Playoffs? Unlike Jim Mora, there’s no question it’s playoff time. With the season almost over, tough decisions and moves need to be made. A guy that helped you during the regular season may not be helpful now. You’re trying to win a championship and there are only so many weeks left in the season to accomplish that. Hopefully your team is healthy, but if not, here’s an update on the latest injuries:
Dwight Howard returned for the Houston Rockets, after missing 26 games with swelling in his right knee. In 16 minutes as a starter, Howard recorded 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block. Howard only played 16 minutes because of a minutes’ restriction, rather than because of foul trouble (he had 4 fouls in the game).
This is definitely good news for the Rockets and fantasy owners’ playoff runs. Each game, Howard should see his minutes rise, but it probably won’t be another week or so until he’s back to playing full minutes. Even then, he may sit a game or two if he feels any discomfort or the Rockets decide to rest him for the playoffs. This is pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn’t surprise me, since Howard has been limited to 33 games this season. The Rockets want to be careful with him.
Howard’s absence in the lineup has given Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, and Josh Smith added value. As long as Howard is able to play, each guy will lose value, though Howard’s return hurts Motiejunas and Smith more.
The most productive of the three, Jones, is currently out with a collapsed lung. He was expected to miss only three games, but will also miss Friday’s game, his fourth in a row. Motiejunas is also listed as questionable for Friday’s game with back soreness. He’s played 37+ minutes in four straight so could probably use some rest. If DoMo sits, Smith should have a huge night.
Once everyone gets healthy, I like the Rockets’ bigs in this order: Howard, Jones, Smith, and Motiejunas. Howard and Jones should start, with Smith and DoMo coming off the bench.
While Howard is back, Patrick Beverley is headed for the bench after tearing ligaments in his wrist. He’s going to see a specialist in the next 7-10 days to determine if he’ll need season-ending wrist surgery. More should be known next week, but the news isn’t good. Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni will handle the point, but neither AARP member is recommended for fantasy.
Kyle Lowry returned for Tuesday’s game, only to leave early with back spasms. The Raptors reported that Lowry will have more tests on his back, but no timetable for his return has been given. Greivis Vasquez (13% owned) looks like a strong add for Beverley and Lowry owners.
Bradley Beal exited Wednesday’s game with a right ankle sprain. The injury happened in the first quarter and Beal was unable to return. Fortunately, he walked under his own power to the locker room. Beal was held out of practice on Thursday and Randy Wittman said he’ll be re-evaualted on Friday, when a decision on his playing status for Friday’s game should be made.
After missing six of the last seven games, Ricky Rubio is doubtful to play on Friday with a sprained ankle. The T’Wolves are clearly eliminated from the playoffs so they have no incentive to rush him back and could very likely shut him down. Rubio is a great fantasy player when he plays, but it’s playoff time so I have no problem if you want to cut him loose.
Zach LaVine will continue to start for as long as Rubio is out. He’s been on an absolute tear, averaging 16.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.8 apg and 1.6 3PT FGM in the last five games. Owned in 21% of Yahoo leagues, LaVine is great add for playoff teams.
Rubio isn’t the only T’Wolf that has an ankle injury. Oft-injured big man Nikola Pekovic has missed 8 straight games with the ankle injury and has been ruled out for Friday’s game. Gorgui Dieng has been starting in Pek’s place. In the last five games, Dieng has averaged 12.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.8 bpg and 1.4 spg. Drop Pek and see if Dieng (79% owned) is somehow available in your league.
Anthony Davis was able to return to the court, after hurting his shoulder in Wednesday’s game. The good news is that he was able to return to the game. Davis has had problems with his shoulder this season so hopefully this isn’t anything major.
Greg Monroe was held out of practice on Thursday with knee pain, making his chances of playing Friday low. He’ll be reevaluated on Friday. The Pistons are still only four games out of the 8th spot in the East (yes, the East is that bad) so there hasn’t been any talk of shutting him down. Hold onto Monroe for the time being, but Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson should benefit with the added touches while Monroe sits.
Waiver wire pickup of the year, Hassan Whiteside, needed 10 stitches to repair a cut on his hand. However, the Heat have not issued an update on when Whiteside will be back. He’s day-to-day for now, with Chris Andersen likely to start on Friday, if his calf injury has healed. Owners looking for a waiver wire big man should look at Zaza Pachulia (40% owned).
Sharp shooting forward Klay Thompson returned for the Warriors on Monday night in their blowout game against the Wizards. Thompson should be fine going forward, but beware that Steve Kerr may rest his starters now that the Warriors have wrapped up the Pacific Division.
Jimmy Butler also returned to the lineup on Monday. He picked up right where he left off, posting 19/9/1 and 23/5/3 in two games this week. Butler’s return will hurt Nikola Mirotic and Aaron Brooks a little on offense, but I think that Mirotic and Brooks will still have some value as back end players in fantasy lineups. It’s a small sample size, but Mirotic averaged 21.5 ppg and 5 rpg, while Brooks averaged 14.5 ppg and 7.5 apg with Butler back in the lineup this week.
Although rusty, Isaiah Thomas returned to the court for the Celtics on Wednesday. He shot 2-7, with four points and 3 turnovers. After missing eight games, this was to be expected, but Thomas should be fine going forward.
Thaddeus Young will miss Friday’s game with a right knee strain. He collided with Gerald Henderson in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game and did not return. He’s doubtful to play on Sunday, but is considered day-to-day for now.
Coach Doc Rivers said that Jamal Crawford is “nowhere near playing.” He hasn’t been ruled out for the season, but that quote doesn’t sound good. He’s been out since March 4 with a bruised calf and hasn’t resumed running yet. Crawford is a safe drop, until more is known.
Brandon Knight hopes to return to the lineup on Friday. He’s missed seven straight games, but was a late scratch on Wednesday and ran sprints on Thursday.