MIN @ OKC: The Thunder will be fired up after losing on Wednesday. Kendrick Perkins (knee) is iffy, so fantasy cipher Hasheem Thabeet might start again, but Serge Ibaka would be in line for extra minutes. Last game, Thabo Sefolosha exploded for a career-high 28 points including six triples; he may never do that again but is not entirely a defensive specialist. I’d use Nikola Pekovic, though the Wolves don’t have much of a chance to win.
DAL @ NOH: It’s desperation time for the Mavericks, 4.5 games out of a playoff spot with three teams to pass. That doesn’t make them a sure thing, though it suggests a maximum effort. Their old men — Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter and Elton Brand — are playing well, O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison can both score and Shawn Marion does a bit of everything, as required. The inconsistent Hornets are dangerous at home on a good night; Greivis Vasquez is always worth using and others like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson take turns getting hot.
ORL @ MEM: Without the traded Redick, and with the newcomers unavailable, Orlando faces a daunting task tonight with a young, thin lineup. Jameer Nelson (knee) is doubtful, so E’Twaun Moore will be at the controls and there is no bench to speak of. Memphis should win handily, though they seldom run up the score. Not the most attractive game on the calendar, in fantasy or reality.
BOS @ PHO: The easiest stop yet on the western trip for Boston, which lost in Denver on Tuesday and to the Lakers the following night. It’s unlikely that Jordan Crawford will make his Celtics debut so soon; look for Paul Pierce to be the main man and Kevin Garnett to provide inspiration as usual. Phoenix seems to have created a PF logjam with Marcus Morris joining his twin brother Markieff on the bench behind Luis Scola, but my hunch is that Marcus — who has hit 74 3-pointers this year at a 38% clip — will play SF part of the time, once he’s cleared to suit up.
POR @ LAL: The Blazers added some depth with Eric Maynor but tonight will be shorthanded, with Wesley Matthews (ankle) a possibility only because of his remarkable pain tolerance. Victor Claver would get another start if Wes can’t go. Nicolas Batum continues to battle a sore wrist and might have to guard Kobe Bryant. While you have to like LaMarcus Aldridge against Earl Clark, it’s hard to imagine J.J. Hickson handling Dwight Howard, and the Lakers are a solid choice tonight.
SAS @ GSW: This is a back-to-back and the eighth of nine consecutive road games for the Spurs. It would be no surprise if Gregg Popovich rests any or all of his stars, though Duncan and Manu Ginobili didn’t have to play much in that easy romp over the Clippers last night. Golden State got back on track Wednesday and will try to keep it going. Klay Thompson is coming off one of his best games of the season and Andrew Bogut is no longer on restricted minutes. This could be wide-open and high-scoring, just what you’re looking for in daily fantasy leagues. Read on for more about our $300 Freeroll tonight and Saturday’s big event at DraftStreet, the “Beat Sheridan” Challenge.