Defense to Avoid:
Miami Heatvs. Memphis Grizzlies
The Heat are the only defense Sunday that is in the top-10 in team defensive rating (fourth at 99.3 points per 100 possessions). They are also top-five in slowest pace in the league, which limits opportunities. On a position-by-position basis, the Heat are second, ninth, 22nd, sixth and 14th at defending the PG, SG, SF, PF and C, respectively. They are weakest at defending small forwards, but the Heat donít have the horses there to take advantage. Marc Gasol also has a reasonable match-up in terms of rankings, but heíll be facing Hassan Whiteside and will still have to work for everything he gets.
Offenses to Use:
Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns
The Grizzlies have the worst defensive rating of the teams playing on Sunday at 107 points per 100 possessions (25th in the NBA, which still feels weird to say for the usually dominant defending Grizzlies), but they play at a slow pace of 94.6 possessions per game, which limits opportunities. The Suns give up 105.2 points points 100 possessions (19th in NBA), but they play at the fastest pace. On a position-by-position basis, the Suns are 30th, 17th, 21st, fourth and 11th in the NBA at defending opposing PGs, SGs, SFs, PFs and Cs, respectively. Thus, the perimeter players of the Wolves like Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins and Kevin Martin all look to have good match-ups Sunday. Karl-Anthony Towns faces solid defense at center, but not deal-breaking, and the perimeter guys could have field days.
Teams on Back-to-Backs:
First game: Grizzlies, Heat, 76ers, Suns, Raptors, Jazz
Second game: None
Daily Player Recommendations
Ricky Rubio, MIN at PHO ($6,900): Rubio has been productive all season whenever heís been healthy, and heís averaging 35.2 fantasy points in 31.3 minutes per game over his last four. The Suns are dead last in the NBA in fantasy points allowed to opposing point guards, so Rubio could be in for a big game.
Other suggestions: Kyle Lowry, TOR vs. PHI ($8,800), Trey Burke, UTA at OKC ($4300)
Kevin Martin, MIN at PHO ($4,200): After weeks of mediocre play on limited minutes, Martin was moved back into the starting lineup Wednesday and responded with a 37-point (47.25 fantasy points) explosion, then followed that up with 22 points (32.5 fantasy points) Friday. As mentioned above, the Sunsí perimeter defense is weak, so if Martin can maintain his recent form he far out-projects his price.
Other suggestions: Eric Bledsoe, PHO vs. MIN ($8,400), Andrew Wiggins, MIN at PHO ($6,800)
Gordon Hayward, UTA at OKC ($7,400): After a slow start to the season, Hayward has found his level since Rudy Gobert went down injured. Over the last 10 days, Hayward is averaging 21.4 points, 6.0 boards, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals for 39.9 fantasy points per game, which far outweighs his price.
Other suggestions: Kevin Durant, OKC vs. UTA ($10,000), Matt Barnes, MEM at MIA ($4,300)
Luis Scola, TOR vs. PHI ($4,700): This one is kind of risky, but on a thin slate of games you often have to take a chance on hitting with a low-priced player. Scola has played at least 30 minutes in back-to-back games, averaging 14 points with eight boards (27.3 fantasy points) in those contests. On Sunday, he faces a 76ers defense that is dead last against opposing power forwards.
Other suggestions: Derrick Favors, UTA at OKC ($7,700), Kevin Garnett, MIN at PHO ($3,100)
Marc Gasol, MEM at MIA ($7,300): The Heat have a great defense with a strong defensive center, but Gasol still is good value at his price. He has scored more than 35 fantasy points in six of his last seven games, including a 71.25-fantasy-point extravaganza against the Pelicans at the beginning of December. Gasol injured his ankle last week, but in the two games since he has averaged more than 42 fantasy points per game.
Other suggestions: Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN at PHO ($7,100), Alex Len, PHO vs. MIN ($5,300)
Brandan Wright, MEM (knee)
Jordan Adams, MEM (knee)
Nikola Pekovic, MIN (Achilles)
Carl Landry, PHI (wrist)
DeMarre Carroll, TOR (knee)
Jonas Valanciunas, TOR (hand)
Rudy Gobert, UTA (knee)
Josh McRoberts, MIA (knee)
Tyler Johnson, MIA (shoulder)
Andre Miller, MIN (personal)
Tony Wroten, PHI (knee)
Kendall Marshall, PHI (knee)
Tyson Chandler, PHO (hamstring)
Markieff Morris, PHO (illness)
Lucas Nogueira, TOR (ankle)