Daily Lies & Statistics: The Big Thumbsprain

There’s my new nickname for Shaq, after he suffered a serious-ish sprained thumb last night. An MRI could reveal something worse. For the Cavs, this is not going to affect them too much because they could conceivably be better without Thumbsprain, although they are now pretty thin at center since they have to wait another three weeks before they can re-sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

The subtraction of Shaq down the stretch should help Cleveland secure home court in the playoffs.

For fantasy owners, Anderson Varejao becomes the man. Varejao stepped up last night with a 14 & 10 and three blocks in 30 minutes, helping the Cavs dominate the Celtics in the fourth quarter en-route to a 108-88 win. LeBron James put up a ho-hum 36-7-9 last night and it’s finally time to say it: if he’s available in your league, pick him up.

Paul Pierce was a DNP for the Celts with a thumb injury of his own, and Marquis Daniels got the start. Daniels, who was dealing with the flu leading into the game, was underwhelming with just four points in 31 minutes. Chalk this up to his illness and give him a whirl if it appears Pierce is going to shut it down for a few more games.

There were two other fantasy-friendly contests last night, led by Denver stomping Golden State 127-112. Chauncey Billups enjoyed the break in defensive intensity and went off for 37-6-9, including 6-of-8 from three. This was also the perfect environment for J.R. Smith, who knocked down seven threes on the way to 25 points.

Golden State was led by the superb Stephen Curry, who finished with a 30-7-13 gem. It wasn’t enough to overcome Monta Ellis’s 6-for-22 shooting performance, and I’ll be damned if we don’t have another example of a chucking shooting guard who would make their team better if they didn’t play. I haven’t watched every single Warriors game, but maybe one of their fans can tell me: has Ellis passed the ball yet this year?

C.J. Watson missed the game with what is either the flu or appendicitis, but on the bright side he still doesn’t have to spend a weekend with Mrs. Needleman. Ronny Turiaf got a start and had 12 points, eight boards and two blocks in 27 minutes. The Warriors have four games next week, so if Turiaf does something similar again this weekend, it might be time to take a flier on him.

In D-League action, the Bucks edged the Pacers, 112-110, and if I’m reading this right Andrew Bogut had a 15 & 10 with two blocks in just 24 minutes. Also, Troy Murphy, one of my centers in the Damn Lies league, had three rebounds in 33 minutes. T.J. Ford (17-3-5) and Earl Watson (15-8-5) started together in the backcourt and played 39 minutes each. Keep an eye on Ford.

Speaking of the D-League, Hasheem Thabeet has been sent there by the Grizzlies, not a glowing endorsement of the number two pick in the draft. The Dakota Wizards? Talk about an incentive to get back to the big leagues. If that doesn’t light a fire, he’s a lost cause.

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