MIL @ BRK: If Larry Sanders is 100%, the Bucks have a better chance to slow down Brook Lopez, but Sanders has missed four games with a back injury and might be on limited minutes if he does play. Samuel Dalembert has filled in well in his absence. Milwaukee needs Ersan Ilyasova to produce; they can count on Monta Ellis and for some reason, Brandon Jennings has great numbers against the Nets. This is a home-and-home; a split is the most likely outcome but if Deron Williams (ankle) isn’t able to contain Brandon Jennings tonight, you never know.
BOS @ DEN: The rest can only help Paul Pierce, and All-Star Kevin Garnett made only a token appearance on Sunday. The Celtics will need everyone in peak form to keep up with Denver. Avery Bradley will be on Ty Lawson, but the Nuggets can keep up the pressure with Andre Miller off the bench. Kenneth Faried is a much better player than Brandon Bass; I like the Manimal on DraftStreet at a modest salary.
CHI @ NOH: A few days off (except for that 16-minute appearance in Houston) had to be a good thing for Joakim Noah, whose plantar fasciitis really slowed him down this month. The Bulls will be without Derrick Rose (knee) a while longer; he did take part in 5-on-5 drills yesterday but is in no hurry to return. Kirk Hinrich (elbow) is expected to return, so Nate Robinson will not have to take on Greivis Vasquez singlehandedly tonight.
GSW @ UTA: The main reason the Warriors have cooled off is David Lee, who I suspect has been playing hurt. The ‘automatic’ double-double machine had some quiet games just before the break. Their team defense has been almost nonexistent during a five-game losing streak, but Andrew Bogut has the green light to play more minutes and that should help against Al Jefferson. This one might be high-scoring; Stephen Curry could prove impossible for any of the Jazz guards to stop.
PHO @ POR: No team needed a break more than Portland. A disastrous road trip ended with an embarrassing 99-63 loss, but that was six days ago. Nicolas Batum got to treat his sore wrist, while Damian Lillard soaked up the All-Star atmosphere and won the Skills competition. Wesley Matthews (ankle) is questionable; rookie Victor Claver would benefit is Wes can’t go. J.J. Hickson might have his hands full with Marcin Gortat, but the other matchups favor the Blazers. Phoenix is 5-23 on the road and has trouble scoring anywhere.
SAS @ SAC: The 9-game road trip continues for the Spurs, who have three more after this before returning home. This is not a tough test, as the Kings are undisciplined and concede a lot of points. The big three for San Antonio all suited up in the last game before the break, though Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan played sparingly. They should be that much better tonight. The city of Sacramento is rallying to support (and keep) its team, so if the players are inspired, this game could be a fantasy goldmine.