Defenses to Avoid
Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz: The Pacers have been far and away the NBA's best defense this season (94.25 defensive rating), and coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Blazers on Monday, don't expect Frank Vogel's team to miss a beat against the Jazz's anemic offense (100.43 offensive rating), which has hardly improved since the return of rookie point guard Trey Burke, who is averaging 12.6 points and 3.4 assists, albeit on just 39.3 percent from the field.
Offenses to Use
Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans were not a particularly formidable defensive team before losing Anthony Davis to a broken finger (107.42 defensive rating), and with the Kentucky star out, Wednesday's tilt against the potent Mavericks offense should be particularly tough, even with coach Rick Carlisle's team on the second game of a back-to-back. The injury forces Pelicans coach Monty Williams to send below-average rim protectors Jason Smith (109 defensive rating) and Ryan Anderson (113 defensive rating) to seal off shot opportunities for Dirk Nowitzki (shooting 54.3 percent from the field in his last five) and driving lanes for Monta Ellis.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back set: Los Angeles Clippers
Second game of a back-to-back: Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Brandon Knight (vs. DET): Although he has a long way to go to fulfill the high expectations bestowed upon him following the 2011 Draft, the Kentucky product, on a hot streak in his last five (averaging 13.4 points, five assists and four rebounds in 28.6 minutes) will face a favorable matchup Wednesday against the Pistons defensively deficient backcourt. Neither team will be fresh on the second night of a back-to-back, but with Chauncey Billups and Will Bynum lost indefinitely, expect Knight to have a strong offensive evening against Brandon Jennings (109 defensive rating) and Rodney Stuckey (109 defensive rating).
George Hill (at UTA): Hill will face the aforementioned rookie Trey Burke Wednesday (110 defensive rating), who has yet to prove himself anything close to a stalwart in stopping opponents off the dribble. Expect Hill, who has averaged four free throw attempts in his last five games, to take the initiative in trying to get the ball to the basket, and draw fouls, as he is shooting 89.5 percent from the charity stripe of late.
Other options: Jrue Holiday (vs. DAL)
Kyle Korver (vs. LAC): Korver appears all set to return to the Hawks' starting lineup Wednesday after missing the team's last five tilts with a knee injury. With JJ Redick hobbled, Korver will draw utilityman Willie Green (111 defensive rating) in a shorthanded Clippers backcourt. Korver is having a terrific campaign so far, shooting 50 percent from three this season and 51 percent from the field, so expect him to be a focal point of coach Mike Budenholzer's attack Wednesday.
Other options: Goran Dragic (at HOU), OJ Mayo (vs. DET), Randy Foye (at CLE)
Josh Smith (vs. MIL): Smith could be poised for a big night against a Bucks squad whose defensive rating is tied for fifth worst in the NBA at 104.9. If Caron Butler can't play on Wednesday, Smith will face backup forward Khris Middleton (100.9 defensive rating). Smith has been playing a little below his season averages his last five games so Wednesday could set up to be a good night for both Smith and the Pistons. He's a sometimes dangerous play in daily leagues due to inconsistency, but when Smith puts a full game together, his ability to post stats in every counting category can make him one of the most valuable daily league plays on a given night.
Other options: Paul George (at UTA)
David West (at UTA): The Pacers' potent, slow-it-down offense (93.1 pace) should feast on the Jazz's beleaguered small-ball defensive unit tonight, and West stands to be the primary benefactor. Enes Kanter has been demoted for his poor play following his return from an ankle injury, which has forced Derrick Favors to the five and Richard Jefferson to the four. That gives West a critical size advantage in the post and at midrange, so expect plenty of field goal attempts and rebounds from West on Wednesday.
Other options: Dirk Nowitzki (at NO), Greg Monroe (at MIL), Channing Frye (at HOU)
Jason Smith (vs. DAL): Smith boasts unusual effectiveness as a mid-range shooter, and will see a major boost in minutes and touches with Anthony Davis (finger) out. The Colorado State product played 47 minutes Monday, scoring 12 points and grabbing 14 boards, and with Dallas focusing on the Pelicans' primary offensive weapons Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson, Smith could have a big night in extended time.
Other options: Andre Drummond (at MIL), J.J. Hickson (at CLE), Tiago Splitter (at MIN)
Ronny Turiaf (elbow) is participating in shooting drills, but there is no timetable set for his return.
Omer Asik (thigh contusion) is expected to miss one week of play.
Greg Smith (knee) sprained his LCL on November 14, and is not expected to return to practice until at least Saturday.
Jose Calderon (ankle) limped off of the court after Tuesday's game and may be scratched against the Pelicans.
Chandler Parsons (back) is still experiencing back tightness and his status for tonight's game will be decided before tip.
Earl Clark (illness) is expected to return from a one-game absence against the Nuggets.
Kyle Korver (knee) has missed the Hawks past four games with a tweak, but is expected to return against the Clippers tonight.
Alex Len (ankle) did not play Tuesday due to a coach's decision, and may not suit up Wednesday.
Jeremy Evans (illness) sat out practice yesterday with the flu, and his status is uncertain for tonight's game.
Marvin Williams (heel) missed practice Tuesday and is considered doubtful to play.