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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
Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Heat give up just 98.5 points per game and limited the Lakers to 95 points on Christmas Day. They rank first in the NBA in forcing teams to commit turnovers (17.7 per game) and are second in the NBA in steals with 9.2 per game. Against a somewhat inexperienced Lakers backcourt, those numbers could be even higher on Thursday.

Offenses to Use
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets: The Trail Blazers are arguably the best offense in the league with a 110.5 offensive rating, and they score an average of 109.3 points per game. The Nuggets give up the 23rd most points per game, allowing teams to score 102.8 points, and they have just a 103.6 defensive rating, giving the Blazers' great offense a chance to be even better than usual against the Nuggets' weak defense. In their only meeting with the Nuggets this season, the Trail Blazers scored 113 points.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Lakers
Second game of a back-to-back: None

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Point Guard
Kendall Marshall, (at MIA), PG ($6,300): Marshall has been on a tear as of late, recording a double-double in five of his last six games. In this stretch, the North Carolina product is averaging 11.3 points, 12.0 assists, and 2.3 three-pointers in just over 40 minutes of action. He has a favorable matchup against Mario Chalmers whom has a 101.9 defensive rating this season, and the Heat will also be without Dwyane Wade, which could further Marshall's success against the Heat backcourt.

Shooting Guard
Wesley Matthews, (vs. DEN), SG/SF ($5,800): Matthews could be in the midst of a hot stretch. He's averaging 18.3 points and 3.5 three-pointers in his last four contests. Matthews will likely matchup a lot against Randy Foye, whom has a 106.6 defensive rating for the Nuggets while Matthews has a stellar 111.7 offensive rating.

Small Forward
Nicolas Batum, (vs. DEN), SG/SF ($6,800): Batum only took four shots on Tuesday as he was playing with a splint on an injured finger which has brought his cost down somewhat despite averaging 33 fantasy points per game. Things could change on Thursday against the Nuggets with his matchup, Wilson Chandler, having a poor 106.9 defensive rating. In the Trail Blazers' lone game against the Nuggets back in early November, Batum had a solid night, totaling 21 points and five rebounds while going 5-of-8 from downtown.

Power Forward
Chris Bosh, (vs LAL), PF/C ($7,400): Bosh may be the best value option at power forward on Friday facing a Lakers team that ranks just 28th against power forwards. Pau Gasol is dealing with an open wound on his toe and is expected to play, but Gasol could be hobbled, forcing rookie Ryan Kelly to play more. Bosh's offensive rating of 110.4 could bode well on Thursday as he is averaging 22.6 points and 6.6 rebounds during his last five games.

Center
J.J. Hickson, (at POR), PF/C ($6,200): Hickson has the best matchup on Thursday as the Trail Blazers allow the 19th most fantasy points to opposing centers, and unless you're paying for LaMarcus Aldridge, Hickson might be your best bet. Hickson has been a monster on the boards his last five games, averaging 13.4 rebounds while scoring 13.8 points per game.

INJURY REPORT

Out
Xavier Henry (knee) is out for Thursday's game but could return on Friday.
Dwyane Wade (rest/knee) is out Thursday in order to rest his knee as part of his season-long knee maintenance program.
Darrell Arthur (hip) is out Thursday.

Game-Time Decision
Pau Gasol (toe) didn't practice Wednesday due to an open wound on his toe but is expected to play on Thursday.