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What's on the Schedule: Week 15

Fantasy Writer
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There are 57 games on tap for Fantasy Week 15 (April 2-8) as the NBA calendar is now officially in its final month of the season. By now, most Fantasy leagues are in the middle of the playoffs, which is why it is as important as ever to make sure owners put their best lineup on the floor.

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While the schedule continues to balance itself out over the final few weeks, there are still plenty of intriguing matchups on the docket. Only two teams are scheduled to play five times over the next seven days and there are 34 sets of back-to-backs, including two instances of back-to-back-to-backs.

The Memphis Grizzlies are just one of the two teams slated to play three games over three consecutive days, which is why he have chosen to feature them this week.

The Grizzlies are coming off one of their quieter stretches of the season, having played just four games over the last eight days. However, that will change this week. Memphis will take the court five times this period with three of those contests coming on the road. Coach Lionel Hollins' squad will be tested right out of the gate as they partake in their first back-to-back-to-back set of the season starting Monday night in Oklahoma City. The Grizzlies will then be back home to face the Warriors on Tuesday night before wrapping up the triple set on Wednesday in Dallas. After a day off, Memphis will match up with the Heat on Friday night in Miami prior to returning home to face the Mavericks for the second time of the week on Saturday.

Playing five games over a seven-day stretch is never an easy task, especially considering some of Memphis' opponents this week. The Thunder, Mavericks and Heat are all considered strong defensive teams and Miami and Dallas are ranked in the top 10 in both opposition field-goal percentage and points allowed this season. Oklahoma City's defensive stats are not nearly as impressive, but Kevin Durant and Co. has held Memphis under 100 points all three of the teams matchups this season and are 3-0 in those contests. Still, that doesn't mean the Grizzlies won't be able to score a ton of points this week, especially with the Warriors on the slate.

With so many games crammed into so few days, depth and fatigue will play a huge factor this week. Look for Memphis to have to go utilize its bench early and often in some of these matchups, meaning some of the Grizzlies' mid-and low-end options could be looking at some extended run. In addition to must-starts Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, owners should make sure to get O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen active in the majority of formats. Marreese Speights should also get some consideration in deeper leagues.

Southwest: Houston Rockets (@CHI, @LAL, @SAC): The Rockets are one of just eight teams slated to play three times during Week 15 with all three of those contests coming on the road. Houston will open the week against the Bulls on Monday night before facing the Lakers on Friday. After a day off, the Rockets will close out the scoring period Sunday night in Sacramento. With only three games on the schedule, Fantasy owners won't have much room for error this week. One bad performance can put teams in a big hole, making most of Houston's Fantasy options risky plays, especially considering its upcoming opponents. The Bulls and Lakers are both ranked in the top five in points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage, so points could be tough to come by for the Rockets over the next few days. Luis Scola and Goran Dragic have been Houston's two most consistent producers over the past few weeks, making them the only two players who look like sure bets this period. The rest of the Rockets' spotty production makes them way too risky to use in most formats for the upcoming scoring period.

Southwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mavericks LAC MEM POR @MEM
Rockets @CHI @LAL @SAC
Grizzlies @OKC GS @DAL @MIA DAL
Hornets DEN @SA MIN
Spurs @CLE @BOS NO UTA

Pacific: Sacramento Kings (MIN, PHO, LAC, @LAC, HOU): The Kings are slated to play five times during Week 15 with four of those contests coming at home. Sacramento will start the week with a back-to-back set against the Timberwolves and Suns on Monday and Tuesday night, respectively, before welcoming the Clippers to town on Thursday. The Kings will then face the Clippers for the second time of the scoring period on Saturday night in Los Angeles before hosting the Rockets on Sunday. While the Kings have been struggling to scrape together wins lately, scoring points has not been an issue. Sacramento is averaging 109.7 points per game over its last 10 contests and has failed to score at least 100 points once over that stretch. Coach Keith Smart has encouraged his team to dictate the tempo of the game more and the result has been a slew of high-scoring affairs. Considering all four teams the Kings will face over the next seven days are ranked in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories this year, that trend should be able to continue this week. Fantasy owners should make sure to get Isaiah Thomas and Jason Thompson active, in addition to must-start options DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton.

Pacific Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Warriors @MEM @MIN @UTA DEN
Clippers @DAL LAL @SAC SAC
Lakers NJ @LAC HOU @PHO
Suns @SAC @UTA @DEN LAL
Kings MIN PHO LAC @LAC HOU

Northwest: Minnesota Timberwolves (@SAC, GS, @NO): The Timberwolves enter Week 15 as one of the more beat-up teams in the league. Minnesota has dealt with a rash of injuries over the past few weeks that have left only eight players at coach Rick Adelman's disposal over the past few games. However, the Timberwolves will be able to get some much needed rest over the next seven days as they are scheduled to play just three times this week. Two of those contests will be on the road, starting Monday night against the Kings. The Timberwolves will be back at home to face the Warriors on Wednesday before wrapping up the scoring period at New Orleans on Sunday night. While facing the Kings and Warriors in the same week should result in at least two high-scoring affairs, Minnesota's injury troubles have made it extremely tough for Fantasy owners to set their lineups in recent weeks. With the status of Michael Beasley, Jose Juan Barea and Nikola Pekovic still up in the air, we don't recommend starting any of those three this week. Only Kevin Love and Luke Ridnour look like safe plays for the upcoming scoring period.

Northwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Nuggets @NO PHO @GS
T'wolves @SAC GS @NO
Thunder MEM @MIA @IND TOR
Trail Balzers UTA NJ @DAL @MIL
Jazz @POR PHO GS @SA

Southeast: Atlanta Hawks (CHA, DET, CHA): The Hawks are slated to play three times during Week 15, but will only face two different teams over the next seven days. Atlanta will host the Bobcats on Wednesday night before welcoming the Pistons to town on Friday. After a day off, the Hawks will face the Bobcats for the second time of the scoring period Saturday night in Charlotte. While this looks to be a very favorable schedule for Atlanta, playing only three games puts some Fantasy owners at a disadvantage. One bad game can put owners in a hole that could be tough to climb out of with just two remaining games on the slate. For that reason, Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague are the only three Hawks we recommend starting this week.

Southeast Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hawks CHA DET @CHA
Bobcats @TOR @ATL @MIL ATL
Heat PHI OKC MEM DET
Magic @DET NY @PHI
Wizards MIL IND @DET @NJ

Atlantic: New York Knicks (@IND, @ORL, CHI): The Knicks have been one of the most discussed teams this season and that trend has continued over the past few weeks with all the injuries to hit New York. Jeremy Lin is the latest player to go down with a serious injury leaving the Knicks trying to fill another void on their roster. However, New York should have some time to regroup over the next few days as the Knicks are slated to play just three times during Week 15. The Knicks start the week with a pair of home games against the Pacers and Magic on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, before returning home to face the Bulls on Sunday. All three of those teams are ranked among the league leaders in points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage, so this looks like it could be a tough week for the majority of New York's Fantasy options. Coach Mike Woodson will likely spend the next several days tweaking his rotation a bit as the Knicks' light schedule should allow for some much needed practice time. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, that means most of New York's options will be risky plays this week. Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith are expected to see extended minutes in Lin's absence moving forward, but with only three games on the docket, one bad performance can really sink you. For that reason, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler look like the only sure bets this week.

Atlantic Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Celtics SA @CHI @IND PHI
Nets @LAL @POR WAS CLE
Knicks @IND @ORL CHI
76ers @MIA TOR ORL @BOS
Raptors CHA @PHI CLE @OKC

Central: Milwaukee Bucks (@WAS, CLE, CHA, POR): The Bucks are slated to play four times during Week 15 and Milwaukee looks to have some very favorable matchups on tap. Brandon Jennings and Co. will start the week with a game against the Wizards on Tuesday night, which will be the team's lone road contest of the period. The Bucks will be back at home on Wednesday night to face the Cavaliers before closing out the week against the Bobcats and Trail Blazers on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. The Bucks have really tried to push the tempo on offense over the past few weeks and as a result are averaging 105 points per game during the month of March. Now the Bucks will get a chance to face four teams which have really been struggling on defense. The Wizards, Bobcats and Cavaliers all rank near the bottom of the pack in most major defensive categories this season, including points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage. While the Trail Blazers do not fall into that category, Milwaukee put up 116 points against them in their lone meeting back in Week 13. In addition to must-start option, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, owners should make sure to get Ersan Ilyasova and Drew Gooden active this week. Even Mike Dunleavy deserves some consideration from owners in deeper formats.

Central Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Bulls HOU BOS @NY
Cavaliers SA @MIL @TOR @NJ
Pistons ORL WAS @ATL @MIA
Pacers NY @WAS OKC BOS
Bucks @WAS CLE CHA POR

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Player News
Pelicans being 'smart' with Jrue Holiday's practice time
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) The Pelicans are being cautious with point guard Jrue Holiday, limiting his practice time as he returns from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his tibia, The Times-Picayune reports.

"We are trying to be smart with his comeback," coach Monty Williams said. "After about two weeks of this, it's time to ramp it up and get going."

Holiday said he came out of Tuesday's and Wednesday's practices feeling good if a bit sore. "I'm sore," Holiday said. "Again I don't think I have pushed my body this much for a long time. It's good. All of our trainers and Monty had to kick me off the court yesterday because I didn't want to stop. But I am glad he did because I am feeling it today. Again that's a part of me still learning how to take care of my body and come back strong these next days."

Holiday didn't play a game after Jan. 8 last season and ultimately underwent surgery in February. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 34 games.


Hornets center Al Jefferson looking to improve defensive presence
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) Hornets center Al Jefferson said he is tired of being a defensive liability and is looking to make sure opposing teams don't target his pick-and-roll defense, according to The Charlotte Observer.

"I refuse to continue getting picked on at the end of games. It’s not fun," Jefferson said. "Last year at the end of games teams always put me in high pick-and-rolls. I got sick of them thinking that was to their advantage, and it was to their advantage."

