Defense to Avoid:
Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The Spurs are the No. 1 defense in the NBA by points allowed per 100 possessions, but there's a definite risk of being Popoviched. The Spurs played Friday, which means they are playing back-to-back, and it is just too risky that Popovich might decide to sit his top players. Maybe it won’t happen, but it is worth avoiding. Instead, focus on the Heat, who are No. 3 in defensive rating (95.2 points/100 possessions), play the fifth slowest pace and are second in the NBA in EFG% allowed. Plus, they are facing a 76ers team that is (way) last in the NBA with only 90.2 points/100 possessions and is on the second night of a back-to-back.
Offenses to Use:
Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA at 108.1 points allowed per 100 possessions. While that is somewhat mitigated by the slow pace that they play, in this case their weakness (30th in the NBA defending the small forward) matches up ideally with the absolute strength of the Pacers (Paul George has been going nuts for weeks now). Thus, the Pacers seem ideally suited to take advantage of the Bucks’ lackluster defense.
Teams on Back-to-Backs:
First game: None
Second game: Pistons, Rockets, Grizzlies, Knicks, 76ers, Spurs
Matthew Dellavedova vs. ATL ($4,100): Dellavedova is starting at point guard Saturday with Mo Williams (ankle) out. Dellavedova started Thursday as well, and had seven points, 13 assists and one rebound in 39 minutes. He’s a bit of a risky play, but he’s a starting point guard at near-minimum price. The only reason that Dennis Schroder ($5,600) isn’t in this space is that no announcement has been made yet about Jeff Teague’s availability for Saturday. If Teague sits again, Schroder is the top value point guard.
Other suggestions: Mario Chalmers, MEM at SA ($3,700), Dennis Schroder, ATL at CLE ($5,600) – if Teague sits
Tyler Johnson vs. PHI ($3,900): This is a strategy-based calculated risk. Johnson is a high-risk/high-reward player. He has scored at least 30 fantasy points in two of his last three games, but in the middle game he only scored 6.5. But on a day with a small number of games, hitting on a very low-priced player could be the difference maker. The 76ers are actually fourth in fantasy points allowed to opposing shooting guards, which Johnson is listed at in DraftKings even though he’s the back-up point guard (the 76ers are 22nd against opposing point guards). Plus, if Miami takes care of business and makes this into a blowout, it could mean more court-time than usual for Johnson.
Other suggestions: Bradley Beal at DET ($6,900), Monta Ellis vs. MIL ($6,300)
Paul George vs. MIL ($9,700): George is one of the higher-priced players Saturday but he should be worth it. He’s been on fire for pretty much the whole season, and even more so over his last eight, scoring 50, 64, 55.75, 43, 44.5, 49.75, 42.25 and 61 fantasy points, respectively. On top of that, he is facing a Bucks defense that is dead last in the NBA in fantasy points allowed to opposing small forwards and playing in a game that should be competitive.
Other suggestions: Otto Porter at DET ($5,800), Giannis Antetokounmpo at IND ($7,200)
Tristan Thompson vs. ATL ($4,800): Another Cavs injury replacement, Thompson will start in place of the injured Timofey Mozgov (shoulder). Thompson had a double-double in 26 minutes Thursday and has a solid matchup against a Hawks frontline that struggles on defense, ranking 22nd in the NBA in fantasy points allowed to opposing power forwards and 25th against centers. Thus, Kevin Love ($8,100) makes a good play as well.
Other suggestions: Chris Bosh vs. PHI ($7,500), Paul Millsap at CLE ($8,200)
Clint Capela vs. NY ($4,700): Capela will be starting in the second half of a back-to-back for the Rockets, as Dwight Howard will sit after starting Friday. Capella has proven a capable starter when given the chance, with a demonstrated upside around 30 fantasy points.
Other suggestions: Al Horford at CLE ($7,000), Hassan Whiteside vs. PHI ($8,300)
Kent Bazemore, ATL (ankle)
Kyrie Irving, CLE (knee)
Mo Williams, CLE (ankle)
Timofey Mozgov, CLE (shoulder)
Iman Shumpert, CLE (wrist)
Brandon Jennings, DET (Achilles)
Jodie Meeks, DET (foot)
Patrick Beverley, HOU (ankle)
Donatas Motiejunas, HOU (back)
Myles Turner, IND (finger)
Brandan Wright, MEM (knee)
Alan Anderson, WAS (ankle)
Martell Webster, WAS (hip)
Kendall Marshall, PHI (knee)
Tony Wroten, PHI (knee)
Jeff Teague, ATL (ankle)
George Hill, IND (sick)
Rodney Stuckey, IND (ankle)
Zach Randolph, MEM (knee)
Luol Deng, MIA (sick)
Amar'e Stoudemire, MIA (knee)
Bradley Beal, WAS (shoulder)
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA (ankle)