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Damian Lillard, POR (vs. SA) PG ($8,000):
Defenses to Avoid
Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors: The Bulls have been playing much better basketball lately despite featuring a rotation void of much offensive talent. They're 4-1 over their last five, including winning three straight, but have done a bulk of their scoring inside. In that stretch, they're getting a whopping 39.4 percent of their offense from inside the paint while hitting just less than six three-pointers per game. Toronto has been excellent all-around defensively since dealing Rudy Gay, but will match up well with the Bulls inside, especially with a healthy Amir Johnson.
Offenses to Use
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers: In terms of efficiency, the Lakers defense ranks 29th in the league since the New Year, largely in part to being absolutely decimated by injuries. Over that same stretch, Houston's offense has been the fifth best in the league and is arguably playing their best basketball of the season by winning seven straight. With a full squad going against the same old depleted Lakers, it's the best matchup of the night and maybe even the week.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors.
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards.
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All signs say go for Lillard, who will be going up against an already shorthanded Spurs team that will now be without starting point guard Tony Parker
. In addition, Portland will be without LaMarcus Aldridge
for at least a week, likely leaving the bulk of the scoring responsibilities on Lillard. You should expect more shot attempts from him because of both injuries, and with San Antonio playing in Los Angeles the night before, there's not a better play — on paper at least — in the entire league.
Other suggestions: Deron Williams
, BKN (at UTA) PG ($6,500); Jameer Nelson
, ORL (at CLE) PG ($5,600); Brian Roberts
, NOP (vs. NYK) PG/SG ($5,000); Cory Joseph
, SA (at POR) PG ($3,900).
Gerald Green, PHO (vs. BOS) SG/SF ($5,500)
: Still without Eric Bledsoe
, Green has been an absolute gem since entering the starting lineup. He's been even better lately, including dumping 36 points on Denver on Tuesday night. He's scored at least 25 points in three straight games now and has completely discovered his outside shot. Green was nothing more than a fringe player in recent years, but Green has found his game in Phoenix and is also coming at a ridiculous bargain in daily leagues. He won't add much else, but can be counted on for five or more rebounds.
Other suggestions: James Harden
, HOU (at LAL) SG/SF ($9,200); Gordon Hayward
, UTA (vs. BKN) SG/SF ($7,400); Lance Stephenson
, IND (at MIN) SG/SF ($6,500); Victor Oladipo
, ORL (at CLE) PG/SG ($6,400)
Chandler Parsons, HOU (at LAL) SF/PF ($7,000):
With the Lakers shorthanded going up against the red-hot Rockets, there's reason to suspect a good night offensively from Houston. The Lakers have actually defended the three well lately, particularly because it's been so easy to score inside, but Parsons is by nature, a much different matchup. In the end, this all about a player at a relatively low salary with his team likely having a huge night offensively. Especially for a guy like Parsons, who typically fills the stat sheet and plays nearly 40 minutes per game.
Other suggestions: Marvin Williams
, UTA (vs. BKN) SF/PF ($5,300); Wes Johnson, LAL (vs. HOU) SG/SF ($5,100)
Tristan Thompson, CLE (vs. ORL) PF/C ($6,100):
Proving it's never too late in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs have won five in a row to get within three games of the final playoff spot. Thompson is as much to thank as anyone, stepping up his play with Anderson Varejao
(back) sidelined. He registered his third straight double-double Tuesday night and is averaging 17.7 points and 12.7 rebounds during that span. Defensively, the Magic have struggled since the New Year, ranking 23rd in efficiency since Jan. 1.
Other suggestions: Nene Hillario, WAS (at ATL) PF/C ($6,400); Patrick Patterson
, TOR (vs. CHI), PF/C ($4,700); Thomas Robinson
, POR (vs. SA) PF ($3,000)
Roy Hibbert, IND (vs. MIN) C ($6,300):
The Timberwolves are actually dead last in opponents field goal percentage inside five feet (63.3 percent), and as you probably could have guessed, that's where Hibbert takes about two-thirds of his shots. And with Minnesota missing Nikola Pekovic
, who is not likely to play (although he is out of a walking boot) and you have a reasonable chance for a bigger than usual game from Hibbert.
Other suggestions: Nikola Vucevic
, ORL (at CLE) PF/C ($7,200); Jared Sullinger
, BOS (at PHO) PF/C ($7,000); Dwight Howard
, HOU (vs. LAL) PF/C ($9,900).
(hamstring) did not play Tuesday and was ruled out Wednesday after the game.
(ankle) did not fly to Phoenix for the game.
(back) did not travel for Tuesday's game, and although the Cavs are home Wednesday, he's not likely to play.
(shoulder) had a negative reaction to a cortisone shot, leaving his status for Wednesday doubtful.
(knee) is still some time away from returning to the court.
(knee) will be evaluated Friday, and is likely at least another month away from returning.
(knee) was ruled out against Houston.
(thumb) will be reevaluated next week.
(back) is still out for at least another month.
(leg) is expected to return at some point over the next week, but it won't be Wednesday.
(elbow) is still without a timetable.
(knee) is reportedly getting close to practicing again.
(groin) will be reevaluated in a week.
(finger) didn't play Tuesday, but seems very close to returning.
(hand) will be out for the “foreseeable future" according to coach Gregg Popovich.
(calf) didn't play Tuesday and there hasn't been any news to suggest a possible return Wednesday.
(illness) struggled before the break, but did participate in All-Star activities.
(knee) was hurt during Tuesday's game against Philadelphia and did not return.
(wrist) is expected to be available Wednesday.
(abdomen) said last week he expected to be ready to go after the break.
(hamstring) is doubtful against the Rockets on Wednesday.
(groin) was a full participant in practice and is questionable for Wednesday's game.
(ankle) will play Wednesday.
(back) did not practice Tuesday and is unlikely to go on Wednesday.
(ankle) returned to the court Tuesday and looked good against the Knicks. Should be fine despite the back-to-back.
(ankle) is out of his walking boot and could return soon.
(hip) played only 20 minutes in his return to lineup on Tuesday.
(face) struggled mightily on Tuesday, but played 35 minutes.
(illness) missed his sixth straight game on Tuesday. His status is unknown.
(hip) is considered doubtful for Wednesday's game.
(hamstring) returned to lineup Tuesday and played 15 minutes. His status for a back-to-back, though, is unknown.
(ankle) returned Tuesday, but came off the bench and played 25 minutes.
(hip) will be a game-time decision on Wednesday.