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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Saturday

Adam Wolf

Adam Wolf

Adam began writing for RotoWire in the spring of 2012 as an undergrad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He primarily serves as the site's day-to-day editor of NHL content, while also working as the Chicago Bears and Colorado Rockies beat writer, managing the site's Closer Grid, and contributing to the football and baseball magazines.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards: In defeating the Bucks by a 102-90 count Friday, the Bulls held an opponent under 100 points for the 11th time in their past 12 games, making up some ground on the scuffling Pacers along the way for the NBA's best defensive efficiency mark. Though Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson get most of the pub with regards to the Bulls' stinginess on D, the defensive contributions of players like Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler and D.J. Augustin against point guards and wing players have been just as significant, at least from a fantasy perspective. According to DraftKings' opponent rankings for average fantasy points allowed by position, the Bulls have given up the fifth-fewest point guard fantasy points per game (FPPG), the sixth-fewest shooting guard FPPG, and the fifth-fewest small forward FPPG. And for players listed as SG/SF, the Bulls have been the most stingy in terms of FPPG. This would seem to create a world of trouble for an overwhelmingly perimeter-oriented team like the Wizards, who have lost their other two matchups against the Bulls this season by scores of 102-88 and 96-93.

Offenses to Use
Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers: The specter of a record-breaking losing streak may be gone, but these Sixers are still a train wreck defensively. Though they were able to get a win over the similarly rudderless Celtics on Friday, Philadelphia was lit up for 123 points just two days earlier by the Bobcats, whose 22nd overall rank in offensive efficiency makes them nobody's idea of a juggernaut. The veteran-laden Nets' slow-it-down style doesn't strike much fear into opposing defenses, either, but they've quietly climbed into the top half of the league in true shooting percentage, points per 100 possessions, and assist ratio. Brooklyn has surpassed 100 points in 10 of their last 11 games, and put up 130, 120, and 108 points in their previous three games against Philadelphia this season.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Orlando Magic: You have to feel a bit for the Timberwolves, who sit at just 38-37 on the season, despite a more-than-respectable plus-3.2 average point differential. The latter number is often a better indicator of a team's true talent level, as a slew of close games just haven't gone Minnesota's way. The mediocre record has obscured what has been the league's ninth-most efficient offense, and those numbers should only improve against Orlando. The rebuilding Magic have dropped 12 of their last 14 games, and while not quite the defensive sieve that the Sixers are, they still rank comfortably below the league average in points allowed (18th) and turnovers forced (22nd) per game. Expect Kevin Love & Co. to take advantage, especially with the Magic's top post player in Nikola Vucevic (Achilles) likely out.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None
Second game of a back-to-back: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards

DraftKings.com DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
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Point Guard
Deron Williams, BKN (at PHI), PG ($6,700): Injuries to Kyle Lowry (knee) and Kemba Walker (ankle), a highly unfavorable matchup for John Wall, and the possibility of a recently-recovered Kyrie Irving seeing lighter minutes in his second game in as many days deprive the point guard spot of many attractive high-end options for Saturday's slate of games. One of the few exceptions is Williams, who will face a highly-vulnerable Sixers defense that should provide the point guard with ample assist opportunities. That's not to say Williams doesn't come with his warts, as he's failed to score more than 15 points in five straight games due to his struggles to get to the free-throw line and find a consistent shooting touch. That being said, if there's any team that can provide a remedy to a broken shot, it's the Sixers, who rank 28th in defensive field goal percentage, 25th in defensive three-point percentage, and dead last in free throw attempts allowed per game. It's not exactly a ringing endorsement for Williams as much as it is an indictment of Philadelphia, but there just doesn't appear to be many point guards to get excited about Saturday.

Other suggestions: Ricky Rubio (at ORL), PG ($6,800), J.J. Barea (at ORL), PG ($3,500)

Shooting Guard
Jerryd Bayless, BOS (at DET), PG/SG ($4,100): With Avery Bradley (Achilles) ruled out for both Friday and Saturday, Bayless will enjoy at least a two-game run as the team's starting shooting guard. Bayless certainly made the most of his appointment to the starting lineup Friday, scoring 23 points while knocking down five threes in a loss to Philadelphia. While it should be noted that the offensive outburst came against the league's worst defense, what's more significant is that he attempted a team-high 20 shots (nine more than any other Celtic) and played a whopping 39 minutes. Look for Bayless to see similarly high usage against the Pistons, at nearly half the price at some of the top-tier shooting guards.

Other suggestions: Dion Waiters (vs. CHA), SG ($7,000), Shaun Livingston (at PHI), PG/SG ($4,400), Terrence Ross (at MIL), SG/SF ($4,300)

Small Forward
Jeff Adrien, MIL (vs. TOR), SF/PF ($3,800): Since being acquired in a deadline day deal with the Bobcats, Adrien has quietly carved out some meaningful playing time with a woeful Bucks squad, averaging 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds in 21 games. While that sort of production typically wouldn't put him on the radar as a viable daily league contributor, his 21-point, nine-rebound outing Friday against the Bulls one of the league's best defensive teams, in case you skipped the first paragraph creates a little more intrigue. With coach Larry Drew deciding to cut his rotation to seven guys Friday, Adrien started and received a season-high 37 minutes in the loss. Perhaps Drew could bring either or both of Ekpe Udoh and Miroslav Raduljica back into Saturday's lineup to give his post players more of a breather in the second half of a back-to-back, but Adrien's shining performance shouldn't allow him to lose out on too many minutes.

