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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
Rockets C Dwight Howard probable for Game 3
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:46 pm ET) Rockets center Dwight Howard has been upgraded to probable for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Saturday in Houston.

That designation indicates that Howard, who has been hampered by a knee problem, came through Game 2 without a setback.

Howard certainly improved his performance Thursday, racking up 19 points and 17 rebounds in 40 minutes against Golden State. He managed just seven points and 13 boards in 26 minutes in the series opener.


Hawks' Bazemore primed to step up if Carroll can't go for Game 2
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:37 pm ET) With Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll ruled a game-time decision for Game 2 against the Cavaliers, Kent Bazemore is preparing to fill in that defensive-oriented role, according to AJC.com.

If Carroll does not play, Bazemore will undoubtedly have the task of defending Cavs forward LeBron James. Bazemore, though, is not shying away from that challenge.

“It’s great,” Bazemore said. “It’s a great platform to show what you can do. They brought me here as a defender and that’s my job. What a great measuring stick to go up against one of the best. … It’s tough but it’s what you sign up for. It’s a challenge I love. I love guarding the best players. I’ve been doing it all my life. This is no different. The tools I have and the preparation up to this point, I think I’ve prepared myself to do a good job.”

Bazemore is averaging 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game during the playoffs.


Lakers GM: Kobe 'has indicated to me that this is it'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:17 pm ET) Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said that the upcoming 2015-16 season will be the last for perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant, per ESPN.com.

"He has indicated to me that this is it," Kupchak said.

Bryant, who will be 37 years old when the season begins, is entering the final year of a two-year, $48.5 million dollar extension with the team.

"I think first and foremost, he's on the last year of a deal," Kupchak said. "There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don't think there will be."

Kupchak said that if anything changes and Bryant wants to continue playing past his current contract, negotiations can be had. Bryant's last three seasons have been cut short because of injury. Last season, he was limited to 35 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

"A year from now, if there's something different to discuss, then it will be discussed then," Kupchak said. "I talk to him from time to time ... and he is recovering. He's running. He's getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah, he's much closer to the end than to the beginning."


Cavs' Dellavedova: 'I will be ready for whatever' in wake of Irving injury
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:00 pm ET) With Kyrie Irving listed as questionable for Game 2 against the Hawks on Friday, Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova is primed to take on a bigger, more crucial role, per Cleveland.com.

"I will be ready for whatever the team needs," Dellavedova said when asked about the possibility of starting. "It will probably mean a lot more minutes so I might have to adjust my game a little there, but not too much."

Though Irving is the Cavs' second-leading scorer, it was Dellavedova who came up big in the team's closeout win over the Bulls in Game 6 of the previous series. Dellavedova scored a season-high 19 points on 7of 11 shooting, including 3 of 5 from behind the arc.

"Delly has done great work for us all season coming from the bench and he has started other times during the season," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "He's been a consistent rotation guy for us and he's a dependable and high character guy that gives us an awful lot. We believe in him, our guys believe in him and he's ready."

Iman Shumpert is also capable of filling in for Irving during stretches. Shumpert is averaging 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per games during the playoffs.


Blatt: Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving will decide fate Friday night
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) David Blatt has indicated that Cavaliers ailing guard Kyrie Irving will make the final decision as to whether he plays in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night in Atlanta, per the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Irving expressed optimism heading into the series that the pain in his left knee and right foot had subsided, but if anything he was more limited than ever in the series opener. He re-aggravated the knee injury during the game and played only three of the last 18 minutes as his team put away the Hawks.

The guard did not attend shootaround Friday. He instead received further treatment and evaluation as an MRI was planned.

"My understanding is like most injuries, it's a combination of pain management and what the physical symptons are," Blatt said.

Irving was not invisible in Game 1, but his struggles trying to finish off drives to the basket were again evident. He did manage 10 points and six assists in 27 minutes.


Wizards F Kris Humphries working to expand his range
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:28 am ET) Wizards veteran Kris Humphries has come to the realization that he might need to re-invent himself as a stretch forward to maximize his potential to remain a viable player in the NBA, according to CSNWashington.com.

And that means expanding his shooting range to beyond the arc.

That would be quite a departure for Humphires, who made two 3-pointers as a rookie and none since.

"I never really worked on shooting threes and stuff," he said. "I started working on it this year. I had a lot of success in the last month (practicing) and I was working on it every day."

Humphries was a forgotten man in the playoffs, playing just five total minutes after averaging 21 minutes a game in the regular season.


Hawks SF DeMarre Carroll wearing knee brace Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll, who is questionable for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night against Cleveland, is wearing a knee brace at shootaround, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Carroll sustained what was diagnosed as a knee bruise in the series opener Wednesday. The injury appeared far worse when he writhed in pain and was later helped off the court without putting any pressure on the leg.

His presence would be critical for Atlanta. Carroll is the team's leading scorer in the playoffs and is responsible for guarding Cleveland superstar LeBron James.


Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(10:19 am ET) Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will be listed as questionable for Game 2 against the Hawks on Friday.

Irving did not attend the team's shootaround Friday morning in Atlanta, instead going to receive additional evaluation with the team's head physician. Irving received treatment following Wednesday's win, but the tendinitis in his left knee did not diminish.

Irving scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes in Game 1.


Free agent Knight sees future with Suns alongside Bledsoe
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(9:19 am ET) Suns guard Brandon Knight will be a restricted free agent this offseason, but a shared playmaker role next to Eric Bledsoe has him thinking about the long-term with the organization, per The Arizona Republic.

Knight, who can be signed to an offer sheet by any team in the league starting July 1, relished the opportunity to play alongside Bledsoe.

"I thought it was fine," Knight said. "If Eric was a selfish guy, then I think it wouldn't work but both of us being pretty unselfish guys and really just wanting to win and also being familiar with each other, I think that helps the situation."

Knight averaged 17 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game this season -- the best statistical numbers of his career -- but hopes to continue to increase his role with the Suns.

"I'll continue to do the same things that I did this past year to continue to get better," Knight said. "For me, it's more of a team thing. I really want to try to push the guys on the Suns and this organization to be better, not just myself. I think true leaders make people around them better and that's what it's going to take for us to really take that next step. We've got to have each and every guy get better, not just myself but our entire team has to take steps this summer. It starts right now."


Stephen Curry scores team-high 33, Warriors take 2-0 series lead
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored a team-high 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 5 of 11 shooting from 3-point range, in his team's 99-98 win over the Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday.

Curry has stepped up his game even higher in the first two games of the series against the Rockets, scoring over 30 points in each while knocking down timely shots. He did turn the ball over six times on the night while adding six assists, three rebounds and one steal in 37 minutes in the nail-biter.

The Warriors will head to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday.


 
 
 
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