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What's on the Schedule: Week 9

Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy Week 9 (Feb. 20-26) will be the shortest period of the season, as games only run Monday through Thursday with the NBA's All-Star break starting at the end of the week. There are only 66 games scheduled over the next seven days with most clubs slated to play twice. However, eight teams will play three times, while the Raptors and Bobcats will play just once over during the upcoming scoring period.

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With so few games scheduled this week, Fantasy owners will have little room for error when setting their lineups. One bad game can put teams in an insurmountable hole, which is why it is important to pay a little more attention to matchups this week. Luckily for Fantasy owners, we have gone through this week's schedule with a fine-tooth comb and highlighted the teams with the most intriguing matchups. While we strongly recommend doing your own homework, the information below should give owners some insight on which teams have the best and worst matchups over the next seven days.

The team we feel has the most intriguing schedule this week is the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder is one of eight teams slated to play three times during Week 9, although it is the only team with three home games on the docket. Oklahoma City will open the scoring period on Monday night against the Hornets in its third and final matchup of the season against New Orleans. After a day off, the Thunder will close out the scoring period with a back-to-back set against the Celtics and Lakers on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

While facing the Lakers and Celtics in the same week is never an easy task -- especially with both teams ranked in the top five in points allowed -- the Thunder look more than up to the challenge. Oklahoma City has been one of the highest scoring teams this season, averaging nearly 102 points per game. The Thunder put up roughly 104 points per game at home and is shooting a league-best 51 percent from the field at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Despite the defensive prowess of the Lakers and Celtics, we expect Kevin Durant and Co. to score some points this week, so Fantasy owners should feel free to get most of Oklahoma City's Fantasy options active. Other than the obvious choices of Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, owners should be sure to get Serge Ibaka active in most leagues. Even Kendrick Perkins – if healthy -- and Nick Collison could be worth using in deeper formats.

Northwest: Minnesota Timberwolves (@DEN, UTA): The Timberwolves are one of the many teams slated to play twice during Week 9, although Minnesota looks to have some favorable matchups on the docket. Coach Rick Adelman's squad will begin the week in Denver on Monday night before returning home to take on the Jazz on Wednesday evening. While Minnesota will have played a stretch of five games over eight days when all is said and done, owners couldn't have asked for better matchups. Utah and Denver are ranked in the bottom tier in points allowed this season and both teams are allowing opponents to shoot more than 45 percent from the field. Minnesota has also been clicking on offense over the past week and is averaging 99.7 points over its last five games. All signs point to the Timberwolves playing in some high-scoring affairs over the next few days, so owners should not hesitate to use some of Minnesota's lower-end options. Besides must-start options Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, owners should make sure Nikola Pekovic and Luke Ridnour are active this week. Even the head-scratching Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams could be worth using in deeper formats.

Northwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Nuggets MIN @LAC SA
Timberwolves @DEN UTA
Thunder NO BOS LAL
Trail Blazers @LAL SA
Jazz SA @MIN

Southwest: New Orleans Hornets (@OKC, @IND, @CLE): The Hornets are slated to play three times during Week 9, including in their first and only back-to-back-to-back set of the season. All three of New Orleans contests will be played on the road, starting Monday night against the Thunder. The Hornets will take on the Pacers on Tuesday before wrapping up the first half of the season on Wednesday against Cleveland, which will conclude a grueling five-game road trip that spanned over eight days. While fatigue and depth will likely play a big factor for the Hornets this week, points could also be come to tough by. New Orleans is already averaging a league-worst 86.3 points per game on the road this season and now will have to face two of the better defensive teams. Both Indiana and Oklahoma City rank in the top five in opponent field-goal percentage, while the Hornets have scored more than 90 points just once over their last five games. However, there are still some Fantasy options worth using on the Hornets, despite their gloomy upcoming outlook. Chris Kaman has been playing well and is worth starting this week in most formats as well as Gustavo Ayon. However, owners may want to leave the consistently inconsistent Trevor Ariza reserved in most formats as well as Jarrett Jack since he is still working his way back from a knee injury.

Southwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mavericks BOS LAL
Rockets MEM PHI
Grizzlies @HOU PHI DAL
Hornets @OKC @IND @CLE
Spurs @UTA @POR @DEN

Pacific: Los Angeles Clippers (@GS, DEN): The Clippers are slated to play twice during Week 9 and look to have some favorable matchups on tap. Los Angeles will start the week on the road at Golden State on Monday night before returning home for a matchup against the Nuggets on Wednesday. While two games don't leave Fantasy owners much room for error in case of a down performance, the Clippers should be able to score some points this week. Both Denver and Golden State are allowing more than 100 points per contest and Los Angeles has put up over 100 points against each team once already this season. Despite the light schedule, Fantasy owners should have no qualms about using most of the Clippers' main Fantasy options this week. Make sure Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan are all active for the scoring period. Even Randy Foye could be worth a look in deeper leagues.

