Tyler Hansbrough coming on strong
There's a big fantasy story brewing with the recent performances of Tyler Hansbrough for the Indiana Pacers, and we'll get to that in a moment, but I'd be remiss if I didn't devote a few words to Kevin Love's remarkable double-double streak which ended on Sunday night in Oakland.
After 53 straight games, Love failed to post the sacred combination of at least 10 points and 10 rebounds, and while it's a little shocking that it happened against a Warriors squad that routinely gets shredded by power forwards, I want to give some perspective to how impressive Love has been this season. The streak may be over, but Love is still providing the most potent combination of scoring and rebounding since Moses Malone in the early '80s.
With that out of the way, we can focus on Hansbrough. After torching the Knicks for 29 points on Sunday in a game that will probably put him on the map for good, he's now averaging 22.6 points and 8.2 rebounds in his past five games. Just as impressive, his aggressive play and good hands have allowed him to rack up eight steals during that stretch as well. He's been getting to the line a lot, too, which is great since he's making 81 percent of his free throws this season.
Considering the Pacers tried (and failed) to trade away Josh McRoberts at the deadline, it looks like Hansbrough has the power forward gig all to himself for the time being, and it's possible their win in New York is the beginning of a nice run for what is starting to look like a potent front line combination of Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert (five blocks against the Knicks). Amazingly, Hansbrough's still available in most leagues, so you'll want to pick him up while you still can.
The Celtics held the Bucks to 56 points on Sunday; their defense was so good that only one Milwaukee player reached double figures: Earl Barron, who had all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided. I suppose this just serves as a reminder to anyone who thought the C's defense would be softer without Kendrick Perkins. Nenad Krstic followed up his 15-rebound performance on Friday night with 14 more on Sunday. He's now averaging 15.0 points and 9.4 rebounds on 61 percent shooting in his past five games, and actually belongs in fantasy lineups until something changes. Tyrus Thomas hasn't looked great since returning to action for the Bobcats, but his three blocks in Sunday's win against the Raptors are a good reason to get him back into your lineup if that's a category in which you're desperate. If you need 3-pointers, by the way, you may want to peek at the Raptors' Leandro Barbosa; he's been unworthy of fantasy consideration all season, but he's averaging 18.3 points, 2.0 3s and 1.0 steals in his past four games.
When the Heat faced the Spurs a little more than a week ago, it marked a nadir in the Heat's season, as they were entirely handled by the Spurs and lost by 30. In particular, I think the Heat could be susceptible to a player like DeJuan Blair, who had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the previous meeting. On the Heat side, though, I'd expect a big game out of Chris Bosh, who had 14 rebounds last time and has been playing better of late. J.R. Smith, as I've said many times, should always be in your lineup, but considering Arron Afflalo is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Hornets, Smith should definitely be in your lineup, even if you're not as bullish on him as I am. Al Jefferson followed up his atrocious performance for the Jazz against the Timberwolves on Friday night with 33 points and 18 rebounds in a loss to the Bulls on Saturday, so you can go ahead and expect his usual big numbers in the matchup with the 76ers on Monday night, even if Philly's been playing great defense of late.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.