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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Thursday

Eric Kohlbeck

Eric Kohlbeck

Eric Kohlbeck writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Hawks rank in the top half of the NBA in defensive rating at 102.1 (13th) and points allowed per game with 100.1 (14th). However, it's more about the Cavaliers' offensive struggles that could bolster the Hawks defense on Thursday. The Cavs have the fourth worst offensive rating in the league at 97.4 and rank 23rd in points per game at just 95.5. Cleveland has also failed to score 90 points in eight games this season, including earlier this month against the Hawks when they managed just 89 points against them.

Offenses to Use
vs. Los Angeles Clippers: The Trail Blazers come into Thursday's game with one of the best offenses, statistically, in the NBA. Portland ranks first in points per game (108.4) and second in field goals made per game (39.9). Over their last five games, the Trail Blazers have scored well over their season averages, averaging 117.6 points per game. On the other side, the Clippers are in the second game of a back-to-back and are, on average, giving up 101.2 points per game on the second set of a back-to-back.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None

Second game of a back-to-back: Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
Jeff Teague (at CLE): Teague has been filling up the box score over his last four games averaging 17.5 points, 10.5 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game over that stretch. The Cavaliers' defense, including Teague's matchup, Kyrie Irving, has yet to impress (see above). Irving doesn't have a very solid defensive rating at just 105.1, so Teague could very well continue his hot streak on Thursday night in Cleveland.

Other options: Jeremy Lin (vs. MEM)

Shooting Guard
Kyle Korver (at CLE): Korver may be in the midst of one of his best seasons of his 12-year career. This season, he is averaging 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting an astounding 52.1 percent from beyond the arc. Korver's ability to shoot the three-ball could set him up for a big game against the Cavaliers who give up the fourth most three-pointers per game (8.6) and allow teams to shoot 37.2 percent from three-point range, which is ninth worst. Over his last five games, Korver is averaging 14.6 points per game, knocking in 4.4 three-pointers while shooting 57.9 percent from long-range as well.

Other options: Jamal Crawford (at POR)

Small Forward
Kawhi Leonard (at DAL): On Wednesday, Leonard (101.3 offensive rating) was second on the Spurs in scoring and rebounding with 13 points and seven rebounds. Over his last five games, Leonard has been scoring above his season averages (12.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) by averaging 14.6 points and 8.2 rebounds. Leonard has averaged three more minutes per game over that same stretch which has allowed him to increase his stats. His matchup on Thursday against Shawn Marion could provide Leonard with a big night as Marion has a 108.3 defensive rating.

Other options: James Johnson (at HOU) [if Tayshaun Prince doesn't play]

Power Forward
Terrence Jones (vs MEM): Before Wednesday's game against San Antonio, Jones was in a bit of a slump, averaging just 7.0 points per game over his last six games. He turned things around on Wednesday, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. His strong performance on Christmas could carry over to Thursday's game where he will go up against Zach Randolph who has a 106.9 defensive rating. The other member of the Grizzlies frontcourt, Kosta Koufos, has a 102.5 defensive rating, so Jones could be poised for another strong night against Memphis.

Center
DeAndre Jordan (at POR): Jordan consistently hauls in double-digit rebounds and blocks shots, ranking in the top five of each category. There will be plenty of chances for Jordan to block shots and grab rebounds as the Trail Blazers average the third most shots per game (87.4). Going up against Robin Lopez (103.6) could bolster Jordan's point total on Thursday and push him towards a double-double and another solid outing.

Other options: Brandan Wright (vs. SAS)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Marc Gasol (knee) is out but could return within the next couple weeks.
Quincy Pondexter (foot) is out for the rest of the season.
Omer Asik (thigh) is “unlikely to play anytime soon” according to head coach Kevin McHale.
Patrick Beverley (hand) is out for four-to-six weeks.
Devin Harris (toe) is out until at least January.
J.J. Redick (hand) is out.
CJ McCollum (foot) has been cleared to practice but will be out on Thursday.

Game-Time Decision
Cartier Martin (ankle) did not play in Monday's game against the Heat.
Dion Waiters (wrist) has missed the Cavs' last two games but could return on Thursday.
Tayshaun Prince (knee) has missed the Grizzlies' last three games, and his status is unknown for Thursday.
Greg Smith (knee) has missed the Rockets' last two games.
Reggie Bullock (ankle) missed Wednesday's game and his status for Thursday is unknown.
James Harden (ankle) returned to action Wednesday, but there's always the possibility he could miss a game until his ankle injury completely heals.