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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Saturday

Michael Chua

Michael Chua

Michael Chua is a basketball statistics expert from the Philippines. He has worked as a student manager for the University of Wisconsin Men's basketball team. He is also the basketball program consultant for his high school alma mater, Shanghai American School, in China.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Bulls are third-best in the league in lowest points allowed per 100 possessions (96.9 defensive rating) and are coming off a victory where they held the Pistons to just 79 points. While this is not too telling as they have only played three games since Derrick Rose (knee) went down, the Bulls are likely to maintain their staunch defense even with Rose out for the season. Meanwhile the Cavaliers have been a mess, coming off a sad 86-103 loss to the lowly Celtics on Friday and struggling to find consistent options outside of Kyrie Irving on offense. It's hard to buy into the Cavaliers for solid Saturday production, especially against the Bulls.

Offenses to Use
Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns: This matchup consideration is a repeat from yesterday's game where the Suns beat the Jazz in Utah 112-101. Now at the Suns' home court, and with Eric Bledsoe (shin) likely to return to the starting lineup, the Suns have another chance to put on an offensive show. In Friday's game, the Suns had six players hit double-digits in scoring—three of whom had at least 19 points. Although the Jazz continue to struggle this season, they also managed to have six players score in double-digits in Friday's game. Despite this, the Suns are still the preferred team to stack players from for Saturday's matchup.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Minnesota Timberwolves
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
Goran Dragic (vs. UTA): Dragic was recommended as a great play Friday against the Jazz (19 points, three rebounds, nine assists and to blocks), and he is likely to have another good performance Saturday. Although teammate Eric Bledsoe (shin) could return to the starting lineup, Dragic will still have the opportunity to shine. He is averaging 17.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 1.0 three-pointers made this season and should continue to play well.

Other options: Aaron Brooks (at SAS), John Wall (vs. ATL)

Shooting Guard
Kevin Martin (at DAL): Martin has been playing inspired basketball this season, averaging 22.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.4 three-pointers made per game. The Mavericks may be without Jose Calderon (ankle) on Saturday, which means Monta Ellis could move over to the point guard spot, and Vince Carter may take up the defensive matchup against Martin. Regardless, Martin's season-high in scoring this year came against the Mavericks, where he scored 32 points (10-19 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 9-10 FT) to go with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Martin should be a solid play Saturday.

Other options: Gordon Hayward (at PHX), Monta Ellis (vs. MIN)

Small Forward
Trevor Ariza (vs ATL): Ariza is on this list more as a value pick Saturday, as the other small forwards are not in especially favorable matchups. Just three games back from his hamstring injury, Ariza has averaged 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 three-pointers per game since returning. His price tag could still be relatively low, and there is a good chance that he can yield solid numbers Saturday.

Other options: Chandler Parsons (at SAS)

Power Forward
Kevin Love (at DAL): Love figures to be one of the top plays Saturday in his matchup against the Mavericks. In their first meeting, he destroyed the Mavericks with 32 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. The Mavericks don't really have any great defensive options against Love, and the talented big man should have no problem going off for another monster night.

Other options: Channing Frye (vs. UTA)

Center
Brook Lopez (at MEM): It may be a stretch to recommend Lopez in only his second game back from an ankle injury. However, the Grizzlies have struggled to contain quicker centers ever since Marc Gasol (knee) sat out. This was evident when Jared Sullinger exploded for 23 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday. Though Kosta Koufos is capable of playing solid defense against bigger, stronger centers, he may have trouble containing Lopez, who has quickness and a variety of moves both inside the post and in the mid-range. If Lopez can log 30-plus minutes Saturday, he should be able to put up valuable numbers.

Other options: Miles Plumlee (vs. UTA)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.
Bradley Beal (leg) will miss at least two weeks of action.
Larry Sanders (thumb) is out until mid-December.
Rajon Rondo (knee) is looking close to 100 percent healthy, but won't return until December.
Jimmy Butler (toe) is out until early December.
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) is out until early December.
Emeka Okafor (neck) is out with a herniated disc in his neck.
Otto Porter (hip) is improving and could return soon.
Chase Budinger (knee) is out for a few more weeks.

Game-Time Decision
James Harden (foot) returned to action Friday but was heavily limited.
Deron Williams (ankle) is dealing with two sore ankles and a Saturday return is possible.
Jose Calderon (ankle) sprained his ankle Friday and is not likely to suit up Saturday.
Kyle Korver (ribs) is dealing with a contusion and is questionable Saturday.
Ersan Ilyasova (hamstring) had a sore hamstring Friday and is not likely to suit up Saturday.
Caron Butler (knee) is dealing with soreness but a Saturday return is possible.
C.J. Miles (calf) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Jason Terry (knee) has missed games due to personal reasons and a sore knee.
Al Harrington (knee) has been struggling to stay healthy.
Devin Harris (toe) could return Saturday, but it is unlikely.

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