Defenses to Avoid
Charlotte Bobcats at Miami Heat: As the surging Heat face the struggling Bobcats, a matchup Sunday figures to favor the Heat heavily both from a reality and fantasy perspective. The Heat are seventh-best in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions (99.0 defensive rating). Furthermore, the Bobcats are one of the least-polished offensive teams, second-worst in the league in points scored per 100 possessions (93.9 defensive rating). In their first matchup of the season, the Heat beat the Bobcats 97-81 on the Bobcats' home court. It would be reasonable to expect only scarce amount of fantasy-worthy production from the Bobcats on Sunday, making it hard to recommend them as a value play.
Offenses to Use
Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder: Two offensive-minded teams in the Timberwolves and Thunder face up Sunday in a matchup that should feature many great plays for daily games. Both teams are within the top six in the NBA in pace (Timberwolves second at 101.19, and Thunder sixth at 99.15). Each with two top-five fantasy players in Kevin Durant and Kevin Love, packed with other notable assets in Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic. The Timberwolves-Thunder game should be full of surprises.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers
Second game of a back-to-back: Minnesota Timberwolves
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Russell Westbrook (vs. MIN): Westbrook didn't have the pleasure of facing off against the Timberwolves in the teams' first matchup early in the season due to his knee injury. While Westbrook has yet to find his usual state of consistency so far this season, he will have a chance to follow up his 34-point performance Friday with a great game Sunday. The Timberwolves are dead-last in the league in points allowed for opposing eligible point guards (30.4 points), and Westbrook figures to make a good play Sunday.
Other options: Steve Blake (vs. POR), Michael Carter-Williams (at DET)
Jamal Crawford (vs. IND): While it is often hard to recommend players in matchups against the Pacers, Crawford may be a value pick Sunday. With Chris Paul (hamstring) not at full health, and J.J. Redick (wrist) likely to miss the game, Crawford will have every opportunity to take up the scoring load. He is coming off a monster game against the Kings where he put up 31 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists. Look for Crawford to make his money's worth Sunday, despite the tough matchup.
Other options: Kevin Martin (at OKC)
Evan Turner (at DET): Turner has been exceeding expectations this season, and he should have another chance for a strong play Sunday. The Pistons are second-worst in the league in points allowed for opposing eligible small forwards (36.6), and fifth-worst for assists allowed (6.7). Turner is averaging 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists over his last four games, and should continue to play well as the Sixers' top offensive option.
Other options: Paul George (at LAC), Kevin Durant (vs. MIN)
Pau Gasol (vs. POR): Gasol has had a history of torching the Blazers in matchups against LaMarcus Aldridge, averaging 18.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 blocks last season and 15.0 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 blocks in the 2011-2012 season. While the two teams have yet to face each other this year, the Blazers are giving up 39.9 points (fifth-worst) and 21.6 rebounds (seventh-worst) to opposing power forward eligible players this year. Gasol is the Lakers' top offensive option with Kobe Bryant (Achilles) on the shelf, and he should have the opportunity to have a monster game Sunday.
Other options: Kevin Love (at OKC), Ryan Anderson (at NYK)
Spencer Hawes (at DET): Hawes has been a consistent perimeter threat for the Sixers this year and has hit at least one three-pointer in every game he's played this season. While the Pistons' defense against opposing eligible centers is above average, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe will have to step out to guard Hawes. Despite just coming back from a minor knee injury, Hawes has an opportunity to explode against the low-post focused defense of the Pistons' frontcourt.
Other options: Nikola Pekovic (at OKC)
Kobe Bryant (Achilles) could return as early as Friday.
Steve Nash (back) is out for at least another week.
Andre Iguodala (hamstring) is out for at least another week.
Tyson Chandler (knee) is out until mid December.
JaVale McGee (leg) is out until mid December.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) is still without a timetable to return.
Matt Barnes (eye) is out recovering from retinal surgery.
Chase Budinger (knee) is out at least a couple more weeks.
Chris Paul (hamstring) wants to play Sunday, but he remains a game-time decision.
J.J. Redick (wrist) had his MRI come back negative, and a return Sunday is possible but unlikely.
Jordan Hill (ankle) sprained his ankle Friday but is expected to play Sunday.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (foot) is dealing with plantar fasciitis, but the plan is for him to play Sunday.
Kendrick Perkins (finger) dislocated his finger Friday but is likely to play Sunday.
Toney Douglas (leg) could return Sunday, but it is unlikely.
Chauncey Billups (knee) has been struggling to stay on the court with knee pain.