Fratello Telestrator

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Fratello Telestrator

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Fratello Telestrator

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Gameday Dish: Celtics vs. Knicks

The New York Knicks welcome their Atlantic Division rival the Boston Celtics to Madison Square Garden tonight. The Beanteamers, 36-25, are poised to clinch their fifth straight Division Title while New York at 31-29 is fighting hard to stave off the Milwaukee Bucks for the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.

These two longtime foes met in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs with the C’s dispatching the Knicks 4-love for the only sweep of the league’s eight first round series. This year these sides have met three times already with the Celts winning twice in Boston and the Knicks holding off the Green in Manhattan on Christmas Day, the NBA’s lockout shortened season’s opening day.

All three contests were extremely close. Twice the final differential was just 2 points, and the last time they met on March 4th in Boston coach Doc Rivers’ guys prevailed by 4 in OT. In that contest C’s PG Rajon Rondo had a triple-double for the ages: 18 points, 17 boards and 20 dimes.

The Celtics last played on Sunday against the woeful Bobcats in Charlotte. They won 94-82 playing without their Big 3 of Garnett, Pierce and Allen. After beating the Nets on Saturday night in Jersey, Doc Rivers decided to rest Garnett and Pierce against Charlotte and left them in NYC to await tonight’s important 48. Allen missed his 4th straight game with a sore ankle, but may be available tonight.

The Knickerbockers last played on Sunday afternoon against the Miami Heat on national television. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were too much for the banged up Knicks and got the W, 93-85. In the loss Carmelo Anthony had 42 points, 9 boards and 5 dimes. With Amar’e Stoudemire out for his 11th straight game and Linsanity gone for the season, Melo has been carrying the scoring load, averaging 31.7 ppg in April.

Also of concern for coach Mike Woodson is C Tyson Chandler’s health. The probable Defensive Player of the Year hurt his knee in the thired quarter of Sunday’s game. He is expected to suit up tonight, but may be limited in his movement and on-court effectiveness.

New York will need Chandler and others to help on Rondo, who is playing like a man possessed lately. The 6th-year Kentucky Wildcat has dished for double digit dimes in 22 straight games. It’s the longest such streak in 20 seasons. He joins HOF’ers John Stockton and Magic Johnson as the only players with 10 assists in 20 straight games.

Tune in tonight at 8:00 PM ET to TNT to watch the Knicks and Celts battle for the final time this season.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Greivis Vasquez

The New Orleans Hornets (who were purchased by Saints owner Tom Benson for $338 million on Friday) lost starting point guard Jarrett Jack at the beginning of April to a stress fracture in his right foot. The 7th-year guard out of Georgia Tech will be sidelined for the remainder of the season, so head coach Monty Williams has plugged 6’6″, 2nd-year Venezuelan combo guard Greivis Vasquez into this backcourt hole.

The 2010 ACC Player of The Year at Maryland and former first-round draft choice has filled in nicely for the injured Jack over the past seven games. Since joining the first string, Vasquez’s numbers have increased significantly across the board. He has averaged 34.1 minutes per game, 12.3 ppg, 7.4 apg, 3 rpg and 1.3 steals per game in seven starts. Though the 18-42 NOLA squad has been out of playoff contention for months, the Hornets have gone 5-2 and won their last three contests since Vasquez was inserted into the starting five.

With New Orleans being a team in transition in multiple areas, from ownership, to defining their player core, to devising competitive strategies for success in the West, look for them to give their young guns like Vasquez more run as they finish out the regular season and head to the Lottery. Vasquez should be a solid pick-up for fantasy owners who need to fill in some gaps during the final six regular season games.