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.

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76ERS AT HEAT

Game Analysis

The emergence of Hassan Whiteside this season sure got me excited, mainly since I got to take advantage of some nice lineup value on him for a bit. Gone are the days of snagging Whiteside on the cheap side, although he’s one of the better center options in the league over the last month of play. With Chris Bosh out of action due to blood clots in his lung, the Heat (23-31) will have to rely upon Whiteside to assist the oft-injured Dwayne Wade. Hopefully for the Heat, newly acquired Goran Dragic helps with some of the sting in losing Bosh. The 76ers (12-42), who haven’t shown opponents much of anything in quite some time, should do enough so it won’t seem like a layover game for the Heat. In fact, I’m taking the 10.5 points they’re being spotted on the road, relying on the idea that Nerlens Noel will overcome his tough individual OPRK matchup.

Line: MIA – 10.5, Over/Under: 189

Players to Watch

  • Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat – 29th OPRK ($7,800)
  • Dwayne Wade, SG, Heat – 29th OPRK ($7,200)
  • Goran Dragic, PG, Heat  – 23rd OPRK ($6,200)
  • Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat  – 23rd OPRK ($4,900)

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BUCKS AT BULLS

Game Analysis

Have you seen what the Bucks (31-24) have done lately? Not only have they gone 8-2 over the last 10 games played, but they’re 10-3 over their last 13 games and they’re the fastest rising team in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have overhauled their roster some before the trade deadline, but they still remain strong. I see the Bucks giving the Bulls (35-21) fits on Monday, as Chicago suffers at home sometimes only amassing a 16-11 home record. The Bulls are actually a better road team. Expect a decent tempo in the game even with the Bulls as heavy favorites as they give 8.0 points to the Bucks. That’s a bit much to me, and with how well the Bucks have been playing I’d take them and the points.

Line: CHI – 8.0, Over/Under: 194.5

Players to Watch

  • Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls  – 8th OPRK ($9,700)
  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls  – 17th OPRK ($7,800)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Bucks – 18th OPRK ($7,500)
  • John Henson, PF, Bucks  – 22nd OPRK ($5,200)

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TIMBERWOLVES AT ROCKETS

Game Analysis

Josh Smith is an interesting buy for Monday night considering his up-and-down production over his last few games, although his 28th OPRK matchup gets me thinking Smith will see at least see 30 minutes for the Rockets (37-18) who are hosting the Timberwolves (12-42). The Wolves are currently allowing 106.2 points per game on average, while suffering to sink baskets themselves only averaging 97.8 PPG over the season. The Wolves don’t have much of a chance to pull out a victory in Houston, and I really don’t expect them to get close, so taking the Rockets to cover the -9.0 line is smart. The Rockets have really upped their game on defense of late, as they put a stranglehold on the Toronto Raptors on Saturday only allowing 76 points in the game. Look for the Rockets to stay strong on defense and to take advantage of recent injuries to Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett.

Line: HOU – 9.0, Over/Under: 211

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets,   – 29th OPRK ($10,500)
  • Josh Smith, SF, Rockets  – 28th OPRK ($6,800)
  • Ricky Rubio, PG, Timberwolves – 17th OPRK ($6,600)
  • Trevor Ariza, SF, Rockets  – 28th OPRK ($5,700)

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RAPTORS AT PELICANS

Game Analysis

Winning games and getting back into the playoff picture won’t  be easy for the Pelicans (28-27) after learning that superstar forward Anthony Davis will be out of action for a couple of weeks with a shoulder strain. Adding salt to the Pelicans’ wound, forward Ryan Anderson is also expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks as he fights a knee injury. What does this mean for the Pelicans? A win will be tough to come by against the Raptors (37-18), even if Tyreke Evans picks up his game. The Pelicans are struggling to score points, only averaging 90 PPG over their last five games played. The Raptors hold a +4.7 average point differential, while winning 7 out of their last 10 games played. If you’re looking for a solid under-the-radar DFS lineup buy, consider Omer Asik who will likely benefit with a minutes increase as Davis and Anderson miss time for the Pelicans.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Tyreke Evans, PG, Pelicans  – 18th OPRK ($8,000)
  • DeMar DeRozan, SG, Raptors  – 21st OPRK ($7,300)
  • Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors – 19th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Omer Asik, C, Pelicans  – 19th OPRK ($4,600)