Coach Steve Clifford said he was happy that Jefferson brought up the subject of his defensive issues and saved the coaches from having to point it out.

"He’s working hard. His attitude is great. I sense more of a hunger than any kind of complacency," Clifford said. "He sees what the possibilities are for the group. He’s competitive and wants to win."


Pistons coach speaks highly of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy spoke highly Wednesday about second-year guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to the team's official website.

"You always look at players first to their strengths, where can a guy be great," Van Gundy said. "I think he can be an elite defender in this league at the two guard and we’ll look for that every night. I think he is a high-energy guy who can get up and down the floor and attack the basket in transition. Those two things have got to be his foundation."

Caldwell-Pope averaged 24 points per game in the Summer League. However, he's still not at the stage in his career where the Pistons are counting on him to be one of their top scorers.

"On the offensive end, he’s going to have to slow down a little bit, get under control, and like a lot of people it will come down to how many shots he can make, how efficient he can be shooting the ball, how consistent can you be," Van Gundy said. "But I think he’s got a great foundation with the defense and energy that will get him on the floor and give him a chance to develop in those other areas."


Lakers forward Ryan Kelly suffers hamstring strain
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:31 pm ET) Lakers forward Ryan Kelly suffered a moderate left hamstring strain Wednesday. The Lakers will have more information about the severity of his injury Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Pacers forward C.J. Miles not worried about calf strain
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) Pacers forward C.J. Miles has been unable to complete a full practice at the start of training camp due to a calf strain, according to VigilantSports.com. However, Miles is not worried about the injury.

"It’s just a little strain, nothing crazy," he said Wednesday. "I’m pretty much healed. I’m doing everything just monitoring the contact a little bit just because of the wear and tear on it.

"It doesn’t make sense for me to be out with a strain for three weeks now when I could take a couple days just two get it all the way back, finish the month and be ready for the first game of the season. But I’m well past sitting out. Just monitoring it, that’s all."

Miles added he only sits out a portion of practice.

"I do everything throughout the whole practice until like just a little bit of the contact just towards the end," he explained. "Since the first practices are long, they don’t want me go through the wear and tear of the whole practice."


Jonas Jerebko will be part of Pistons' 10-man rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:24 pm ET) Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy indicated Wednesday forward Jonas Jerebko will be part of a 10-man rotation this season.

"We'll play at least nine on a nightly basis but probably 10 a lot, based on the way Jonas has played in September and in camp," Van Gundy said after Wednesday's morning practice, per the team's official website. "I've been really happy (with him). Nobody put more time in here this summer than Jonas did. Because of his play with the national team in years past, he's never really been able to devote as much time to his own development and his own game. He's gotten stronger. He's in tremendous shape.

"I think the key to Jonas -- and we talked about this early on -- is he has to get back to being the guy he was when he first came into the league, that hungry guy playing with incredible energy, trying to make his spot. What we've seen in September, he looks like a guy who is committed to being a high-energy guy."


D.J. Stephens added to Pelicans' training camp roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) The Pelicans added guard/forward D.J. Stephens to the training camp roster, according to The Times-Picayune. Stephens appeared in three games for the Bucks in 2013-14, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds.

Josh McRoberts expects to be ready by Heat season opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Heat forward Josh McRoberts will not play in Wednesday's scrimmage due to a toe injury, according to the Sun-Sentinel. McRoberts, who had toe surgery in the offseason, said he has dealt with the issue for years.

"I've needed surgery for a couple years," McRoberts said. "We kind of figured out last year before the season started. I knew right when the playoffs ended, so it was something I had planned for."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat are just being cautious to avoid McRoberts aggravating the injury. However, McRoberts expects to be ready by the season opener in late October.

"I'm just kind of easing back into things," McRoberts said. "It takes time to recover from something like this. I'm just trying not to overdo it."


Heat forward Chris Andersen working on jump shot
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:24 pm ET) Heat forward Chris Andersen is spending extra time after practice during training camp to work on jumpers from the elbow and baseline, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Andersen is putting in the extra work because the Heat feel he can be used in more than just pick-and-roll situations.

"To step out and have that confidence to shoot the 15-footer, a lot of people haven't seen it or don't expect it," Andersen said. "This year, [coach Erik Spoelstra] says he's going to implement it into the game plan. I look forward to getting that opportunity."


Norris Cole looking to become a scoring threat for Heat
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:43 pm ET) Heat guard Norris Cole said he wants to become more of a scoring threat this season, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

"We had so many playmakers [last year] that there were times I deferred to let those guys make the plays," Cole said. "They were great at it…. But I also I saw [plays] where I could have been more aggressive to attack."

The Heat are expected to have more balanced scoring in 2014-15 since LeBron James is no longer on the roster.

"He's gotten better individually for sure," guard Dwayne Wade said. "He had a hell of a summer working out and getting prepared. Defensively, he's a monster. The next wave for him is how to be effective as a point guard and effective as a scoring guard. He's going to have to figure out the perfect way to do that. It's not always easy for guys but if he can figure it out he can be very dangerous for us."


 
 
 
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