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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
Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Bobcats: The Bulls are the second-best team in the league in terms of defensive rating, allowing just 98.2 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, the Bobcats are coming off a 29-point blowout loss in which only Al Jefferson produced solid numbers from a fantasy perspective. Being shorthanded without Kemba Walker (ankle), the Bobcats could struggle against the Bulls, who are especially effective in post defense. Joakim Noah won't make things easy for Jefferson in the post, which could bring down the entire Bobcats' offense, making them hard to pick for daily games Saturday.

Offenses to Use
Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers: The Timberwolves and Blazers will match up in a late-night Saturday contest that is likely to produce colorful fantasy lines for daily play. Both teams are known for their offensive proficiency, boasting ratings of 110.6 (Blazers, best) and 105.3 (Timberwolves, ninth-best) so far this season. Each stacked with multiple options who produce at a normal basis, the Timberwolves and Blazers game could have a high-scoring outcome, as their first meeting of the season resulted in a 120-109 win for the Timberwolves. Don't hesitate to deploy elite options such as Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as other viable options in Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and Robin Lopez.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers
Second 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

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Point Guard
Damian Lillard, POR (vs. MIN), PG ($8,000): Lillard has been rather cold throughout recent games, averaging just 16.8 points,3.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.2 three-pointers made over his last five contests. However, he'll have a good chance at putting up a strong performance against the Timberwolves, who give up 29.3 points (worst), 6.7 rebounds (sixth-worst), 10.6 assists (sixth-worst), 0.6 blocks (fourth-worst), 3.1 three-pointers made (second-worst), 8.1 three-pointers attempted (fifth-worst), and 44.6 percent FG (worst) per game to opposing eligible point guards. In his first meeting of the season, Lillard torched the Timberwolves for 36 points (13-24 FG, 7-10 3Pt, 3-7 FT), six rebounds, six assists, three steals, and one block. Though he isn't likely to repeat that kind of performance, Lillard's potential opportunity is enough to make him a good investment for Saturday's slate.

Other suggestions: John Wall (at UTA), PG ($9,500), Mike Conley (vs. HOU), PG ($7,600), Shelvin Mack (at MIL), PG ($3,800)

Shooting Guard
Jeremy Lamb, OKC (at PHI), SG/SF ($3,900): Lamb will be a great value play Saturday if Kevin Durant (shoulder) misses his second consecutive game. It's hard to imagine the fantasy king will sit out again, as Durant has been known as one of the most durable elite players. However, if he does sit, Lamb will produce better than his price tag implies. In Friday's game against the Celtics, Lamb posted 19 points (9-17 FG, 1-4 3Pt), six rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 30 minutes of action. He won't get that kind of opportunity unless Durant sits, so check the injury updates closer to tip-off before deploying Lamb.

Other suggestions: Lance Stephenson (at DEN), SG/SF ($6,800), Gordon Hayward (vs. WAS), SG/SF ($6,300), Trevor Ariza (at UTA), SG/SF ($6,100)

Small Forward
Kyle Korver, ATL (at MIL), SG/SF ($5,500): The Hawks are extremely shorthanded at the wing positions, playing without Jeff Teague (ankle) and DeMarre Carroll (hamstring) for Saturday's contest. This opens the door for Korver to play at the small forward position, as the Hawks may go with a three-guard lineup once again, allowing him to get multiple three-point attempts. He hasn't been the best over recent play, but Korver will have a chance to destroy the Bucks' perimeter defense, which gives up 34.0 points (fifth-worst), 12.8 rebounds (fourth-worst), 5.4 assists (fifth-worst), 2.8 steals (eighth-worst), 3.9 three-pointers made (fourth-worst), and 10.5 three-pointers attempted (third-worst) to opposing eligible small forwards.

Other suggestions: DeMar DeRozan (vs. LAC), SG/SF ($7,800), Chandler Parsons (at MEM), SF/PF ($7,300), Nicolas Batum (vs. MIN), SG/SF ($6,900)

Power Forward
Kevin Love, MIN (at POR), PF/C ($10,700): It's anyone's guess as to who between Love and LaMarcus Aldridge will perform better in Saturday's matchup. Love had the better end of the stick in their first meeting of the season, posting 29 points (10-18 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 5-6 FT), 15 rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Still, Love has been on a mini-slump of late, and Aldridge on the other hand has been tearing it up, giving daily players a debate for Saturday. If you can't decide which to take, it wouldn't hurt to deploy both superstars, in spite of the fact that they'll eat your salary cap clean for Saturday.

Other suggestions: LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C ($10,300), Paul Millsap (at MIL), PF/C ($8,500), Nene Hilario (at UTA), PF/C ($6,000)

Center
Nikola Pekovic, MIN (at POR), C ($7,400): I realize this will be the second consecutive night where I recommend the Minnesota duo for daily play, and I certainly didn't regret it when they played the Warriors on Friday. Pekovic is averaging 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 blocks over his last five games. In his first game against the Blazers, Pekovic posted 30 points (14-19 FG, 2-3 FT), nine rebounds, and one assist. Given his play of late, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the big man make his money's worth for Saturday's slate.

Other suggestions: Spencer Hawes (vs. OKC), PF/C ($7,100), John Henson (vs. ATL), PF/C ($6,200), Enes Kanter (vs. WAS), C ($5,200)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Chris Paul (shoulder) is out for about another four weeks.
Russell Westbrook (knee) is expected to be out until after the All-Star break, though recent reports suggest he may return sooner.
Al Horford (shoulder) is out for the season.
Jeff Teague (ankle) is not with the Hawks on their two-game road trip and is out Saturday.
Kemba Walker (ankle) will miss another week with a second-degree sprain.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.
Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) is expected to miss one week.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out for the season.
JaVale McGee (leg) is still without a timetable to return.
Omer Asik (thigh) participated in individual drills Thursday but is still without a timetable to return.
Quincy Pondexter (foot) is out for the season.
Pero Antic (ankle) has a stress fracture and will miss two-to-four weeks.
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.
DeMarre Carroll (hamstring) will not play Saturday.

Game-Time Decision
Kevin Durant (shoulder) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Derrick Favors (hip) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Martell Webster (illness) missed Friday's game and is a game-time decision Saturday.
Tony Allen (hand) has reached his original timetable to return and could see action soon.
Tony Wroten (ankle) is questionable to play Saturday.
Francisco Garcia (knee) is questionable to play Saturday.
Greg Smith (knee) is questionable to play Saturday.
Ekpe Udoh (ankle) left Friday's game and is questionable to play Saturday.
Tyler Hansbrough (ankle) is questionable to play Saturday.
Arnett Moultrie (ankle) is questionable to play Saturday.