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Predicting Who Will be Hot Off the Bench in NBA

As the NBA playoffs head into Round 2, savvy fantasy players are obviously well aware of their starters, but ‘winning’ fantasy-philes are just as educated (or even more) on the frequently unsung players who come off the bench to spark their teams when they need it the most.

In the Eastern Conference, the Chicago-Cleveland series features a pair of squads that rely heavily on their reserves. The Bulls have battled injuries to key players the entire season, giving second-tier players plenty of court time. SF Tony Snell has been especially effective, giving the team offense when needed, but the same could be said for Aaron Brooks and veteran Kirk Hinrich. For the Cavaliers, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and James Jones have all contributed, with Shumpert’s defensive prowess an added bonus. Look for Thompson’s minutes to increase dramatically in Kevin Love’s absence.

Also not hesitant to utilize their benches are the other Eastern Conference semifinalists, Atlanta and Washington. The Hawks were able to rest their starters extensively over the regular season’s final few weeks, which gave reserves such as PGs Dennis Schroder and Shelvin Mack, along with PF Mike Scott more-than-normal minutes. Schroder, in particular, excelled at both ends of the floor, and going against John Wall and Bradley Beal, expect to see his minutes increase. The Wizards bench is more frontcourt-oriented, with Drew Gooden and Otto Porter Jr. giving them offense, and in Porter’s case, athleticism. PG Ramon Sessions is capable of instant offense as well.

In the Western semifinals, the Clippers-Rockets series features Houston and Los Angeles, which needed 7 games to get past the Spurs. The Clippers have offense coming off the bench, led by scoring machine Jamal Crawford (11.7 ppg) and Austin Rivers, whose 16 points in 17 minutes in Game 4 versus San Antonio keyed a critical victory. Houston’s bench also made huge contributions in their first-round win over Dallas, especially from Josh Smith and Corey Brewer. Against the Clippers’ strong frontline, look for Smith to see even more floor time.

If anyone’s bench can equal the Clippers, it’s Golden State’s, with veterans Andre Igoudala and Leandro Barbosa providing more than adequate offense when Curry and Thompson need a breather. Opposing the Warriors will be Memphis, and the Grizzlies can put proven offensive players Vince Carter and Jeff Green on the floor, which will certainly be needed against Golden State’s high-octane attack. With PG Mike Conley questionable due to facial surgery, look for Memphis to platoon PGs Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes, who’ll have the unenviable task of trying to contain league MVP Steph Curry.

GRFF Staff

GRFF Staff

Where the hell am I and where are my shoes.

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