After taking a four-day layoff due to the All-Star break, the NBA is back in full swing as we head into the final two months of the season. There are 52 games scheduled during Fantasy Week 10 (Feb. 27-March 4) and with only a few weeks left before the start of the playoffs in most Fantasy leagues it is as important as ever for owners to set the best lineup possible in order to make a final push toward the postseason.
There are only six days in the upcoming scoring period because of the break, and unlike last week, most teams are slated to play three or four games. Only two teams are scheduled to play twice this week, including the New York Knicks -- the club we have chosen to highlight.
The Knicks have been one of the most discussed teams in the league recently as a result of their improved play and key roster additions. Unfortunately, Fantasy owners won't get too many chances to see them in action this week. The Knicks will take on the Cavaliers at home Wednesday night before facing the Celtics in Boston Sunday afternoon. While New York should have no problem putting points on the board against Cleveland, Boston remains one the league's elite defensive squads, surrendering 88.5 points per game and holding opponents to just 41.8 percent from the field.
Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni has a ton of new pieces to work into his rotation over the next few weeks and while New York's light schedule should allow the team to get some much needed practice, it presents an interesting dilemma for Fantasy owners. With only two games scheduled, one bad performance could really put owners in a hole, making most of the Knicks' Fantasy options risky plays this week. While J.R Smith, Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields should all be left on the bench, even some of New York's high-end options could be worth sitting. Jeremy Lin's shaky performance against the Heat has undoubtedly raised a few concerns for Fantasy owners and even must-start options Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire have not been performing as expected of late.
With so many uncertainties surrounding the Knicks in terms of personnel and playing time, owners with other quality options on their rosters may want to think about reserving some of New York's big-time players this week. Tyson Chandler, Anthony and Stoudemire are the only three players we would recommend for this period, but not very strongly.
Atlantic: Boston Celtics (@CLE, MIL, NJ, NY): The Celtics are one of 14 teams slated to play four times during Week 10 and Boston looks to have some very favorable matchups on tap. Paul Pierce and Co. will start the week with a matchup against the Cavaliers Tuesday night, the team's lone road game of the period. Three straight home games will follow, starting Wednesday night against Milwaukee. After a day off, the Nets will be in town Friday before Boston wraps up the scoring period against the Knicks Sunday. While the Celtics looked awful in their last few contests before the All-Star break -- especially on offense --we feel their upcoming matchups this week present a great opportunity to get back on track. The Cavaliers, Bucks and Nets all rank near the bottom of the league in points allowed this season and a few days off should do wonders for an aging Celtics team that had to play three road games over four days just prior to the break. Fantasy owners should feel free to roll with Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the majority of formats this week. Even Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox could be worth using in deeper formats, assuming each is healthy.
Central: Indiana Pacers (GS, @NO): The Pacers are one of two teams slated to play twice during Week 10, joining the Knicks. Indiana will host the Warriors Wednesday night before heading to the Big Easy to face the Hornets Friday night. While playing just two games in a scoring period is never an ideal situation, the Pacers do look to have some favorable matchups on tap. Despite coach Mark Jackson's best efforts, Golden State is still one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season. The Warriors are allowing teams to shoot over 45 percent from the field, while surrendering an average of 100.7 points per game. That should bode very well for the Pacers squad, who are scoring 98 points per game this season at Conseco Field House. The Hornets aren't quite as bad as Golden State -- statistically speaking – although they have had plenty of issues on the defensive end as well. New Orleans is allowing opponents to shoot nearly 45 percent from the field and has surrendered more than 100 points to two of its last three opponents. That includes the Pacers, who dropped 117 points on coach Monty Williams' squad back on Feb. 21. However, Indiana's light schedule doesn't leave much room for error and one bad performance can really put owners in a bind. Only consider using high-end options Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert in the majority of Fantasy formats this week.