Pacific Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Warriors LAC @PHO
Clippers @GS DEN
Lakers POR @DAL @OKC
Suns WAS GS
Kings @MIA @WAS

Central: Milwaukee Bucks (ORL, @CHI): The Bucks have two games scheduled this week, although both are against two of the league's better defensive teams. Milwaukee will begin the week with its third matchup of the year against the Magic on Monday night before wrapping up the scoring period on the road at Chicago on Wednesday night. Both Orlando and Chicago are ranked in the top 10 in points allowed and opponent field-goal percentage, plus the Bucks are winless against both clubs this season. Milwaukee has also been struggling to light up the scoreboard over the past week, as the Bucks have averaged just 91 points per game over their last four contests. Playing the Magic and Bulls this week likely won't help coach Scott Skiles' club solve their offensive issues, so owners may want to try and avoid using some of Milwaukee's Fantasy options during the upcoming scoring period. Brandon Jennings' recent shooting woes make him a candidate to sit this week and Drew Gooden is dealing with wrist and knee issues, making him an injury risk. Surprisingly, Ersan Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino have been Milwaukee's two most consistent producers of late, so owners may want to consider rolling with those two this week.

Central Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Bulls ATL MIL
Cavaliers DET NO
Pistons @CLE @TOR
Pacers NO @CHA
Bucks ORL @CHI @SAC

Southeast: Charlotte Bobcats (IND): The Bobcats are one of two teams slated to play only once during Week 9, but at least their lone game is at home. However, it will be against the Pacers on Wednesday night, one of the better defensive teams in the league. Indiana is surrendering an average of 92.8 points per game and is allowing opponents to shoot just 43 percent from the field. Charlotte was held to just 77 points in its lone matchup against the Pacers this season and there is little reason to think that Charlotte won't have trouble scoring when these two clubs meet again. While the Bobcats are finally starting to get some key pieces healthy, they are still nowhere near full strength, which makes players like D.J. Augustin and Corey Maggette risky plays with only one game on the docket. Fantasy owners should try and avoid using any of the Bobcats' Fantasy options this week -- if possible. If you have no choice, Austin, Maggette and Kemba Walker are the only players we recommend for the week.

Southeast Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hawks @CHI @NY ORL
Bobcats IND
Heat SAC NY
Magic @MIL @NJ @ATL
Wizards @PHO SAC

Atlantic: Toronto Raptors (DET): The Raptors are the other team with just one game on the docket for Week 9 and just like the Bobcats, it will also be at home. Toronto will play host to the Pistons on Wednesday night in the first of three meetings between the two teams. While Detroit is not known as one of the stingier teams in the league, Fantasy owners should still try and avoid using most of the Raptors' Fantasy options where possible. Toronto has really had problems scoring points since Andrea Bargnani went down with a calf injury and receives sporadic production from most of its main options. DeMar DeRozan continues to struggle shooting the ball, while Amir Johnson and Ed Davis have been non-existent at times this season. The Raptors' most consistent producer this season has been Jose Calderon, who is the only player we feel comfortable endorsing this week. Fantasy owners should consider starting any of Toronto's other options at their own peril.

Atlantic Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Celtics @DAL @OKC
Nets @NY @ORL
Knicks NJ ATL @MIA
76ers @MEM @HOU
Raptors DET      

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Player News
Hornets confirm extension for PG Kemba Walker
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:29 pm ET) The Hornets have confirmed they have signed point guard Kemba Walker to an extension reportedly running four years.

"Today is a great day for the Charlotte Hornets," said general manager Rich Cho. "To be able to retain such an importance piece of the core we are building here in Charlotte is exciting. Kemba is an integral part of the culture we're trying to create within our organization."

The ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft averaged 17.7 points and a career-high 6.1 assists per game last season.


Knicks PG Jose Calderdon out 2-3 weeks with strained calf
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:21 pm ET) The Knicks have confirmed that an MRI on point guard Jose Calderon has revealed a strained right calf and that he will be out for 2-3 weeks.

The offseason trade acquisition had been penciled in to start the season opener Wednesday night against Chicago before the injury flared up and he was forced to be scratched.


Magic C Channing Frye: Knee feels good after practice
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) Magic center Channing Frye said he participated in practice Wednesday and that his knee responded well, per the Orlando Sentinel.

Frye missed the game Tuesday against the Pelicans, but could play in the Thursday night home opener with Washington in town.


Report: No extension likely for Thunder PG Reggie Jackson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) The Thunder are unlikely to sign point guard Reggie Jackson to a contract extension before the Friday deadline, according to The Oklahoman.

Jackson averaged 13.1 points and 4.1 assists in 28 minutes per game last season, but is destined for restricted free agency after this year if he goes unsigned. General manager Sam Presti has stated repeatedly his intention to keep Jackson in Oklahoma City. He could match any offer sheet presented to Jackson in 2015.


