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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Monday

Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes

Chris Barnes covers the Oklahoma City Thunder and writes weekly NBA columns for Rotowire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Dallas Mavericks at Sacramento Kings: The Mavericks are just 23rd in defensive rating this season, however they've strung together eight games where they've given up an average of 97.8 points per game, which would rank them eighth in the league if they had kept that up the entire season so far. The Mavericks also face off against the Kings, who rank 18th in offensive rating and 20th in points per game. The Kings' lineup is also in flux at the moment, having just traded away Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, and Chuck Hayes, all who had at least a small role in the Kings' rotation. The Kings' offense might seem lost at times without their starting point guard and small forward, so be wary of their offensive production.

Offenses to Use
Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz: The Blazers, who are ranked first in the league in offensive rating and second in points per game, visit the Jazz tonight after scoring 130 points against them just a few days ago and playing their reserves the entire fourth quarter. Additionally, the Blazers are coming off a harsh loss against the Mavericks, so their offense will likely be fast and focused the moment the game begins. Utah is also ranked last in defensive rating and 25th in points allowed per game. Expect the Blazers to run up a score similar to the last time they played Utah.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First night of a back-to-back: None
Second night of a back-to-back: Orlando Magic

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
Isaiah Thomas (vs. DAL): Thomas has been scoring 17.7 points per game while coming off the bench this season, and with Vasquez being shipped off in the Rudy Gay trade, Thomas should see an increase in minutes as well as being promoted to the starting lineup. While Gay will undoubtedly take some of the Kings' shot in future games he likely won't play tonight as the trade was just announced yesterday evening, which should leave Thomas as the focal point for the Kings' offense tonight. While Dallas' defense has picked up recently, they are not on the same level as some of the elite defensive teams in the league. Expect Thomas to see an increase in both his minutes and his role on the offensive end as well.

Other options: Damian Lillard (at UTA), Chris Paul (at PHI), Stephen Curry (at CHA).

Shooting Guard
Wesley Matthews (at UTA): Matthews struggled against the Mavericks on Saturday, scoring just four points in 35 minutes on 2-10 shooting while missing all four three point attempts and not shooting any free throws. He'll look to rebound and continue his strong offensive season, particularly on the perimeter where he ranks 5th in threes made this season while shooting 49.1 percent. When the Blazers played the Jazz on Friday, Matthews scored 24 points in 28 minutes on 8-11 shooting and 4-6 shooting from three to go with 4-5 shooting from the free throw line. Between playing against one of the worst defenses in the league and looking to rebound from a poor outing in his last game, Matthews should be expected to shoot well from the field and score around or near 20 points while making a good number of threes like he normally does.

Other options: Klay Thompson (at CHA), Monta Ellis (at SAC).

Small Forward
Trevor Ariza (vs. DEN): Ariza has scored over 20 points in each of his last three games while connecting on 21 of his 31 shots in those games, including 14 of his 20 three point attempts. He'll look to continue his hot streak tonight against the Denver Nuggets, who rank 18th in defensive rating and 22nd in points given up per game. Ariza has also averaged seven rebounds per game over that span to go with three assists and two steals, so his production has been notable in several statistics. The Wizards also lost Martell Webster and Nene on Friday and neither appear ready to return on Monday against the Nuggets, so look for Webster to temporarily take on an even larger role offensively.

Other options: Nicolas Batum (at UTA).

Power Forward
LaMarcus Aldridge (At UTA): Aldridge has been a force this season, averaging 23.1 points and 10.1 rebounds, both career highs for him. Aldridge has been even better in his last five games, averaging 26.4 points and 12.0 rebounds a game on 55.2 percent shooting. He'll look to record his fifth straight double-double tonight against the Jazz, when he recorded 20 points and 15 rebounds against them in 29 minutes on Friday. Aldridge's increase in rebounding has been particularly nice, and he is averaging a double-double for the first time in his career. Look for him to keep up his hot shooting and rebounding tonight against a poor Jazz defense.

Dirk Nowitzki (at SAC), David Lee (at CHA).

Center
Kosta Koufos (vs. ORL): Koufos has played well in his last five games as Memphis' starting center in place of Marc Gasol, averaging 11.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks. He hasn't been shooting very well (41.4 percent in the past five games), but he'll continue to produce double-double numbers to go with blocks and a steal or two each game. Koufos will play against a Magic team ranked 22nd in offensive rating and 29th in points allowed per game, with Nikola Vucevic yet to return to the team as their starting center after spraining his ankle.

Other options: DeMarcus Cousins (vs. DAL), JJ Hickson (at WAS).

INJURY REPORT

Out
Bismack Biyombo (ankle) will not play after spraining his ankle in practice on Friday.
Jeffery Taylor (heel) will not play Monday.
Marvin Williams (heel) will miss his fourth consecutive game Monday.
Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) was released from the hospital Sunday and is considered day-to-day.
Toney Douglas (leg) has been ruled out of Monday's game.
Andre Iguodala (hamstring) is listed as out for Monday's game.
Ty Lawson (hamstring) is likely to miss Monday's game
Quincy Pondexter (foot) is out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his foot.


Game-Time Decision
Derrick Favors (ankle) missed Friday's game and will be a game-time decision on Monday.
Nikola Vucevic (ankle) is a game-time decision for Monday's game.
DeAndre Jordan (heel) will be a game-time decision for Monday's game.

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