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NETS AT NUGGETS

Game Analysis

Both the Nets (22-31) and the Nuggets (20-35) are struggling this season, although it’s not too much of a surprise that’s the case. Each club struggles to score points, with the Nets ranking 24th in the league averaging 95.8 points average per game. It’s hard to believe, but the Nets actually hold the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference right now with four other teams hovering around with similar win-loss records. The recent acquisition of Thaddeus Young helps the Nets chances from here on out, but I actually like them in Denver on Monday night squeaking out a victory over the Nuggets who are 2-8 over their last 10 played.

Line: BKN – 1.5, Over/Under: 201

Players to Watch

  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets  – 24th OPRK ($8,300)
  • Brook Lopez, C, Nets  – 20th OPRK ($6,800)
  • Joe Johnson, SG, Nets – 25th OPRK ($5,800)
  • Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets  – 28th OPRK ($5,700)

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CELTICS AT SUNS

Game Analysis

With the trade out of Milwaukee, Brandon Knight will likely see an overall dip in production with the Suns (29-27). Even so, Knight should see at least 30 minutes facing the Celtics (20-32) on Monday and will have the ball in his hands quite frequently as he tries to snap the the Suns four-game losing streak. The Suns have been struggling mightily as a team allowing almost 109 PPG over their current losing streak, while only winning three games over their last 10 played. Even with the Suns being heavily favored at home, there are enough red flags in the Suns game where I don’t expect them to cover the – 7.5 line. I’m actually staying away from the line, but I do like both teams to do enough to hit the 211.5 over.

Line: PHO – 7.5, Over/Under: 211.5

Players to Watch

  • Brandon Knight, PG, Suns  – 8th OPRK ($6,500)
  • Markieff Morris, PF, Suns  – 29th OPRK ($6,400)
  • Isaiah Thomas, PG, Celtics – 25th OPRK ($5,500)
  • Evan Turner, PG, Celtics – 25th OPRK ($5,200)

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SPURS AT JAZZ

Game Analysis

As the Spurs (34-21) head into Utah to play the Jazz (20-34), they only bring a 14-14 road record with them. The Spurs are sitting in the 7th playoff spot in the Western Conference, and while they may make up some ground over the remaining part of the season, it’s not likely they’ll net a seed any higher than 3rd. Still, the Spurs remain one of the more dangerous clubs in the NBA. The Jazz have only won three games against the Spurs over the last five seasons, so a victory here will mean something to the struggling club who isn’t getting much help beyond Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. I like the 189.5 under in this game with the Spurs’ shortcomings on the road at times.

Line: SA – 5.0, Over/Under: 189.5

Players to Watch

  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs  – 8th OPRK ($6,900)
  • Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz  – 13th OPRK ($6,800)
  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz – 23rd OPRK ($5,200)
  • Trey Burke, PG, Jazz  – 14th OPRK ($4,500)

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GRIZZLIES AT CLIPPERS

Game Analysis

Jamal Crawford’s inconsistencies from game-to-game have kept his salary below the 6K mark for most of the season, but for Monday’s game he breaks that mark at 6.1K. Is he worth rostering? Certainly in the right situation I’d lock in Crawford, but just keep in mind that while his matchup is fair he likely won’t his 36.17 FPPG average over his last three games played. Still, if Crawford nets 25-30 fantasy points, I’ll take it. The Clippers (37-19) have been getting good, solid production from role players, which has helped propel them to their current four-game winning streak. Chris Paul will take all the help he can get, with Blake Griffin still out of action and with the Grizzlies (39-14) holding the third-best record in the NBA right now. Take the points the Grizzlies are being spotted, as I smell a straight win on the road for Memphis even with the Clippers playing good ball of late. You have to love the Grizzlies’ ability to squeeze teams defensively, as they are the best team in the NBA in points allowed (95.7 per game).

Line: LAC – 4.0, Over/Under: 203

Players to Watch

  • Chris Paul, PG, Clippers  – 6th OPRK ($10,000)
  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies  – 7th OPRK ($8,100)
  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies – 15th OPRK ($7,400)
  • Jamal Crawford, SG, Clippers  – 15th OPRK ($6,100)

 

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