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Week 12 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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The NBA community spent Saturday collectively mourning the end of Ricky Rubio's rookie season, as he was diagnosed with a torn ACL that will require season-ending surgery and likely keep him out until early next season.

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Fantasy owners, however, don't have the time to mourn, as the playoffs are fast approaching and they'll need another answer at the guard position to replace Rubio. They shouldn't look too far for that replacement, as there's a natural one waiting in the wings; the Wolves plan on turning control of the offense over to veteran Luke Ridnour once again.

Ridnour has been a part of an undersized yet effective Timberwolves back court all season, playing off the ball when Rubio has been on the floor, but now he will return to a familiar role running the offense, something he spent eight pre-Rubio years doing. Because of this, Ridnour makes an excellent starting candidate for Week 12 (March 12-18).

In the past, Ridnour has reached as high at 7.0 assists per game, back in 2005-06, and now that he is in control of Rick Adelman's fast-paced offense, Ridnour shouldn't have much trouble getting back to those sorts of highs. For Week 12, the Wolves take to the road for four games against the Suns, Jazz, Lakers and Kings, and only the Lakers rank outside of the NBA's bottom-10 defenses amongst that group.

Week 12 should provide a soft landing for Ridnour as he emerges in a new role, and with his pinpoint shooting accuracy and the freedom of a new role, expect him to be a worthy starter for the rest of the season, not just for this week. If he is still available in your leagues, make sure you go grab him as well.

Guards

Start ‘Em

Mo Williams, Clippers (BOS, ATL, PHO, HOU, DET): The Clippers had a relatively light schedule in the first half of the season however things are starting to pick up, as they play five times in Week 12. Fortunately those five games all come within the friendly confines of the Staples Center, where the Clippers score an average of two and a half points more per game than on the road. Williams hasn't seen much of a bump from playing at home this season, so Fantasy owners will just have to accept that he's red hot right now heading into the homestand as my reasoning, as Williams scoring 17.6 points per game over his last five. Week 12 offers a convergence of positive signs for Williams, making him worthy of a starting spot, especially with three defensive lightweights lingering in the back half of the week.

Sleepers for Week 12
Player % Started
1. Goran Dragic, G, Rockets 3
2. Chandler Parsons, F, Rockets 9
3. Randy Foye, F, Clippers 17
4. Tony Allen, G, Grizzlies 31
5. Earl Watson, G, Jazz 1
6. Kenneth Faried, F, Nuggets 19
7. Baron Davis, G, Knicks 9
8. Jerryd Bayless, G, Raptors 6
9. Jason Maxiell, F, Pistons 5
10. Martell Webster, G, Timberwolves 2

Jared Dudley, Suns (MIN, UTA, @LAC, DET, HOU): Dudley has been on an extended tear, shooting better than 50 percent from the field since the beginning of February. For a perimeter player who doesn't get to the basket very often, that's extremely impressive. Dudley makes his living sinking open jumpers from mid-range and three-point range, and with Steve Nash remaining in charge of the Suns offense, Dudley is going to continue to get those looks. He is averaging 16.6 points per game in the month of March, and the Suns don't face a single team in the Top 10 of NBA defenses in Week 12. Dudley should find open looks and points easy to come by against those defenses.

Sleeper Alert: Mike Dunleavy, Bucks (@NJ, CLE, @GS): Unlike the two players listed before him, Dunleavy's Bucks only play three times in Week 12. He is listed here because, while the Bucks play just three times, they're all cupcake matchups. Dunleavy has been hot and has seen his minutes level off at a solid point for the Bucks, as he is now averaging 32.5 minutes and 12.8 points per game in the month of March. With his opponents unlikely to put up much resistance, Dunleavy should continue his quietly solid performance.

Sit ‘Em

Jrue Holiday, 76ers (@IND, MIA, @CHI): The Sixers probably have the toughest schedule in the league in Week 12, and this brutal stretch comes at a bad time for Holiday, who continues his season-long downward trend. He is scoring only 11.8 points per game in the month of March, continuing a trend where his points per game has gone down in each subsequent month of the season. With only three games against three of the NBA's most tenacious defenses, don't expect Holiday to begin to bounce back in Week 12.

