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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Tuesday

Jerry Donabedian

Jerry Donabedian

Jerry Donabedian writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers: The Trail Blazers have been an offensive juggernaut this season, but they'll face a stiff test against the Grizzlies on Tuesday. After struggling through most of the season amidst some devastating injuries, Memphis finally seems to be putting things together. The Griz have quietly been playing solid basketball since mid-December, and the Jan. 14 return of star center Marc Gasol from a knee injury gave the team a further boost. Memphis owns the league's fifth best defensive rating (100.2) since Dec. 21 and easily has the NBA's best defensive rating (93.3) in six games since Gasol's return. Perhaps most impressive is that the recent success has come without lockdown defender Tony Allen, who hasn't officially been ruled out for Tuesday but isn't likely to make his return. Courtney Lee has done a fine job filling in for Allen as the Grizzlies have gotten back to last season's stingy ways. Remember, as good as the Portland offense is, the Grizzlies still have the core pieces of a team that finished second in defensive rating last season.

Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers probably deserve some credit for fighting through an insane string of injuries to maintain a halfway decent offense, but the skill gap in Tuesday's game is just ridiculous. Los Angeles is highly reliant on Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks for scoring, while the likes of Ryan Kelly, Wes Johnson, and Manny Harris are being asked to handle significant minutes. The Pacers, meanwhile, are as healthy as ever and will be working with two full days of rest. Sure, they've looked a bit shaky on their current road trip, but Tuesday's game is just too much of a mismatch.

Offenses to Use
San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets: It's no secret that the Spurs have struggled against top teams this season, and now Gregg Popovich's squad is battered by injuries. Kawhi Leonard (fractured finger) joined Tiago Splitter and Danny Green among the wounded this week, leaving San Antonio with some significant defensive issues on the wing. The Rockets, meanwhile, just lost both games of a home-and-away to the rejuvenated Grizzlies but still own an 8-4 record in January. Houston ranks seventh in the NBA with a 107.1 offensive rating this season and rank fourth in the league with a 106.2 rating on the road. It can't hurt that the Rockets won the first two matchups between these teams this season, averaging 111.5 points between the two games.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Boston Celtics, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards
Second game of a back-to-back: N/A

DraftKings.com DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
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Point Guard
Rajon Rondo, BOS (at NY), PG, ($5800): Rondo averaged 22 minutes in his first four games, then logged 30 minutes in Sunday's loss to the Nets, nearly reaching a triple-double in the process. While the Celtics will continue to monitor their star point guard's playing time, Rondo clearly has the freedom to play 30 minutes, at the very least. It's way too early to say that he's back at 100 percent, but at this price, he doesn't need to be. It certainly doesn't hurt that the Knicks own a hideous 110.5 defensive rating over their last 10 games.

Cory Joseph, SA (at HOU), PG, ($3000): With Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard sidelined, the Spurs have been rolling with some smaller lineups, including a starting lineup with all three of Joseph, Tony Parker, and Marco Belinelli in each of the last two games. Joseph logged 27 and 31 minutes in those two contests, averaging a modest seven points, four rebounds, 2.5 assists, and two steals. While your chances for a big game are practically nil, Joseph costs just $3000 and has a pretty good chance to log 25-30 minutes. If Tuesday's game turns into a blowout, he won't necessarily be affected, as preserving Joseph's legs is a minimal concern for coach Gregg Popovich.

Other suggestions: Stephen Curry, GS (at WAS), PG/SG, ($10,500), Brian Roberts, NO (at CLE), PG/SG, ($4400)

Shooting Guard
Marco Belinelli, SA (at HOU), SG/SF, ($4000): In seven games since Danny Green suffered a broken hand, Belinelli is averaging 30.3 minutes per contest, despite logging just 19 minutes in Friday's blowout win over the Hawks. If you throw away that one game against Atlanta, the Italian shooting guard has topped 20 fantasy points on DraftKings in nine consecutive games. It's been a few weeks since Belinelli had a big game, but finding solid performances at a low price can be just as important as coming up with a star-type game from a medium-priced player. The stars-and-scrubs strategy isn't for every person or every night, but it's a viable approach when there are steady, cheap options available.

