Offenses to Use
Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers: After a slow first week to the season, LeBron James and the Heat are firing on all cylinders as the Akron product returns to face his former team, boasting the league's best offensive rating (114.1) despite ranking near the median of NBA teams in pace (93.4). Meanwhile, in Cleveland, high expectations have cratered with December around the corner. James' former coach Mike Brown has struggled to implement his philosophy. The Cavs rank 22nd in Defensive rating (106.5), but their offense is even worse, rated 97.7, good for 28th. Their shooting woes have also persisted, as the Cavs, losers of their last three, are at just .464 eFG percentage.
New York Knicks at Los Angeles Clippers: Since losing centerpiece Tyson Chandler to injury three weeks ago, the Knicks defense has become the league's second-worst rated (108.5). Only the crosstown Nets are giving up more points per possession this year, and that bodes badly for coach Mike Woodson's team when they go to Staples Center to battle the Clippers on Wednesday, who boast the league's second-best offense (110.9), are playing at a torrid pace (97.3) and shooting at .534 eFG percentage, both good for fifth in the NBA. Neither team played Tuesday, but expect the Knicks' beleaguered perimeter defense to have a difficult night trying to contain Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None
Second game of a back-to-back: Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
John Wall (at MIL): The Kentucky product is on fire in his last five games, averaging 25.6 points (51.1 FG percent), 8.6 assists, 2.8 steals and 5.0 rebounds in nearly 40 minutes per contest. Although the Wizards will face the Bucks on the second night of a back-to-back set, Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour (110 DRtg) and O.J. Mayo (111 DRtg) are likely to draw the primary assignment on Wall, and none of them should be able to deal with his quickness off the dribble.
Chris Paul (vs NYK): In his third season donning Clipper blue, Paul has been particularly dominant, chipping in 19.3 points and 12.5 assists per game. The Knicks, who have the league's second-worst rated defense, shouldn't slow the Wake Forest product very much, particularly with Raymond Felton (110 DRtg) drawing the primary assignment.
Other options: Eric Bledsoe (vs. POR)
Kevin Martin (vs. DEN): After filling the coveted utility man role in Oklahoma City last season, Martin has experienced a career renaissance with the Wolves, flourishing in coach Rick Adelman's high-tempo offense to the tune of 22.5 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Randy Foye, who holds a meager 108 Defensive rating and gives up a three-inch height advantage to Martin, will draw the defensive assignment for much of the game, so expect a big night from the Western Carolina product.
Other options: Kyle Korver (at HOU), J.J. Redick (vs. NYK), Klay Thompson (at DAL)
Jeff Green (vs. MEM): With Marc Gasol lost indefinitely to a sprained knee, the Grizzlies suddenly don't seem quite as formidable defensively, and they already had just a 105.3 Defensive rating, just 16th in the league. Green hasn't been wildly successful of late, putting up 15.1 points and 4.3 boards per game so far this season, but the Georgetown product will draw Tayshaun Prince and Quincy Pondexter on defense (110 DRtg), giving him plenty of attacking opportunities at the helm of the Celtics offensive.
Other options: Luol Deng (at DET), Evan Turner (at ORL), Jordan Hamilton (at MIN)
Carlos Boozer (at DET): Losing Derrick Rose (knee) yet again means big changes in the Bulls offense, and Boozer, a potential amnesty candidate in the summer who could be playing for his next contract right now, will be expected to fill the gaping hole left by Rose's absence. Boozer lit up the Jazz for 26 points (52.2 FG percent), 16 boards, two steals and an assist in 41 minutes Sunday, and we expect the Duke product to play a major role on Wednesday as he draws the Pistons' least comfortable front line defender, Greg Monroe, as his assignment.
Other options: LaMarcus Aldridge (at PHX), Paul Millsap (at HOU), Thaddeus Young (at ORL)
J.J. Hickson (at MIN): Wednesday's contest between the eighth and 10th ranked teams in offensive rating figures to be a shootout. Hickson, who has been called into the starting role at the five since JaVale McGee's injury, has provided solid production in numerous categories, averaging 14.8 points and 9.8 boards in his last five, but still isn't owned in 100 percent of leagues. With Ronny Turiaf (elbow) sidelined indefinitely, the North Carolina State product will have the advantage of going up against a shorthanded, and defensively suspect Wolves frontcourt.
Other options: Nikola Vucevic (vs. PHIL), Chris Bosh (at CLE), DeAndre Jordan (vs. NYK)
Keith Bogans (illness) has missed the Celtics' last two games, and did not travel with the team to Atlanta.
Onjen Kuzmic (hand) will miss six weeks with a broken hand.
Kobe Bryant (Achilles) says he is “weeks” away from returning.
Andre Iguodala (hamstring) remains out at least for the next three games.
Tobias Harris (ankle) was inactive Tuesday against the Hawks but may be available Wednesday.
Tiago Splitter (mild right ankle sprain) is probable for Wednesday's game after being removed Monday for precautionary reasons.
Brook Lopez (ankle) may return for the Nets' fixture against the Lakers.
Raymond Felton (back) is expected to play Wednesday, although Beno Udrih is likely to get the start.