Yahoo Plays and Strategy for Thursday, January 12

Six games will take place in the NBA on Thursday, one of which is a marquee matchup between the Bucks and the Heat. However, the Heat will be shorthanded with Tyler Herro (Achilles) and Kyle Lowry (knee) both out. The Bucks will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set, so it will be important to monitor their injury report for possible rest candidates. A battle of superstars will take place in Los Angeles when LeBron James and the Lakers host Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. Let’s discuss some players to consider for your Yahoo lineups, as well as a few to potentially avoid.

GUARDS

James Harden, PHI vs. OKC ($45): Harden has back-to-back games with a triple-double. What makes that even more impressive is that he didn’t log more than 28 minutes in either game with the 76ers winning both in convincing fashion. Over his last nine games, Harden has averaged 22.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 12.2 assists and 1.6 steals. Even if the Thunder can’t keep this game close, Harden has shown that he can put up monster numbers even in limited minutes.

Malcolm BrogdonBOS at BKN ($18): Having Brogdon come off the bench is a luxury for the Celtics that many contending teams would love to have. He especially came in handy when Marcus Smart (knee) missed the last two games. Although he was underwhelming two games ago against the Bulls, he scored 35.8 Yahoo points Wednesday against the Pelicans. With Smart out again, Brogdon has the potential to provide value.

Guard to Avoid

De’Anthony Melton, PHI vs. OKC ($19): When the 76ers were decimated at guard earlier this season, Melton stepped into the starting five and played well. However, with Harden and Tyrese Maxey healthy again, Melton moved to the bench Tuesday against the Pistons. He played just 18 minutes, scoring 22.0 Yahoo points. As long as Harden and Maxey are healthy, Melton is likely to have a limited role.

FORWARDS

Jaylen BrownBOS at BKN ($38): Brown was locked on Wednesday, scoring 41 points on 15-for-21 shooting from the field. He is having the most efficient season of his career, shooting 49.8 percent from the field. The last time he faced the Nets, he shot 10-for-20 from the field on his side was to produce 34 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks.

TJ Warren, BOS vs. BKN ($12): The Nets are facing the prospects of Kevin Durant (knee) missing a month. This will be just the second game that has been sidelined all season. Warren isn’t going to jump right into playing 35 minutes a game, but he should see more time on the floor moving forward. If he can approach 30 minutes in this matchup, he could provide significant value at near the minimum salary.

Forward to Avoid

Tim HardawayFROM to LAL ($18): There’s not much upside with Hardaway, who provides very little production in terms of rebounds, assists and defensive stats. He’s also shooting just 38.8 percent from the field. Given the potentially expanded role that Warren could have, and his cheaper salary than him, there’s no need to take a chance on Hardaway.

CENTERS

Pascal Siakam, TOR vs. CHA ($43): These two teams just played each other Tuesday in what was a 12-point win for the Raptors. Siakam was integral in the victory, posting 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. The Hornets have played at the 10th-fastest pace and have the fourth-worst defensive rating in the league, setting up Siakam to thrive again in their rematch.

Thomas Bryant, LAL vs. FROM ($23): The Lakers looked to be in trouble when Anthony Davis (foot) went down, but Bryant has helped them to stay afloat. He has been a consistent source of production, scoring at least 32.0 Yahoo points in seven of the last eight games. The Mavericks don’t have much size up front outside of Christian Wood, so Bryant could be met with little resistance in the paint.

Center to avoid

Jusuf Nurkic, ROP vs. CLE ($27): This is not a good matchup for Nurkic. The duo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen have helped the Cavaliers allow the second-fewest rebounds per game in the league. The Cavaliers also have the best defensive rating. That could lead to a long night for Nurkic.

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