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Mike Conley, MEM (at UTA) PG/SG ($7,200):
Defenses to Avoid
Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs: Winners of 14 straight, San Antonio has separated itself from the rest of the West (and perhaps the league) as the favorite. Although they're really doing it on both ends, they've been exceptional defensively rating second in efficiency since the all-star break (98.7 points allowed per 100 possessions). Only Chicago has been better over that stretch, but the difference is minimal. Denver has been playing at a high pace lately — 2nd in the NBA since the all-star break — and they're turning it over 16.1 percent of the time (26th). The Spurs do everything well on defense except create turnovers, but that's a scary recipe for a team like Denver that gives it away so willingly.
Offenses to Use
Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans: Los Angeles' recent surge has moved the Clippers all the way up the No. 2 efficient offense in the league. Furthermore, they're No. 1 since Feb. 1 (112.2 points per 100 possessions) while the Pelicans come in at 24th defensively (108.1) over that same period. The Pelicans are at their worse down low where they lack bulk. They're 26th in opponents' field goal percentage (63.1 percent) in the restricted area, where the Clippers, of course, do a lot of damage. Only Miami shoots a higher percentage in that area (and are also not so coincidentally the only team more efficient than the Clippers overall).
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers.
Second game of a back-to-back: Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors.
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Memphis has continued its late-season surge and a lot of that credit goes to Conley, at least offensively. After taking some time to get acclimated post all-star break (and more importantly, post injury), Conley has been one of the more consistent players in the league. The Jazz are 29th in defensive efficiency and typically struggle against opposing point guards.
Other suggestions: Brandon Jennings
, DET (vs. CLE) PG/SG ($7,100); Raymond Felton
, NYK (vs. SAC) PG/SG ($5,500); Brian Roberts
, NOP (vs. LAC) PG/SG ($4,200); Jarrett Jack
, CLE (at DET), PG/SG ($5,800).
Bradley Beal, WAS (vs. PHO) SG ($6,500):
Not a deep night at the 2-guard, but Beal has been as consistent as anyone lately. He's scored at least 15 points in 11 straight games and has been doing a better job distributing the ball (3.8 assists per game over his last five games). Phoenix is actually one of the better teams in defending the three, but if you take a closer look at Beal, he's a much more well-rounded scorer than he gets credit for. He does just as much damage in the mid-range (where 46 percent of his shots come from) and that should possess a problem for Phoenix's guards.
Other suggestions: Eric Bledsoe
, PHO (at WAS) PG/SG ($7,300); Jamal Crawford
, LAC (at NOP) PG/SG ($5,100); Rodney Stuckey
, DET (vs. CLE) PG/SG ($4,500); Dion Waiters
, CLE (at DET) SG ($7,100)
Rudy Gay, SAC (vs. NYK) SF/PF ($7,500):
Battling a stomach ailment Sunday, Gay looked fine, playing 41 minutes en route to scoring 24 points against the Bucks. His recent numbers basically are what they've been all year, but it's encouraging to see Gay limit the amount of outside shots recently. Over his career, he's been a below average three-point shooter and while he's certainly struggling recently, he's cut down on attempts drastically over his last five games. He'll have a good matchup Wednesday night against the Knicks and should be expected to at least hit season averages.
Other suggestions: Josh Smith
, DET (vs. CLE) SF/PF ($7,400); Tyreke Evans
, NOP (vs LAC) SG/SF ($7,600); Paul Pierce
, BKN (at CHA) SF/PF ($5,500).
Anthony Davis, NOP (vs. LAC), PF/C ($10,200):
It's not necessarily the most ideal matchup against the Clippers extremely talented frontcourt, but Davis is on a tear lately, averaging 31.3 points per game over his last nine games. During that stretch, he's been held under 28 points just once and has also grabbed at least 10 rebounds in all of those contests except for one (nine against Portland on March 14). He might be short on rebounds against the Clippers, but he's shooting extremely well lately and is going to continue to get a large amount of looks with New Orleans playing so shorthanded.
Other suggestions: Zach Randolph
, MEM (at UTA) PF/C ($7,700); David West
, IND (vs. MIA) PF ($6,300); Amar'e Stoudemire
, NYK (at SAC) PF/C ($4,400).
Al Jefferson, CHA (vs. BKN) PF/C ($9,300):
Jefferson's truly been one of the most consistent players all year long, but March has been the epitome of it. His monthly scoring average of 24.7 is the highest of any month, but it's because he's been held under 20 points just three times all month. He's also shooting a ridiculous 56 percent from the field in March. But overall, Jefferson is a versatile big who can score from just about anywhere inside the arc. That versatility typically gives Brooklyn some trouble. They're one of the league's worst teams defending the paint in the non-restricted area, allowing teams to shoot 40.6 percent (26th).
Other suggestions: Andre Drummond
, DET (vs. CLE) PF/C ($7,100); DeAndre Jordan
, LAC (at NOP) C ($7,300); Marc Gasol
, MEM (at UTA) C ($7,100);
(back) has been ruled out for Wednesday's game.
(back) will not travel with the team for Wednesday's game.
(knee) has missed the past two weeks with a patellar strain.
(biceps) participated in shootaround Tuesday, but is not on track to play yet.
(knee) is out indefinitely and shouldn't be expected to play anytime soon.
(knee) is still without an update on his status.
(elbow) hasn't taken on any contact and might not return this year.
(hand) is at least another 1-2 weeks away from returning.
(calf) should miss at least two weeks.
(knee) should return by the end of the year, but has just begun moving around without the crutches.
(ankle) did not play Monday.
(back) left Monday's game and hasn't been updated since.
(ankle) missed Tuesday's game, the seventh time during the Cavs last eight contests.
(groin) didn't play Sunday.
(back) probably won't play during the road trip, but hasn't been officially ruled out.
(illness) did not play Monday and is unknown for Wednesday.
(Achilles) was a full participant in Tuesday's practice and will be reevaluated Wednesday afternoon.
(foot) missed Monday's game but is unknown for Wednesday.
(ankle) was held out Monday against Memphis. He's day-to-day.
(knee) didn't play Monday for the second game in a row.
(thumb) missed Sunday's game but was back on the floor Tuesday.
(quadriceps) is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game.
(knee) started Tuesday and should be fine despite the back-to-back.
(elbow) has missed nine in a row but has been cleared for practice.
(ankle) is considered doubtful for Wednesday.
(Achilles) likely won't miss any time going forward.