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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
Indiana Pacers at San Antonio Spurs: The two best defensive teams matchup on Saturday in a game that promises to be scrappy and gritty. The Pacers and the Spurs are the best and second-best in the league in fewest points allowed per 100 possessions (90.9 and 94.0 defensive rating, respectively). They have yet to play each other this season, but it will be hard to pick out solid plays from either team, as both have the tendency to shut down opposing star players. On a Saturday night with several games featuring offensive-minded teams, one could find better plays elsewhere.

Offenses to Use
Los Angeles Clippers at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Clippers are fourth-best in the league in points scored per 100 possessions (107.4 offensive rating) and are the eighth-quickest team in the league in terms of pace (98.02). They will face the Cavaliers on Saturday, a team that is among the worst in the league in defense (103.2 defensive rating). The Cavaliers are on the second night of a back-to-back, losing 89-108 against the Hawks on Friday. Chris Paul and company should have no problem exploiting the Cavaliers' defense, making them solid plays Saturday.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat
Second game of a back-to-back: Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
Tony Wroten (vs. DEN): Wroten gets a spot here for the second consecutive night as Michael Carter-Williams (knee) is highly unlikely to suit up against the Nuggets. After recommending Wroten yesterday, he went off for 21 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, one steal and one block Friday. It's extremely unlikely he matches that kind of output for the second straight game, but Wroten looks to be a value play Saturday.

Other options: Chris Paul (at CLE), Brandon Knight (vs. BKN), Damian Lillard (vs. DAL)

Shooting Guard
Jamal Crawford (at CLE): Crawford will continue to play significant minutes with J.J. Redick (wrist) out for an extended period of time. The Cavaliers are among the worst in the league in terms of points given up to opposing eligible shooting guards (40.2 points per game). Crawford hasn't exactly had the hot hand lately, shooting just 38 percent from the field over his last three games. Perhaps he will finally get out of his slump Saturday when the Clippers face the Cavaliers.

Other options: Dion Waiters (vs. LAC), Gordon Hayward (vs. SAC)

Small Forward
Luol Deng (vs. DET): Deng has averaged 27.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.4 three-pointers made over his last five games and has been playing excellently with Derrick Rose (knee) out of the lineup. The Pistons are the worst in the league in points allowed for opposing eligible small forwards (38.5 points per game). Deng torched the Pistons for 27 points (11-17 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 4-4 FT), six rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in their first matchup of the season and should be able to continue his dominance Saturday.

Other options: Evan Turner (vs. DEN), Nicolas Batum (vs. DAL)

Power Forward
Blake Griffin (at CLE): Although the Cavaliers are among the better defensive teams against power forwards, Griffin's versatility, quickness, and range could cause problems for Tristan Thompson, who is more effective in the low post defensively. Griffin has been rather quiet lately, shooting under 47 percent from the field four times out of his last five games. Griffin is averaging 53 percent shooting from the field this season, and the law of averages should imply that he will return to that state soon enough. With a wide arsenal of skills, Griffin will be able to contribute in multiple categories as well, as he is averaging 10.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game this season. Consider Griffin a solid play Saturday against the Cavaliers.

Other options: Thaddeus Young (vs. DEN), Dirk Nowitzki (at POR)

Center
DeMarcus Cousins (at UTA): The Jazz are among the worst in the league in defense against opposing eligible centers, allowing 19.0 points (second-worst), 11.5 rebounds (third-worst), 2.0 blocks (worst), 51.1 percent FG (fourth-worst) and 15.3 FG attempts (third-most) per game. Cousins will look to feast on the Jazz's frontcourt featuring an up-and-down Enes Kanter in the middle and should be considered a safe bet for solid play Saturday.

Other options: Spencer Hawes (vs. DEN), John Henson (vs. BKN), Nikola Pekovic (vs. MIA)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Kevin Love (personal) will not be with the team Saturday as he is out due to a personal matter.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the regular season.
Jimmy Butler (toe) is still without a timetable to return.
Marc Gasol (knee) is out for four-plus weeks.
Michael Carter-Williams (knee) shouldn't miss too much time but is unlikely to play Saturday.
Andre Iguodala (hamstring) is with the team on their road trip but has yet to practice.
Deron Williams (ankle) hopes to return Tuesday against the Celtics but will miss Saturday's game.
JaVale McGee (leg) is out until late December.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) is still without a timetable to return.
Larry Sanders (thumb) is still without a timetable to return.
Carlos Delfino (foot) is out for a large portion of the season.
J.J. Redick (wrist) is out for six-to-eight weeks.
Matt Barnes (eye) is recovering from retinal surgery and should return in a week.
Danny Granger (knee) had a limited practice Friday and may return soon.
Will Bynum (hamstring) is recovering and could return soon but will miss Saturday's game.
Devin Harris (toe) is still without a timetable to return.
Brendan Wright (shoulder) could return within a week.

Game-Time Decision
Ty Lawson (hamstring) strained his hamstring Friday and is questionable Saturday.
Caron Butler (knee) has been dealing with a sore knee and could return Saturday.
Zaza Pachulia (foot) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Marvin Williams (heel) could return to the lineup Saturday.
Toney Douglas (leg) could return to the lineup Saturday.
Ed Davis (ankle) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Tony Allen (hip) sat out Thursday with a hip contusion and could return Saturday.
Tiago Splitter (calf) "doesn't look good" to play Saturday, according to coach Gregg Popovich.
Chauncey Billups (knee) practiced Friday and a Saturday return is possible but unlikely.