Jamal Crawford, Trail Blazers (@IND, @NY, @CHI, @OKC): The Blazers have been a mess for quite some time, and Crawford hasn't been much help recently, as he has alternated strong scoring nights with complete disappearances. As a result, his minutes have been cut to 26.6 per game in the month of March. The Blazers take to the road for a four-game set in Week 12, and Crawford has really struggled away from the Rose Garden, shooting just 36.4 percent from the field. Don't expect things to get much better for him either, as they face a couple of the NBA's toughest defenses as well.

Bust Alert: Deron Williams, Nets (MIL, TOR, @ORL, NO): You wouldn't necessarily know it if you just looked at his scoring average, as Williams is averaging 20.8 points overall, however he has been going through his share of struggles since the All-Star break. Williams was forced to leave Friday's game with a calf injury, an injury that has been bothering him for much longer than that. If you remove his 57-point outburst from his numbers, Williams is averaging just 13.6 points per game since the All-Star break. While he's certainly better than that, the lingering calf injury makes him a questionable option for Week 12.

Forwards

Start ‘Em

Gordon Hayward, Jazz (DET, @PHO, MIN, GS, LAL) Hayward has taken a step forward in his second season in the NBA, and he is recently starting to resemble the sharp-shooter the Jazz figured they were picking up when they selected him with the ninth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Hayward is shooting 54.1 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range over the last five, and he was inserted into the starting lineup on Saturday as Raja Bell stayed home dealing with undisclosed personal issues. The Jazz are another team playing five times in Week 12, and with the first four of them coming against bottom-third NBA defenses, Hayward is a good bet to keep his hot shooting up.

Derrick Williams, Timberwolves (@PHO, @UTA, @LAL, @SAC): Williams is starting to show the potential that so enticed teams in last year's draft, as he has now scored in double figures in six of the last eight games. Part of that is the result of Kevin Love dealing with some injuries and freeing up playing time for Williams, but Williams has also simply earned a larger role in the offense. With the injury to Rubio, the Wolves' offense is going to have to change, and it could lead to some more opportunities for Williams to create on his own. With an easy schedule in Week 12, see if Williams can keep his recent strong play up.

Sleeper Alert: Ekpe Udoh, Warriors (@SAC, BOS, MIL, @UTA): Udoh's appearance makes it three-for-three on recent lottery picks for the forwards, and like the other two, Udoh has picked up his play and earned a larger role recently. Udoh was moved into the starting lineup last Sunday and has responded by averaging 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.0 blocks per game as a starter. The Warriors have even run the offense through him at times, and the No. 6 overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft has responded well. With how poorly most of the other Warriors' big men have played, Udoh should have a fairly solid grip on that starting job at this point, so expect him to play well against a couple of weaker front lines this week.

Sit ‘Em

Dorell Wright, Warriors (@SAC, BOS, MIL, @UTA): This season, Wright has been a case study in why it's not necessarily safe to rely on players who enjoy a single breakout system in a quirky offensive system. Wright has come crashing back down to earth this season, and things have only gotten worse as the season has gone on. Over the last 10 games, Wright is shooting just 28 percent from the field while reaching double figures in scoring just twice. At this point, he's starting to lose his place in the Warriors' rotation, so even with a relatively easy schedule in Week 12, Fantasy owners simply shouldn't rely on him until he can snap out of it.

Amir Johnson, Raptors (@CLE, @NJ, @MEM, @CHA): The Raptors got their best player, Andrea Bargnani, back from injury on Saturday night, and while he only played 19 minutes, his return predictably impacted the rotation, with the biggest loser being Johnson. The Raptors have actually grown to rely on Johnson in Bargnani's absence, as he has averaged 27 minutes per game over the months of February and March. That all changes in Bargnani's first game back, as Johnson was moved to the bench, where he saw just 17 minutes of playing time. Bargnani's role is only going to grow as he rounds back into shape, so if Johnson is going to lose more minutes, it's hard to see him being a valuable contributor in Week 12.

