PG: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons
Damian Lillard made his much-awaited return after five games out with an ankle injury against the Los Angeles Lakers, and he didn’t look too bad. He finished with 21 points – around 5 points below his season average of 26.8 PPG – but he did contribute 5 rebounds, 10 assists, and 4 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting from the field.
Lillard’s second game back against the Detroit Pistons was postponed due to inclement weather, so he should be a lot fresher for tonight’s rescheduled matchup. The Pistons have had a lot of problems defending all over the court of late, but they've been bad against point guards in particular. They’ve given up the 7th most fantasy points to opposing point guards over the last 10 games. In their last game against the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker went for 32 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 3-pointers in a losing effort. Look for Lillard to challenge those numbers as he gets back to his very best against a struggling Detroit D.
SG: Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors @ Sacramento Kings
Despite playing 42 minutes in the Warriors’ shocking loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Klay Thompson clearly wasn’t right. He had just 17 points, with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 3-pointers. He was battling an illness in that game, and with Tony Allen’s relentless defense harassing him all night, he was never going to have a particularly great showing.
With a day’s rest to recover, as well as a matchup with the Sacramento Kings, Klay could be a prime candidate to bounce back tonight. The Kings are in the top-10 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing shooting guards, and with the diminutive Darren Collison starting at the 2 for the Kings these days, Klay should have a field day against the Kings.
SF: Otto Porter, Washington Wizards @ Milwaukee Bucks
After a rough three-game stretch wherein he averaged just 11 points and 3.7 rebounds, Otto Porter finally broke out with a solid game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Porter finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 3-pointers.
Porter is having a career year, averaging 14.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.7 3-pointers, and he’s done some of his very best work against tonight’s opponents, the Milwaukee Bucks. During a home-and-home series against the Bucks a couple weeks ago, Porter exploded by averaging 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 4.5 3-pointers. That includes a career-high 32 points and 13 rebounds with 5 3-pointers in Washington.
The Bucks’ awful defense against opposing small forwards hasn’t improved a lick since then, as Carmelo Anthony showed with his back-to-back great outings against the Bucks. Melo averaged 28 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and 4 3-pointers in those two games against Milwaukee. Obviously, Porter will have a hard time matching those assist numbers, but he can definitely rack up some of those points, rebounds, and 3s.
PF: Serge Ibaka, Orlando Magic @ Los Angeles Lakers
Serge Ibaka bounced back from a bit of an off-night against the Atlanta Hawks – 9 points, 11 rebounds, and an ejection – by putting up 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Houston Rockets. Aside from that bad game against the Hawks, Ibaka has been on a bit of a roll over the last couple of weeks. The Magic forward is averaging 18 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers over his last nine games.
Perhaps the best game of those nine was against tonight’s opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers. Ibaka was an all-around fantasy beast in that game, as he dropped 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 2 steals. The Lakers are notoriously one of the worst teams at containing opposing big men, so there’s no reason to see why Ibaka can’t go off for another big game. In the Lakers’ last game, the Heat’s James Johnson was able to go for 20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 3-pointers off the bench.
C: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers @ Brooklyn Nets
When Joel Embiid isn’t campaigning for an All-Star berth on social media, he’s proving his credentials on the court. Embiid had another solid performance last time out as he went for 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks against the Boston Celtics. That’s now the fifth straight game where Embiid has topped the 23-plus point threshold. The spectacular Sixers center is putting up 24.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 1 3-pointer during that span.
Embiid will look to further strengthen his All-Star candidacy with another dominating performance against the Brooklyn Nets. In his first meeting against Brook Lopez and co., Embiid was simply unstoppable as he set a career-high with 33 points (12-17 FGs), and added 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, and 2 3-pointers. The Nets defense was just a couple days removed from allowing a 25-point, 15-rebound, 5-block game to Myles Turner, and Embiid has the talent to come close to that stat line tonight.
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