Defenses to avoid
Charlotte Bobcats at Los Angeles Clippers: Ranking 29th in offensive efficiency (96.4 points per 100 possessions), the Bobcats are typically every team's defensive remedy this year. Add in a road game (Charlotte's third in a five-game, eight-day road swing) against the No. 8 defensive team in the league with the Clippers, and you have a recipe for disaster. Charlotte takes more deep two's (from 15-19 feet away) than any other team in the league, and that trend should probably continue in the midst of a long road trip. While the Clippers don't necessarily excel in one particular area defensively, they're at their best the further the opposing team goes, including being in the top five from outside the arc.
Offenses to use
Philadelphia 76ers at Denver Nuggets: The Sixers have been downright atrocious defensively all year long, but it hasn't been just because of their breakneck pace, which is the league's highest. Ranking 29th in defensive efficiency and 30th in points allowed, Philly figures to allow quite a few points in Denver on New Year's Day against the Nuggets, who also like to run, with the eighth-highest pace in the league. Las Vegas agrees, posting the game's points total at 211. Add to it that Philly is dead last defending from 20-24 feet away, an area where Denver ranks seventh in the league. Yes, the Nuggets' offense has been strikingly average all year long, but look for them to be eager to snap a seven-game losing streak against the road-challenged Sixers.
Teams on a back-to-back set
First game of a back-to-back set: Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers
Second game of a back-to-back set: Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Chris Paul (vs. CHA): He's gone a whole two games without a double-double, so expect Paul to be back at it Wednesday against the Bobcats, despite their relatively stingy defense. He had been held to less than 10 assists only six times this season prior to his recent "slump", so consider him due against Kemba Walker and the Bobcats.
Other options: John Wall (vs. DAL), Monta Ellis (at WAS), Ty Lawson (vs. PHI), Jrue Holiday (at MIN)
Kevin Martin (vs. NO): Slim pickings Wednesday, but Martin has been shooting the ball well recently (46 percent, 16.8 points per game over his last four) and will matchup well against the Pelicans. New Orleans has allowed opposing guards to shoot 46.2 percent, 10th worst in the league and will have a tough time against the bigger Martin.
Other options: DeMar DeRozan (vs. IND), Tony Wroten (at DEN)
Paul George (at TOR): Few players are as hot as George, who has scored at least 20 points in six straight games and is shooting 52 percent in those contests. Without Rudy Gay, Toronto has typically gone smaller with Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan on the wings. It's a tough matchup for either player and should provide George with another opportunity to score around 25 points.
Other options: Shawn Marion (at WAS), Evan Turner (at DEN), Jordan Hamilton (vs. PHI), Wilson Chandler (vs. PHI)
Dirk Nowitzki (at WAS): Yes, both Kevin Love and Blake Griffin will be on the floor Wednesday night, too, but both have somewhat tough matchups while Nowitzki might be due for a breakout. Washington is allowing forwards to shoot 47.3 percent, dead last in the league,and won't matchup particularly well with Nowitzki. He's also been shooting the ball well lately, shooting 48.8 percent and averaging 22.2 points per game over his last five games.
Other options: Kevin Love (vs. NOP) Blake Griffin (vs. CHA)
Anthony Davis (at MIN): Davis has been doing just fine since returning from his wrist injury, shooting 57 percent while averaging 21.3 points per game in six contests. The Timberwolves are fifth worst in field goal percentage defense against centers at 47.6 percent, and will likely have a difficult time with the athletic Davis.
Other options: Spencer Hawes (at DEN), Roy Hibbert (at TOR)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) is expected to be out at least another 1-2 weeks.
JaVale McGee (leg) is still without a timetable for his return.
J.J. Redick (wrist) is expected to still be out for the next 2-3 weeks.
Chase Budinger (knee) is not expected to return for a few weeks still.
Al Harrington (knee) is out Wednesday
Glen Rice (wrist) is out for at least 2-to-4 weeks.
Arnett Moultrie (ankle) is expected to make his return to game action some time in January.
Ryan Hollins (personal) has missed the last two games and his status is uncertain for Wednesday.
Eric Gordon (hip) will try to play Wednesday against Minnesota.
Jason Smith (shoulder) is day-to-day heading into Wednesday's game.