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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Friday

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
Indiana Pacers at Sacramento Kings: With the league's best defensive rating, allowing just 93.6 points per 100 possessions, the Pacers once again are featured as the defense to avoid for Friday's matchups. The Kings will likely be without DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) and Rudy Gay (Achilles), their two leading scorers. Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Williams will need to fill some huge shoes in the scoring department, and it won't help that the Kings will be facing the league's most fearsome defense. Consider the Kings risky plays for Friday's slate.

Offenses to Use
Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors: The Timberwolves haven't exactly been scoring at a high rate lately, averaging just 101.8 points over their last four games. However, they've been able to produce multiple strong fantasy plays from many of their starters. While Kevin Love has been on a mini-slump, Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio have been playing well. Kevin Martin (finger) is slated to suit up Friday, which would allow the Timberwolves to continue displaying their efficient offense for this season, averaging 105.1 points per 100 possessions. Additionally, David Lee (shoulder) and Andrew Bogut (knee) are both questionable to play. In other words, consider the Timberwolves solid plays for daily contests on Friday.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards
Second game of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Lakers

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Point Guard
Stephen Curry (vs. MIN), PG/SG ($9,800): Though he's a rather expensive option, Curry will have a solid shot at putting up a golden fantasy line Friday. With David Lee (shoulder) and Andrew Bogut (knee) both game-time decisions on Friday, Curry may need to pick up the scoring slack for the Warriors. He'll be facing the Timberwolves, who are among the worst defensive teams against opposing eligible point guards, allowing an average of 29.1 points (worst), 6.7 rebounds (seventh-worst), 10.5 assists (fifth-worst), 0.6 blocks (fourth-worst), 3.0 three-pointers made (fourth-worst), 8.0 three-pointers attempted (fifth-worst), and 44.4 percent FG (worst) per game.

Other suggestions: John Wall (at PHX), PG ($9,300), D.J. Augustin (vs. LAC), PG ($5,900), Ramon Sessions (at NYK), PG/SG ($5,400)

Shooting Guard
Lance Stephenson, IND (at SAC), SG/SF ($6,600): Stephenson has been tearing up the fantasy realm over recent games, averaging 16.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists over his last five games. Despite a recent six-point dud in his last contest, Stephenson has been one of the most consistent contributors this season. As RotoWire's Dave Loughran says, Stephenson's price tag has yet to catch up to his production. As long as he's producing consistently, it would be hard not to consider him for strong fantasy play. Helping his case is that the Pacers will face the Kings, who give up 39.8 points (seventh-worst), 9.1 assists (eleventh-worst), and 46 percent FG (worst) to opposing eligible shooting guards.

Other suggestions: Arron Afflalo (vs. LAL), SG/SF ($6,500), Victor Oladipo (vs. LAL), PG/SG ($5,900), Manu Ginobili (at ATL), SG/SF ($5,200)

Small Forward
Derrick Williams, SAC (vs. IND), SF/PF ($5,000): Williams can be considered a high-risk, high-reward flier option for Friday, with both Rudy Gay (Achilles) and DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) likely to sit out. He went for a 22-point, 11-rebound performance Wednesday, and another repeat outing would certainly make him worth his price tag. Williams is notorious for being inconsistent and unable to contribute in categories other than scoring, but if both Gay and Cousins sit, he may be forced to crash the boards more often than he usually does. The Pacers are the least favorable defense for fantasy play, but players with a high-risk appetite could go for Williams. Otherwise, settle for the safer options.

Other suggestions: Kevin Durant (at BOS), SF/PF ($11,400), DeMar DeRozan (at PHI), SG/SF ($7,800), Gerald Henderson (at NYK), SG/SF ($5,700)

Power Forward
Kevin Love, MIN (at GSW), PF/C ($10,500): Love has been on a mini-slump lately, averaging just 18.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.6 three-pointers made over his last five games. Still, he has a solid shot at breaking out of it Friday, when the Timberwolves will play the shorthanded Warriors, who may be without David Lee (shoulder) and Andrew Bogut (knee). The Warriors don't have too many defensive options in the post without their two starters, and it will be hard to resist Love for a late Friday night showing.

