Blowouts mean lackluster night in fantasy

November, 21, 2008
When one team destroys another, it is generally bad for fantasy. Stars don't get their usual heavy minutes and coaches lean on the bench for extended garbage time. Thursday night, there were only two games, and sadly, these games were not close. We're talking garbage time galore. Not one player on the Celtics even cracked the 30-minute barrier. The high scorer for the night was Kobe Bryant with 24, but that came on a woeful 8-for-23 effort from the floor.

Lamar Odom, Lakers: 13 points, 9 rebounds and 6-of-11 shooting at Phoenix.
Rajon Rondo, Celtics: 18 points, 8 assists, 3 steals and 7-of-11 shooting against the Pistons.
Allen Iverson, Pistons: 5-for-13 on field goals and as many turnovers as assists (4) versus Boston.
Paul Pierce, Celtics: 9 points on 2-of-9 shooting against the Pistons.

Only two games in a night, however, means that some of us were starting players we would normally have stashed on our bench or off our roster completely. If you started the Pistons' Jason Maxiell, for instance, you didn't get a great performance, but you accumulated 10 points, six rebounds, one steal, one block and a 5-for-9 performance from the floor. For the Celtics, Eddie House hit three 3-pointers and had a steal, and Tony Allen had a stellar all-around performance with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 6-for-7 shooting from the floor. The Lakers' Vladimir Radmanovic hit five treys and had two steals. Boris Diaw had 10 points, six boards and four assists for the Suns.

In all of these cases, the fact that the games were blowouts played to our advantage as fantasy owners. Most nights, we get the expected contributions from our stars and not much else. Blowouts are important. They give us a chance to see who steps up when all the scrubs are on the floor. Does it mean anything today that Tony Allen was the clear go-to guy for the Celtics when the starters came out of the game? Probably not. Most nights, you probably can't afford to start Tony Allen in fantasy. But Thursday night, we learned that he is willing to try to dunk on Rasheed Wallace, is capable of Dwyane Wade-type production in the defensive categories, and is the Celtics player most likely to be fantasy relevant off the bench. This is important knowledge for the future, just as it is important to know that Pistons head coach Michael Curry doesn't trust Amir Johnson to play any minutes at all unless garbage time has already commenced. Blowouts give us a chance, at least, to see an entire roster in action, which allows us to better draw our own conclusions about who we should be paying attention to somewhere down the line.

Under the Boards

We've covered most of the important stuff already, but it bears mentioning that until a run late in the fourth quarter when the game was already in hand, the Pistons were unable to get anything going offensively against the Celtics. As far as I'm concerned, we're right where we were last season with regard to the Celtics' defense. Against Boston, sit anyone you don't really need to play. … As for that old, vaunted Pistons D, well, it's not there anymore. Yeah, Rasheed Wallace is great in the paint and Tayshaun Prince is great on the perimeter, but they still haven't quite learned to recover when Allen Iverson gambles in the passing lanes, and it looked to me like the Celtics were getting whatever looks they wanted most of the night. The Pistons' one-on-one defense looked OK, but when the C's started moving the ball around, the whole defense collapsed. You don't have to worry about sitting players against the Pistons at the moment. … This Lakers team is the most confusing fantasy team I've seen in years. They continue blowing people out, which means the individual numbers tend to be tough to predict. Pau Gasol, for instance, had just four points in a team-high 34 minutes, but chipped in 9 rebounds and 9 assists. All in all, a pretty valuable fantasy performance, even considering the dearth of scoring and the terrible 2-of-8 showing from the floor. Next time out, he could have 30 and 15 and I wouldn't be surprised at all. For the time being, I think you need to just play the matchups; Phoenix has more size now with Shaq, so it makes sense that Gasol would be using a lot of his possessions kicking it out of the post. … Speaking of Shaq, if you are in a league that counts turnovers, he is presenting you with a huge dilemma. Do you deal with the terrible negatives in turnovers and free-throw shooting because he's giving you so much in points and rebounds? For now, I think he's worth playing, but I'm ready to cut him loose as soon as I get a sign that he's not being as productive as he seems at the moment.



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