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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
Brooklyn Nets at Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are the league's best defensive team, allowing just 93.9 points per 100 possessions to opponents. Despite going just 2-3 over their last five games, the Pacers will look to continue their fantastic season at home for Saturday's slate. This could spell problems for Jason Kidd's Brooklyn Nets, who are desperately fighting for better playoff seeding despite a rough start to the season. Coming off a 25-point loss to the Thunder, the Nets may be hard to depend on for daily contests Saturday, as guards Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Shaun Livingston have been trading hot game for cold game over recent stretches. With twelve games to choose from, it may be wise to avoid the Pacers' opponents for daily play.

Offenses to Use
Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers: Despite playing without their leader in Chris Paul (shoulder), the Clippers have been on a roll in 2014, with a 12-4 record for the year. They've been defeating their opponents in convincing fashion, by a margin of 15.1 points, and averaging 114.8 points in their wins. This has translated to fantasy dominance for the likes of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Darren Collison, and Jamal Crawford. Though they each have rightfully lofty price tags, deploying the Clippers for Saturday's slate wouldn't be a bad idea, as they'll face the Jazz, who the worst defensive team in the league, giving up 107.4 points per 100 possessions to opponents.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz

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Point Guard
Jeff Teague, ATL (vs. MIN), PG ($6,300): Teague was recently been sidelined with an ankle sprain and returned to the court Friday against the Sixers, posting a sub-par line of 12 points and eight assists in 24 minutes of action. His two-game absence contributed to his relatively low price tag, and despite his dud Friday, he could be worth taking on Saturday. The Hawks had Friday's game in hand early as they routed the Sixers by 26 points, effectively limiting Teague to just 24 minutes. While he may still not reach his usual workload in his second game back, Teague will have an opportunity to produce his money's worth against the Timberwolves, who give up 28.8 points (second-worst), 6.5 rebounds (sixth-worst), 10.4 assists (sixth-worst) 3.0 three-pointers made (second-worst), 8.0 three-pointers made (fourth-worst), and 43.9 percent FG (second-worst) per game to opposing eligible point guards.

Other suggestions: John Wall (vs. OKC), PG ($9,300), Darren Collison (vs. UTA), PG ($5,700)

Shooting Guard
Gerald Henderson, CHA (at PHX), SG/SF ($5,800): With many overpriced high-end shooting guards in shaky matchups Saturday, it may be wise to play it cheap at the two spot for daily play. Henderson has the potential to post strong performances, yet remains a relatively safe option for his price. He's averaging 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.7 blocks over his last three games. With Kemba Walker (ankle) doubtful to play Saturday, Henderson could continue taking on an increased role as a perimeter scorer for the Bobcats. The Suns have mediocre defense against opposing eligible shooting guards, leaving Henderson a safe option for Saturday's games.

Other suggestions: DeMar DeRozan (at POR), SG/SF ($7,100), J.J. Redick (vs. UTA), SG ($5,300)

Small Forward
Josh Smith, DET (vs. PHI), SF/PF ($7,600): Smith remains one of the most risky plays in fantasy this season, posting monstrous performances and following them up with 15-minute duds. Saturday may be the former, as Smith has been played excellently against Evan Turner and the Sixers this season. In two games so far, he's averaging 21.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 4.0 blocks, and 2.5 three-pointers made against Philadelphia. Though it's just a small sample size, dreaming of those numbers for Saturday's matchup is enough for me to invest in Smith in daily play. There's always a disclaimer when picking high-risk plays in daily contests, though the thrill may be well worth the investment, considering Smith's price tag isn't among the upper tiers.

Other suggestions: Kevin Durant (at WAS), SF/PF ($11,700), Nicolas Batum (vs. TOR), SG/SF ($6,800), DeMarre Carroll (vs. MIN), SF/PF ($4,300)

Power Forward
Blake Griffin, LAC (vs. UTA), PF/C ($9,300): Griffin has been on an absolute tear in the new year, averaging 25.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game in 2014. He's the main option on the Clippers with Chris Paul (shoulder) out, and he doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. He has a favorable matchup against the Jazz, who are among the worst post defenders in the league. In the Clippers' first meeting with the Jazz, Griffin went off for 40 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. Though he holds a lofty price tag, he's deserved his status as a top-tier player to deploy in daily games.

