This is it! Most Roto leagues end tonight and many Head-to-Head playoff finals conclude, with a busy 13-game slate in the NBA and a lot of guesswork about lineups. I’ve already poured the Gatorade over my own head in one league, with an 8-1 lead, and am hoping for a final-night miracle in another. Best of luck with your teams.
CHI @ IND: The Bulls used their playoff lineup, with a little less than playoff intensity. Joakim Noah (14 PTS, 14 REB) led the starting five but it was Kyle Korver, with 20 off the bench including 4-6 from deep, who made the difference. Indiana gave four starters limited court time and rested Danny Granger, so Lance Stephenson was their unlikely leading scorer with 22.
WAS @ CLE: John Wall had 21 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds and 7 steals to lead the Wizards to their fifth straight win. Jan Vesely had 12 rebounds and could be a sleeper next season. Kyrie Irving started, but played less than ten minutes. The previously anonymous D.J. Kennedy led the Cavs with 12 points in 31 minutes off the bench.
CHA @ ORL: As expected, Ryan Anderson (24 PTS, 13 REB) was hard to stop. The Magic really needed J.J. Redick’s 31 points, especially after Glen Davis (2 PTS in 8:50) left with a sprained ankle. Returning from a four-game absence, D.J. Augustin led Charlotte with 23 points and 6 assists, but they lost a 22nd consecutive game and have a chance to make the wrong kind of history tonight.
PHI @ MIL: Even when you’re right, you can be wrong. I predicted Evan Turner (29 PTS, 13 REB, 6 AST, 2 BLK) would be the main man for Philly and “knew” Ekpe Udoh would play well. When he started and scored eight points in the first 7:35, my DraftStreet teams were looking good. When he sat out the second half with a sore knee, we began to fade off the leaderboard. Tobias Harris (15 PTS, 13 REB in his first career start) is a name to remember as a draft sleeper next year. The Bucks brought the teenager along slowly but he’s shown flashes of a fantasy-friendly game.
LAC @ NYK: Chris Paul sat with a mild groin strain, but it was Randy Foye stepping up with 28 points, when I thought Mo Williams (9) would benefit most. Blake Griffin continued his fine recent play, making 11 of 14 shots for 29 points while adding 10 rebounds, 6 assists and a couple of steals. The Knicks did just enough to win, with J.R. Smith (21 PTS, 5 AST, 2 REB, 4 STL) putting up the best numbers.
DEN @ OKC: Kevin Durant (32) and Russell Westbrook (30) played more than I thought they might, and Serge Ibaka (15 PTS, 5 REB, 4 BLK) also got 30 minutes, but Denver wanted this game more. Ty Lawson (25) led the way, Kenneth Faried chipped in 13 PTS and 10 REB and three bench players were in double figures as they moved up from eighth to seventh seed in the playoffs, with a chance at sixth this evening.
SAS @ PHO: As expected, Steve Nash made only a token appearance (8 PTS, 7 AST in 17 minutes) in his probable farewell to Phoenix. Shannon Brown (21) and Sebastian Telfair (20) kept the Suns close, but the depth of the Spurs prevailed. Anyone who guessed Patty Mills would score 27 points is better than me at this wacky time of year. Tiago Splitter added 26, in less than 20 minutes.
NJN @ TOR: The earliest of 13 games is also one of the least significant. DeMar DeRozan, ejected from his last start for throwing the ball away in frustration, will try to finish on a more positive note and James Johnson has been the best Toronto player recently. Sundiata Gaines, MarShon Brooks and former Raptor Kris Humphries are the best plays on the Nets.
DAL @ ATL: The Hawks can clinch home-court advantage in their first-round battle with Boston by winning at home tonight. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith might be rested in other circumstances, but I expect them to start, and Jeff Teague has been on a nice roll. The Mavericks can control whether they are the sixth or seventh seed in the West, but who knows if they care? I’m not expecting their veterans to play much, if at all.
ORL @ MEM: No Dwight Howard (back surgery) and no Big Baby (ankle) means big minutes for Daniel Orton tonight. Hedo Turkoglu (facial fracture) is healing faster than expected and is now day-to-day. This should be an easy win for Memphis, which can rest its key players as needed. Marreese Speights might get extra minutes and newest Grizzly Lester Hudson could surprise.
