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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Wednesday

Alex Rikleen

Alex Rikleen

Alex Rikleen writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Bobcats: There are 10 NBA games tonight, which means daily games players have tons of options around the league to choose from, and avoiding one or two teams is no onerous task. The Bulls and the Pacers are, generally speaking, the toughest fantasy opponents in the league. That's not to say all Pistons and Bobcats need to be avoided as a hard-and-fast rule, but it is important to remember if you are deciding, for example, between Andre Drummond ($8,000) and Nikola Vucevic ($7,900, facing the Rockets), that the tie should probably go to the player not facing one of these teams. As for snapshots partially demonstrating these two's defensive prowess: win or lose, only one of the Bulls past 11 opponents have scored more than 96 points, and six have been held below 90; Indiana is a close second in the league in rebound differential, and the leads the league in defensive rebounds per game and defensive rebound percentage.

Offenses to Use
New York Knicks at Minnesota Timberwolves: New York has lost seven games in a row, 10 of their last 11, and 13 of their last 15. If Minnesota thinks they have any chance at making the real-life playoffs and you better believe they do think that then they know they cannot afford to blow this game. And it's a home game for the Wolves, which would add to the embarrassment were they to lose. So that covers intangibles. As for some hard statistics to bolster my claim here: during their current losing streak, the Knicks have allowed 112 points per game, 24 assists, 44 rebounds, 26 free throw attempts, and 48 and 43 percent shooting from the field and from three point land, respectively. League averages for this season are 100 points, 21 assists, 43 rebounds, 23 free throw attempts, and 45 and 35 percent shooting from the field and on three pointers, respectively.

Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers: The Atlanta Hawks are on a silly streak of their own right now, losing three straight regulation games while allowing an average of 117 points, 10 steals, and 27 free throw attempts per game (league average steals per game is roughly 7.5). Most of their numbers during this streak are above league average, those are just the farthest from the norm. No they face a Portland team that is averaging 108 points per game during the same time period, and that likes to push the ball while boasting many fantasy-friendly stars. Whether the Hawks can keep up or not is for someone else to predict, but tonight is looking like a shining opportunity for Portlands' fantasy prospects.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None.
Second game of a back-to-back: Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers.

DraftKings.com DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
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Point Guard
Ray McCallum, SAC (at MIL), PG, ($3,100): Rookie McCallum has set career highs for minutes in three of the Kings' past five games, playing 17, 25, 23, 28, and 22 minutes in each. Meanwhile, DraftKings has only barely noticed, finally raising his salary $100 dollars above the minimum for tonight's matchup. He has been playing well, and perhaps more importantly consistently, scoring six, seven, nine, and eight in those last four outings. The Kings have no reason to keep their potential-laden youngster on the bench anymore, and he's playing well enough to earn continued minutes. There is almost no chance that he blows the lid off and grabs your team a surprise 30 fantasy points, but I like McCallum as a cheap player who can earn his keep and allow you to spend big on an extra superstar.

Other suggestions: Jose Calderon, DAL (at DEN), PG, ($5,500); Victor Oladipo, ORL (vs HOU), PG/SG ($6,400); Damian Lillard, POR (vs ATL), ($8,100)

Shooting Guard
Steph Curry, GS (at BOS), PG/SG, ($9,700): If you believe, as I do, that the daily games scoring system institutionally rewards filling the SG spot with a natural point guard, then Steph Curry is your guy here most of the nights that he is available. His high cost does take away a bit of that appeal, but Boston is nobody's feared opponent. And don't let that scary red "6th" against PG/SGs scare you: part of that was impacted by Courtney Lee, a strong defender no longer with the team, and part of that was impacted by Avery Bradley, an even better defender who is out with an injury. Curry will still have to face Rondo for much of the game, but Boston's guard defensive unit is not as strong as those season-long numbers appear.

