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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Monday

Alex Rikleen

Alex Rikleen

Alex Rikleen writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls: As long as Tom Thibodeau coaches and Joakim Noah is healthy, "avoid offenses facing the Bulls" qualifies as a fantasy rule of thumb. The Nets and the Bulls are two of the five slowest paced teams in the league. When these two teams faced off two weeks ago, the Nets mustered a measly 76 points and a pathetic 12 total team assists. Even if the Nets can play significantly better than they did last time (likely), they are still risky plays from the fantasy perspective.

Memphis Grizzlies at Washington Wizards: Speaking of slow-paced teams, Memphis Grizzlies are the slowest paced team in the league. As Renee Miller made clear in her article a few weeks ago, pace isn't everything in fantasy sports, but it can be important, especially for point guards (John Wall). Probably more important, however, are the Grizzlies' ranks against opponents by position: first against point guards, second against shooting guard/small forward combos, sixth against centers; only power forwards face a favorable matchup. The Grizz are running as close to fully healthy as a team can be in March. Despite twice allowing 100 points in the past three games, the Grizzlies entered the weekend second in the league in points against over their past 10 games (first belonged the aforementioned Bulls). Memphis is also second in the league for least turnovers committed per game.

Offenses to Use
Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers: Frankly, I'd recommend using both of these teams if I wasn't afraid of violating some unwritten RotoWire code. Forced to choose, therefore, I'd target the Blazers, who get the privilege of a home game against the best fantasy opponent other than the 76ers. Both teams are fast paced, and both are mediocre in terms of opponents' field goal percentage. But where the Blazers allow the fewest made threes per game, the Lakers are last in the league in rebound differential. Advantage Blazers.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans.
Second game of a back-to-back: Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz.

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Point Guard
Damian Lillard, POR (vs LAL), PG, ($8,300): Lillard has been on fire lately averaging over .500 from the field since the All Star break and as described above, I like the Blazers tonight. An added bonus the Lakers lead the league in steals surrendered per game.

Other suggestions: Isaiah Thomas, SAC (vs NO), PG, ($7,700)

Shooting Guard
Gary Neal, CHA (at MIA), PG/SG, ($3,100): Typically I prefer to target natural point guards with SG-eligibility in this slot in my lineup, but I'm not thrilled with those options tonight and Neal's discount price tag is too low to pass up (though Neal is PG-eligible, he is hardly a "natural point guard"). That the Bobcats wanted Neal heading into the trade deadline was no secret, and in his first game Friday they used him exactly as everyone anticipated they would a bench scorer who can stretch the floor. The lone surprise, if you can even call it that, was that "only" three of his 13 attempted shots were three pointers. Two extra days to familiarize himself with his new surroundings can only help his performance. And with a price tag this low, he doesn't have to do much to provide your team with surplus value.

Other suggestions: Gordon Hayward, UTA (at MIL), SG/SF, ($7,500)

Small Forward
Kevin Martin, MIN (At DEN), SG/SF, ($5,200): This falls under the strategy that says the best values in daily leagues are players returning from injury. Before his early February injury, Martin typically cost more than $6,000 per night. In his first game back Saturday night, Martin posted 38 fantasy points in 34 minutes two minutes more than his season average. Oh yeah, and the Nuggets are the sixth easiest opponents in the league for Martin's position.

Other suggestions: Kent Bazemore, LAL (at POR), SG/SF, ($3,900)

Power Forward
Joakim Noah, CHI (at BKN), PF/C, ($8,800): Noah is my fantasy security blanket. He's a virtual lock for a double-double, and his ability to rack up assists further pads his fantasy totals. Brooklyn may be one of the league's toughest opponents for PF/Cs, but they couldn't stop Noah from breaking 45 fantasy points in their last matchup.

Jeff Adrien, MIL (vs UTA), SF/PF, ($3,200): Make no mistake, Adrien is a risky play. But I like using this space to highlight some of the hyper-cheap players with chances of posting solid numbers. Despite playing fewer than 24 minutes in all four of his games for the Bucks, Adrien has grabbed double digit rebounds three times with his new team. The problems are three-fold: 1) no matter how well Adrien plays, I don't trust the Bucks to reward him with more minutes, 2) Adrien is a one-trick pony, highly unlikely to provide even just double-digit points, and 3) the Jazz are the league's most formidable fantasy opponents for SF/PFs. All that having been said, a player who costs barely more than $3,000 and has a very real shot at double digit rebounds warrants mention.

Other suggestions: Derrick Favors, UTA (at MIL), PF/C, ($6,900);

Center
Kevin Love, MIN (at DEN), C, ($11,300): Love may be costly, and he may seem obvious, but he's worth it. Denver plays fast, they allow one of the leagues worst (or best, for our purposes) opponent's field goal percentage, they have a negative rebounding differential, and they allow so many steals that Love may grab a few by accident. They are the second most favorable fantasy opponent for a PF/C.

Other suggestions: Marc Gasol, MEM (at WAS), C, ($7,500); Tyson Chandler, NY (at DET), C, ($6,500); Robin Lopez, POR (at LAL), C, ($6,100)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Chauncey Billups (knee) will not play Monday.
Kobe Bryant (knee) will not play Monday.
Nick Young (knee) will not play Monday.
Carlos Delfino (foot) will not play Monday.
Larry Sanders (eye) will not play Monday.
Ronny Turiaf (knee) will not play Monday.
Ryan Anderson (back) will not play Monday. He is due for an update to his status, but still not expected to return for at least a few more weeks.
Jrue Holiday (leg) will not play Monday and is now out for the remainder of the season.
Joel Freeland (knee) will not play Monday.
Jason Terry (knee) will not play Monday and is now out for the remainder of the season.
Nene Hilario (knee) will not play Monday.

Game-Time Decision
Kevin Garnett (back) is a game-time decision Monday. He sat out Thursday's game, but is not expected to miss extended time.
Joakim Noah (ankle) is a game-time decision Monday. After hurting the ankle Sunday he returned for the fourth quarter, but said after the game that he was in significant pain. The Bulls are playing the second game of a back-to-back Monday.
Brendan Haywood (foot) is a game-time decision Monday. He did not play in Sunday's game, and the team has yet to release an update to his status.
Ty Lawson (ribs) appears to be nearing a return, and could play Monday according to some earlier timelines, but no clear word has been given. Consider him a game-time decision Monday.
Josh Harrellson (knee) is a game-time decision Monday.
Xavier Henry (knee) is a game-time decision Monday.
Steve Nash (back) is a game-time decision Monday, but without any updates to the contrary it remains unlikely that he will play.
Epke Udoh (ankle) is a game-time decision Monday.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is a game-time decision Monday, but has been listed as a game-time decision for weeks without any updates to his status, and should be considered unlikely to play.
Kenyon Martin (ankle) is a game-time decision Monday.
Thomas Robinson (knee) is a game-time decision Monday.
Carl Landry (knee) is a game-time decision Monday.
Kevin Seraphin (knee) is a game-time decision Monday. He has missed the last three games, but seems likely to return today.