Defenses to Avoid
Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat: Overshadowed by a highly efficient offense, Miami's defense is still playing at a near-elite level. The Heat force more turnovers (18.5) than any other team, while ranking fifth in points allowed (95.4) and ninth in opponent's field goal percentage (44 percent). Though Miami has had some issues against opposing three-point shooters, it's no secret that the Pistons are awful from beyond the arc. Detroit ranks dead last in three-point shooting percentage at a miserly 29.4 percent.
Offenses to Use
Denver Nuggets at Brooklyn: The Nets play at a slow pace but have been so bad defensively that they still rank 25th in points allowed at 102.4 per game. As the not-so-proud owners of the league's worst opponent's three-point percentage (40.4), Brooklyn doesn't match up favorably against a Denver squad that converts treys at a 38.5 percent rate. Furthermore, the Nuggets have been surprisingly adept at scoring on the road this season, with 110-plus points in each of their last four games away from home. A banged-up Brooklyn squad may be overmatched against a younger, healthier and faster Denver team.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings
Second game of a back-to-back: Orlando Magic
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Ty Lawson (at BKN): What's not to like here? One of the fastest, most explosive guards in the NBA will be up against a lousy, aging defense that is missing a number of key players. This would be a great matchup for Lawson even if he weren't on pace for career highs in points (20.6), assists (8.2) and free-throw attempts (7.5). While Lawson probably can't quite keep this up all season, he should be in for a big game Tuesday.
Other options: Russell Westbrook (at SAC), Kemba Walker (at DAL), Stephen Curry (vs. TOR) and Brandon Knight (at BOS) who is fully healthy and has topped 30 minutes in each of his last three games.
Arron Afflalo (at PHI): Afflalo put together a modest game against the 76ers in his first matchup against them this season but should be in for a bigger night the second time around. Averaging 21.4 points and 2.3 treys per game, he'll be facing a team that's allowing the most three-pointers in the league (10.7 per game) by a wide margin. A matchup against the dreadful Philadelphia defense could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando team that looked terrible in its last two games. If the Magic are able to turn things around, Afflalo will likely be the one leading the way.
Other options: Jordan Crawford (vs. MIL), Evan Turner (vs. ORL), Klay Thompson (vs. TOR)
LeBron James (vs. DET): James' historical dominance over Detroit's Josh Smith is no secret, with James posting 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in games featuring both players. James has also been on the winning end in 23 of their 29 matchups, while Smith has produced just 12.9 points, 5.7 boards and 2.7 assists on average. Perhaps this will eventually become a real rivalry with Smith's change of scenery, but the Pistons simply aren't there yet, allowing a league-worst opponent's field goal percentage of 47.6 percent. While the Detroit defense figures to get better as the season wears on, we're only worried about Tuesday night.
Other options: Kevin Durant (at SAC), Jeff Green (vs. MIL)
Thaddeus Young (vs. ORL): Young has been on a tear since returning to the lineup last Wednesday, posting 21.7 points, 2.0 three-pointers and 8.3 rebounds over his last three games. Tuesday's matchup brings an Orlando team that has been surprisingly decent on defense this season but that looked terrible in its last two games. While there are certainly better plays available, Young allows you to roll with a hot hand without breaking the bank.
Other options: David Lee (vs. TOR), Serge Ibaka (at SAC)
Nikola Vucevic (at PHI): After both Vucevic and his team struggled in the last two games, Tuesday's matchup provides an excellent opportunity to get back on track. Vucevic should benefit from the 76ers' run-and-gun style, as the extra possessions will leave more rebounds up for grabs. It doesn't hurt that he'll be facing one of the worst defensive teams in the league in a game that could easily turn into a shootout.
Other options: Al Jefferson (at DAL), DeMarcus Cousins (at OKC)
Tobias Harris (ankle) will not return before Friday.
Jameer Nelson (foot) is expected to miss Tuesday's game but could be back Friday.
Chauncey Billups (knee) hasn't played since Nov. 12 and isn't expected to return Tuesday, though he did participate in Friday's pregame shootaround.
Larry Sanders (thumb) is likely out through mid-December, and possibly longer.
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) will likely be out for at least another week.
Rajon Rondo (knee) still doesn't have a timetable.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) remains out indefinitely.
Javale McGee (leg) is out indefinitely.
Andrei Kirilenko (back) is expected to be out through the end of this week.
Paul Pierce (hand) is out for 2-4 weeks.
Jason Terry (knee) is likely out through the end of this week.
Deron Williams (ankle) has been ruled out for Tuesday.
Marc Gasol (sprained knee) is out indefinitely.
Carl Landry (hip) isn't expected back before the All-Star break.
Toney Douglas (leg) has been ruled out for Tuesday.
Andre Iguodala (hamstring) won't play Tuesday but may be nearing a return.
Caron Butler (knee) missed the last two games but hasn't been ruled out for Tuesday.
Ersan Ilyasova (hamstring) is questionable for Tuesday's game, after practicing Monday.
Courtney Lee (knee) is expecting to return Tuesday, though he conceded that head coach Brad Stevens will have the final say.
Zach Randolph (ingrown toenail) missed Saturday's game but hasn't been ruled out for Tuesday.
Jose Calderon (ankle) is a game-time decision Tuesday after missing Saturday's game.