Other suggestions: James Harden, HOU (vs. SA), SG, ($9500), Arron Afflalo, ORL (at DET), SG/SF, ($6500)

Small Forward
Chandler Parsons, HOU (vs. SA), SF/PF ($7500): As detailed above, the Spurs are extremely vulnerable on the wing right now, while Parsons is one of the hottest shooters in the NBA. A 6-foot-9 small forward with range and ball-handling skills is probably Gregg Popovich's worst nightmare, given his current rotation. Parsons, for his part, has been a bit up and down this month, but the overall results 18.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.9 treys, 44.8 percent from three-point range are hard to argue with. He consistently threatens the 40-minute mark, and he's attempted at least 10 field goals in each of his last 16 games.

Other suggestions: Wes Matthews, POR (vs. MEM), SG/SF, ($6100), Chris Johnson, BOS (at NY), SF/PF, ($3400)

Power Forward
Terrence Jones, HOU (vs. SA), SF/PF, ($4700): After missing two games with a thigh injury last week, Jones returned in unimpressive fashion for a weekend home-and-away against the red-hot Grizzlies. He averaged just 8.5 points and 4.5 blocks in the two games against Memphis, but logged 28 and 29 minutes, indicating that his health is fine and his role is steady. Even with the two duds, Jones is still averaging 15.2 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 10 January games. Jump on him while the price remains low, because he probably won't be available at less than $5000 for long.

LaMarcus Aldridge, POR (vs. MEM), PF/C, ($9900): As good as the Memphis defense has been recently, Aldridge has the range and skill to take the Grizzlies' big men out of their comfort zones. Robin Lopez will have his hands full in the paint, while Memphis' Mike Conley and Courtney Lee have been playing the kind of lockdown perimeter defense that could give Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews fits. Aldridge is the Blazers' best option Tuesday, and by a wider margin than usual. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph know what they are doing, and even the versatile Gasol isn't well suited to deal with Aldridge's combination of length, smarts, and shooting skill. More so than usual, Aldridge jumpers should be a huge part of the Blazers' game plan.

Other suggestions: Tristan Thompson, CLE (vs. NO), PF/C, ($6300)

Center
Brandon Bass, BOS (at NY), PF/C, ($4400): Bass returned to the C's starting lineup Sunday and immediately topped the 30-minute mark for the first time since Jan. 8. There's always a chance that coach Brad Stevens will reinsert Kris Humphries in the starting lineup Tuesday, but Bass seems more likely to get the start. While the distinction doesn't always matter, in this case it seems quite clear that it does. Not only did Bass see a playing time spike upon rejoining the starting group Sunday, but he's averaging 29.3 minutes in 37 starts this season, compared to just 21.7 minutes in the nine games that he's played off the bench. Keeping that in mind, it may make sense to keep tabs on the Celtics' lineup Tuesday. Bass isn't unusable if he comes off the bench, but he wouldn't be a strong value play anymore, either.

Other suggestions: Andre Drummond, DET (vs. ORL), C, ($7500), Tyson Chandler, NY (vs. BOS), C, ($5700)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Avery Bradley (ankle) is expected to miss a few weeks.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is resting a torn ligament and has no timetable.
Kenyon Martin (ankle) is not expected back before the end of January
Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle) is also likely out through the end of the month.
Nikola Vucevic (concussion) is travelling with the Magic but hasn't been cleared.
Kawhi Leonard is out 3-to-4 weeks with a fractured finger.
Steve Blake (elbow) has upped his activity level but won't play Tuesday.
Kobe Bryant (fractured tibia) is expected to miss at least two more weeks.
Jordan Farmar (hamstring) hasn't been cleared for full practices and won't play Tuesday.
Steve Nash tweaked his injured back Monday, ending his chances to return Tuesday.
Xavier Henry (knee) is expected to miss another week or two.

Game-Time Decision
Jerryd Bayless (toe) missed the last four games but hasn't officially been ruled out for Tuesday.
Metta World Peace (knee) is making progress but has yet to make his return.
Francisco Garcia (knee) missed the last five games and didn't practice Monday.
Greg Smith (knee) missed the last five games but was able to practice Monday.
Tony Allen (hand) is past his initial two-week timetable but still hasn't returned.
Nicolas Batum (ankle) is probable for Tuesday.
Jodie Meeks (foot) is probable for Tuesday.
Luol Deng missed Monday's practice to rest his nagging right Achilles.
Anderson Varejao missed Monday's practice due to a left knee contusion.