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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Wednesday

Chris Winkler

Chris Winkler

Master's candidate in mass communication at the University of South Carolina. Covering NBA and college football for RotoWire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Golden State Warriors at Chicago Bulls: Riding a four-game winning streak, the Warriors appear to be putting an ugly five-week stretch behind them where they went just 7-9 from early January to mid-February. But despite their star power, they've basically been the same slightly-above-average offense all year long. They're 10th in points (103.3 per game), ninth in field goal percentage (45.7) and 12th in efficiency (104.2). Of course, they get a large percentage of their points from behind the three-point line (26.7) and are tied for the most three-pointers made (525) in the league. Chicago, although stingy from just about everywhere on the floor, does an excellent job on the perimeter. They've allowed the fifth fewest amount of three-pointers while allowing teams to take the third-fewest amount. Thanks to having talented rim protectors, the Bulls perimeter players rarely allow open shooters. That spells trouble for the perimeter-oriented Warriors. We'll see if their "live by the 3, die by the 3" philosophy plays out in their favor Wednesday.

Offenses to Use
New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks: The veteran Mavericks are really starting to blend together, especially on offense where Dallas is second in offensive efficiency (111.3) since Jan. 1. It's large in part to an improved Dirk Nowitzki, who is having his most efficient season since 2007-08 and one of the best shooting years in his entire career (third-highest single season field goal percentage). He's blended especially well with Monta Ellis, who is posting his highest assist rate (21.6) in his career. So while the Mavs' offense has been especially well lately, the Pelicans' defense has been exactly the opposite. They're 26th in overall defensive efficiency (106.3) and 27th (107.5) since Jan. 1 and should struggle with the well-balanced Mavericks.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Brooklyn Nets.
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers.

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Point Guard
Mike Conley, MEM (vs. LAL) PG ($6,900): After missing seven games before the All-Star break, Conley has returned to the floor with mixed results over his last three games. But because of that, his value is a bit lower than usual. He was playing his best basketball in January (averaging 19.5 points, 6.5 assists, 1.6 steals) which not so surprisingly coincided with a great win-loss stretch for the Grizzlies. Look for that trend to start up again with Conley shaking off a little rust against the woeful Lakers defense.

Other suggestions: Russell Westbrook, OKC (vs. CLE) PG ($7,900); Michael Carter-Williams, PHI (vs. ORL) PG ($7,900); Rajon Rondo, BOS (vs. ATL); Patty Mills, SA (vs. DET) PG/SG ($5,000); Tony Wroten, PHI (vs. ORL) PG/SG ($4,600)

Shooting Guard
Victor Oladipo, ORL (at PHI) PG/SG ($6,200): With Glen Davis getting bought out and Arron Afflalo not making the trip on Tuesday, Oladipo put up 20 shots (his third most attempts in a game this season) and scored 26. He's been on a bit of a roller coaster this month, but he's got a much bigger role in the offense lately and has a glorious matchup against the Sixers. Philly hasn't held an opponent under 100 points since Jan. 29 (a stretch of 11 games) and don't seem too likely to do it again any time soon — they just allowed 130 to the 11-win Bucks on Monday. With the same shorthanded lineup, Oladipo is in line for another big game.

Other suggestions: Gerald Green, PHO (at UTA) SG/SF ($5,900); Joe Johnson, BKN (at POR) SG/SF ($5,300); Jamal Crawford, LAC (vs. HOU) PG/SG ($6,600)

Small Forward
Thaddeus Young, PHI (vs. ORL) SF/PF ($7,600): If there's a bright spot for the Sixers, it's Young, who has essentially taken on every single responsibility on both ends of the floor this past week. Since the fire sale at the trade deadline, he's averaging 29.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 6.5 steals in two games. Yes, it's only two games, but Young is getting more minutes at small forward, allowing him a little more space to roam on both ends. He'll get unlimited shots and minutes for a team that plays at a hectic pace. Young is in an ideal situation fantasy-wise and is still listed at an outrageously good value.

