Defense to Avoid:
Indiana Pacers vs. Utah Jazz
The Pacersí defense has been sneaky good lately, holding opponents to less than 100 points in six of their past eight games. This pick also has a lot to do with the Jazz's struggles on offense. Utah has scored less than 90 points in back-to-back losses on the road to the Bulls and Cavs. The Jazz are also dealing with injuries to Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood, plus Gordon Hayward has struggled the past two games. Utah's leading scorer failed to reach 15 points in both losses, shooting 9-for-30 from the field. The over/under for this game is also expected to be the lowest on the seven-game slate.
Offense to Use:
Charlotte Hornets vs. Atlanta Hawks
There are two high-profile games on tap Monday: Warriors/Thunder and Rockets/Nuggets. That said, the Hornets should be able to take advantage of a depleted Hawks team at home. Atlanta will be without Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap vs. Charlotte, which has a balanced offense and cheaper options to pick from. A stack of Nicolas Batum ($6,700), Marvin Williams ($6,500) and Cody Zeller ($5,100) will leave you with plenty of flexibility and should fly under the radar for tournaments.
Teams on Back-to-Backs:
First game: Warriors, Clippers
Second game: Celtics, Pacers, 76ers
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Elfrid Payton, PG, ORL vs. PHI ($7,500): Payton is essentially Russell Westbrook lite. Over the past six games, he's averaging close to a triple-double (12.3 points, 9.7 assists, 8.0 rebounds). The only thing separating Payton and Westbrook is, well, about 18 PPG (and a $5,800 salary difference). Payton has the sixth highest projected floor among point guards, according to RotoGrinders. His projected ceiling is greater than Kemba Walker's ($7,900) and isn't far off of Isaiah Thomas' ($8,200). In addition, the 76ers don't have a guard that can match Payton's size and physicality.
Victor Oladipo, SG, OKC at GS ($6,400): Oladipo should bounce back against the Warriors after a poor performance vs. the Kings (nine points, four rebounds, 15.0 DKFP). Prior to that dud, Oladipo had gone four straight with at least 20 points, and has hit at least three 3-pointers in six straight. Westbrook is going to need a little bit of help in order to keep up with Golden State, and should help Oladipo draw more open looks. His floor is concerning, but that's what makes Oladipo appealing in GPPs.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, ATL at CHA ($5,800): Hardaway Jr. has the highest projected floor (21.98 DKFP) among guards priced below $6,000. There are plenty of players priced higher at his position that possess lower projected floors, including Oladipo, Marcus Smart ($6,400) and Will Barton ($7,300). He's attempted at least 14 shots from the field in three straight, and should see a number similar to that with Millsap out again. Hardaway Jr. should be a mismatch for the Hornetsí bench and is a prime cash-game target.
Blake Griffin, PF/C, LAC vs. NYK ($8,100): Griffin has the highest projected ceiling (74.49) of any forward on the market Monday, and for good reason. The Knicks have one of the weakest frontcourts in the NBA, and Kristaps Porzingis (thigh) is clearly not 100 percent. The last time Griffin faced New York, he dropped 32 points with eight boards and five dimes (54.5 DKFP). Try to avoid Griffin in 50/50s and lean more towards using him in GPPs to pick up late points to boost yourself past other lineups.
Otto Porter, SF/PF, WAS at BOS ($6,400): Porter is a safe play vs. the Celtics, a team that heís averaged 20 points and eight rebounds against in three games while shooting over 70 percent from the field and distance in those contests. He's always a threat to lay an egg but hasn't done so recently, scoring in double figures in seven straight. Porter shoots a better percentage from 3-point range on the road (45.5) and the Wizards could exploit the Celtics should Thomas remain sidelined. It also helps that this game has playoff implications in the Eastern Conference.
Kenneth Faried, PF, DEN at HOU ($4,500): Should the Nuggets be without Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari again, expect Faried to get a nice amount of minutes off the bench at power forward. He had 11 points and eight rebounds (28.0 DKFP) vs. Houston on Saturday, and is averaging 9.5 boards in two games against the Rockets this season. The high over/under will mean plenty of scoring to go around and the possibility of a double-double makes Faried's ceiling relatively high for a player priced below $5,000.
Rudy Gobert, UTA at IND ($7,200): Instead of going crazy spending up for Nikola Jokic ($10,200), consider rolling with the reliable Gobert, who is averaging 41.2 DKFP in his past five games. He has double-digit rebounds in six of seven games, and has even seen a boost in offense with the Jazz struggling to shoot the ball. He was 8-of-10 from the floor with 19 points and 11 rebounds vs. the Pacers earlier in the season (35.3 DKFP), and is a solid cash-game play in a good matchup.
Mason Plumlee, DEN at HOU ($6,600): We know that Jokic can fill up the stat sheet for Denver, but Plumlee hasn't been too shabby either. He managed 33.75 DKFP on nine points, nine boards, three assists, three blocks and two steals vs. the Rockets on Saturday, and has over 30 DKFP in six of his past seven games. Plumlee continues to start over Faried, and is a nice cash-game alternative to Jokic.
Ersan Ilyasova, PF/C, ATL at CHA ($5,000): If you don't expect Hardaway Jr. to go off from the bench, Ilyasova should get plenty of run in place of Millsap. He drew the start Saturday against the Trail Blazers and posted 23 points on 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from beyond the arc (37.0 DKFP). Ilyasova is reliant on scoring for production, but shouldn't have a problem getting touches. He has the ninth highest ceiling (41.06 DKFP) among centers Monday and is one of the cheaper options of that group.