redick be available? How will he be used? Milwaukee now has the option to go very small, which might be bad news for Mike Dunleavy and his fantasy owners. The Hawks had to be distracted by all the trade rumors, now they must play two games in as many nights. They should be loose and confident after a 122-point outburst, but the Bucks figure to be a much tougher foe.
UTA @ LAC: The Clippers were throttled by the Spurs on Thursday and it’s unlikely they will play two bad games in a row on their home floor. Surprisingly after all the trade rumors, Utah still has all its big men. Sorry, owners of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Stashing them did not pay off. Gordon Hayward looked good for the Jazz in his first start after missing ten games, but they are never quite as dangerous on the road.