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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Saturday

Michael Chua

Michael Chua

Michael Chua is a basketball statistics expert from the Philippines. He has worked as a student manager for the University of Wisconsin Men's basketball team. He is also the basketball program consultant for his high school alma mater, Shanghai American School, in China.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Los Angeles Clippers at Indiana Pacers: Despite playing without the injured Chris Paul (shoulder), the Clippers have been on a roll, winning five consecutive games and averaging 114.6 points during that span. Streaks are made to be broken, and playing the Pacers at Indiana will certainly challenge the Clippers' in their run. The Pacers are the league's best defensive team, giving up just 92.6 points per 100 possessions, and they have defeated their opponents by an average margin of 26.3 points over their last three games. Consider the Clippers risky options for fantasy play Saturday.

Offenses to Use
Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks: The Blazers are the league's best offensive team, averaging 110.3 points per 100 possessions this season. They have scored an average of 114.6 points over their last five wins, and are armed with multiple fantasy options both starting and off the bench. Meanwhile, the Mavericks have the ninth-worst defensive rating in the league, allowing 105.0 points per 100 possessions. In their first meeting of the season, Dallas came up on top 108-106. However, the Blazers will have a chance to tie the regular season series up on Saturday. Look for several Blazers as valid options for strong fantasy play.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Milwaukee Bucks
Second game of a back-to-back: Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards

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Point Guard
Stephen Curry, GSW (at NOP), PG/SG ($9,100): Curry has been rather streaky lately, but he's coming fresh off a 37-point, 11-assist performance Friday. Interestingly enough, Curry is averaging 29.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 1.8 steals, and 4.0 three-pointers made in the tail-end of back-to-back games, giving him a solid chance to follow up with a strong performance Saturday. Helping his case is the fact that Curry will face the crippled Pelicans, who are without their starting point guard Jrue Holiday (leg). Though he's a pricey option, Curry may be due for another colorful fantasy line Saturday.

Other suggestions: Damian Lillard (at DAL), PG ($8,300), Trey Burke (at DET), PG ($6,000), Mario Chalmers (at CHA), PG ($4,000)

Shooting Guard
Monta Ellis, DAL (vs. POR), PG/SG ($8,000): Ellis is averaging 21.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.0 steals over his last five games. With Jose Calderon (knee) a game-time decision Saturday, Ellis could be up for minutes at both guard positions. He's a solid option to consider against the Blazers, who give up 28.4 points (third-worst), 7.3 rebounds (fourth-worst), 9.8 assists (thirteenth-worst), and 2.3 steals (twelfth-worst) to opposing eligible point guards, a position he's bound to play minutes at if Calderon sits.

Other suggestions: Klay Thompson (at NOP), SG/SF ($5,900), Wesley Matthews (at DAL), SG/SF ($5,700), Giannis Antetokounmpo (at HOU), SG/SF ($4,100)

Small Forward
Trevor Ariza, WAS (vs. DET), SG/SF ($6,200): Ariza has been dealing with an illness over recent days, but he managed to log 33 minutes Friday despite scoring just four points. Be sure to double-check his status before Saturday's game before deploying him, as he could be a last-minute scratch. However, if he suits up, there's a good chance he will produce better than his price tag implies. Ariza has been impressive in games against the Pistons this season, averaging 19.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 3.3 steals, and 4.3 three-pointers made in three games. Josh Smith has struggled to contain Ariza all year long, and even a three-game sample size will leave me confident in wagering on Ariza for Saturday's contest.

Other suggestions: Paul George (vs. LAC), SG/SF ($8,800), Shawn Marion (vs. POR), SF/PF ($4,500), Mike Dunleavy (vs. PHI), SG/SF ($4,200)

Power Forward
Nene, WAS (vs. DET), PF/C ($5,800): After dealing with various injuries early this season, and slowly returning to form as a reserve, Nene is finally back as a starter for the Wizards. He's averaging 16.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals, and 2.3 blocks over the last three games, and his price tag has yet to catch up to his value. The Pistons give up 40.1 points (sixth-worst), 21.8 rebounds (fourteenth-worst), 6.0 assists (seventh-worst), 2.8 steals (seventh-worst), and 2.5 blocks (fourteenth-worst) per game to opposing eligible power forwards, making Nene a solid play Saturday.

Other suggestions: Kevin Love (vs. UTA), PF/C ($10,300), LaMarcus Aldridge (at DAL), PF/C ($9,700), Terrence Jones (vs. MIL), PF/C ($6,000)

Center
Dwight Howard, HOU (vs. MIL), PF/C ($9,500): Howard has struggled over the last two games, limited by foul trouble and averaging just 11.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks during that span. Still, he will be a viable option Saturday, as Larry Sanders will have to struggle to contain Howard. Though the Rockets have yet to face the Bucks this year, Howard had his share of strong performances against Larry Sanders last season as a member of the Lakers. Howard averaged 23.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks in two games against the Bucks in the 2012-2013 season, making him a high-potential play on Saturday.

Other suggestions: Al Jefferson (vs. MIA), PF/C ($8,000), Chris Bosh (at CHA), PF/C ($6,400), Taj Gibson (vs. PHI), PF/C ($5,400)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Chris Paul (shoulder) is out for another two-plus weeks.
Ryan Anderson (back) could miss more than two months.
Jrue Holiday (leg) says it's “too early” for a timetable to return.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.
Patrick Beverley (hand) plans on returning to action Monday against the Blazers.
Omer Asik (thigh) is without a timetable to return.
Jeff Taylor (Achilles) is out for the season.
Devin Harris (toe) could return soon.
Al Harrington (knee) is without a timetable to return.
Glen Rice (wrist) is close to returning.
Zaza Pachulia (foot) is still wearing a walking boot.
Carlos Delfino (foot) could return to action before the All-Star break.

Game-Time Decision
Tyreke Evans (ankle) is hopeful that he'll be able to play Saturday.
Gordon Hayward (hip) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Jose Calderon (knee) left Friday's game with a knee contusion and is questionable to play Saturday.
Chris Andersen (knee) is questionable to play Saturday.
Greg Oden (knee) reported no swelling in his knee and is questionable to play Saturday.
Greg Smith (knee) is questionable to play Saturday.
Arnett Moultrie (ankle) is questionable to play Saturday.
Lavoy Allen (calf) is questionable to play Saturday.