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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
Indiana Pacers vs. Milwaukee Bucks: The Pacers have one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the league and that shouldn’t change on Thursday when they face the Bucks. The Pacers give up the fewest points per game in the NBA, at just 91.0 and hold teams to shooting 41.4 percent from floor, which is also good for lowest in the league. This matchup is simply a good defense against a bad offense, with the Pacers owning another league-best 94.0 defensive rating, and the Bucks owning the second-worst offensive rating at 97.5.

Offenses to Use
Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks: Much like the Pacers-Bucks game, the Heat-Knicks game is another instance of a good offense against a bad defense. The Heat own the best offensive rating in the NBA at 109.8, average 104.1 points per game, with the highest field-goal percentage in the league at 50.4 percent. The Knicks, on the other hand, have a pedestrian 106.4 defensive rating and allow teams to shoot over 46 percent against them. In their most recent matchup, the Heat put up 106 points against the Knicks, so Miami could have yet another big night on Thursday.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: New York Knicks
Second game of a back-to-back: Brooklyn Nets

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Point Guard
Brandon Knight, MIL (at IND) PG/SG ($6,600): Although the Pacers rank first in giving up the fewest amount of fantasy points to opposing guards, Knight found no problem in having one of his best games of the season just five days ago against Indiana. Knight scored 30 points while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists. In the month of February, Knight has failed to reach 20 points just three times and is averaging 6.5 assists per game in that same stretch.

Shooting Guard
Bradley Beal, WAS (at TOR) SG ($6,300): Beal has averaged just a shade under 20 points (19.1) per game in his last seven contests, which is two points higher than his season average of 16.9. What has been encouraging is his field-goal percentage over the last four games which is at 45.4 percent, as shooting woes at times have plagued him in his sophomore season. Toronto gives up the fourth most points to opposing guards, so Beal could be poised to have a strong night north of the border on Thursday.

Small Forward
Evan Turner, IND (vs. MIL) SG/SF ($6,600): Turner’s fantasy value was expected to take a minor hit when he was traded to the Pacers but still managed to play 26 minutes in his debut with the team on Tuesday, scoring 13 points. Turner, being on the second unit, could very easily see added playing time on Thursday with a potential blowout on the horizon against the lowly Bucks. The Bucks also give up the third most fantasy points to opposing forwards, so both Turner and teammate Lance Stephenson ($6,900), could be nice plays for Thursday.

Power Forward
David West, IND (vs. MIL) PF ($6,800): West is in the midst of his best month of the season. In February, West is averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, shooting over 54 percent from the floor, while contributing to the assist, blocks, and steals categories on a consistent basis as well. West had a strong performance against the Bucks a few days back, chipping in his second 30-point performance of the season, to go along with seven rebounds, and five assists.

Center
Timofey Mozgov, DEN (vs. BKN) C ($4,700): Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw wanted to get Mozgov more touches, and did so by inserting him into the Nuggets’ starting lineup on Tuesday. In the start, Mozgov recorded 14 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes of action. While J.J. Hickson, the man Mozgov took the starting job from, exploded in his bench role on Tuesday (16 points, 25 rebounds), Mozgov still appears to be heading towards increased playing time at center. At a very cheap $4,700, Mozgov could put in a nice performance on Thursday, really freeing up some extra money to spend elsewhere. If the risk to play Mozgov is too high, Hickson is still a solid option at $6,000, with the Nets giving up the seventh most fantasy points to opposing centers.

INJURY REPORT

Out
Larry Sanders (eye) is out for about another month after breaking a bone near his eye a few weeks ago.
Iman Shumpert (MCL) is out with a mild MCL sprain.
Nene Hilario (MCL) is out for 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL.

Game-Time Decision
Caron Butler (ankle/contract) is questionable with an ankle injury that has plagued him throughout the month of February. Butler and the Bucks are reportedly in discussions to buy-out the remainder of Butler’s contract with Milwaukee, which could happen soon.
Ekpe Udoh (ankle) is questionable for Thursday after missing five consecutive games with the injury.
Carmelo Anthony (personal) missed practice on Wednesday for personal reasons but will join the team in Miami on Thursday.
Raymond Felton (felony gun charges) will play despite being charged with felony gun charges earlier in the week.
LeBron James (nose) practiced fully on Wednesday and will be reevaluated on Thursday before the game, so he can be considered a game-time decision.
Kevin Seraphin (knee) missed the Wizards’ game against the Magic on Tuesday and is questionable for Thursday.
Darrell Arthur (hip) missed Denver’s game on Tuesday and is questionable for Thursday’s game against Brooklyn.
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