Southeast: Miami Heat (@POR, @UTA, @LAL): The Heat are slated to play three times during Week 10, although all three contests will be on the road. Miami will begin its second West Coast road trip of the season over the next six days, starting on Thursday night in Portland. The Heat will then take on the Jazz on Friday night before squaring off against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center. While two of the three teams Miami will face this week are ranked in the top 10 in points allowed this season, the Heat should still be able to light up the scoreboard. Coach Erik Spoelstra's squad is currently the highest-scoring team in the NBA, averaging 103 points per game on the road this season. Miami has scored over 100 points in seven its last eight contests and is shooting a league-best 48.8 percent from the field thus far. Not that we should have to remind owners, but just in case, make sure to leave LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh active in all formats this week. Mario Chalmers can also be left active in the majority of formats, and we would only recommend starting Udonis Haslem in deeper formats.
Pacific: Golden State Warriors (@IND, @ATL, @PHI, @TOR): The Warriors are slated to play four times during Week 10 – all on the road -- as they start their second East Coast road trip of the season. Golden State will start the week against the Pacers on Tuesday night before facing the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday. After a day off, the Warriors will draw the 76ers on Friday night before concluding north of the border against the Raptors on Sunday evening. This looks to be a brutal trip for Golden State on paper, as three of the four teams it is slated to face this week are ranked among the top ten in points allowed and opponent field-goal percentage. However, Golden State has been very efficient away from Oracle Arena, averaging 99.3 points per game, which ranks fourth overall. And while the Pacers, Hawks and 76ers are usually very tough to score on, the Warriors' main Fantasy options should be able to still get theirs. Fantasy owners should have no qualms about leaving Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee active in most formats this week. However, Dorrell Wright, Nate Robinson and Klay Thompson should only be used in deeper formats.
Southwest: San Antonio Spurs (CHI, DEN, CHA): The Spurs just wrapped up their annual rodeo-road trip, which consisted of nine straight games sprinkled over three weeks. However, the Spurs will get to enjoy some home cooking as they have three home games scheduled during Fantasy Week 10. San Antonio will face the Bulls on Wednesday night, the Nuggets on Friday and then the Bobcats on Sunday. While Chicago could pose a serious challenge, Tim Duncan and Co. should have no problem lighting up the scoreboard against Denver and Charlotte. The Nuggets and Bobcats are two of the five teams surrendering over 100 points per game this season, while Charlotte is allowing opponents to shoot 47 percent from the field. The Nuggets are allowing foes to hit 45 percent from the floor, but gave up 114 points to the Spurs at home last week. The Spurs are averaging 101.5 points per game at home and with no back-to-backs on the docket, coach Greg Popovich should let his starters play big-time minutes this week. Fantasy owners should make sure to leave Duncan and Tony Parker active in the majority of formats. DeJuan Blair should also get some run since his minutes will likely increase due to Tiago Splitter's injury.
Northwest: Minnesota Timberwolves (@LAC, @LAL, @PHO, @POR): The Timberwolves are slated to play four times during Fantasy Week 10, although they are the only team scheduled to play in a back-to-back-to-back set. However, Minnesota won't have to travel much between its first two games this week, as coach Ricky Rubio and Co. will be in Los Angeles to take on the Clippers and Lakers on Tuesday and Wednesday night, respectively. The Timberwolves will wrap up their triple set against the Suns in Phoenix on Thursday night before ending the scoring period against the Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Playing in four straight road games is never an easy task -- especially over a five day stretch – but the Timberwolves should be able to handle the challenge. With an average age of 24.74, Minnesota is the second youngest team in the league, so tired legs shouldn't be a problem. And the Timberwolves are one of the few teams to average more points on the road than at home. While we are certainly not expecting Minnesota to reel off four straight wins this week, Fantasy owners should be able to count on them scoring some points. Other than the obvious choices of Rubio and Kevin Love, make sure to leave Nikola Pekovic and Michael Beasley active. Even Luke Ridnour and Derrick Williams can be considered viable plays in deeper formats.