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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
Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks: Saturday's defensive matchup to avoid comes as a rather easy pick, with the suffocating defense of the Pacers making its way to Milwaukee, where the struggling Bucks haven't found their offensive chemistry halfway into the season. The Pacers allow opponents to score just 93.9 points per 100 possessions, while the Bucks are the second-worst offensive team in the league, scoring just 96.7 points per 100 possessions. The Bucks have been dealing with a myriad of injuries throughout the season, but that certainly isn't the only reason why they're playing so poorly. Head coach Larry Drew could take on part of the blame, as he has yet to find a sustainable starting five, complicating things for the Bucks, especially from a fantasy perspective. With eight games on the slate on Saturday, daily players may want to fear the deer—so much as to avoid them at all costs.

Offenses to Use
Minnesota Timberwolvesat Utah Jazz: It's almost becoming a common theme in the daily fantasy realm to avoid the Pacers on defense and to use offenses who play against the Jazz. Rightfully so, the Jazz are the league's worst defensive team, giving up 107.3 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have been playing exceptional offense throughout the season, scoring 104.5 points per 100 possessions and playing at a pace of 99.77 possessions per game, third-fastest in the league. Interestingly enough, they are coming off a 104-91 victory against the aforementioned Pacers, whose defensive efforts are certainly more noteworthy than that of the Jazz. Although Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and Kevin Martin (thumb) have been sidelined over recent games, the one-two punch of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio has been remarkable in fantasy. Consider the duo a solid choice for fantasy play Saturday.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz

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Point Guard
Ricky Rubio, MIN (at UTA), PG ($7,500): Rubio is averaging 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 10.6 assists, and 2.4 steals over his last five games. He's been playing well with Kevin Martin (thumb) out of the lineup, and his recent production in scoring has been surprisingly solid compared to his average of 8.9 points per game. With many high-end point guard options in tough matchups Saturday, Rubio could serve as a solid choice for daily play.

Other suggestions: Brandon Jennings (vs. DAL) PG ($8,400), Mike Conley (at CHA), PG ($6,600), Raymond Felton (at ATL), PG/SG ($5,800)

Shooting Guard
Tim Hardaway Jr., NYK (at ATL), SG ($4,600): Coming off a spectacular All-Star weekend, Hardaway is averaging 18.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 3.3 three-pointers made over his last three games. He's certainly the type of player who could go on or off on any given night, and there's no guarantee he'll play that well on Saturday. Yet, considering his modest price tag, taking a gamble on Hardaway wouldn't hurt. The Hawks' wings have been struggling to stay healthy, and Hardaway would certainly have a chance to exploit the Hawks' shallow bench.

Other suggestions: Gordon Hayward (vs. MIN), SG/SF ($7,400), Lance Stephenson (at MIL) SG/SF ($7,000), Jeff Green (at SAC), SG/SF ($6,400)

Small Forward
Paul George, IND (at MIL), SG/SF ($8,800): George is coming off a spectacular performance against the Timberwolves where he put up 35 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block, and three three-pointers made. He's been cooling off recently after a fantastic start to the season, and his decreased price tag accounts for that. Still, he's able to put up elite-level numbers, and the only thing stopping him from doing so Saturday is a blowout game. Even so, George would likely put up his usual numbers if the Pacers can take out the Bucks before the fourth quarter, making him a solid play for Saturday.

Other suggestions: Josh Smith (vs. DAL), SF/PF ($8,000), Trevor Ariza (vs. NOP), SG/SF ($6,700), Shawn Marion (at DET), SF/PF ($5,200)

Power Forward
Kevin Love, MIN (at UTA), PF/C ($11,200): Love is averaging 35.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 4.0 three-pointers made, and 1.0 double-doubles over the last three games. He's been a double-double machine all season long, and the struggling Jazz will have a hard time containing him with a shorthanded frontcourt. Despite his lofty price tag, Love should be a safe play Saturday, and his high ownership rate in daily games could hurt those who decide to go with other options while he explodes.

Other suggestions: Carmelo Anthony (at ATL), SF/PF ($10,300), Dirk Nowitzki (at DET), PF/C ($7,700), Josh McRoberts (vs. MEM), PF/C ($5,100)

Center
Enes Kanter, UTA (vs. UTA), C ($5,000): It's no secret that Kanter has been a massive disappointment this season, performing worse than virtually all pre-season expectations. Fortunately for the young center, teammate Derrick Favors (hip) has been dealing with injuries, and Kanter has been able to capitalize over recent games. He's put up two consecutive double-doubles, and is averaging 21.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks during that span. Favors is a game-time decision Saturday, so his status will directly affect Kanter's performance. Be sure to check before tip-off, but if Favors sits again, Kanter's price tag will be well worth his potential.

Other suggestions: Andre Drummond (vs. DAL), PF/C ($8,100), Marcin Gortat (vs. NOP), C ($6,200), Brandon Bass (at SAC), PF/C ($4,500)

INJURY REPORT

Out
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.
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.
Pero Antic (ankle) must clear more benchmarks before returning to the court.
Chauncey Billups (knee) will be re-evaluated in two-to-three weeks.
Avery Bradley (ankle) is not with the team on their current road trip.
Vitor Faverani (knee) is not with the team on their current road trip.
Larry Sanders (eye) is out for at least six weeks.
Gary Neal (trade) will not play Saturday as he needs to be familiarized with the system of his new team.
Luke Ridnour (trade) will not play Saturday as he needs to be familiarized with the system of his new team.
Evan Turner (trade) will not play Saturday on his new team.
Lavoy Allen (trade) will not play Saturday on his new team.

Game-Time Decision
DeMarcus Cousins (hip) expects to play Saturday.
Jeff Teague (ankle) did not play Friday and is questionable to play Saturday.
Nikola Pekovic (ankle) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Kevin Martin (thumb) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Derrick Favors (hip) is a game-time decision Saturday.
Brandon Knight (heel) did not play Thursday and is questionable to play Saturday.
Ekpe Udoh (ankle) is questionable to play Saturday.
Andrew Bogut (shoulder) is questionable to play Saturday.