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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TIMBERWOLVES AT HORNETS

Game Analysis

The Hornets (16-25) have been battling injuries of late, with Kemba Walker expected to miss Monday’s contest with a knee injury due to a cyst that remains a nagging issue. Al Jefferson won’t be back in action until Wednesday, so with the Hornets battling to keep healthy it looks like the Timberwolves (7-32) actually have a chance at making this a competitive game. Rookie Andrew Wiggins is averaging 15.2 points a game this season as he tries to do his part to boost the Timberwolves’ overall output. The Hornets have actually been playing solid defense of late, keeping opponents to 89.3 on average over their last seven games played. I see a tight battle on Monday between the two clubs, with the Timberwolves upsetting the Hornets in Charlotte.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Mo Williams, PG, Timberwolves – 28th OPRK ($6,300)
  • Thaddeus Young, PF, Timberwolves – 19th OPRK ($6,000)
  • Lance Stephenson, SG, Hornets  – 30th OPRK ($5,200)
  • Cody Zeller, PF, Hornets  – 28th OPRK ($4,900)

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76ERS AT WIZARDS

Game Analysis

The Wizards (28-13) are playing excellent basketball of late, winning seven out of their last nine played as they set their sights on a playoff run with the second best record in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards have been doing good things offensively and defensively, as they’re keeping teams to a 97.4 points allowed on average. The 76ers (8-32), who no longer carry the worst record in the NBA, are giving up almost 19 turnovers a game and will need to control their lack of discipline if they expect to give the Wizards any kind of competition on Monday night. It’s going to be a long evening for the 76ers, and even being spotted 14 points I’m still going with the Wizards to cover.

Line: WSH -14.0, Over/Under: 192.5

Players to Watch

  • John Wall, PG, Wizards – 24th OPRK ($9,300)
  • Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards  – 29th OPRK ($6,300)
  • Marcin Gortat, C, Wizards – 30th OPRK ($5,900)
  • Paul Pierce, SF, Wizards – 27th OPRK ($4,600)

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PISTONS AT HAWKS

Game Analysis

The Hawks (33-8) are playing dominant basketball as they’re halfway through the season now as they sport the best record in the Eastern Conference, currently on a 12-game win streak where they show a +6.7 average point differential (2nd in the NBA) in games played this season. The Hawks rank tops in the NBA in points allowed, keeping teams on average to 96.6 points a game as they also play wonderfully on the offensive side scoring 103.3 points a game. Point guard and leader, Jeff Teague, is averaging 7.4 assists per game while stealing almost two balls a game. The Pistons (16-25) come into Atlanta with issues scoring points, so it won’t be easy considering the Hawks’ defensive presence on the court. Will the Pistons do enough with the eight points they’re being spotted? No, so I’m taking the Hawks to cover and I’m taking the 204 under.

Line: ATL – 8.0, Over/Under: 204

Players to Watch

  • Paul Millsap, PF, Hawks  – 23rd OPRK ($8,400)
  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons  – 21st OPRK ($8,100)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks – 29th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Kyle Korver, SG, Hawks  – 26th OPRK ($5,100)

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CELTICS AT CLIPPERS

Game Analysis

The Celtics (13-25) carry a 23-game losing streak on the road against West opponents, so it doesn’t look like the Celtics will be end their losing streak against the Clippers (27-14) who are 7-3 over their last 10 games played. The Clippers are currently averaging 106.9 points a game which ranks 4th in the NBA. It’s tempting to take the Clippers to cover the 12 points being given to the Celtics, and I say go ahead and go with that gut feeling. The Celtics will struggle on both ends of the court, while Chris Paul will feed the ball heavily to Blake Griffin. I do think the Celtics will do enough offensively to help push over the 211.5 over/under line.

Line: LAC – 12.0, Over/Under: 211.5

Players to Watch

  • Chris Paul, PG, Clippers – 22nd OPRK ($9,800)
  • Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers  – 30th OPRK ($9,800)
  • DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers  – 22nd OPRK ($7,600)
  • Kelly Olynyk, C, Celtics  – 21st OPRK ($4,400)

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NUGGETS AT WARRIORS

Game Analysis

The Warriors (32-6) have the best home record in the NBA, taking it to teams to the tune of 17-1 on their own court. The mismatch for the Nuggets (18-22) is too lopsided, as the Nuggets hover around the .500 mark right now as they look to squeeze into the playoff picture as they’re only five games out of the No. 8 spot through this past Sunday. The Nuggets will have to follow Ty Lawson to victory as he leads the team in points, assists and steals. Lawson is not someone I would want to underestimate, and I’m sure the Warriors defense will be ready for him. Take the 14 points being given to the Nuggets though, there’s just no way the Warriors win by 15.

