Defenses to Avoid
San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz: The Spurs will play the Jazz at Utah in a matchup that isn't likely to produce favorable fantasy-relevant outcomes for the home team. Second to only the Indiana Pacers, the Spurs hold opposing teams to just 95.9 points per 100 possessions. This figure is even more relevant because the Jazz are among the slowest teams in the league in terms of pace, averaging just 93.92 possessions per game. With the inconsistency of the Jazz over the course of the season, it's hard to recommend them for fantasy play as they face the Spurs on Saturday.
Offenses to Use
Portland Trail Blazers at Philadelphia 76ers: The Trail Blazers have been torrid on offense for the majority of the season and should continue to score in high figures Saturday night. They boast the league's best offensive rating, scoring 109.5 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, the Sixers lead the league in pace, averaging 101.5 possessions per game. The Sixers' fast-paced game speed together with the fourth-worst defensive rating (104.9 points allowed per 100 possessions) could lead to a massive night for several players on the Trail Blazers.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Portland Trail Blazers
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Damian Lillard (at PHI): The Sixers give up 27.5 points (fifth-worst), 7.5 rebounds (worst), 12.6 assists (worst), 2.8 steals (second-worst), and 3.2 three-pointers made (second-worst) to opposing eligible point guards and are shorthanded in depth with Michael Carter-Williams (knee) likely to miss the game. Lillard should have a solid night against the Sixers, who play in a fast-paced setting that will benefit him.
Jeff Teague (at NYK): The Knicks are among the worst in the league in defense against opposing eligible point guards, allowing 28.0 points per game. Teague has a good chance at taking advantage of a short handed Knicks' backcourt, who will be without starter Raymond Felton (hamstring) on Saturday.
Kemba Walker (vs. LAL): Walker will face the short handed Lakers, who have a weak perimeter defense in general.
Tony Wroten (vs. POR): Wroten continues to hold solid value with Michael Carter-Williams (knee) possibly out another game.
Terrence Ross (at CHI): Despite the Bulls having above-average defense in general, Ross could be worth his price tag Saturday night. Ross is heavily reliant on his shot, and while everything could go wrong against the solid Bulls' defense, Ross is worth taking a flier on while he's getting heavy minutes and the bulk of shots in Rudy Gay's absence. He is coming off a 24-point performance against the Sixers, and he shouldn't be too pricey to take the risk on.
Wesley Matthews (at PHI): Matthews will have a chance to start an assault from downtown against the fast-paced Sixers.
Monta Ellis (vs. MIL): If you are looking to spend a higher budget at the shooting guard position, Ellis could be a solid investment in a game against his former team.
LeBron James (vs. CLE): With a lot of the high-end players facing tough matchups on Saturday, James should be considered a safe option to carry the heavy load from a fantasy perspective. He has always put on a show against the Cavaliers, as he dominated in their first matchup of the season, posting 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. The Cavaliers may struggle to guard him, and even if a blowout occurs, James should see enough minutes to produce fantasy value for his expensive price tag relative to other high-end players.
Jimmy Butler (vs. CHI): Butler returned to action Friday and put up 16 points, two rebounds, one assist, and three steals in 37 minutes of action. He may still be priced lower than what he's worth, as he is coming off a long absence due to a toe injury.
Martell Webster (vs. LAC): Webster should be considered a budget option at the small forward position, as he has just returned from an ankle injury and will continue to see big minutes with Bradley Beal (leg) out.
Dirk Nowitzki (vs. MIL): The Bucks are among the worst in the league in defense against opposing eligible power forwards, giving up 38.7 points (eighth-worst), 25.6 rebounds (worst), 6.2 assists (fourth-worst), 3.1 steals (third-worst), and 1.9 three-pointers made (seventh-worst) per game. Nowitzki has been on a tear in December, averaging 23.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, and 2.0 three-pointers made so far. He will have an opportunity to put up strong numbers against the Bucks' lackluster defense, and should be penned in as a safe option Saturday night.
Trevor Booker (vs. LAC): Booker could continue to produce well for his price tag if Nene (foot) continues to sit. He is averaging 11.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals in five games as a starter this season, and should be considered as a budget option on Saturday.
Marcin Gortat (vs. LAC): Gortat has been consistent throughout the course of the season, averaging 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. While Clippers' center DeAndre Jordan has been effective on the glass and defensive end this season, much of his blocks come as a result of opposing guards' dribble penetration. Gortat won't necessarily go off against the Clippers, but his consistency will make him a safe bet to put up solid numbers Saturday night.
John Henson (at DAL): Henson has been on fire, averaging 16.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.4 blocks over his last five games. His price tag figures to still be worth his production, and it would be hard to shy away from Henson in a matchup against the Mavericks.
Spencer Hawes (vs. POR): Feel free to deploy Hawes as a medium-risk, high-reward option at the center position if you have the budget to spare.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the regular season.
Bradley Beal (leg) did some court workouts Wednesday but is still without a timetable to return.
Tyson Chandler (knee) has been working on conditioning but is still at least two weeks away.
Raymond Felton (hamstring) is out for two-to-three weeks.
Steve Nash (soreness) is out without a timetable to return.
Steve Blake (elbow) is out for a minimum of six weeks.
Jordan Farmar (hamstring) has been improving but will remain out Saturday.
Larry Sanders (thumb) has been cleared for basketball activity but remains without a timetable.
Caron Butler (knee) is out for another week-to-10 days.
J.J. Redick (wrist) is out for six-to-eight weeks.
Matt Barnes (eye) could return soon but will continue to recover from eye surgery.
Zaza Pachulia (foot) was diagnosed with a fractured foot and will miss four weeks.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) is out for four-to-six weeks.
Michael Beasley (hamstring) is out Saturday against the Cavaliers.
Devin Harris (toe) remains out for at least another two weeks.
Michael Carter-Williams (knee) could return Saturday although it is highly unlikely.
Luol Deng (Achilles) is considered questionable to play Saturday.
Nene (foot) is considered questionable to play Saturday.
Tiago Splitter (calf) is considered questionable to play Saturday.
Kenyon Martin (abdomen) sustained an abdominal strain Friday and is questionable to play.
Brendan Wright (shoulder) could make his debut Saturday against the Bucks.