Bust Alert: Luol Deng, Bulls (NY, MIA, POR, PHI): Deng's shooting has taken a hit this season, however he has provided his usual across-the-board excellence otherwise, so his lingering wrist injury is a big issue for the Bulls' and Fantasy owners moving forward. Deng had rested the wrist earlier in the season and was declared fine, however he recently re-aggravated the injury, and it was serious enough to force him to miss some time in Week 11. Deng's status for Week 12 is unknown; however his numbers have been down recently while he tried to play through the pain, indicating that even if he does suit up all four times in Week 12, he almost certainly won't be himself. While Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau will almost assuredly still use Deng for heavy minutes if he's able to play, you have to worry about his short-term production given the injury.

Centers

Start ‘Em

Samuel Dalembert, Rockets (@OKC, CHA, @LAC, @PHO): Dalembert has not exactly been a model of consistency in his first season with the Rockets, however he has begun trending back upwards recently once more. Dalembert is averaging 13.0 points per game over his last five with grabbing 8.8 rebounds, giving the Rockets the type of production they were looking for when they signed him. History tells us he won't keep this up, but with a pretty weak schedule coming up, Dalembert should be useful for Week 12.

Sleeper Alert: Ian Mahinmi, Mavericks (WAS, CHA, SA): Mahinmi continues to be solid when given the opportunity to play extended minutes, as he was last week when Brendan Haywood went down with a back injury. Haywood is expected back for Week 12, however even though he was cleared to play on Saturday against the Warriors, Mahinmi received the start instead. Mahinmi never puts up eye-popping numbers when he starts, but he is usually solid enough, as he has 9.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game over his last five games. He'll never dominate, even against weak opponents, however he's got a chance to remain in a bigger role for this week, making him a useful low-end option.

Sit ‘Em

DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (BOS, ATL, PHO, HOU DET): Jordan has been such a major disappointment in his first season after signing a $43 million contract extension that he is beginning to lose significant playing time to mid-season acquisition Kenyon Martin. On a recent road trip that lasted throughout the first nine days of March, Jordan scored just 20 points over a span of six games while racking up 21 personal fouls. That's not the type of play the Clippers were expecting from their investment, and at this point Jordan doesn't remotely resemble a useful Fantasy player. Even with five games on the slate in Week 12, Jordan isn't worth starting at his current level of play.

Bust Alert: Spencer Hawes, 76ers (@IND, MIA, @CHI): Hawes is one of a number of centers who have dealt with major injuries this year, and like Nene and Brook Lopez before him, his Fantasy owners have no choice but to wait patiently for his return. It has been reported that Hawes could return as soon as Wednesday from his lingering Achilles' injury, however he told reporters this week that he wouldn't commit fully to that date. Even if Hawes returns this week, he faces a number of tough matchups and will likely be limited in his minutes and opportunities, so wait until he is fully healed before turning to him for help.

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Player News
Celtics' Jae Crowder diagnosed with ACL sprain
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) Celtics forward Jae Crowder has been diagnosed with a left ACL sprain, the team announced Monday.

Crowder went for an MRI Sunday and met with a team doctor to discuss the results of the test Monday morning. He injured the knee during Sunday's Game 4 loss to the Cavaliers on a hard foul by Cleveland guard J.R. Smith, who was ejected for the play.

Crowder appears to be on track for a normal offseason after avoiding a more serious knee injury, as he told the Boston Globe Monday that the injury will sideline him for only a few weeks. He averaged 7.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 82 games between the Mavericks and Celtics during the regular season.


Jonas Jerebko considering return to Celtics, Brad Stevens
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:35 am ET) Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko said after the team's Game 4 loss to the Cavaliers that a potential return to Boston to continue playing under coach Brad Stevens will weigh heavily on the impending free agent's thought process this offseason, MassLive.com reports.

