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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
Toronto Raptors at Charlotte Bobcats: The Raptors and Bobcats are ranked sixth and seventh in defensive rating respectively, and the Bobcats are only ranked 27th in offensive rating on top of that. Toronto is also ranked 3rd in points allowed per game (96.4) and the Bobcats are 28th in points scored per game (93.9), so tonight's game does not look promising for Charlotte. With Kemba Walker out for the next two weeks with a sprained ankle, Charlotte's offense may struggle even more than normal.

Offenses to Use
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Although the Trail Blazers hold the highest-scoring offense in the league, their defense is also notorious for giving up high quantities of points as well. For the month of January, the Trail Blazers are surrendering an average of 104.1 points per game, which is only worse than the 76ers' awful 110 points allowed per game this season. The Rockets and Trail Blazers have split the first two games in the series, with both teams scoring more than 100 points in both games. With Portland holding the top ranked offensive rating and Houston being ranked fourth, along with Portland's lackluster defense, this game should provide fantasy players with two teams full of intriguing fantasy options.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First night of a back-to-back: Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets
Second night of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors

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Point Guard
Ramon Sessions, CHA (vs. TOR), PG/SG, ($4,700): With Kemba Walker out for two weeks with a left ankle sprain, Sessions will step into the role of starting point guard beginning Monday against the Raptors. Although Charlotte might not score much with their low offensive numbers against Toronto's defense, Sessions should get enough minutes that he'll get his share of shots and assist opportunities. After averaging 22.1 minutes for the season, Sessions saw 38 minutes of action Saturday against the Heat and led Charlotte's offense after Walker went down. He isn't much of a three point shooter, but Sessions should provide owners with around 15 points, depending on how many shots he gets, 5-plus assists, a couple rebounds, and maybe a steal to go with heavy minutes.

Other suggestions: Mike Conley (vs. NOLA), PG, ($7,900), Darren Collison (at DET), PG, ($5,800)

Shooting Guard
Lance Stephenson (at GS), SG, ($5,900): Stephenson has been a remarkable stat stuffer this season and continues to do so in the first month of 2014. Over the last 10 days, Stephenson is averaging 18.5 points on a scorching 56 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 0.8 steals in 35.0 minutes per game. Stephenson doesn't normally record high scoring numbers, but he can provide 15-20 points along with great rebound and assist numbers for his position along with efficient shooting as well. He'll have his hands full trying to keep Klay Thompson off the three point line, but if Paul George can get his shots to fall and George Hill can make Curry pay for his underwhelming defense then Stephenson may find himself set up for some open shots or drives to the hoop throughout the game.

Other suggestions: Eric Gordon (at MEM), SG, ($5,900)

Small Forward
Joe Johnson (at NYK), SG/SF, ($6,000): Johnson has been key to Brooklyn's hot streak since the start of 2014, and his numbers over the past 10 days reflect that. In his last four games, Johnson is averaging 24.8 points on 52.9 percent shooting, 4.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 3.0 three-pointers. The Nets have won seven of their last 10 games and have climbed to the eighth seed in the East. Unless injuries hit them, they should be able to ride Johnson's hot play until he starts to cool down.

Other suggestions: Nicolas Batum (at HOU), SG/SF, ($7,300), DeMar DeRozan (at CHA), SG/SF, ($7,500)

Power Forward
Terrence Jones (vs. POR), SF/PF, ($6,100): Jones has stepped up big in his last few games for the Rockets, with the last two weeks proving his worth to fantasy owners for as long as he keeps his minutes. Over his last six games, Jones is averaging 19.0 points on 54.8 percent shooting, 11.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals in 35.4 minutes per game. Jones should be able to continue his impressive run against a weak Portland defense that has trouble defending big men in particular. He can provide efficient scoring with good point totals, double digit rebounds, an assist or two, a few blocks, and a couple steals to cap it off. As long as he continues to get big minutes, Jones has earned the attention of fantasy owners.

Other suggestions: Nene Hilario (vs. PHI), PF/C, ($5,800), Anderson Varejao (vs. DAL), PF/C, ($6.500)

Center
Dwight Howard (vs. POR), PF/C, ($9,600): Howard comes at an expensive price, but history says he should be in line for a good stat line against the Blazers. In Houston's two games against Portland earlier this season, Howard recorded point-rebound totals of 29-13 and 32-17 and shot over 60 percent from the field in both games. Howard is averaging 18.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in his last six games, with the slightly reduced rebounding numbers possibly coming at the expense of Terrence Jones' breakout. Whatever the reason, big men tend to have big games against the Blazers, and Dwight Howard is no exception. He might not score 30-plus points like he did the last time these two teams met, but you can expect him to put up some big numbers nonetheless.

Other suggestions: DeAndre Jordan (at DET), C, ($6,500)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Kemba Walker (ankle) is out for two weeks with a left ankle sprain.
John Jenkins (back) has not played in Atlanta's last 12 games.
Brendan Haywood (foot) does not expect to return before the All-Star break.
Chris Paul (shoulder) is not expected to return for at least four more weeks.
Jason Smith (knee) is out indefinitely.
Omer Asik (thigh) is hoping to return in late January.
Kenyon martin (ankle) will miss two weeks.
Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle) will miss at least two weeks.
Xavier Henry (knee) is expected to return within a week.

Game-Time Decision
Francisco Garcia (knee) did not participate in practice Sunday.
Patrick Beverley (hand) will start Monday against the Trail Blazers.
Pablo Prigioni (toe) will play Monday.
Deron Williams (ankle) went through a full practice Sunday and is expected to return Monday.
Tyler Hansbrough (ankle) has not played in the past three weeks.
John Salmons (back) did not play Sunday.
Tony Wroten (ankle) sprained his ankle and did not return to the court Saturday.
Chris Andersen (knee) did not play Saturday.
Dwyane Wade (rest) did not play Saturday but is expected back Monday.
Greg Smith (knee) did not play Thursday.
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