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The Best of the Best
Carmelo Anthony - That Celtics defensive Renaissance is beginning to come to a screeching halt. Each of the last four teams Boston has played (a four-game losing streak) has averaged over a point per possession against them. Each of their last two opponents, Dallas and Memphis, have averaged at least 1.13 points per possession. And the Knicks have a higher offensive rating than either of those teams, with Melo and his NBA-leading 34.5 percent usage rate as the catalyst.
Blake Griffin - CP3 or Griffin? This time, we prefer the big man: the Mavericks allow opposing point guards to shoot only .468 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) from the field, but power forwards sit at .502 eFG%. It also doesn't hurt that the Mavericks are 28th in offensive rebounding percentage, allowing Griffin to pad his stats by pounding the defensive glass.
Greg Monroe - Nikola Pekovic has been solid for Minnesota, but has he really been spectacular, especially down low? The numbers say not particularly: his 105 defensive rating is one of the highest among NBA starting centers, and opposing centers have shot .525 eFG% against him this season. That should be more than enough for Monroe as he looks to get back on the horse after his last outing snapped an 11-game double-digit scoring streak.
Top Mid-Range Values
O.J. Mayo - The Clippers have a relatively strong defense, sitting in eighth of defensive rating and first at forcing turnovers (especially at the guard slots). What they don't have, though, is a solid shooting guard, especially with Chauncey Billups banged up going into tonight's game. We expect to see a good bit of Eric Bledsoe at shooting guard; he has allowed only a .469 eFG% to point guards but a .540 eFG% to shooting guards. Jamal Crawford, meanwhile, has a team-high 108 defensive rating. Mayo's the right guy to take advantage.
Jamal Crawford - Know what Mayo can't do, though? Play defense. The Mavericks have allowed opposing shooting guards to go .505 eFG% from the field, and Mayo's 109 defensive rating is the highest among qualified players on the team. Crawford's still working on his rhythm since coming back from an ankle injury, but of course, that means four straight games with at least 12 points for him. Dallas is a good opponent to bet on a renewed offensive explosion.
Raymond Felton - Remember how we talked about that Boston defensive ship sailing away? The point guard position has a lot to do with that. The last three point guards to play at least 30 minutes against Boston were Mike Conley, Grievis Vasquez, and Mario Chalmers, not exactly a murderer's row. Except Conley finished with 12 points and 10 assists, Vasquez had 13 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds, and Chalmers had 21 points. Felton's better than all three of those guys.