The NBA Game Breakdown takes an in-depth look at all of the games on the schedule each day in terms of expected pace of play, Vegas lines, and defense vs. position matchups. The NBA Game Breakdown will offer daily fantasy basketball strategy for each game in today’s slate.

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Toronto Raptors @ Orlando Magic

Game Analysis

Toronto has already clinched the division and is now fighting with two other teams for the 3-5 seeds, as all are within one game of each other. The Magic have been out of the playoff hunt for a very long time and have nothing but pride left to play for. Orlando has won three in a row including games over both teams the Raptors are are vying with for those playoff spots (Chicago, Milwaukee), so they could be looking to complete the trifecta. Toronto has some injuries to guys like Lowry and Amir Johnson who will both likely be out. The Raptors are still the favorite, but the Magic are not ready to quit yet, so this should be a good game that stays close and has a decent amount of points. Definitely useable for fantasy purposes.

Line: Raptors -5, O/U 202

Players to Watch

  • Patrick Patterson, PF, Raptors ($4000)
  • Demar DeRozan, SG, Raptors ($8100)
  • Elfrid Payton, PG, Magic ($7500)
  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($7200)


Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers

Game Analysis

Cleveland has absolutely nothing to play for at the moment. They can not catch Atlanta for the #1 seed and no one can catch them for #2 at this point. That is why when I see Vegas slow to post a line and Lebron as questionable, I can almost assure you he will sit. The tough part for me to figure is how much the other guys play? Normally with Lebron out, it becomes the Kyrie Irving show, but do they risk injury in a meaningless game a week out from the playoffs with him? Does he or Love or even Mozgov and JR play a ton of minutes? The Celtics though are playing for something. They are currently a seven seed tied with Brooklyn. The Heat and Pacers are on the outside looking in, but are really only one game out of it. At first glance many would think this is going to be all Cavs, but I think the Celtics are the ones who need and want this one more. They have scored triple digits in six straight and are playing to totals well over 200. I wish I had some clarity on how the Cavs were going to play this one, but as of now I think the Celtics need it more and will fight to get it.

Line:

Players to Watch

  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavs ($7900)
  • JR Smith, SG, Cavs ($5800)
  • Isiah Thomas, PG, Celtics ($5900)
  • Jae Crowder, SF, Celtics ($4500)


Charlotte Hornets @ Atlanta Hawks

Game Analysis

The Hawks are so far ahead that no one can catch them now. Charlotte is still alive if they run the table and get a lot of help, but they would basically need three of the four teams in front of them to fall apart and lose the rest of there games to have a shot. The word from Atlanta is all the key guys will be rested or lay less minutes going forward until the playoffs start, so the bench is where you should look if you want guys on the Hawks. For Charlotte, they are not done yet, so I’m not sure if they are going to risk running big Al back out off his injury or not. Zeller also could return and I think they may try to make a run until they are mathematically eliminated. While Vegas has Atlanta as a big favorite in this one, I think it’s closer. The score here is pretty low though, so be careful if you do use anyone here.

Line: Atlanta -9.5, O/U 196

Players to Watch

  • Demare Carroll, SF, Hawks ($5700)
  • Mike Scott, PF, Hawks ($3400)
  • Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets ($7600)
  • Marvin Williams, PF, Hornets ($5400)


Indiana Pacers @ Detroit Pistons

Game Analysis

The Pistons are already eliminated, but the Pacers are one game out of the seventh and eigth spot behind Brooklyn and Boston. They have played with some fire recently as they have won three in a row by an average score of 103-83 to make a run at the playoffs. Paul George has started playing and guys like Stuckey who were hurt are now back and ready to roll. Detroit has lost three of their last four games and were honestly looking better without Greg Monroe. I think the Pacers take this one going away and keep their hopes alive.

Line: Pacers -5, O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • Reggie Jackson, PG, Pistons ($8500)
  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($8500)
  • George Hill, PG, Pacers ($7200)
  • Roy Hibbert, C, Pacers ($4900)


Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks

Game Analysis

The Bucks are firmly in the playoffs but could fall out if they do not win any more games. If they take one, they are in, if they take two they are no worse then a six seed. The analysis here is easy. The Knicks have one win in their last ten. They have only scored 100 once in their last ten and they really have nothing left to play for. The Bucks will be trying to solidify there spot in the playoffs, and they are a solid defensive team. They will limit the Knicks who will struggle to stop them, since the Knicks have a very porous defense. The bucks are a big favorite and the total is low, so look elsewhere for fantasy purposes tonight.

Line: Bucks -9, O/U 190

Players to Watch

  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Bucks ($6400)
  • Zaza Pachulia, C, Bucks ($5700)
  • Langston Galloway, PG, Knicks ($5500)
  • Andrea BArgnani, PF, Knicks ($5900)


Washington Wizards @ Brooklyn Nets

Game Analysis

The Nets really need to keep winning to stay in the playoffs. They currently are locked into the eight seed with a few teams breathing down their necks. They are tied with Boston in the seven spot, so a win could even move them up and put them one game behind the Bucks. The Wizards are currently a game behind Chicago for the 4 and 5 seed. They would love to move ahead so they get the extra home game in what looks destined to be their first round match up. Washington had struggled losing five of six before reeling off victories in the last four games. Of course three of those were against Philly(2) and New York who lose to everybody. The Nets need this game more then Washington does, but both teams have something to play for. The Wizards defense has not been as lock down as earlier in the year and the Nets offense is suddenly healthy and explosive. They have put up triple digits in seven of their last eight games with the only miss being the 99 they hung on Atlanta. Their pace is up which is also why opponents scoring has climbed. Still though they are winning and playing better at that uptempo pace, and judging by the Vegas numbers, I would agree that they keep it going at home in this one.

