Defense to avoid: SA vs SAC (maybe) - The Spurs are one of the best defenses in the league, while the Kings are one of the worst offenses. The only mitigating factor is that the Spurs played Saturday, and their coach Greg Popovic is the inventor of DNP-rest. If he rests his veterans against the lowly Kings, the matchup may not match what’s on paper. But until such a thing is announced, the Spurs are the defense to avoid.
Offense to Use: CLE at LAL (maybe) - The Cavaliers sat their best players Saturday against the Clippers. In theory, this is so that they would be rested for Sunday, in which case they have one of the best offenses in the league against one of the worst defenses. However, Kyrie Irving has been battling a sore knee and the Lakers are a weak enough team that it is conceivable that the Cavs will sit their vets again Sunday. Nothing has been announced, though, and until it is, the Cavs are the offense to use against arguably the worst defense in the NBA right now.
Teams on Back-to-Backs:
First game: Celtics, Pacers, 76ers
Second game: Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Kings
Kyrie Irving, CLE at LAL ($8300): Irving has been dealing with a minor knee injury this week, and he sat along with LeBron James and Kevin Love on Saturday. If he plays Sunday, he has a great matchup against a Lakers defense that has allowed the third most fantasy points to point guards in the last 10 games. If Irving doesn’t go, consider Goran Dragic as the recommendation for this slot.
DeMar DeRozan, TOR vs IND ($7700): DeRozan has a tough matchup Sunday against a Pacers defense that has allowed the 12th most fantasy points to shooting guards on the season, but only the fifth fewest in the last 10 games. DeRozan is coming off a relatively down game Friday, but on the whole has averaged 25 points with 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the 12 games since the All-Star break.
Shabazz Muhammad, MIN at NO ($4000): Muhammad has seen his minutes raise steeply in the two games since Nemanja Bjelica went down for the year. In those two, Muhammad has averaged 18 points with two rebounds and 1.5 assists in 29.5 minutes. On Sunday, Muhammad will face a Pelicans defense that has allowed the 14th most fantasy points to shooting guards in the last 10 games.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN at NO ($10,300): Towns had four straight double-doubles, in which he has averaged 30.5 points, 13 rebounds and two assists. On Sunday he’ll face his old nemesis Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. The last time he faced them, immediately before the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Towns provided 36 points and eight rebounds even with foul trouble in the first half.
Paul George, IND at TOR ($8800): George has his work cut out for him Sunday night against a Raptors defense that has allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points over the last 10 games. But he enters the game playing at his best, averaging 28.3 points, 8.4 boards and 3.3 assists in his last seven.
Josh Richardson, MIA vs POR ($4600): Richardson played extra minutes three games ago because Goran Dragic was injured, and he’ll be playing extra minutes Sunday due to the loss of Dion Waiters. Richardson has been a jack of all trades in his last two games, playing over 30 minutes, but with Waiters being such a heavy scorer, Richardson could have to take a few more shots Sunday against a Trail Blazers defense that has allowed the 13th most fantasy points to guards over the last 10 games.
Anthony Davis, NO vs MIN ($10,800): The last time Davis faced the Timberwolves, he exploded for 42 points, 13 boards and two combined blocks/steals. The time before that against Minnesota, he dropped 45 points, 10 rebounds and three combined blocks/steals in November. The Wolves haven’t had an answer for Davis, so unless DeMarcus Cousins returns and steals some of his thunder, Davis has a good chance to perform well again Sunday.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR at MIA ($6700): Nurkic has a tough matchup against a Heat frontline, led by Hassan Whiteside, that has allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to centers over the last 10 games, but 16th most over the season. In his last 10 games, he has averaged 14.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals even with his two poor performances factored.
Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC at SA ($5900): Cauley-Stein didn't do much on offense Saturday, turning in four points with three boards, two assists and two steals against the Thunder. However, in the four games before that, he averaged 16.3 points with 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals. The Spurs have one of the toughest interior defenses in the league, but there is a reasonable chance they’ll sit their vets Sunday on the second half of a back-to-back.