We have a pretty good 10 game slate for this Saturday just two weeks from the NBA playoffs. There are still spots being decided and in particular, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Boston, Phoenix, Miami, and New Orleans are playing to keep or earn a berth tonight. There are certainly a lot of ways to make solid stud/dud lineups or more balanced lineups tonight! With that in mind, let's get to the games and players you'll want to target tonight, with a focus on the best defensive matchups.
Games to Target
LA Clippers @ Denver Nuggets, over/under 216.5, Clippers -9.5
As usual, the Clippers are heavy favorites in the highest scoring game of the night. Denver is one of the league's worst defensive teams across the court, with the exception of PG, where they are decent. It definitely makes sense to roster some Clippers tonight (see below) but I don't think it's necessary to pay up for the 2nd highest priced player on the slate, Chris Paul. Yes, he's coming off his best game of the season, but I don't expect a repeat performance tonight. On the Denver side, the place to attack LA is on the wing, and if Danilo Gallinari sits out this back to back as is his pattern, I really like Wilson Chandler at $5600. No other Nuggets excite me tonight.
Golden State Warriors @ Dallas Mavericks, over/under 211.5, Warriors -5.5
The Warriors are apparently expected to struggle here, only being 5 point favorites on the road. I don't really see it as Dallas' defense has really fallen off over the past month or so and Golden State is just pure fire. Draymond Green will play tonight and this is the kind of game I love to use him in, but as he's dealing with the shin injury and playing for nothing, I'd reserve him for GPPs if at all. I typically don't use Steph Curry or Klay Thompson on the road when there are so many other options, but I think they'll both be fine tonight. The Warriors play such good defense it's hard to enthusiastically recommend any Mavs tonight. Tyson Chandler's $5500 price tag catches my eye, but there are way better plays at C tonight. Richard Jefferson starting for Chandler Parsons at minimum salary opens up some cap space for the bigs I want in my lineup, though Al-Farouq Aminu is likely the better play if you have the extra $900.
Players to Target
Kemba Walker, PG Charlotte ($8400): Taking on the 76ers gets you a spot here every week. Allowing the 7th most fantasy points to PG on the season, Philadelphia leads the league in turnovers. While this is expected to be a slow, low scoring but important game for the Hornets, Kemba Walker needs to bounce back from his awful game last night in Indiana. He's always been better at home and Philadelphia won't give him nearly as much trouble shooting. He's still racking up the steals and getting four or five wouldn't surprise me at all tonight.
Michael Carter-Williams, PG Milwaukee ($6600): I don't like using Carter-Williams very often, but the price is right for one of the best defensive matchups on the board as Orlando ranks 26th in defensive efficiency to PG this season. MCW has back to back 30+ minute, 30+ fantasy point games coming into tonight. Interestingly, one of those was a 21/10 double double (rebounds) while the other was a more balanced line with two blocks and five steals. He contributes in every category and should easily reach value tonight.
JJ Redick, SG, LA ($6400): JJ Redick has been a favorite of mine in the Bargain Bin all year, until Jamal Crawford went out and Redick's price slowly rose. He's still a solid option most nights, especially in good matchups, and Denver's 29th defensive efficiency rank to SG certainly qualifies.
Blake Griffin, PF, LA ($9500): While we're on the Clippers, Blake Griffin is BACK, if you hadn't noticed. Denver's frontcourt is just as bad or worse than their wing defense, making both Griffin and DeAndre Jordan viable options tonight. Griffin is averaging 50 fantasy points over his last three games, is a lock for double digit points, and basically just fills the stat sheet night after night with a season PER of 23.1. Power forward is one position I'm paying up for tonight.
Paul Millsap, PF, Atlanta ($7900): A PF duo of Griffin and Paul Millsap is likely how I'm going tonight. The Hawks are well rested and big favorites in a key game for the red hot Nets. As well as Brooklyn is playing, they are still very vulnerable to opposing PF, as evidenced by not only their poor season long numbers, but their 28th rank against the position over the last five games. While Thaddeus Young has stepped up his offense since returning to the court, he's still not a defender to avoid.
Andre Drummond, C, Detroit ($9200): Miami is actually the worst rebounding team in the league. Andre Drummond is the second best rebounder in the league (13.4/game, behind Jordan, and ahead of DeMarcus Cousins). This is mouth watering, and the recent defensive efficiency stats on Miami support it-they're 25th over the last five games. Hassan Whiteside's absence certainly influenced that, but I give Drummond the edge here. With a lot of good C options on the board, I view paying up for Drummond as more of a tournament play than cash game play.
Rudy Gobert, C, Utah ($8900): The safe C pick is Rudy Gobert. Phoenix has an exploitable frontcourt that goes way underrated in my opinion. They are 26th and 24th in defensive efficiency to C over the season and last five games, respectively. Gobert should easily notch is 7th consecutive double double tonight at the Suns, while blocking a few shots as well.
Gerald Henderson, SF, Charlotte ($5600): Small forward isn't as bad as usual tonight, but in Gerald Henderson you get a cheap option who actually starts at two guard, one of the 76ers many vulnerabilities. Henderson's getting over 30 mpg and it's been a long time since he hasn't scored double digit points. I wouldn't load up on Hornets, but if you don't use/can't afford Walker, I like Henderson for value.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami ($7800): The Andre Drummond-Hassan Whiteside matchup should be a fun one to watch. I think Drummond comes out ahead, but that doesn't mean that Whiteside is out of play. His reduced price, Detroit's allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to C this season, and his crazy 26.4 PER are more than enough reason to use him. He ended up starting Thursday, playing 27 minutes. I expect the minutes to increase again today along with his production.
DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto ($7800): I have to at least recommend someone from this game, which should be high scoring and close. Boston's frontcourt defense has improved over the past month, and Toronto is fairly weak there. That leaves the guards, and DeRozan is my favorite of the bunch. He's been as steady as it comes at SG and Boston is 29th in defensive efficiency over the last five games. I also like Evan Turner a lot in this one, as he's become a central part of Boston's playoff push with two triple doubles in the last ten games and a full stat line every night.
Reggie Jackson, PG, Detroit ($8300): Miami is definitely weak in the backcourt and Jackson has been able to hit value in matchups much tougher than tonight's. In fact, his usage rate, 29.9, is 10th highest in the league. His production is slightly down and his price is slightly up over the last week, so he's by no stretch a must play tonight, but has potential for low owned value.
Kris Middleton, SF, Milwaukee ($6300): Kris Middleton gets the league best SF matchup with Orlando tonight. His minutes have been fairly stable, especially by Bucks standards, and he projects as a safe play with upside tonight.
Al Horford, C, Atlanta ($7000): Al Horford appears to be saving himself for the playoffs recently. Between scheduled rest and reduced minutes he's just not producing at a high enough level to justify using him, even at this price. While Brook Lopez isn't a great man defender, he is all over the place lately and the Nets' defensive ranking has shot up to 11th over the past couple weeks. There are just a lot of better C options tonight.