Line: Nets -8, O/U

Players to Watch

  • Deron Williams, PG, Nets ($7000)
  • Brook Lopez, C, Nets ($8400)
  • Kris Humphries, PF, Wizards ($3200)
  • Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards ($6300)


Phoenix Suns @ New Orleans Pelicans

Game Analysis

Phoenix is already out, but this is a HUGE game for the Pelicans. They are tied for the eight spot with OKC and need to win out or hope the Thunder lose. Phoenix has looked dreadful lately and OKC actually has something to play for. Vegas expects them to take care of business and I would agree here. The game is lower scoring with the Suns playing slower, so, in terms of daily fantasy basketball strategy, just be careful of going heavy here.

Line: Pelicans -9, O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11000)
  • Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($7700)
  • Markieff Morris, PF, Suns ($6100)
  • Marcus Morris, PF, Suns ($5400)


San Antonio @ Houston Rockets

Game Analysis

The Spurs are a half game behind the rockets in a three way battle for the division with Memphis who is also half a game ahead. To make it more interesting, the Clippers also have the same record and those four teams could wind up anywhere between 2 and 6 in the playoffs with one win or loss. Both of them are firmly in, so this game is all about seeding right now. For those worrying about getting Popped tonight, it seems the starters are playing more minutes in these games that matter directly for playoff purposes. Kawhi, Duncan, and Parker all saw minutes jump last out against this same Rockets team. The venue switches for this one, but the Spurs won last out by a dozen and I think this game works out that way as well. The spread is close and the total is high with both teams wanting to win, so this is definitely a target for your fantasy games.

Line: Spurs -2.5, O/U 204

Players to Watch

  • Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs ($6200)
  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($8000)
  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($10800)
  • Josh Smith, SF, Rockets ($6300)


Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder

Game Analysis

I really hope it does not play out this way, but here’s the current situation with this game. The Thunder are tied with the Pelicans for the last playoff spot in the west. The Kings are likely going to be without either Gay or Cousins. Do I even need to go any further? The spread is huge, the total is enormous and there’s no way Russell Westbrook doesn’t will his team to victory in this one with something to play for against a team that is sans any of it’s best players. My fear is Westy and the boys put this to bed early and rest in the fourth quarter. Even so, I think they come out laser focused and could still get normal production by the end of the third quarter.

Line: Thunder -12, O/U 215

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($11600)
  • Enes Kanter, C, Thunder ($7500)
  • Jason Thompson, PF, Kings ($3900)
  • Ray McCollum, PG, Kings ($4700)


Dallas Mavericks @ Denver Nuggets

Game Analysis

There’s a scramble for the 2-6 seeds in the west and a chase for the #8 spot, but Dallas is firmly stuck in the 7th seed and with no one to chase or be caught by. The Nuggets are already out and are basically playing for pride and to showcase themselves for next season. Luckily they are still playing starters on both sides pretty regular minutes, so there’s some hope for fantasy value. Parsons and Nelson are the two big injuries in this one and I think that only helps a few of the others be in play. Lawson will need to play more and the other four Dallas starters should pick it up to make up for not having Parsons. Overall I am lukewarm at best on this game, but we should see some points in it.

Line:

Players to Watch

  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets ($6500)
  • Danilo Galinari, SF, Nuggets ($6200)
  • Tyson Chandler, C, Mavericks ($5700)
  • Randy foye, SG, Nuggets ($4600)


Memphis Grizzlies @ Utah Jazz

Game Analysis

Two of the best defensive teams in the NBA lock up in this one. The Grizzlies do have something to play for and likely win this game, but let’s face it. Does anyone want to go heavy on a game with a 180 total? If you like somewhere here there’s a good chance they will be low owned with a total this much lower than all the others. If you have more than one guy here, I think you are overexposed in this one.

Line: Grizz -2, O/U 180

Players to Watch

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz ($7900)
  • Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz ($7600)
  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies ($7000)
  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies ($6600)


Minnesota Timberwolves @ LA Lakers

Game Analysis

This is a game between two pretty bad teams, but for fantasy purposes it is one of the better ones to target. The total is pretty high and the spread is reasonable. Both teams are well out of the playoff hunt and have lost a bunch of recent games. Neither plays particularly good defense and that is why I think this could get kind of sloppy and wild, but produce some nice stat lines.

Line: Wolves -5, O/U 206

Players to Watch

  • Ryan Kelly, PF, Lakers ($4200)
  • Jordan Clarkson, PG, Lakers ($6800)
  • Zach Lavine, PG, Timberwolves ($5900)
  • Kevin Martin, SG, Timberwolves ($6000)