Finding final-day gems
Here's a twist: On this, the final day of 2012-13 NBA regular season, Gregg Popovich is apparently going with his starters.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard are all expected to be in the lineup when the San Antonio Spurs host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. These three rested when the Spurs faced the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
Obviously, you shouldn't expect Duncan, Parker or Leonard to see starter's minutes, and the same goes for any regular on any NBA team with a playoff spot secured. For instance, on Tuesday, Al Horford (shoulder) was held out against the Toronto Raptors, while Josh Smith (six points in 13 minutes) and Jeff Teague (4 points, 9 assists in 18 minutes) were limited. And looking ahead, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks has already made it known that Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will play only "very limited minutes" in their finale against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Facing this reality, here's a quick list of widely available free agents who could provide solid stats on Wednesday. To those fantasy owners who still have something to play for, best of luck.
John Henson, PF, Milwaukee Bucks: Though Larry Sanders (back) will be with the team, he's expected to sit out again when the Bucks take on the Thunder. In Sanders' absence, Henson is averaging 11.8 points, 14.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks over his past four.
Norris Cole, PG, Miami Heat: With Mario Chalmers joining LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the sidelines, Cole started and posted a huge line -- 16 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 3-pointers -- in 43 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. Expect Cole to see ample playing time again in the finale against the Orlando Magic.
Markieff Morris, PF, Phoenix Suns: Morris had an absurd 20-point, 6-block and 5-steal line against the Houston Rockets on Monday, and has made multiple 3-pointers in five straight. He should be a good play against a Denver Nuggets team that won't have Kenneth Faried (ankle).
Chris Copeland, SF, New York Knicks: Copeland had 32 points and four treys against the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday as the Knicks rested their starters. While it's not clear how the team will approach its finale against the Hawks, Carmelo Anthony (shoulder) shouldn't play much, if at all.
Kris Humphries, PF, and Andray Blatche, PF/C, Brooklyn Nets: Starting in place of rested regulars Reggie Evans (shoulder) and Brook Lopez, Humphries and Blatche tallied 20 points apiece against the Wizards on Monday. Evans and Lopez -- along with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson -- seem likely to sit again Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons.
Trevor Booker, PF, and Kevin Seraphin, PF/C, Washington Wizards: With Nene (knee, foot) out and Emeka Okafor (ankle) limited Monday against the Brooklyn Nets, Booker (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Seraphin (17 points, 7 rebounds) anchored the front line. The matchup against the Chicago Bulls should be favorable, since the playoff-bound Bulls will give only scant minutes to the just-returned Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
Josh McRoberts, PF/C, and Bismack Biyombo, PF/C, Charlotte Bobcats: McRoberts is averaging 15.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists over his past three games. Biyombo is averaging 8.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks over his past five. The Bobcats host the Cavs, who have been dominated by bigs all season.