Other suggestions: Nicolas Batum, POR (vs ATL), SG/SF, ($7,600)

Small Forward
Chandler Parsons, HOU (at ORL), SF/PF, ($6,700): A little more than a week ago, a streaking Parsons would have cost you $7,500. A couple bad games brought that cost down significantly, and this is probably about as cheap as he'll get. Tonight he gets an Orlando team focused more on player development than the outcome of games. I'd be surprised if his line tonight is not back up around his season averages.

Other suggestions: Jeff Adrien, MIL (vs SAC), SF/PF, ($3,600); Tobias Harris, ORL (vs HOU), SF/PF, ($6,600)

Power Forward
Dirk Nowitzki, DAL (at DEN), PF/C, ($7,200): Despite one of the league's better nicknames and the ability to post often impressive "hustle stats" (rebounds, steals, blocks), the Manimal, disappointingly sometimes referred to as "Ken Faried", is a below-average defender. Meanwhile, I have reasonable doubt that Timofey Mosgov and JJ Hickson are quick and/or athletic enough to effectively defend Nowitzki's unique game. In the two previous games against the Nuggets this season, Nowitzki averaged 22.5 points and seven rebounds, both a bit above his overall season averages. Added bonus: his salary for tonight is $300 lower than its previous low over the past month, and $1,000 below its peak during that period.

Other suggestions: Elton Brand, ATL (at POR), PF/C, ($4,500)

Center
Jared Sullinger, BOS (vs GS), PF/C, ($5,700): Insert gratuitous recently-returned-from-injury-but-DraftKings-has-not-raised-his-salary-yet player here. After back-to-back 50 plus fantasy point performances, Sullinger was going for over $7,000 in early February, before the All Starr break and then a three game absence. He returned against the Pacers, and posted a predictably-Pacers-deflated 23.5 fantasy points, bringing his Wednesday salary down to a too-low-to-pass-up $5,700. Don't expect 50 fantasy points, but feel free to expect something of a bounce-back performance.

Other suggestions: Nikola Vucevic, ORL (vs HOU) PF/C, ($7,900); Robin Lopez, POR (vs ATL), C, ($6,000)

Injury Report

Out
Gerald Henderson (calf) sat out Monday and expected to miss at least three more games
Greg Smith (knee) out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic surgery
Nene Hilario (knee) will not play Wednesday
Kevin Seraphin (knee) will not play Wednesday
Festus Ezeli (knee) will not play Wednesday
Gerald Wallace (knee/ankle) underwent surgery and is out for the rest of the season
Kevin Garnett (back) will not play Wednesday
Jason Terry (knee) will not play Wednesday and is out for the rest of the season
Kenyon Martin (ankle) has been having PRP therapy and will not play Wednesday
Ronny Turiaf (knee) will not play Wednesday
Gustavo Ayon (shoulder) will not play Wednesday and is out for the rest of the season
Joel Freeland (knee) will not play Wednesday

Game-Time Decision
Brendan Haywood (foot) has yet to play in a game this season, but is expected to play soon
Jameer Nelson (illness) missed morning shootaround and is game-time decision Wednesday
Martell Webster (back) is a game-time decision after not practicing Tuesday
Andre Iguodala (finger) is a game-time decision after he dislocated his finger Tuesday
Andrew Bogut (knee) is a game-time decision Wednesday
Avery Bradley (ankle) will get an MRI Wednesday and is unlikely to play
Vitor Faverani (knee) has not played since Jan. 28 and is unlikely to play
Kelly Olynyk (toe) practiced Tuesday and is a game-time decision
James Johnson (toe) practiced Tuesday and is a game-time decision
Josh Harrellson (knee) is a game-time decision Wednesday
Carl Landry (knee) has missed three straight games and is unlikely to play
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is without a status update, but is not expected to play
Corey Brewer (hand) played Monday and is expected to play Wednesday
Paul Millsap (knee) is a game-time decision Wednesday
Damian Lillard (illness) did not practice Tuesday, but is probable for Wednesday
Thomas Robinson (knee) went through light workout Tuesday and is a game-time decision Wednesday
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