Matchups for Monday, March 16
All times are ET.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between a team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Andrea Bargnani, SF/PF/C, Raptors (flu)
Nick Collison, PF/C, Thunder (groin)
Rudy Fernandez, SG, Trail Blazers (chest)
Drew Gooden, PF/C, Bulls (groin)
Kenyon Martin, PF, Nuggets (back)
Greg Oden, C, Trail Blazers (knee)
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (back)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Check Sunday's box score to see how Andrea Bargnani fares against Indiana and the flu bug he has been carrying since the middle of last week. Jose Calderon's hamstring has quieted down (for now); he has strung together three solid games in a row (totaling 42 points and 28 assists) and looks like a safe start. But I'd worry that Calderon could check out early for the season given the Raptors' slide. Raymond Felton has been closing out his season with a string of strong performances, but had to come out of Saturday's game with a sore back. He returned to finish the game, but make sure there aren't any ominous rumblings before you lock your lineup. Peja Stojakovic most likely will sit Monday night, meaning Rasual Butler will have more opportunities. Comments about Butler, who is owned in 13 percent of leagues, are normally reserved for the Waiver-Wire Pickups section, but I must make a pitch to those of you preparing for fantasy playoffs. There hasn't been a more underappreciated waiver-wire player in fantasy since All-Star Weekend. Butler is one of the few guards you can mark down (in pen) for at least two 3-pointers, a steal and a block. The point totals (nine straight games in double figures) are just gravy. Butler has outproduced countless big names during the past couple of weeks. Give him a shot. Drew Gooden (13 points, 4 rebounds) had a decent game off the bench Saturday night against the Rockets. I wouldn't plug him in just yet, but he could be a factor down the stretch as he gets comfortable (and Tim Duncan gets rested). Kevin Durant finally returned from his ankle injury Saturday night, produced 22 points and six rebounds and showed only a small amount of rust. Get him back in your lineup. Those of you who worry about your field goal percentages might want to keep an eye on Vince Carter, who has shot only 13-of-38 from the floor since knocking knees with Danilo Gallinari last week. He's too productive to pull and is fighting for a playoff spot, but he's been a field goal percentage killer the past couple of games. Kenyon Martin continues to rest his back, and Nuggets coach George Karl might be tempted to let Martin sit again on Monday given Renaldo Balkman's recent strong play.
Calderon's return to solid health probably means a dip in Anthony Parker's value, but Parker is still getting minutes and will be a source of cheap assists and 3s. Raja Bell has cracked double figures in seven straight games, his best stretch of the season. Given a steady diet of minutes, he can be a solid bench contributor to fantasy teams, especially those in need of steals and 3s. What I really like about Bell is his 44 percent clip from behind the arc; it's nice to a have a 3-point specialist who won't dent your field goal percentage. I'm not overtly thrilled about the statistical prospects of Rockets-Hornets (expect a game in the upper 80s/low 90s), but Aaron Brooks is playing well and should continue his string of double-digit point performances. With Manu Ginobili still at least a week from returning, Michael Finley should continue his turn-back-the-clock ways. It seems as if it's impossible to expect both Finley and Roger Mason to produce in the same night, and lately, it has been all Finley. He's good only for points and 3s, but when you hit 10 3s in two games, owners (and columnists) tend not to nitpick. Those of you concerned how Kevin Durant's return would impact Thabo Sefolosha's numbers (about four percent of you) can stop worrying. Sefolosha coexisted with Durant to the tune of 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. That seems a safe expectation from here on out, still making him a nice add for savvy owners. Check to see on Sunday whether Rudy Fernandez makes his return from Trevor Ariza's hard foul. When he gets back on the court, he'll be good for some 3s and steals down the stretch. Travis Outlaw notched a double-double versus the Nets on Friday night and should feast on the rebound-deficient Grizzlies. For fantasy purposes, Outlaw has been the third-best Blazer the past couple of weeks. Sean Williams has been ingratiating himself with Nets coach Lawrence Frank as of late. He could be a steady source of blocks and rebounds as the season winds down. If Kenyon Martin sits against the Nets, Renaldo Balkman should log his third straight double-double. He has put up 36 points, 25 rebounds and 3 blocks in his past two games.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.