Other suggestions: Jeff Green, BOS (vs. ATL) SG/SF ($6,300); Tobias Harris, ORL (at PHI), SF/PF ($6,600)

Power Forward
Greg Monroe, DET (at SA) PF/C ($7,500): Although he gets overlooked a bit too much in Detroit's frontcourt, Monroe is playing good basketball lately and could be somewhat of a matchup problem for San Antonio. He's averaging 18.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game over his last five, primarily due to an obvious increase in looks offensively. His usage rate is at a frustratingly low 20.6 on the season, but it's 23.3 since the All-Star break. At the end of the day, he's getting a lot more shots than usual (16.2 attempts over his last five games) and slightly more minutes. He's also one of the better passing bigs in the league, but has yet to have the stats to back it up.

Other suggestions: Zach Randolph, MEM (vs. LAL) PF/C ($7,300); Markeiff Morris, PHO (at UTA) PF/C ($5,800); Taj Gibson, CHI (vs. GSW) PF/C ($6,300); David Lee, GSW (at CHI) PF/C ($7,400) if he plays

Center
Nikola Vucevic, ORL (at PHI) PF/C ($7,400): As a rule of thumb, practically every single player who plays against the Sixers for the rest of the year should be thought of as good value. Vucevic has been tearing it up lately (16.6 points and 10.8 rebounds over his last five games, which are higher than his season averages), and he's also taken on a bigger role with the departure of Glen Davis. The Sixers are an absolute disaster up front after trading Spencer Hawes. Vucevic should have a wonderful day against Byron Mullens and Arnett Moultrie in a high possession game.

Other suggestions: DeAndre Jordan, LAC (vs. HOU) C ($7,400); Marc Gasol, MEM (vs. LAL) C ($6,800)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Paul Millsap (knee) will not play Wednesday, but should be back soon.
C.J. Miles (ankle) likely won't make the team trip Wednesday.
Anderson Varejao (back) likely won't make the trip Wednesday.
Dion Waiters (knee) is doubtful to make the trip Wednesday.
Chauncey Billups (knee) will be reevaluated in 1-2 weeks.
J.J. Redick (hip) probably won't be back until late March.
Kobe Bryant (knee) is still out for at least three more weeks.
Xavier Henry (knee) is still at least 1-2 weeks away from returning.
Nick Young (knee) will not play for the rest of the Lakers' road trip.
Ryan Anderson (back) should be reevaluated soon, but isn't likely to return for another month.
Jrue Holiday (leg) still has yet to practice.
Arron Afflalo (ankle) didn't travel Tuesday, and isn't likely to be in Philly, Wednesday, either.
Eric Bledsoe (knee) is getting much closer, but doesn't appear as if he'll be back for Wednesday. Possibly the weekend.
LaMarcus Aldridge (groin) is progressing just fine, but is probably out another week.
Tony Parker (hand) is out indefinitely and shouldn't be expected back for a few weeks.

Game-Time Decision
Avery Bradley (ankle) missed Boston's recent road trip and six straight overall but is unknown for Wednesday.
Jared Sullinger (head) hasn't played since Feb. 21 but hasn't been ruled out for Wednesday yet.
Kevin Garnett (soreness) sat out Sunday for rest, but should be back Wednesday.
Jimmy Butler (ribs) has missed two games in a row, but could be back Wednesday.
Leandro Barbosa (toe) didn't play Tuesday.
Shaun Livingston (back) practiced Tuesday and is a probable for Wednesday.
Marcus Thornton (illness) expects to play Wednesday.
David Lee (illness) rejoined the team in Chicago and is may play Wednesday.
Steve Nash (back) did not play Tuesday against Indiana.
Jameer Nelson (illness) started Tuesday and should be fine despite the back-to-back.
Kawhi Leonard (finger) will probably play according to coach Gregg Popovich.