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D.J. Augustin, CHI (at GSW), PG ($6,200):
Defenses to Avoid
Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors: Two styles of play will clash on Thursday when the Bulls face the Warriors. The Warriors rank fifth in pace averaging 98.97 possessions per game while the Bulls are on the opposite end of the spectrum averaging 93.14 possessions per game. Things could tilt in the Bulls' favor as they boast strong defensive numbers ranking second in the NBA in both opponent points per game (92.8) and defensive rating (98.0). The Warriors have scored more than 100 points just once in their last four games including a 75-point performance in their last game against the Bobcats.
Offenses to Use
San Antonio Spurs at Brooklyn Nets: The Nets are a middle of the road defensive team allowing teams to score 100.3 points per game. The Spurs rank fifth in the NBA in offensive rating at 107.7 while the Nets have a 103.1 defensive rating (19th overall). The Nets could be somewhat hobbled on Thursday with Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, and Andray Blatche all expected to return from injury for the game. This could set up nicely for Tim Duncan and company in Brooklyn.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Brooklyn Nets
Second game of a back-to-back: San Antonio Spurs
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Augustin has come off the bench for the Bulls the past two games with Kirk Hinrich
returning from a hamstring injury. However, the important note here is that in those two games, Augustin is still averaging 30 minutes. Over his past five games, his minutes per game is even better at 35 minutes while averaging 16.6 points, 5.4 assists, and 1.4 rebounds. Augustin's opponent, the Warriors, rank 23rd against point guards so Augustin could be setup for a good night at a fairly decent price on Thursday.
Other Options: Deron Williams
, BKN (vs. SAS), PG ($7,500)
Shaun Livingston, BKN (vs. SAS), PG/SG ($6,000):
After playing 25 minutes or less in six straight games, Livingston has played 29, 35, and 37 minutes in his last three games. The increased time has led to increased production as he is averaging 17.7 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.7 steals while shooting 58 percent in that same stretch. His matchup from the Spurs on Thursday, Cory Joseph
, has a 103.8 defensive rating, so Livingston's numbers could continue to be on the rise against the Spurs.
Other Options: Jimmy Butler
, CHI (at GSW), SG/SF ($6,100); Klay Thompson
, GSW (vs. CHI), SG/SF ($6,200)
Paul Pierce, BKN (vs. SAS), SF/PF ($6,800):
Pierce ranks as the most expensive small forward for Thursday night, and although he may play more of a power forward position, he may be your best bet at small forward Thursday. As far as matchups go, the Spurs rank 11th against opposing team's forwards which isn't all that terrible, but it is one of the lower rankings on Thursday. Over Pierce's last four games, his points per game is up nearly six points from his season average, to 20.8, while shooting 48 percent from the floor.
Other Options: Joe Johnson
, BKN (vs. SAS), SG/SF ($5,400)
Carlos Boozer, CHI (at GSW), PF/C ($6,500):
Boozer has struggled somewhat in his last three games scoring in double-figures just once, but he did look good in his most recent game when he had 19 points and 12 rebounds. He could have another double-double outing on Thursday with the Warriors ranking in the middle of the pack at 16th overall against opposing forwards. A slowed down game (see above) could favor Boozer as he will likely have more time to be able to set up down low.
Other Options: Andray Blatche
, BKN (vs. SAS), PF/C ($5,200) [If he's available]
Andrew Bogut, GSW (vs. CHI), C ($6,700):
Although Bogut isn't that strong of a scorer (averaging 8.2 points per game), what he lacks there he more than makes up for on the glass. Bogut is averaging 15.75 rebounds per game over his last four games as well as swatting away 2.25 shots per game in that same stretch. If there is a night to up his scoring total, it could come on Thursday with the Bulls ranking 16th overall against opposing centers.
Other Options: Joakim Noah
, CHI (at GSW), PF/C ($7,500)
(finger) is still a couple of weeks away from returning.
(hamstring) likely won't travel with the Spurs until after the All-Star break.
(back) left Wednesday's game and did not return because of lower back tightness. He's out for Thursday's game.
(knee) missed Monday's game but did practice on Wednesday. He's expected to play Thursday.
(calf) has missed the Nets' last two games but took part in practice on Wednesday. He's expected to play Thursday.
(hip) has missed the Nets' last two games with a hip injury but practiced on Wednesday. He's expected to play Thursday.