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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
Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers: The Pacers lead the league in defensive rating and points allowed per game, and will be fresh and energized on their home court after not playing Saturday or Sunday, while the Pistons just suffered an overtime loss to the Trail Blazers in which Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Brandon Jennings all played at least 40 minutes. Indiana also matches up well against the Pistons defensively with Paul George guarding Josh Smith, David West guarding Greg Monroe, and Roy Hibbert guarding Andre Drummond. When the two teams met earlier this season, the Pistons scored 91 points on 37.9 percent shooting. Look for a rested Pacers team to stifle Detroit's offense.

Offenses to Use
Utah Jazz at Miami Heat: Miami brings their number two offensive rating up against Utah's league-worst defensive rating at home, playing just their second game in six days, with the Jazz playing some especially terrible defensive in December. In their past six games the Jazz have given up an average of 106.8 points per game, more than five points worse than their season average of 101.6. After a strong outing against the Cavaliers Saturday night in which they scored 114 points, the Heat appear rested and as deadly on offense as ever.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First night of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Lakers

Second night of a back-to-back: Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
John Wall (at NY): Wall is averaging 20.6 points and 10.4 assists over his last five games and goes up against a Knicks team with a 27th-ranked defensive rating. The first time these two teams met, Wall finished with 31 points and seven assists, and with Bradley Beal (leg) and Nene Hilario (Achilles) not suiting up Monday like they did the first time these teams played, Wall should see a larger role offensively against the Knicks.

Other options: Trey Burke (at MIA), Chris Paul (vs. LAC), Tony Wroten (at BKN), Deron Williams (vs. PHI) [Potentially the best value play of a superstar.]

Shooting Guard
Lance Stephenson (vs. UTA): With George, West, and Hibbert's hands being full defensively and keeping Detroit's bigs off the boards, it will be up the Stephenson to relieve them of some of the offensive load. Stephenson has been averaging 14.0 points on 50.9 percent shooting in his last five games, and should be poised for another efficient night against the Pistons. Stephenson's real value comes from being able to contribute in multiple categories though, including points, rebounds, assists, steals, and threes, and the Pistons are among the worst in the league when it comes to opponent field goal percentage, threes made, assists, and steals. Stephenson may not have a huge scoring night, but expect him to contribute in several categories.

Other options: Dwyane Wade (vs. UTA) [He's a perpetual game-time decision, so be careful.], Kobe Bryant (at ATL), Jimmy Butler (vs. ORL),

Small Forward
Lebron James (vs. UTA): While James seems to produce top-tier stat lines every night, he's actually been in a shooting slump lately, particularly from three. In his last five games, James is scoring 21.6 points (down from his season average of 25.0) on 56.9 percent shooting from the field and a terrible 16.7 percent from three (down from 42.0 percent from the season). Having made just two threes in his last five games, the Jazz seem like a good threat to end James' drought. James has made up it by grabbing 9.8 rebounds and dishing out 6.8 assists in that same time span though, along with 2.6 steals. To be fair, James had two particularly rough outings against the Pacers and the Bulls, two of the best defensive teams in the league and boasting great defensive forwards in Paul George and Luol Deng, in which he shot a combined 13 for 33 from the field. Against a mediocre defensive team like the Jazz, Lebron shouldn't have any problems scoring. The biggest worry is that a blowout would lead to James playing reduced minutes.

Other options: Carmelo Anthony (vs. WAS), Arron Afflalo (at CHI), Trevor Ariza (at NYK) [For whatever reason, Ariza's salary has remained relatively the same on most sites this season despite his good production.]

Power Forward
Kevin Love (at BOS): Love has been a monster lately, averaging 31.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in his last four games along with 17 made threes and 48.8 percent shooting from the field and 58.6 shooting from three. He also averaged 4.5 assists in those games, and appears poised for another big game against the Celtics' frontcourt of Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger. On the other hand, the Celtics give up the fewest threes (5.4 per game) of any team in the league, so Love may have to go to work from close range to get his points. Even with the chance of fewer threes than normal, Love is the best option at power forward Monday.

Other options: Paul Millsap (vs. LAL), Carlos Boozer (vs. ORL), Jordan Hill (at ATL) [This is a feast or famine play depending on how many minutes Hill gets, but he's expected to start.]

Center
Roy Hibbert (vs. PHI): Despite Hibbert likely having his hands full defensively against Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in the post, Hibbert should be able to rack up some statistics in multiple categories against the Pistons. The last time the two teams played, Hibbert only scored eight points (on eight shots), but grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked seven shots. The Pistons struggle to defend the post, and are among the worst in the league in shots given up in the paint and opponent field goal percentage within five feet of the hoop. As one of the biggest guys in the league, bigger than Drummond, Hibbert should prove a challenge for Detroit to defend and is primed to reward fantasy owners with points, rebounds, blocks, and a good field goal percentage. Over his last five games Hibbert has averaged 15.8 points on 57.4 percent shooting, a noticeable jump from his season and career averages.

Other options: Al Horford (vs. LAL), Marcin Gortat (at NYK), Nikola Vucevic (at CHI) [If Kirk Hinrich (back) sits out again, the Bulls offense could stagnate and miss a lot of shots, creating a bevy of rebounds for Vucevic.]

INJURY REPORT

Out
Daniel Orton (suspension) was suspended for Monday's game.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.
Rajon Rondo (knee) will not return until January at the earliest.
Tyson Chandler (knee) is being evaluated Monday.
Raymond Felton (hamstring) is out 2-3 weeks.
Steve Blake (elbow) is out for at least six weeks.
Steve Nash (soreness) does not have a timetable to return.
Jordan Farmar (hamstring) hopes to return earlier than expected.
Danny Granger (calf) says he hopes to return as soon as this week.
Jason Terry (knee) has no timetable for his return.
Andrei Kirilenko (knee) has no timetable for his return.
Chase Budinger (knee) may not return until mid-January.
Bradley Beal (leg) did not participate in Friday's shootaround, remains out indefinitely.

Game-Time Decision
Brook Lopez (ankle) is questionable for Monday's game.
Mirza Teletovic (illness) did not practice on Sunday.
Joe Johnson (illness) did not practice on Sunday.
Kris Humphries (knee) was given the green light to play in Monday's game.
Kirk Hinrich (back) did not play Saturday.
Gustavo Ayon (ankle) did not play Saturday.
Tiago Splitter (calf) expects to play Monday.
Michael Carter-Williams (knee) is expected to return sometime this week.
Nene Hilario (foot) did not play Saturday.

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