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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
Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers: The Houston Rockets have a modest defense, allowing a middle-of-the-road 101.8 points per game. However, the Sixers don't exactly have a strong offense, with the worst offensive rating in the NBA at 95.6, and average a mere 98.7 points per game. The Rockets have a top-ten defensive rating of 102.4, so although they may not have the best defense, the Rockets have the potential to hold the Sixers to a low point total on Thursday, especially if Dwight Howard is available to play.

Offenses to Use
Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks: The Los Angeles Clippers, statistically, have the best offense in the NBA. They average the most points per game, 107.5, and own the second-highest offensive rating at 109.2. Of the teams playing on Thursday, the Mavericks rank ahead of only the lowly Bucks and Lakers in points allowed per game, giving up 102.5 per contest. In addition, the Clippers have owned the Mavericks in their two matchups this season, scoring 119 and 129 points in those two games, so the Clippers could push 120 points once again on Thursday.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers

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Point Guard
Brandon Knight, MIL (vs. LAL) PG/SG ($7,000): Knight has struggled in his last two games, putting up just nine and six points. Before these last two games, however, Knight managed to score at least 20 points in eight of ten games and with Nate Wolters out for the season, the Bucks' reliance on Knight will only increase. In his last game against the Lakers, Knight has one of his best games of the season, scoring 37 points with eight rebounds, four steals, and two assists.

Shooting Guard
Jamal Crawford, LAC (at DAL) PG/SG ($5,500): Crawford returned from a calf injury on Saturday that sidelined him for the better part of March. His price is relatively low for a guy who is averaging 18.4 points on the season. In his three games back, he has averaged 17.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds while playing 31.7 minutes per game, so it appears that any lingering effects from the injury are not hampering his minutes. Before he went down the the calf injury, Crawford had a stretch in which he scored 20 points in nine out of ten games, so the ability to score is there and at a very cheap price.

Small Forward
Nicolas Batum, POR (at ATL) SG/SF ($7,200): Batum has been a double-double machine in the month of March, tallying seven in 14 games. He's also been capitalizing on LaMarcus Aldridge's absence (although he may be returning on Thursday). In the seven games that Aldridge has missed, Batum is averaging 14.4 points and 11.4 rebounds with three treys per game. Atlanta also gives up the 25th most points to opposing forwards, so it's a good matchup for Batum, even if Aldridge can go.

Power Forward
Terrence Jones, HOU (vs. PHI) SF/PF ($6,000): Jones has a favorable matchup against the Sixers who give up the 28th most fantasy points to opposing forwards. Added to that, Jones has been producing above his season averages his last four games, averaging 18 points, six rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 63.6 percent (28-44) in just over 30 minutes of play each night.

Center
Chris Kaman, LAL (at MIL) PF/C ($4,600): With Pau Gasol not making the trip with the Lakers for their two game road-trip in Milwaukee and Minnesota due to vertigo, Kaman will get the start at center for the Lakers. In Gasol's absence on Tuesday, Kaman had 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one block in 23 minutes. The Bucks give up the 27th most fantasy points in the NBA to opposing centers, so the increase in minutes and matchup provide favorable circumstances for a strong performance from Kaman on Thursday at a cheap price.

INJURY REPORT

Out
Tony Wroten (ankle) is not traveling with the Sixers for their current road trip and is out on Thursday.
Pau Gasol (vertigo) will not play in either of the Lakers' two games on the road, including the first game on Thursday in Milwaukee.
Jordan Farmar (groin) could miss the rest of the season and is for sure out on Thursday.
Nate Wolters (hand) is out for the remainder of the season.

Game-Time Decision
LaMarcus Aldridge (back) is listed as questionable for Thursday's game in Atlanta
Mo Williams (knee) left Tuesday's game but did return in the second half to play five minutes. He will likely play Thursday barring any setbacks.
Kyle Korver (back) has missed four straight games, including Wednesday, due to back spasms. He can be considered questionable for Thursday.
Dwight Howard (knee) injured his knee in practice on Wednesday but should be able to play on Thursday.
Francisco Garcia (personal) has missed two straight games due to a personal issue. No status on his availability for Thursday.
J.J. Redick (back) hasn't played since February 3rd and is likely out for Thursday's game.
Steve Nash (soreness) “tweaked something” in his return to the court on Friday and missed the Lakers' game on Tuesday. His status for Thursday against the Bucks is unknown.
Ersan Ilysaova (ankle) is questionable for Thursday's game.
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