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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Monday

Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes covers the Oklahoma City Thunder and writes weekly NBA columns for Rotowire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Minnesota Timberwolves at Indiana Pacers: The Pacers lead the league in Defensive rating (91.2), and hold their opponents to an average of 39.7 percent shooting. Indiana's defense is anchored by Roy Hibbert, who leads the league in blocked shots with 4.31 per game and should defend the paint well against the Timberwolves, who rank third in the league in field goals made within five feet of the rim. With a healthy lineup heading into tonight's game, Indiana's defense should be as good as ever, and should slow down a fast-moving Timberwolves team that ranks third in the league in pace (101.45) and ninth in offensive rating (103.5).

Offenses to Use
Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks hold the fourth-ranked offensive rating (107.9) and rank fifth in points per game (106.4) led by Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki, who are one of four pairs of teammates to both average 20-plus points per game. The Mavericks face off against the Nuggets, who rank 21st in defensive rating (103.2) and 27th in points allowed (103.6) while giving up an average of 110.6 points over their last five games. The Nuggets also rank 27th in opponent 3Pt percentage (38.5 percent), which bodes well for the Mavericks, who are fifth in the league in 3Pt shots made per game (9.4) and seventh in 3Pt percentage (40.2 percent). Look for the Mavericks to reach reach or exceed their scoring average Monday.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: New Orleans Pelicans
Second game of a back-to-back: Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
Damian Lillard (vs. NY): Lillard has played well in his last five games, averaging 20.6 points and 7.0 assists in 37.2 minutes. His shooting still leaves something to be desired this season (39.1 percent), although his work from three-point land (39.4 percent) and at the free-throw line (88.9 percent) are much more pleasing. He goes up against a Knicks team that will likely be without Raymond Felton for the fourth consecutive game and has given up an average of 102.4 points over their last five games.

Other options: Ty Lawson (at DAL), Mike Conley (vs. HOU)

Shooting Guard
Monta Ellis (vs. DEN): Ellis matches up against a weak defensive team in the Nuggets and is riding a hot streak, averaging 26.2 points and 6.8 assists on 53.6 percent shooting, including 46.2 percent from three. Randy Foye, Denver's starting Shooting Guard, isn't known for his defense either so Ellis should have a friendly matchup tonight.

Other options: Wesley Matthews (vs. NY), Gerald Henderson (vs. BOS)

Small Forward
Lebron James (vs. PHO): James, as is typical for him, has been a dominant force for fantasy owners over his last five games, averaging 25.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.4 steals to go with 61.6 percent shooting from the field, 44.4 percent from beyond the arc, and 86.1 percent from the free-throw line. While he hasn't had too many high-scoring games this season, James continues to provide elite numbers across the board, particularly his blistering percentages which all rank among the best in the league. He'll face an above average Suns defense that lays claim to the seventh best defensive rating (98.9) and ranks ninth in points allowed (97.6), but James has shown that he can provide top-tier production regardless of who is guarding him.

Other options: Luol Deng (at UTA), Paul George (vs. MIN), Carmelo Anthony (at POR)

Power Forward
Dirk Nowitzki (vs. DEN): Like teammate Monta Ellis, Nowitzki should have a solid game against a Nuggets squad that starts J.J. Hickson and Kenneth Faried, and is also missing JaVale McGee due to a stress fracture. Hickson and Faried are both smaller than Nowitzki and aren't great defensively, so Dirk should be able to operate in the post and shoot over his defender as well.

Other options: LaMarcus Aldridge (vs. NY), Kevin Love (at IND), Greg Monroe (vs. MIL), Anthony Davis (at SAS), Zach Randolph (vs. HOU)

Center
Andre Drummond (vs. MIL): Before totaling only nine points Sunday against the Nets, Drummond had recorded seven straight double-doubles and also served as a good source of steals and blocks to go with elite field-goal percentage. He should continue in the same pattern against the Bucks, who are ranked 27th in defensive rating (104.7) and 29th in rebounding (39.0). Drummond has established himself very well at the center position, averaging 34.5 minutes per game, so he should continue to get big minutes barring blowouts, foul trouble, or injuries.

Other options: Samuel Dalembert (vs. DEN)

INJURY REPORT

Out
James Harden (foot) is expected to miss Monday's game to rest his sore foot.
Marc Gasol (knee) has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 MCL sprain that will not require surgery. He will be out indefinitely.
Tyson Chandler (knee) is out four-to-six weeks with a fractured right fibula.
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) is out two weeks with a sprained ankle.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out indefinitely with a meniscus tear in his right knee.
Jimmy Butler (toe) is out two to three weeks with a turf toe injury.
JaVale McGee (leg) is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right tibia.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) is still weeks away from returning.
Raymond Felton (back/hip) said he is unlikely to suit up Monday against the Blazers.

Game-Time Decision
Enes Kanter (ankle) had X-rays that came back negative Sunday. He will be re-evaluated Monday morning to see how the sprain has progressed.
Eric Bledsoe (shin) did not play Sunday and will be a game-time decision Monday.