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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Friday

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
Denver Nuggets at Chicago Bulls: The Bulls have the league's second best defense, allowing just 97.8 points per 100 possessions to opposing teams. They have allowed just an average of 84.8 points over their last four games, and the Nuggets have been struggling mightily of late, going 1-5 over their last six games, with their lone win against the lowly Bucks. In a game that is likely going to be a sluggish battle in Chicago, daily players should look elsewhere for value plays.

Offenses to Use
Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are the second best offensive team in the league, scoring 108.7 points per 100 possessions. Even without LaMarcus Aldridge (groin), several Blazers were able to put up fantasy-worthy lines in their recent loss against the Spurs. Against a league-worst Jazz defense (giving up 107.4 points per 100 possessions), the Blazers are a safe bet for solid plays Friday night. It is reasonable to expect some role players to put up better performances than usual with Aldridge leaving a big hole in the offense.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz
Second game of a back-to-back: Denver Nuggets,

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Point Guard
Michael Carter-Williams, PHI (vs. DAL), PG ($7,900): Carter-Williams missed Wednesday's practice with flu-like symptoms, though he practiced Thursday and appears ready to go on Friday. He'll have a good chance to put up a strong performance, with Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes traded away. The Sixers are on full tank mode, and Carter-Williams is most likely going to be among their top options on both ends of the court. He's averaging just 16.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks over his last five games, but he could easily go back to his strong early-season performances now as a young leader of the Sixers.

Other suggestions: Damian Lillard (vs. UTA) PG ($8,300), Kendall Marshall (vs. BOS), PG ($6,700), Mike Conley (vs. LAC), PG ($6,100)

Shooting Guard
Wesley Matthews, POR (vs. UTA), SG/SF ($6,100): Matthews has played extremely consistently this season as a three-point threat for the Blazers. In Wednesday's game against the Spurs, he took 18 attempts from the field, significantly more than his season average of 12.4. With LaMarcus Aldridge (groin) out of the lineup Friday, and Nicolas Batum (illness) a question mark, Matthews is likely going to get a lot more looks, thus giving him an opportunity to put up better fantasy numbers. He's converting on 41 percent of his three-point attempts this season, and the Blazers could certainly use a hot hand to get them out of their three-game losing streak.

Other suggestions: DeMar DeRozan (vs. CLE), SG/SF ($8,100), Monta Ellis (at PHI) PG/SG ($7,700), Jodie Meeks (vs. BOS), SG ($4,700)

Small Forward
Josh Smith, DET (vs. ATL), SF/PF ($8,000): Smith serves as a high-risk, high-reward play Friday as always. He's averaging 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game over his last five contests. The Hawks give up 20.5 points (fifth-worst), 3.9 assists (seventh-worst), and 0.7 blocks (sixth-worst) to opposing eligible small forwards, and Smith's recent run of strong performances makes him a tempting pick against this former team Friday.

Other suggestions: Jeff Green (at LAL), SG/SF ($6,400), Jimmy Butler (vs. DEN), SG/SF ($6,300), Vince Carter (at PHI), SG/SF ($5,000)

Power Forward
Thaddeus Young, PHI (vs. DAL), SF/PF ($6,800): Young hasn't been playing as well as he did in his December-January outburst, but he'll have every opportunity to explode on Friday. With Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes out of the roster, Young will be the Sixers' main post option. He's shown the ability to put up dazzling fantasy performances this season, and his modest price tag will certainly be worth another stat-stuffing outing as the Sixers' top option. Consider him a low-risk, high-reward player to take up for Friday.

Other suggestions: Carmelo Anthony (at ORL), SF/PF ($10,300), Greg Monroe (vs. ATL), PF/C ($7,100), Josh McRoberts (vs. NOP), PF/C ($5,100)

Center
Al Jefferson, CHA (vs. NOP), PF/C ($9,200): Jefferson has been playing excellently of late, averaging 25.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks over his last five games. He's been shooting a whopping 55 percent from the field, significantly higher than his season average, and it appears he's finally playing effectively and without any limitations due to injury. He's scored at least 26 points in five of his last six games, and remains as one of the high-end options who's a safe play in most situations. Consider him a solid choice for Friday's big men.

Other suggestions: Andre Drummond (vs. ATL), PF/C ($8,100), Jared Sullinger (at LAL), PF/C ($6,300) Robin Lopez (vs. UTA), C ($6,000)

INJURY REPORT

Out
LaMarcus Aldridge (groin) will miss at least a week.
Eric Bledsoe (knee) has yet to practice and will require three-to-four days of practice before he can be cleared for games.
Kobe Bryant (knee) is without a timetable to return.
Jrue Holiday (knee) is out indefinitely, despite recent reports that he'd return soon.
Ryan Anderson (back) will be re-evaluated in late February, and still has no timetable to return.
J.J. Redick (hip) will miss three-to-five weeks.
Tony Parker (hand) will be out for the foreseeable future.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is without a timetable to return.
Kenyon Martin (ankle) will miss at least another week.
Iman Shumpert (knee) could miss up to two weeks.
Brandon Davies (finger) is without a timetable to return.
Anderson Varejao (back) is without a timetable to return.
C.J. Miles (leg) doesn't expect to miss much time but won't play Friday.
Xavier Henry (knee) will undergo evaluation Friday.
Pero Antic (ankle) must clear more benchmarks before returning to the court.
Chauncey Billups (knee) will be re-evaluated in two-to-three weeks.
Al Horford (shoulder) is out for the season.
JaVale McGee (leg) is out for the season.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out for the season.
Nate Robinson (knee) is out for the season.
Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.
Jason Smith (knee) is out for the season.
Dion Waiters (knee) had an MRI which revealed no damage in his knee, and is out Friday.

Game-Time Decision
Ty Lawson (ribs) did not play Thursday against the Bucks and is a game-time decision Friday.
Michael Carter-Williams (illness) practiced Thursday and is probable to play Friday.
Nicolas Batum (illness) didn't practice Thursday and is questionable to play Friday.
DeMarre Carroll (hamstring) is with the team in Detroit and is a game-time decision Friday.
Tim Duncan (general soreness) missed Wednesday's game but is probable to play Friday.
Kawhi Leonard (finger) expects to return to action Friday.
Tony Allen (hand) expects to return to action Friday.
Pau Gasol (groin) missed Wednesday's game and is questionable to play Friday.
Nick Young (knee) increased his activity level in Thursday's practice but is questionable to play Friday.
Steve Nash (back) missed Wednesday's game and is questionable to play Friday.
Avery Bradley (ankle) is questionable to play Friday.
Vitor Faverani (knee) is questionable to play Friday.
Hollis Thompson (ankle) practiced Thursday and is probable to play Friday.