Brother believes Grizzles C Marc Gasol could play for Knicks
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) Nobody knows Grizzlies center Marc Gasol better than Bulls forward and brother Pau Gasol - and the latter believes the former could be playing in the Big Apple by next season.

Marc is a free agent after this year. The Knicks, playing with more than $20 million in cap space, are expected to make a strong push to sign him. The older Gasol, who turned down an offer to play for the Knicks before helping bury them in a rout Wednesday night, feels it could definitely happen because his brother is intrigued by the possibility of playing for a team run by president Phil Jackson.

"We'll see what happens next year, what he decides," Pau told the New York Post. "Hopefully he'll have a strong year and all the options in the world because he's one of the tiop centers, interior players in the league, so any team would be fortunate to have him. It's a personal decision. I talked to my brother enough about Phil that he knows what he brings to the table."

Marc began the year with a bang, racking up 32 points and nine rebounds in a defeat of Minnesota.


Report: Cavaliers PF Thompson signing could be in works
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Optimism has replaced pessimism for the Cavaliers in regard to signing power forward/center Tristan Thompson to a contract extension, multiple sources have told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Thompson will become a restricted free agent if an agreement isn't reached prior to the Friday deadline. The team would be allowed to match any offer, but it might not reach that point.

"We'd like to sign Tristant long-term to the Cavaliers; I don't think that's any secret," owner Dan Gilbert said Wednesday. "I believe they'd like to do that as well. So we'll hopefully see what happens this week."

Complicating matters is the possible extension of teammate and fellow center Anderson Varejao, whose presence played a role in the return of buddy LeBron James to Cleveland. Varejao is making $9.7 million this year and the team wants him back. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2015.

Thompson averaged 11.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game as a full-time starter last year, but will be coming off the bench to start this season.


Blazers PG Damian Lillard still struggling defensively
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:33 am ET) Concerns about the defense of standout Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard returned quickly in 2014 after explosive Thunder counterpart Russell Westbrook torched him (and others guarding him) for 38 points Wednesday night.

Westbrook posted up Lillard, duped him on a backdoor for a layup and shot over him, according to The Oregonian. Lillard seemed affected offensively as he went scoreless in the first half. And though his teammates also had little success slowing down Westbrook, his problems defensively remain.

Blazers center LaMarcus Aldridge, however, believes it has nothing to do with a lack of effort or willingness to improve on that end of the court.

"He's worked on it all preseason," Aldridge said. "He has showed people that he is definitely trying to be better defensively, and he's given better effort. I think everybody is seeing that the effort is there. It's just different when you go from being a scorer to learning how to do both. It just gakes time. ... He wants to do well on both ends."


Knicks SG J.R. Smith: 'We stopped competing' Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:21 am ET) The NBA season opener is certainly a bit early to lose that competitive edge, but Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith claimed that's exactly what happened to his team Wednesday night against Chicago. The result was a 104-80 trouncing.

"When we stopped competing at the end of the third, fourth quarter, we could all tell," he told the New York Post. "[The Bulls] felt as though they smelled blood in the water. We just couldn't do anything about it. ... We put our heads down and tucked our tails, and we can't do that at home."

The Knicks trailed by 10 at halftime, but their deficit swelled to 35 in the fourth quarter as the fans booed. Smith, who scored just six points on 2-of-8 shooting in 22 minutes, added that the team is struggling to grasp the new triangle offense.

"I don't think we can be just thinking, thinking, thinking," he said. "Right now it's time to react. If somebody just kicks your mom's door and takes what they want, I think you have to react, you can't sit there thinking what should I do next."

Things don't get any easier for the Knicks, who travel to Cleveland for a Thursday night game in which LeBron James makes his regular season return to the Cavaliers.


Pistons' Brandon Jennings sits in fourth quarter of opening loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:37 am ET) Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings did not play in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 89-79 loss to the Nuggets in the team's regular-season opener.

"A little surprising," Jennings said after the game about sitting during the fourth quarter. "It never happened before in my career. It is what it is. I just have to push through it. I thought D.J. [Augustin] did a good job."

"You go with the guys you think give you the best chance to win," said coach Stan Van Gundy about sticking with Augustin.

Jennings ended up playing 20 minutes in the loss while scoring just four points on 2 of 4 shooting. He added four rebounds and two assists while turning the ball over three times. The Pistons will look to bounce back against the Timberwolves Thursday.


Nuggets SF Danilo Gallinari endures poor shooting night
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:33 am ET) Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari scored seven points on just 1 of 8 shooting while playing 18 minutes in his team's 89-79 win over the Pistons in Wednesday's regular-season opener.

"Physically, I feel good. There is no pain. I'm not scared. I'm ready to go," Gallinari said after the game, which was his first since suffering an ACL injury in April 2013. "I was a little rusty, but we all knew it. First game, you want to get the `W,' and go on to the next one."

Gallinari made just one of his five three-point attempts as well as all four free throws. He also chipped in three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in the win. The Nuggets move on to face the Thunder Saturday.


 
 
 
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