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Stephen Curry, GS (vs. NYK), PG/SG ($10,400)
Defenses to Avoid
Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics: The flailing Celtics -- losers of eight of their last nine games -- have eclipsed 100 points just twice during that stretch, and will now face the onerous task of trying to generate offense against a Bulls defense that trails only the Pacers in terms of defensive efficiency. On offense, the Derrick Rose-less Bulls are averaging the second-fewest possessions in the league, and should be content to play a slow, methodical pace against the Celtics, who aren't talented enough on the perimeter to dramatically speed the game up. Look for an outcome similar to the 94-82 Bulls victory the last time the teams met to develop Sunday.
Offenses to Use
Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers: We're at the point of the season where the Timberwolves' 143-point outburst against the Lakers on Friday barely raises an eyebrow, as Los Angeles fully committed to foregoing defense long before. The Suns aren't quite as passionless on that side of the court as the Lakers, but it's apparent both teams are more offensively-inclined. Los Angeles operates at the second-fastest pace in the league while ranking 12th in true shooting percentage, while Phoenix checks in at seventh place in each of those categories. Eric Bledsoe's return has made the Suns even more dynamic in the backcourt of late, with the team going 8-2 and averaging 105.1 points per game since he came back from injury.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies
Second game of a back-to-back: None
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: A quadriceps injury earlier this month sent Curry's production into a temporary tailspin, as the dynamic guard endured a stretch of six consecutive games in which he failed to score 20 points. He's indicated the injury has mostly cleared up over the last couple of weeks, and it looks like he's back contributing like the Curry of old. He's surpassed 30 points and five three-pointers in three of his last six games, highlighted by a 33-point, eight-assist, five-three performance against one of the league's better defensive teams in Memphis on Friday. It's safe to say the Knicks represent a sizable step down from the Grizzlies in terms of defensive pressure.
Other suggestions: Kyle Lowry
(at ORL), PG ($8,400), Mike Conley
(at POR), PG ($7,400), Jarrett Jack
(at IND), PG/SG ($5,900)
Goran Dragic, PHX (at LAL), PG/SG ($8,100)
: Dragic's numbers haven't taken much of a hit since Eric Bledsoe
returned from a knee injury earlier this month, and a matchup against the Lakers' sieve-like defense should prove appetizing. With two of the league's faster-paced teams colliding, possessions should be plentiful, and the Lakers' current guard rotation of Steve Nash
, Kendall Marshall
, Jodie Meeks
and Nick Young
doesn't figure to put up much resistance to the Phoenix backcourt. A likely blowout will probably prevent Dragic from making a run at a 30- or 40-point night, but expect him to surpass the 6.0 assists and 1.6 threes per game he's averaging.
Other suggestions: Gordon Hayward
(at OKC), SG/SF ($7,300), Kevin Martin
(at BKN), SG/SF ($5,700), J.R. Smith
(at GS), SG/SF ($5,600)
Kent Bazemore, LAL (vs. PHX), SG/SF ($4,100)
: Inserted into the starting lineup Friday against the Timberwolves, Bazemore went off for 21 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block in the loss. The Old Dominion product has proven useful when given the minutes, although his role is seemingly always at risk of changing based on coach Mike D'Antoni's day-to-day lineup whims. Still, for the cheap investment and across-the-board production upside the athletic swingman can provide, Bazemore looks like a decent lineup play.
Other suggestions: Lance Stephenson
(at CLE), SG/SF ($6,700), Tobias Harris
(vs. TOR), SF/PF ($6,400), P.J. Tucker
(at LAL), SG/SF ($5,000),
Taj Gibson, CHI (at BOS), PF/C ($6,000)
: Joakim Noah
gets most of the love for keeping the Bulls afloat since the season-ending injury to Derrick Rose
, but Gibson has been nearly as integral to the team's success, either as a starter or coming off the bench. Gibson has only surpassed 30 minutes of court time once in the last nine games, but he's still returned plenty of value in that capacity. The big man has surpassed double-digit scoring in six of his last seven, while averaging 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during that span. As mentioned above, the matchup with the Celtics could stifle the final offensive numbers of both squads, but that also means that there should be plenty of rebounds up for grabs for Gibson. Both Boston and Chicago rank in the bottom five of the league in terms of field goal percentage.
Other suggestions: Zach Randolph
(at POR), PF/C ($7,800), Derrick Favors
(at OKC), PF/C ($7,400), Marreese Speights
* (vs. NYK), PF/C ($3,200)
*If David Lee
is ruled out Sunday.
Jordan Hill, LAL (vs. PHX), PF/C ($6,000)
: Since returning last Friday from a knee injury that sidelined him about three weeks, Hill has put up some enticing numbers over five games, averaging 16.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks. While the production was skewed to a degree by 28-16 and 28-13 performances, the fact that Hill achieved both stat lines in less than 35 minutes of action on both occasions is impressive. If Pau Gasol
is ruled out for a fourth straight game due to a bout with vertigo, Hill would seem to have good odds at seeing 25 to 30 minutes Sunday, making something close to 15 points, 10 rebounds and a blocked shot a reasonable expectation.
Other suggestions: Nikola Vucevic
(vs. TOR), PF/C ($7,600), Nikola Pekovic
(at BKN), PF/C ($7,000), Amir Johnson
(at ORL), PF/C ($6,400)
(shoulder) remains out indefinitely due to tendinitis.
(back) will not play Sunday against the Timberwolves.
(biceps) was able to take shots during the Cavs' team shootaround Tuesday.
(ankle) will not play Sunday against the Timberwolves.
(ankle) has begun riding a stationary bike and is eyeing a return to the lineup before the season ends.
(groin) is aiming to return to the lineup Friday against the Rockets.
(hamstring) fit in on-court work Wednesday for the first time in nearly two weeks.
(pelvis) left Friday's game with a contusion, putting his status in question for Sunday.
(ankle) went through practice Saturday and is considered a game-time decision for Sunday's matchup with the Thunder.
(groin) may miss the remainder of the season.
(illness) is questionable to play Sunday after missing the previous two games due to a case of vertigo.
(knee) sat out Friday's game and is viewed as questionable to play Sunday.
(back) didn't practice Saturday and is listed as a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Jazz.
(hamstring) could play Sunday against the Knicks.
(ankle) has been limited to just two minutes of total action in March, as he remains hobbled by the ankle injury.
(elbow) is nearing a return to action and could possibly play Sunday.