Other suggestions: Dirk Nowitzki (at BKN), PF/C ($6,900), Tobias Harris (vs. LAL), SF/PF ($6,300), Nene Hilario (at PHX), PF/C ($5,900)

Center
Nikola Pekovic, MIN (at GSW), C ($7,200): Pekovic has been an absolute beast in the new year, averaging 20.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game in 2014. He's certainly well worth his price tag while he's producing at that magnitude. In a similar situation with Kevin Love, Pekovic will face the Warriors, who may be shorthanded in the frontcourt. Additionally, the Warriors give up 17.7 points (fifth-worst), 10.6 rebounds (eighth-worst), 2.4 assists (sixth-worst), and 50.3 percent FG (seventh-worst) to opposing eligible centers, making the Minnesota big man duo a choice option for daily contests on Friday.

Other suggestions: Pau Gasol (at ORL), PF/C ($8,100), Andre Drummond (vs. NOP), PF/C ($7,400), Anderson Varejao (vs. MIL), PF/C ($6,900)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Chris Paul (shoulder) is out for approximately four more weeks.
Russell Westbrook (knee) is expected to be out until after the All-Star break, though recent reports suggest he may return sooner.
Eric Bledsoe (knee) says a return this season is “possible," meaning he could be out longer than expected.
Brook Lopez (foot) is out for the season.
Al Horford (shoulder) is out for the season.
Nikola Vucevic (concussion) has yet to be cleared by the league's protocol and thus will not play Friday.
Jrue Holiday (leg) is out without a timetable to return.
Ryan Anderson (back) will be out for at least two months.
Kemba Walker (ankle) will miss two weeks with a second-degree sprain.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.
Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) is expected to miss one week.
Kobe Bryant (knee) will be re-evaluated in February and will miss at least one more week.
Steve Nash (back) hopes to return by January 28.
Jordan Farmar (hamstring) is still at least two weeks away.
Steve Blake (elbow) will be re-evaluated next week.
Xavier Henry (knee) may return soon, though he won't play on Friday.
Avery Bradley (hand) is expected to miss a couple of weeks.
Jerryd Bayless (toe) is expected to miss 7-to-10 days.
Omer Asik (thigh) participated in individual drills Thursday but is still without a timetable to return.
Quincy Pondexter (foot) is out for the season.
Kawhi Leonard (finger) will miss three-to-four weeks.
Danny Green (finger) will be out for another three weeks.
Tiago Splitter (shoulder) will be out for about another three weeks.
Pero Antic (ankle) has a stress fracture and will miss two-to-four weeks.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his elbow.
Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle) will miss a few games and will not play Friday.
Kenyon Martin (ankle) will miss a few games and will not play Friday.
Jeff Taylor (Achilles) is out for the season.
Brandon Davies (finger) underwent successful surgery Wednesday and will miss 4-to-6 weeks.
Jason Smith (knee) is out without a timetable to return.
Rudy Gay (Achilles) is in a walking boot and will not play Friday.

Game-Time Decision
DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) is a game-time decision Friday.
Kevin Martin (finger) practiced Thursday and is slated to play Friday.
David West (wrist) left Wednesday's game with a wrist injury and is questionable to play Friday.
Rajon Rondo (knee) missed Wednesday's game as a precaution but should play limited minutes Friday.
Kyle Lowry (illness) battled a stomach bug in Wednesday's contest and is a game-time decision Friday.
David Lee (shoulder) is a game-time decision Friday.
Andrew Bogut (knee) was limited in practice Thursday and is questionable to play Friday.
Dirk Nowitzki (rest) missed Wednesday's game but isn't injured and is slated to play Friday.
Carlos Boozer (calf) will play Friday.
Paul Pierce (illness) missed Thursday's practice but will play Friday.
Terrence Jones (thigh) missed Thursday's practice with an illness and is questionable to play Friday.
Francisco Garcia (knee) is questionable to play Friday.
Greg Smith (knee) is questionable to play Friday.
Darren Collison (toe) is questionable to play Friday.
O.J. Mayo (illness) practiced Thursday and is a game-time decision Friday.
Larry Sanders (illness) practiced Thursday and is a game-time decision Friday.
Tony Allen (hand) could return as soon as Friday.
DeMarre Carroll (hamstring) is questionable to play Friday.
Tony Wroten (ankle) is questionable to play Friday.
Tyler Hansbrough (ankle) is questionable to play Friday.
Arnett Moultrie (ankle) is questionable to play Friday.
Anthony Morrow (illness) is questionable to play Friday.
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