Other suggestions: Paul Millsap (vs. MIN), PF/C ($8.700), Greg Monroe (vs. PHI), PF/C ($7,000), Terrence Jones (vs. CLE), SF/PF ($5,900)

Center
DeAndre Jordan, LAC (vs. UTA), C ($6,900): Don't be afraid to deploy the Clippers' front court duo Saturday, who have been wreaking havoc over recent games. Jordan joins Blake Griffin in Saturday's recommendations, as he's averaging 10.6 points, 15.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game in 2014. It's no secret that the Jazz have been struggling in the low post this season, giving up 18.4 points (third-worst), 10.8 rebounds (third-worst), 2.4 assists (sixth-worst), 1.7 blocks (second-worst), and 53.8 percent FG (worst) per game to opposing eligible centers. Additionally, Jordan has been posting double-doubles at a 56.3 percent rate in January, making him a great pickup for his price tag on Saturday.

Other suggestions: Spencer Hawes (vs. DET), PF/C ($7,100), Anderson Varejao (at HOU), PF/C ($5,800)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Chris Paul (shoulder) hopes to return either February 7 against the Raptors or February 9 against the Sixers.
Russell Westbrook (knee) is expected to be out until after the All-Star break.
Nikola Pekovic (ankle) will be re-evaluated in approximately one week.
Brook Lopez (foot) is out for the season.
Al Horford (shoulder) is out for the season.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.
Eric Bledsoe (knee) hopes to return this season, but is still without a timetable to return.
Ryan Anderson (back) will be re-evaluated in March.
Jrue Holiday (leg) is still without a timetable to return.
Jason Smith (knee) is still without a timetable to return.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is still without a timetable to return.
Manu Ginobili (hamstring) will miss three-to-four weeks.
Danny Green (finger) will miss approximately two more weeks.
Kawhi Leonard (finger) will miss approximately three more weeks.
Pero Antic (ankle) has a stress fracture and will miss two-to-four weeks.
Quincy Pondexter (foot) is out for the season.
Jeff Taylor (Achilles) is out for the season.
Brandon Davies (finger) underwent successful surgery Wednesday and will miss 4-to-6 weeks.
Ekpe Udoh (ankle) is not with the team on their current road trip.
O.J. Mayo (illness) is not with the team on their current road trip.
John Henson (wrist) is out Saturday.

Game-Time Decision
DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) is a game-time decision Saturday.
James Harden (thumb) participated in full practice Friday and is a game-time decision Saturday.
Anthony Davis (finger) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Kemba Walker (ankle) experienced a setback in his return and is doubtful for Saturday.
Tony Parker (groin) had an MRI reveal mild inflammation in his groin and is a game-time decision Saturday.
Derrick Favors (hip) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Anderson Varejao (knee) missed Friday's game and is a game-time decision Saturday.
Zaza Pachulia (foot) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Tony Allen (hand) could return as soon as Saturday.
Arnett Moultrie (ankle) is "almost perfect" and could return Saturday.
Andrei Kirilenko (calf) is listed as day-to-day.
Francisco Garcia (knee) returned to practice Friday and could play Saturday.
Greg Smith (knee) is questionable to play Saturday.
Omer Asik (thigh) is questionable to play Saturday.
Beno Udrih (illness) is questionable to play Saturday.
Kenyon Martin (ankle) is questionable to play Saturday.
Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle) is questionable to play Saturday.
Iman Shumpert (shoulder) is questionable to play Saturday.
Tiago Splitter (shoulder) is questionable to play Saturday.
Marvin Williams (heel) is questionable to play Saturday.
Jeremy Evans (back) is questionable to play Saturday.
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