Other suggestions: Tobias Harris (vs. MIN), SF/PF ($6,300), Paul Pierce (at PHI), SF/PF ($5,700), Kyle Singler (vs. BOS), SG/SF ($4,200)

Power Forward
Kevin Love, MIN (at ORL), PF/C ($11,000): Even with the defensive struggles outlined above, the Magic still allow the eighth-fewest FPPG to power forwards. However, it seems a rather safe assumption that with Nikola Vucevic out of the lineup, the Magic are much more vulnerable both on the boards and in defending the post, as Al Jefferson showed Friday with his 29-point, 16-rebound performance. With Vucevic likely to miss another game due to the Achilles injury, Love looks like an especially enticing lineup choice, despite his prohibitive price. Love has played three of the league's better defenses in the last three games, but it's done little to tarnish his productivity. He went for 28 and 11 against the Heat on Friday, registered a triple-double against the Grizzlies on Wednesday, and delivered a slightly substandard (for him) 20-13 against the Clippers on Monday. Even when Vucevic is in the lineup, the Magic are inferior defensively to all three of those teams. Without him, a poor shooting night and foul trouble by Love might be Orlando's only saving grace.

Other suggestions: Greg Monroe (vs. BOS), PF/C ($7,800), Kyle O'Quinn (vs. MIN), PF/C ($4,100), Drew Gooden (vs. CHI), PF/C ($3,800)

Center
Al Jefferson, CHA (at CLE), PF/C ($9,600): Jefferson and Love are the two most-expensive players on the board Saturday, and while it's often a risky strategy to invest in such a top-heavy daily lineup, most of the stronger perimeter options just aren't worth their markup price, in my estimation. As such, I'm adopting a stars-and-scrubs approach, believing that players like Bayless, Adrien and Henry Sims (my UTIL choice) will return useful production for a relative pittance. Jefferson, meanwhile, has turned up his offense a notch since the All-Star break, averaging 24.5 points, an increase of over four points from his first-half production. The matchup with the Cavs would seem a little more daunting than a Vucevic-less Magic squad, but Jefferson's recent surge makes a 20-10 night reasonably bankable.

Other suggestions: Gorgui Dieng (at ORL), C ($6,600), Jared Sullinger (at DET), PF/C ($6,100), Henry Sims (vs. BKN), C ($4,700)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Chauncey Billups (knee) is unsure if he'll return to play this season.
Keith Bogans (personal) has been on leave for the past several weeks, with no update on his status provided.
Avery Bradley (Achilles) won't play Saturday against the Pistons.
Will Bynum (ankle) missed Friday's game with soreness in his foot and appears unlikely to play Saturday.
Dante Cunningham (personal) was arrested Thursday on suspicion of domestic assault and isn't traveling with the Timberwolves.
Nene Hilario (knee) could return next week, after recently resuming non-contact drills.
Kris Humphries (knee) has been ruled out of Saturday's game against the Pistons.
Ersan Ilyasova (ankle) was ruled out for the season last week due to discomfort in his right ankle.
Josh McRoberts (ankle) will miss his third straight game Saturday due to injury.
C.J. Miles (ankle) remains without a timetable for a return.
Byron Mullens (ankle) missed his fourth straight game Friday.
Nerlens Noel (knee) is unlikely to make his NBA debut this season.
Nikola Pekovic (ankle) didn't play Friday, after previously leaving early in the second quarter of Monday's game.
Larry Sanders (suspension), who was previously ruled out for the season with orbital bone fractures, was handed a five-game suspension Friday for violating the NBA's anti-drug program.
Nikola Vucevic (Achilles) was held out of Friday's game and is uncertain to play Saturday.
Nate Wolters (hand) won't need surgery on his broken hand, but his rookie season is still over.

Game-Time Decision
Anthony Bennett (personal) was excused from the team's last two games but could be available when the Cavs head back home for Saturday's tilt with the Bobcats.
Kevin Garnett (back) missed his 19th straight game Friday but is nearing a return and could play Saturday.
Amir Johnson (ankle) didn't play Friday against the Pacers, after injuring his ankle Wednesday against the Rockets.
Kyle Lowry (knee) missed his second straight game Friday against the Pacers, despite entering the night as a game-time decision.
Kevin Martin (foot) didn't play Friday against the Heat, and his status is uncertain for Saturday's game against the Magic.
O.J. Mayo (ankle) missed his fifth straight game Friday and is questionable for Saturday's contest.
Shabazz Muhammad (knee) suffered an injury in the first quarter of Friday's game and didn't return.
Ekpe Udoh (coach's decision) was held out of Friday's game, making his status uncertain for Saturday.
Miroslav Raduljica (coach's decision) was held out of Friday's game, making his status uncertain for Saturday.
Kemba Walker (ankle) left Friday's game temporarily to get his ankle taped but later returned to action.