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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Thursday

Eric Kohlbeck

Eric Kohlbeck

Eric Kohlbeck writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat: In the month of February, the Thunder have held opponents to just 95.86 points per game. Their 99.3 defensive rating is good for third best in the NBA, and overall, they give up the sixth fewest points per game at 97.6. In the Thunder's lone meeting with the Heat this season, they held LeBron James and company to just 95 points; nine under their season average of 104. The Heat have one of the lower PACE ratings in the league at 94.51, so they won't be looking to push the tempo, meaning Thursday's game could become low-scoring..

Offenses to Use
at Milwaukee Bucks: The Nuggets could be set up for a big night on Thursday in Milwaukee. Denver is a solid offensive team, averaging 103.1 points per game, and they have a 103.5 offensive rating. The Nuggets like to push the tempo, as they own the third-highest PACE rating in the league at 99.62. The Bucks are dealing with injuries, as they have been all season, so if the Bucks end up being shorthanded, the Nuggets could very easily push the ball, exert their will, and have a big night on Thursday against a Milwaukee team that has the third-worst defensive rating in the league at 106.6.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Denver Nuggets
Second game of a back-to-back: Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors

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Point Guard
Brandon Knight, MIL (vs. DEN) PG/SG ($6,700): Knight is a game-time decision for Thursday with a cut on his foot, but he could prove to be a nice play if available. He has benefited from a Bucks lineup that seems to be continually shaken up with injuries. Over his last five games, Knight is averaging 20.2 points, 6.6 assists, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.0 steal in 38.6 minutes of action. Ty Lawson could be sidelined with a rib injury as well, so the Nuggets backcourt could be without its best player on Thursday in Milwaukee.

Other Options: Reggie Jackson, OKC ($6,000) [if Westbrook doesn't play]

Shooting Guard
Klay Thompson, GSW (vs. HOU) SG/SF ($6,300): Thompson was in a bit of a shooting slump in the closing weeks of January. However, in February, Thompson seems to have recovered. In this month, Thompson is shooting over forty percent from the field including a 41 percent mark from beyond the mark. The Rockets give up the 12th most fantasy points to guards, so Thompson could be set to continue to improve his shooting woes on Thursday.

Small Forward
Chandler Parsons, HOU (at GSW) SF/PF ($7,000): The forward position is loaded with studs on Thursday with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Dwight Howard all being available to put into a forward position. Parsons at $7,000 is one of the cheaper options for a guy that will play nearly forty minutes. So, if you decide to stay away from the top-tier players, Parsons could fit in nicely as a cheaper forward on Thursday.

Other Options: Wilson Chandler, DEN ($6,100)

Power Forward
Chris Bosh, MIA (at OKC) PF/C ($6,800): Bosh has been scoring above his season average of 16.7 in his last three games, putting in 22, 21, and 19-point efforts. He's been shooting 65.5 percent in that same stretch and averaging a 50 percent mark from three-point territory. In Miami's lone meeting with the Thunder this season, Bosh put in a solid performance of 18 points and nine rebounds. As mentioned above, the forward position is filled with big-name players on Thursday, so a $6,800 price tag on Bosh could allow you to spend higher elsewhere.

Center
J.J. Hickson, DEN (at MIL) PF/C ($5,900): With Larry Sanders out for Milwaukee, the Bucks' frontline will be somewhat depleted. The Bucks give up the second most fantasy points to opposing centers so Hickson seems like a strong play on Thursday with a price tag just under $6,000. Two weeks ago against Milwaukee, Hickson turned in one of his better performances of the season, scoring 19 points, with 10 rebounds, and two blocked shots. In Hickson's last four games, he is averaging a double-double, with 13 points and 11.25 rebounds..

Other Options: John Henson, MIL ($5,700)

INJURY REPORT

Out
JaVale McGee (leg) has been out since November and is deciding if he will undergo surgery soon.
Larry Sanders (eye) is out for at least six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture to his orbital bone.

Game-Time Decision
Ty Lawson (fractured rib) has missed the Nuggets' last three games and is questionable for Thursday.
Caron Butler (ankle) played on Tuesday for the first time since February 3 but missed practice on Wednesday. He's a game-time decision for Thursday.
Brandon Knight (heel) didn't practice on Wednesday but hasn't missed game-time due to the injury.
O.J. Mayo (illness) is expected to play on Thursday.
Ekpe Udoh (ankle) missed the Bucks' game on Tuesday and is considered day-to-day with an ankle injury.
Russell Westbrook (knee) practiced fully on Wednesday and is a game-time decision to play on Thursday.
Greg Smith (knee) is cleared to play but is unlikely to crack the Rockets' 10-man rotation.
Ronnie Brewer (calf) has missed the Rockets' last five games, including Wednesday, but was available for their game on Tuesday. He's a game-time decision for Thursday.
Andrew Bogut (shoulder) missed Wednesday's game and is questionable to play on Thursday.