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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Wednesday

Chris Winkler

Chris Winkler

Master's candidate in mass communication at the University of South Carolina. Covering NBA and college football for RotoWire.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers mid-season push has them well within striking range of the West's No. 2 seed. As if second round homecourt wasn't enough motivation, avoiding Stephen Curry and the Warriors in the opening round probably is. Both teams will have plenty to play for Wednesday night. In terms of efficiency, the Clippers are seventh best in the league (100.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) at Staples and are fifth best since the all-star break (101.2). Meanwhile, the Thunder have been especially busy as of late. They'll be on the latter end of a back-to-back with a stop in Sacramento the night before. Wednesday's game will also be the end of a four-game road trip and will be Oklahoma City's fifth game in its last seven days.

Offenses to Use
Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans: To be fair the Pelicans have been dismantled by injuries over the second half of the season, but they're fifth-worst in defensive efficiency (109.7) since the all-star break while the Suns are in the midst of a vicious playoff battle. Unlike the Eastern Conference's playoff race, teams can't afford to lose out West and a trip to New Orleans should have Jeff Hornacek's squad confident enough to stay in the win column. Phoenix has relied on its up-tempo pace that has been re-energized by the resurgence (or health) of Eric Bledsoe. They're seventh in offensive efficiency (108.5) since the all-star break. Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are an absolute nightmare matchup for New Orleans. Only seven teams have allowed opposing guards to score more points than the Pelicans and Phoenix's pace should give shorthanded New Orleans plenty of issues.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Denver Nuggets.
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings.

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Point Guard
Damian Lillard, POR (vs. SAC) PG/SG, ($8,000): While Ray McCallum has been a nice bargain for fantasy owners, his recent dip in numbers suggest he's a little tired. McCallum has played at least 40 minutes in eight straight games and has now been held to single-digits in points in three straight games. With the Kings on a back-to-back, and the Blazers fresh after a few days off, Lillard could be in for a big game. While Lillard and the Blazers have mostly cooled during the second half of the season, he's still averaging 19.6 points and 5.8 assists over his last five games.

Other suggestions: Eric Bledsoe, PHX (at NO) PG/SG ($7,300); D.J. Augustin, CHI (at MIN) PG ($6,000); Greivis Vasquez, TOR (at PHI) PG/SG ($4,900) if Kyle Lowry sits; Aaron Brooks, DEN (vs. HOU) PG/SG ($5,300); Deron Williams, BKN (at ORL) PG ($6,500); Darren Collison, LAC (vs. OKC) PG ($6,000).

Shooting Guard
Goran Dragic, PHX (at NO) PG/SG ($7,700): The Pelicans have been particularly poor defensively over the second half of the season, but Dragic should have an easy time getting up and down the floor against the Pelicans perimeter players. More than 43 percent of his shots come at the rim, and he converts a very high 64 percent for a guard. Meanwhile, New Orleans allows opponents to shoot 61.6 percent inside five feet. That's fourth worst in the NBA. With poor perimeter defenders and only one rim protector (Anthony Davis, who might not play), it's a green light for Dragic.

Other suggestions: DeMar DeRozan, TOR (at PHI) SG/SF ($8,000); Dion Waiters, CLE (vs. DET) SG ($6,000); Lance Stephenson, IND (vs. MIL) SG/SF ($5,700); Wesley Matthews, POR (vs. SAC) SG/SF ($5,600).

Small Forward
Nicolas Batum, POR (vs. SAC) SG/SF ($7,400): It's very much a green light for most Blazers Wednesday, but Batum has been playing particularly well lately. He's never been a big scorer, but his April is off to a nice start as he's averaging 15.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in three games. The Kings aren't anything special defensively and have steadily been in the bottom third in efficiency all year long. They'll also be on the road for the second half of a back-to-back.

Other suggestions: Chandler Parsons, HOU (at DEN) SF/PF ($7,400); Jimmy Butler, CHI (at MIN) SG/SF ($6,200); Joe Johnson, BKN (at ORL) SG/SF ($5,700).

Power Forward
Paul Millsap, ATL (vs. BOS) PF/C ($8,900): He didn't miss a beat on Tuesday despite sustaining a thumb injury during Sunday's game. It's now five straight double-doubles while averaging 21.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists, all noticeably higher than season averages. Boston isn't the worst defensive unit around, but they really haven't been playing well lately. They've lost 13 of their last 14 and have only kept Chicago (94) and Toronto (99) under 100 during their eight-game losing streak. Somehow, the Hawks are in a playoff race, and are actually fairly comfortable with five games to go. But Wednesday's home game against one of the league's worst is a must-win. Look for them to ride Millsap as much as possible.

