Defenses to Avoid
Sacramento Kings at Indiana Pacers: As expected, the Indiana defense has been a nightmare for the rest of the league this season. The Pacers haven't surrendered triple-digit points since Dec. 16, and they've held their opponent below the century mark in 18 of 19 home games. As if that weren't enough, the Pacers have no pressing injury concerns and have not played since Friday, when they held Washington to a meager 66 points. Three of Indiana's last four opponents failed to crack the 80-point barrier, and Sacramento is in danger of meeting the same fate against a healthy, well-rested defensive juggernaut. Even with the Kings playing much better lately, it's hard to expect too much in a road matchup versus the Pacers.
Offenses to Use
Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs have been a disaster on the offensive end this season but should have some luck Tuesday against a banged-up Lakers team that can't play a lick of defense lately. The Lakers surrendered a minimum of 110 points in each of their last four games and were outscored by 85 points over that stretch. The recent run of terrible basketball shouldn't be particularly surprising, as the team is still ravished by injuries. In addition to the laundry list of players already out Tuesday, Pau Gasol (foot) is questionable, and Nick Young is expected to play through a sore back. The Lakers are 25th in defensive rating (105.3) and 29th in both points allowed per game (105.2) and opponent's turnovers per game (12.7). Given the number of players out for Tuesday's game, those ugly numbers may actually overstate the team's current ability to defend. As bad as Cleveland has been this season, the addition of Luol Deng will help, and Tuesday's matchup is as good as it gets.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Charlotte Bobcats, Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers
Second game of a back-to-back: New York Knicks
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Raymond Felton (at CHA): In four games since returning from a groin injury, Felton is averaging 13.3 points, 6.8 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 three-pointer in 37.5 minutes. He attempted at least nine field goals in each of those four games, while showing no ill effects from the groin injury. Tuesday, he'll face a Charlotte team that has struggled against opposing point guards all season, most recently surrendering 20 points and 12 assists to D.J. Augustin in Saturday's 103-97 loss to the Bulls. Even with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) slated to return Tuesday, the Bobcats are unlikely to return to their early-season defensive form.
Other options: Kyrie Irving (at LAL), Kendall Marshall (vs. CLE)
Jodie Meeks (vs. CLE): The Lakers are starved for bodies at the moment, meaning that Meeks, Kendall Marshall, Wes Johnson, and Nick Young (back) all figure to log heavy minutes Tuesday. And, if Pau Gasol (questionable-toe) sits, the frontcourt will be just as problematic. Marshall has been a daily fantasy star for the last two weeks but isn't exactly flying under the radar anymore. Meeks scored at least 18 points in four consecutive games to open 2014, before putting up just 11 in Friday's blowout loss to the Clippers.
Lance Stephenson (vs. SAC): The return of Danny Granger hasn't had much impact on Stephenson, whose averages over the last four games are nearly identical to his numbers for the season. Stephenson obviously isn't a great bet to put up 25 points, but he finds a way to help fantasy owners in nearly every game. If you're looking to find a balance between reliability and upside, Stephenson has the reliability department covered.
Other options: Iman Shumpert (at CHA),
Carmelo Anthony (at CHA): Anthony scored 28 and 32 points in his previous matchups against Charlotte this season, and that was back when the Bobcats were playing good defense. Now, the Knicks seem to be finding their stride, while Charlotte has lost eight of nine, allowing more than 100 points in six of those nine games. The return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (hand) should shore up the Bobcats' small forward spot from a defensive perspective, but MKG can't reasonably be expected to slow down Melo in his first game back after a six-week absence.
Other options: Nick Young (vs. CLE), Kevin Durant (wrist) if he plays (at MEM), Perry Jones and/or Jeremy Lamb if Durant does not play (vs. MEM)
Tristan Thompson (at LAL): Thompson is 0.3 rebounds per game away from averaging a double-double for the season, and he draws one of the best matchups possible Tuesday. The Lakers have been a fantasy godsend for opposing big men, and have struggled horribly against power forwards of late. Blake Griffin burned the Lakeshow for a 33-10 on Friday, after Houston's Terrence Jones put up 15 points and 13 boards Wednesday. It doesn't get any better if you keep going backó over the last few weeks, the Lakers have been torched by the likes of Kenneth Faried, Thaddeus Young, Ersan Ilyasova, and Derrick Favors. With Pau Gasol (toe) questionable for Tuesday, Los Angeles' already thin frontcourt may be decimated. Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill, and Ryan Kelly are all candidates to see extended minutes.
Other options: David West (vs. SAC), Kenyon Martin if Tyson Chandler (illness) doesn't play (at CHA)
Anderson Varejao (vs. PHI): As highlighted above, the Lakers are an absolute mess. Varejao is averaging 9.8 points and 14.2 boards since the calendar turned to 2014, and he just lost a seven-game double-digit rebound streak Sunday. On a rough day for centers, Varejao draws the best matchup of the bunch, while DeMarcus Cousins and Roy Hibbert have to deal with each other, and Al Jefferson takes on a Knicks team that has been surprisingly effective against opposing centers, with or without Tyson Chandler.
Other options: Jordan Hill if Gasol sits (vs. CLE), Roy Hibbert (vs. SAC)
Pablo Prigioni (toe) is likely out for at least one more week.
Tony Allen (hand) is expected to be out through the end of the week.
Marc Gasol (knee) is making progress but isn't expected back Tuesday.
Xavier Henry (knee) felt sore after Sunday's practice and is out Tuesday.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Hand) will return Tuesday, after missing six weeks of action. MKG is expected to play in stints of 6-to-7 minutes.
Tyson Chandler (illness) has missed the last four games but hadn't been ruled out for Tuesday as of late Monday night.
Beno Udrih (knee) is in the same boat as Chandler. He's missed three consecutive games but hasn't been ruled out for Tuesday.
Kevin Durant is questionable Tuesday after injuring his wrist Saturday.
Nick Young tweaked his back during Friday's game but isn't expected to miss time.
Pau Gasol was diagnosed with a strained tendon in his big toe Monday and is questionable for Tuesday's game.
Amar'e Stoudemire, while not known to be dealing with a specific injury, isn't considered a lock to play in all four of the Knicks' games this week.