DEN @ HOU: It will be raining buckets. Two of the league’s highest-scoring teams are going in opposite directions; the Rockets are in a horrific slump that can be partially explained by nine January road games and a slew of back-to-backs. They needed a late rally in Charlotte on Monday to avoid an eighth straight loss. The Nuggets were never better than in an OT win over the Thunder on Sunday and are fully rested for this. Ty Lawson is in a good groove; Jeremy Lin is in his coach’s spacious, hard-to-escape doghouse. This is a potential fantasy bonanza no matter who wins, but Denver is the better team, with a lot more confidence at the moment. Start everyone you own on both teams and hope for overtime.
NOH @ SAS: First off, will Anthony Davis play? The brilliant rookie rolled his ankle (again) and sat out the second half of Monday’s win. Because it’s the same joint that cost him 11 games earlier this year, owners are nervous but the Unibrow says he’s OK. Even at full strength, and winning seven of their last nine, the Hornets are in tough tonight. Manu Ginobili (hamstring) is out for the Spurs, but Kawhi Leonard is coming around, and you can count on ultra-consistent Tony Parker and Tim Duncan to deliver. This could be high-scoring, as New Orleans has Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez leading the way, with Ryan Anderson draining threes off the bench.
WAS @ UTA: Another road team that might be dismissed a bit too quickly is the Wizards, vastly improved (4-2) since John Wall has returned. While it’s hard to imagine Nene and Emeka Okafor dominating Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in Utah, it won’t be a mismatch if the Washington bigs play as well as they did in Portland. One concern is Bradley Beal, whose minutes and shooting percentage took a hit in the last couple of games. The teenage rookie may have ‘hit the wall’ or is nursing an injury. The Jazz should win, as they are excellent at home.
PHO @ SAC: New coach Lindsay Hunter takes over a mess. He’s expected to dust off rookie Kendall Marshall, but that’s unlikely to help a team that’s 3-17 on the road and free-falling in the West standings. Not that Sacramento is a model franchise, but returning from a three-game road trip to “save our team” local enthusiasm might inspire them. The key matchup is DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marcin Gortat, but I also like Tyreke Evans against any of the Phoenix SG. Most visiting teams are happy to play it fast and loose against the undisciplined Kings, so there could be big fantasy lines all around.
IND @ POR: Things are going from bad to worse for Portland, which has lost four straight home games and six overall, with Damian Lillard (hamstring) now among the walking wounded. The Blazers have no bench at all; going from Lillard — who will probably play, but at less than 100% — to backup Ronnie Price is more of an abyss than a mere dropoff. Scoring will be modest, as the Pacers have used a smothering defense and the brilliant Paul George to become one of the best teams in the East. They aren’t quite as good on the road, but they do seem to match up well with teams from the West, and deserve the call.
OKC @ GSW: There is no good time to meet the Thunder, but you would prefer to catch them on a road back-to-back. That’s the scenario for the surprising Warriors tonight. Stephen Curry and David Lee are both playing with sore ankles, but they managed to defeat the mighty Clippers on Monday. Jarrett Jack has been a revelation; when he comes off the bench, Curry often shifts to SG and that has been a productive combination. It all depends on how much KD and WB have left in the tank after last night’s win in L.A.; they are young and have tremendous pride, so this should be a dandy game.