"He's been the best coach I've had in the NBA," Jerebko said. "He leads this team very well, and he's a great coach, so he definitely weighs in a lot."

Jerebko played under four coaches with the Pistons in five-plus years before being dealt to the Celtics this season. He was able to play in the postseason for the first time in his career, and though the Celtics were swept, he indicated that the playoff experience meant a big deal for the young team.

"For a lot of guys being in the playoffs for the first time, now we know during the season where we want to be at," Jerebko said. "You don't want to be outside the playoffs when the season's over, because we want to be in this next year, and we want to take it further than we did last year. It makes the season important. Sometimes, you forget that every game matters. We want to do this again. I haven't felt like this in all my years in the league. I've had my ups and downs in this league, and making the playoffs with this team really gave me some motivation, and I just want to get back and get there again."

Jerebko averaged 7.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 18.2 minutes in 29 games with the Celtics.


Brandon Bass would welcome return to Celtics
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:01 am ET) Celtics forward Brandon Bass is set to become a free agent this summer, but he said after Sunday's season-ending loss to the Cavaliers that he would welcome a return to Boston, Basketball Insiders reports.

"I don’t know what the future holds," Bass said. "That’s up to (President of Basketball Operations) Danny (Ainge). But Boston’s been great to me over the last couple years, so it’ll be great for me to come back."

Bass averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing 82 games for a second straight season.

"I thought I had a pretty good season. Based on how I started, I didn’t finish it anywhere near where I wanted to as far as the playoffs,” Bass said. "But it gives me great motivation to go back to the gym and improve my skills mentally and physically."

Bass averaged just five points and two rebounds as the Celtics were swept by the Cavaliers.

"It was a mental thing this playoff series," Bass said. "I just didn’t play well. I don’t have really any excuses. I prepared well, I just wasn’t able to perform in the playoffs like I wanted to."


Celtics' Kelly Olynyk denies trying to injure Cavaliers' Kevin Love
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Celtics center Kelly Olynyk was stunned that Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said he intentionally tried to injure Love on the play in which the forward suffered a dislocated shoulder Sunday, the Boston Herald reports.

"I thought it was a bush league play," Love said. "Olynyk was in a compromising position, had no chance to get the ball and it’s just too bad that he would go to those lengths to take somebody out of the game and do that to someone. I have no doubt in my mind that he did that on purpose."

Olynyk's opinion of what happened on the first-quarter play was in stark contrast to Love's words.

"That’s ridiculous," Olynyk said after Sunday's game. "I would never intentionally hurt Kevin or anyone else. He locked my arm up, I locked up his as we were fighting for a loose ball. You lock up arms all the time in this league."

Love is set to undergo an MRI Monday but is expected to miss a minimum of two weeks, which could keep him sidelined through the team's second-round matchup if not longer.

"I was definitely surprised (by what Love said)," Olynyk said. "In basketball, I don’t think anyone is trying to hurt anyone. For (Love), it’s very unfortunate. I know they’re trying to make a run right now."


Warriors' David Lee (back) expects to play in second round
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:44 am ET) Warriors center David Lee is ready to return to action after missing the team's first-round sweep of the Pelicans due to a lower back strain, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Lee has seen a reduction in his role this season, as his averages of 7.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 18.4 minutes per game all fall far short of his production in his first four seasons with the team.

"Although I haven't gotten the minutes sometimes that I've wanted, coach (Steve) Kerr and the rest of the staff has been really cool about being upfront and honest about it and saying that it's circumstance," Lee said. "As a pro, it's my job to stay ready. This isn't about me. It's about our team as a whole, so it's not a big deal at all."

Though Lee didn't play in the first-round series, he was available for Game 4 if needed.


Celtics' Luigi Datome: 'Too early' to talk about future
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:21 am ET) Celtics forward Luigi Datome is headed for unrestricted free agency this offseason, but he said Monday it's "too early" to talk about his future plans, Sportando reports.

