Matchups for Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29
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 team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Leandro Barbosa, PG/SG, Suns (knee)
Marco Belinelli, SG, Warriors (ankle)
Andris Biedrins, C, Warriors (ankle)
Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks (back)
Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers (knee)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (shin)
Bobby Jackson, PG/SG, Kings (cheek)
Stephen Jackson, SG/SF, Warriors (toe)
Carl Landry, PF, Rockets (leg)
Corey Maggette, SG/SF, Warriors (head)
Leon Powe, PF, Celtics (knee)
Wally Szczerbiak, SG/SF, Cavaliers (knee)
Ben Wallace, C, Cavaliers (leg)
Caron Butler, SG/SF, Wizards (hamstring)
Jamal Crawford, PG/SG, Warriors (conditioning)
Marquis Daniels, SG/SF, Pacers (wrist)
Richard Hamilton, SG, Pistons (groin)
Josh Howard, SF, Mavericks (ankle)
Allen Iverson, PG/SG, Pistons (back)
Troy Murphy, PF/C, Pacers (knee)
Andres Nocioni, SF/PF, Kings (quadriceps)
Luke Ridnour, PG, Bucks (back)
Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics (ankle)
Darius Songaila, PF, Wizards (neck)
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (back)
Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, Pistons (calf)
Saturday's Start 'em, sit 'em
Since a six-game funk in the beginning of March in which he averaged just seven points in 26.8 minutes, Tyrus Thomas has come back with a vengeance, scoring in double digits in five of his past six games and grabbing 11 or more rebounds in four of his past five. He's a great option for the weekend, with a matchup against the up-tempo Pacers on Saturday -- who also may be without Troy Murphy -- and then a trip to Toronto to face the defense-deficient Raptors on Sunday. Wednesday was just the first time in six games Larry Hughes had more points than shot attempts, a testament to his recent shooting and injury woes. Unfortunately, a matchup against hard-nosed Bobcats defender Raja Bell isn't what the doctor ordered, so keep him glued to your bench (or waiver wire) until he shows more life. Richard Hamilton is expected to return to the starting lineup Saturday and gets a great matchup against the Wizards, who are second-to-last in defensive efficiency, just a 10th of a point ahead of the Kings. On the bright side, Gilbert Arenas will make his season debut for the Wiz, although it's hard to imagine he'll be fantasy-worthy right off the bat. Arenas' return may effectively kill the value of Nick Young. Young has been averaging 16.0 points and 12.1 field goal attempts over his past eight games, but Arenas isn't coming back to defer to his teammates, and he can be expected to take a chunk of Young's minutes and shot attempts. With Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette confirmed out, cross your fingers and hope Jamal Crawford suits up, as he could be in line for a big game. He said he needed a couple of days to get back into shape after Don Nelson benched him for two games, which sounds weird to say the least, but it sounds like he should be ready to go Saturday as long as Nelson doesn't decide to jerk him around any more. He's a high-risk, high-reward play, as Anthony Morrow could also be in line for more playing time at shooting guard after going off for 29 points on 10-of-11 shooting Wednesday. He would, after all, fit in with Nelson's stated preference of finding more playing time for the younger players. Keep a close eye on the situation as tipoff approaches. Matt Barnes has posted some ugly lines in between some truly superb performances recently, but he has been great against the Jazz this season, averaging 18 points and seven rebounds on 55 percent shooting in three games. His most recent productive performance came against the Jazz earlier this week in fact, as he posted 21 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks Wednesday, and with a cake matchup against the Kings the following day as well, Barnes could go a long way toward salvaging his week.
Sunday's Start 'em, sit 'em
Craig Smith is expected to receive his second consecutive start, and it's hard to argue with the decision: He has scored nearly a point per minute recently, averaging 16.7 points in 22 minutes his past four games. Foul trouble will probably keep him from logging too many minutes -- foul magnet Devin Harris is expected to return in time for Sunday's game, after all -- but facing one of the league's worst defenses should ensure another high-teens scoring performance from the power forward. Russell Westbrook may be hitting the rookie wall -- or just trying to do too much -- as March is now his second consecutive month with a field-goal percentage less than 40 percent, including a woeful 23-for-71 (32.3 percent) in his past five games. Worse, he's attempting more shots than ever, averaging nearly four more field goal attempts per game since the All-Star break. He's up against the league's best defensive point guard in Rajon Rondo and the league's best defense on its home floor, so it could get worse before it gets better. Assuming Marquis Daniels is still sidelined with his sprained wrist, Brandon Rush makes an intriguing spot start in deeper leagues since he gets to face one of the NBA's most picked-on defenses. When the Spurs and the Hornets take the court, it will be a contest between two of the slowest offenses in the league, so don't expect any fantasy fireworks. You'll want to wait a couple more games to activate Manu Ginobili, who will play restricted minutes until his conditioning returns. With Bobby Jackson unavailable until next week, Beno Udrih has been picking up the slack in minutes, averaging 39 per game even as the Kings have lost their past four games by an average of 19 points. Against Steve Nash, it wouldn't be surprising to see Udrih have one of his best games of the season, making him a superb spot start considering his availability in more than 60 percent of ESPN leagues.
Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.