MIA @ WAS: It won’t even be an upset if the Heat start the same lineup that played in Boston. Without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — who are expected to sit again tonight — they managed just 66 points and were led by Dexter Pittman. The Wizards are loving life and should have plenty of energy. Jordan Crawford (ankle) is out, so Cartier Martin will start at SG. We have been bullish on Kevin Seraphin since before he got the starting job; he’s averaged 15.5 PTS, 7.3 REB and 1.8 BLK in April.
POR @ UTA: Neither team cares. Portland is out of the playoffs and obligated to show up, Utah finally clinched a postseason spot and can afford to rest its best players. I’d guess that Derrick Favors has a big night, and will think about Alec Burks and/or Enes Kanter. For the Blazers, J.J. Hickson and Wesley Matthews are the best guys to use, and Nolan Smith may get another chance to start as Raymond Felton has no reason to play.
DEN @ MIN: The Nuggets will be scoreboard-watching; a win tonight makes them the sixth seed if Dallas loses to Atlanta. Denver would then play the Lakers instead of the Thunder in the first round. They will probably start their regulars against the depleted Timberwolves, then play just hard enough to win. J.J. Barea and Nikola Pekovic are the only Minnesota players I’m starting, but Martell Webster and Anthony Randolph played well on Sunday if you’re desperate.
NOH @ HOU: The disappointed Rockets will be watching the playoffs on TV and going through the motions tonight. It’s hard to recommend anyone, but with Chandler Parsons (shoulder) out, maybe Chase Budinger will step up. Marcus Camby (back) will also sit, giving Patrick Patterson more minutes. Eric Gordon will not play for New Orleans, so Marco Belinelli might finish strong.
PHI @ DET: The good news is, the Sixers made the playoffs. The bad? They will be opening in either Chicago or Miami. Last night they rested Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, so you might see another big effort from Jodie Meeks (27 PTS) and extra minutes for Lavoy Allen (12 REB). The Pistons would like to close with a home victory; Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight are the safest plays and maybe Tayshaun Prince will be inspired.
CLE @ CHI: The Bulls can wrap up home-court advantage with their 50th win, and the Cavs would rather be anywhere else. Once again, Chicago is more concerned about chemistry than rest. Injuries have prevented the starting five from playing much together, so they will be out there getting in sync for at least part of the game. If forced to play someone from Cleveland, I might pick Donald Sloan or Samardo Samuels.
MIL @ BOS: That sure was an ugly win for Boston on Tuesday and you can expect more of the same. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are likely to play limited minutes but there’s still no word on Ray Allen (ankle) which means Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic might contribute again. The Bucks are missing Monta Ellis (hand) and Ersan Ilyasova (knee) so you might want to get Larry Sanders (12 PTS & 5 BLK last night) into your lineup. Hey now!
NYK @ CHA: Isn’t this exciting? A poorly-run, poorly-coached team full of mediocre players has one more chance to avoid finishing with the worst W-L record in NBA history. At home, against an opponent with nothing to play for, Gerald Henderson is actually worth starting and others like Derrick Brown and Kemba Walker could produce. The Knicks let the starters play at MSG last night but I’m expecting Steve Novak and Landry Fields to be on the floor longer this evening.
LAL @ SAC: Matt Barnes (ankle) is out and the former Ron Artest suspended, so Devin Ebanks may start at SF and get big minutes for the Lakers. Jordan Hill (14 PTS, 15 REB, 3 BLK last Sunday) is another possibility and Steve Blake might be out there more than Ramon Sessions. There’s no incentive for L.A. to play its stars, unless Kobe Bryant cares about the scoring title. I’d focus on DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson in the Kings’ home finale.
SAS @ GSW: San Antonio’s three veteran stars (and their coach) didn’t even make this trip, but they will be looking to finish on a 10-game winning streak as their reserves take on what’s left of the Warriors. I guessed wrong last night on Stephen Jackson and Danny Green; it’s impossible to predict who will take over on any given night. Charles Jenkins and Klay Thompson are the safest plays for Golden State; Jeremy Tyler is their best big man.
DraftStreet of Dreams
|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
Another o-fer last night, down $21 with only $27 left from the Week 8 bankroll, which began at $100. I’m still in the black (barely) for this whole experiment.
Made the maximum three entries in tonight’s $2 Salary Cap league (275 teams, $500 guaranteed prize pool) but there was no $5 version today and I’m reluctant to join the $11 league, the way my picks have been performing.
This “silly season” where you have no idea who will play, or for how long, has been tough for me to handicap. I’ll save a few bucks for Saturday and Sunday, when there will be leagues based on playoff games that are (I hope) more predictable.
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