"It is too early to talk about," Datome said in a postgame interview with Gazzetta TV. "I will decide my future after I will get some offers during the summer. I expect to have proposals from both the NBA and European teams. Then I will sit and make the best decision for me and my career as I’ve always tried to do."

Datome saw the first significant action of his career after being traded to the Celtics, averaging 5.2 points and 10.7 minutes in 18 games with Boston.

"It was great to play for the Celtics and to reach the NBA playoffs," Datome said. "I had my first real chance in the NBA, after almost two years. It was great to wear the Celtics jersey.

Datome made three playoff appearances, seeing a total of 14 minutes of action while scoring four points on 2 of 6 shooting.


76ers' Nerlens Noel 'ecstatic' to play with Joel Embiid
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:12 am ET) 76ers center Nerlens Noel said Sunday that he's "ecstatic" to play with center Joel Embiid and that he things the pairing will be "something special," NBA.com reports.

"I’m ecstatic to play with Joel," Noel said. "I think it’s going to be something special. The chemistry we already have, and we haven’t even been on the court together, is something that’s great to have.

"I think things we need to work on, me personally, I need to continue to work on the shooting and be able to spread the floor a little bit, be able to knock down a 15-footer with more consistency. And as time goes on, I think Joel’s going to be good. He already has touch around the basket, and he can extend his game out to 15-footers, so I think it’s going to be very complimentary. Both of us having the ability to pass the ball, I think that’s going to be something that people don’t know too much about that’s going to help us a lot."

Noel averaged 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.8 steals while shooting 46.2 percent in 75 games during his rookie season. Embiid missed the season while recovering from a foot injury.


Hawks' Jeff Teague on Saturday's Game 3 loss: 'I hated our game'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:07 am ET) Hawks point guard Jeff Teague is upset with how he and his team played in a 91-83 loss to the Nets in Game 3 Saturday, the New York Post reports.

"I hated our game [Saturday], I hated the way I played," Teague said after Hawks practice Sunday. "I think the whole team hated the way we played. To get back on the floor and be able to touch the ball today and get back on the floor [Monday] was good. I hate days off. I hate sitting around. We are still confident. We still think we can go into Game 4 and get a win."

The Hawks shot just 35.6 percent from the field, leading Teague to say, "We missed a lot of chippies."

Teague scored 12 points on 4 of 13 shooting while adding six assists, three rebounds and three steals in 30 minutes. The Hawks are 4-point favorites in Brooklyn Monday for Game 4 of the series.


Cavaliers' Iman Shumpert doubles up in Game 4 win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:00 am ET) Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert delivered a big performance in his team's 101-93 Game 4 win over the Celtics Sunday, scoring 15 points on 3 of 4 shooting from the field and 8 of 8 shooting from the free-throw line while racking up 10 rebounds.

"Iman Shumpert gave us a huge game tonight, huge," coach David Blatt said after the game, per the Akron Beacon Journal. "He was just all over the court. … He was without question the X factor. No question."

Shumpert also recorded three blocks and two steals while playing 38 minutes, which matched his highest amount of playing time in the regular season.


New Mavericks starter J.J. Barea posts 17-13 line in Game 4
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9:15 am ET) Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea drew the start in Game 4 against the Rockets Sunday and scored 17 points on 7 of 15 shooting, including 2 of 6 shooting from 3-point range, while dishing out 13 assists in his team's 121-109 win.

Barea was in the lineup due to Rajon Rondo being sidelined indefinitely with a back injury and he shined in the starting opportunity, helping to stave off elimination in Dallas.

"We're going to fight," Barea said, per the Associated Press. "We're not going to quit. We've got to go to Houston, and we've got to bring it back to Dallas."

The Rockets missed 12 straight shots to open the second half, and the Mavericks were able to build up a 24-point lead behind the new starting point guard.

"We couldn’t get Barea stopped at all," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "Our coverages were really loose. And they just played harder than us. That is the bottom line. They played with more desperation. They played harder than we did. Bottom line is they deserved to win that game more than we did."

Game 5 is in Houston Tuesday.


 
 
 
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