Other suggestions: Kenneth Faried, DEN (vs. HOU) PF ($7,600); Tobias Harris, ORL (vs. BKN) SF/PF ($6,100);

Center
Omer Asik, HOU (at DEN) C ($6,600): This should be taken with a grain of salt in case Dwight Howard is back Wednesday, as it has been rumored he could be. Whether or not he is, Asik is incredibly underpriced right now. He's grabbed at least 10 rebounds in six straight games, and at least 20 in two of those. In addition, he's just a single point short (in two games) from having double-doubles in each contest.

If Howard plays, and ultimately diminishes Asik's minutes, it's probably worth looking at Al Jefferson, despite the price. Since the all-star break, Jefferson is sixth in the NBA in scoring (24.7) and eighth in rebounding (10.7). With as good as Jefferson is playing, the Bobcats might keep winning and bump up to the 6 seed in the East.

Other suggestions: Al Jefferson, CHA (at WAS) PF/C ($9,600); Marc Gasol, MEM (vs. MIA) C ($7,000); Jonas Valanciunas, TOR (vs. PHI) C ($6,100).

INJURY REPORT

Out
Kris Humphries (knee) will not travel for Wednesday's game.
Ty Lawson (ankle) did not practice Tuesday and is unlikely to go Wednesday.
Patrick Beverley (knee) is unlikely to return Wednesday against the Nuggets.
Andrew Bynum (knee) is still without an update.
Jamal Crawford (calf) doesn't appear likely to return during the regular season.
Danny Granger (hamstring) has been out since March 27.
Nikola Pekovic (ankle) didn't play Tuesday and doesn't appear likely to return again this season.
Eric Gordon (knee) is likely done for the season.
Leandro Barbosa (hand) is not travelling with the team.

Game-Time Decision
Josh Smith (knee) did not play Tuesday and his status is unknown for Wednesday.
Paul Millsap (thumb) played, and posted a double-double on Tuesday.
Louis Williams (hamstring) did not play Tuesday and is considered day-to-day.
Avery Bradley (Achilles) should play Wednesday against the Hawks.
Rajon Rondo (Coach Decision) should be a full-go Wednesday night.
Jared Sullinger (thigh) is expected to play Wednesday.
Andray Blatche (illness) sat out Tuesday's game.
Kevin Garnett (Coach Decision) will be back in the lineup despite not playing Tuesday.
Josh McRoberts (ankle) is expected to play Wednesday.
Kemba Walker (ankle) doesn't appear to miss any time with his injury.
Anthony Bennett (personal) should be back in uniform Wednesday.
C.J. Miles (ankle) is without a timetable.
Darrell Arthur (knee) did not practice Tuesday, but is expected to play.
Wilson Chandler (groin) missed his eighth straight game Sunday. No update for Wednesday.
Will Bynum (foot) did not play Tuesday.
Dwight Howard (ankle) could return Wednesday.
Paul George (Coach Decision) may get a game or two off during final regular season stretch.
Roy Hibbert (Coach Decision) may get a game or two off during final regular season stretch.
George Hill (Coach Decision) may get a game or two off during final regular season stretch.
Lance Stephenson (Coach Decision) may get a game or two off during final regular season stretch.
David West (Coach Decision) may get a game or two off during final regular season stretch.
Matt Barnes (illness) did not practice Tuesday.
Tayshaun Prince (ankle) is considered questionable against Miami on Wednesday.
Udonis Haslem (stomach) did not play Tuesday.
Greg Oden (back) did not play Tuesday.
Dwyane Wade (hamstring) did not play Tuesday.
O.J. Mayo (ankle) has missed five straight but hasn't been ruled out for Wednesday yet.
Kevin Love (back) started and played 33 minutes on Tuesday.
Kevin Martin (foot) did not play Tuesday.
Anthony Davis (back) is considered day-to-day.
Kendrick Perkins (groin) will likely play limited minutes Wednesday.
Thabo Sefolosha (calf) will likely play limited minutes Wednesday.
Russell Westbrook (knee) did not play Tuesday.
Nikola Vucevic (Achilles) didn't play in Orlando's last game on Saturday.
Rudy Gay (back) did not play against the Thunder on Tuesday.
Isaiah Thomas (quadriceps) missed another game Tuesday and doesn't appear to be back anytime soon.
Amir Johnson (ankle) practiced Tuesday and could play Wednesday.
Kyle Lowry (knee) practiced Tuesday and could play Wednesday.
Trevor Ariza (illness) didn't practice Monday, but could be back Wednesday.
Nene Hilario (knee) should make his return Wednesday, albeit in limited minutes.