Line: GS -14.0, Over/Under: 218

Players to Watch

  • Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors – 16th OPRK ($10,300)
  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets – 23rd OPRK ($8,900)
  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors – 19th OPRK ($7,700)
  • David Lee, PF, Warriors – 26th OPRK ($5,200)

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MAVERICKS AT GRIZZLIES

Game Analysis

With Zach Randolph back in action for the Grizzlies (29-11), there’s been a nice surge in production for the team as they’ve won four out of the last five games played. Although the Grizzlies are dealing with injury to point guard Mike Conley (ankles), Randolph and center Marc Gasol are providing a major core underneath. The Mavericks (28-13), who boast one of the better records in the league, won’t have an easy time busting the Grizzlies 16-4 home record. They key to the game will be the Grizzlies ability to stop the Mavericks from running up and down the court as the Mavs currently average 108.5 points a game, which is second best in the NBA.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies – 12th OPRK ($8,400)
  • Monta Ellis, SG, Mavericks – 28th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks – 27th OPRK ($6,500)
  • Beno Udrih, PG, Grizzlies – 25th OPRK ($4,000)

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PACERS AT ROCKETS

Game Analysis

Don’t expect the Rockets (28-13) to worry too much about the 131-108 defeat they took on the chin against the Warriors on Saturday, as they’ll be ready to bounce back against the Pacers (15-27) who carry a 7-16 road record into Houston on Monday. Sometimes superstar players like James Harden have bad nights, but those nights are few and far between so we should see some dominant production from Harden as he comes back from a poor night of shooting in the same Saturday game against the Warriors. The Pacers are battling turnover issues, which doesn’t bode well for their current issues against Western Conference teams. Look for the Rockets to explode offensively and cover the -10.0 being given to the Nuggets.

Line: HOU – 10.0, Over/Under: 198.5

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets – 11th OPRK ($10,800)
  • Dwight Howard, C, Rockets – 17th OPRK ($7,900)
  • David West, PF, Pacers – 16th OPRK ($6,400)
  • Roy Hibbert, C, Pacers – 14th OPRK ($6,100)

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PELICANS AT KNICKS

Game Analysis

The Knicks (5-36) may think they’ve got a shot to compete with the Pelicans (20-20), since Anthony Davis may be out of action on Monday; however, even if Davis doesn’t go the likelihood of a Knicks win is extremely unlikely. Carmelo Anthony is still fighting injury and the Knicks in general are throwing the towel in on a miserable 2014-15 season. There’s no line to bet on this one, and rightly so, as the Knicks have lost 17 games in a row and are only averaging 92.5 points per game on the year.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Carmelo Anthony, SF, Knicks – 19th OPRK ($8,700)
  • Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans – 27th OPRK ($8,400)
  • Ryan Anderson, PF, Pelicans – 9th OPRK ($5,700)
  • Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans – 27th OPRK ($5,300)

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BULLS AT CAVALIERS

Game Analysis

The Cavaliers (21-20) are struggling to win games as they’ve gone 3-7 over their last 10 played, but most of that is due to the injury struggles of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. There’s only so much Kevin Love can do on his own, and while it’s only a mini-win streak the Cavs have won two games in a row now as the take on the Bulls (27-15). The Bulls actually play better on the road than they do at home, and should give the Cavs fits even with the team starting to look healthy again. Controlling LeBron defensively is always key for any team looking to beat the Cavs, so look for the Bulls to really tighten things up as they’ll need Pau Gasol to really be on top of his game snatching rebounds and blocking shots.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers – 17th OPRK ($10,800)
  • Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls – 14th OPRK ($9,500)
  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls – 15th OPRK ($8,200)
  • Tristan Thompson, PF, Cavaliers – 25th OPRK ($6,300)

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RAPTORS AT BUCKS

Game Analysis

The Raptors (26-14) have really taken a hit over their last 10 games, only winning three and losing seven out of their last nine. DeMar DeRozan is back in action now and that will certainly help the Raptors as they try to recover from a long slump. The Bucks (21-19) are playing decent basketball, pushing up a bit over the .500 mark as they muddle through roster issues. Injuries to Jabari Parker and Kendall Marshall, along with a 10-game suspension for center Larry Sanders for violating the anti-drug program, have hit hard but the Bucks are still managing to stay in games. The  Bucks will try to stop the Raptors, who score 106.8 points a night on average. Even with the Bucks having roster issues, I like the +2.5 they’re being spotted, but I really like the 199.5 over.

Line: TOR – 2.5, Over/Under: 199.5

Players to Watch

  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks – 19th OPRK ($7,800)
  • DeMar DeRozan, SG, Raptors – 23rd OPRK ($6,800)
  • Zaza Pachulia, C, Bucks – 23rd OPRK ($5,800)
  • Khris Middleton, SF, Bucks – 25th OPRK ($4,900)

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KINGS AT TRAIL BLAZERS

Game Analysis

The good thing about this game is that one of these clubs will end their current three-game losing streak, but which team will it be? Odds are good that the Trail Blazers (30-11), who have faced stout opponents over their last three games (Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies), will man-handle the Kings (16-24) on Monday night. The Blazers, who are normally very well-rounded as a club on offense and defense, have had some shooting issues which has prevented positive play against very good opponents. Even with the Blazers struggling, I don’t see a victory in the Kings favor. The Kings have lost seven of their last eight road games.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Trail Blazers – 17th OPRK ($9,700)
  • Damian Lillard, PG, Trail Blazers – 26th OPRK ($9,500)
  • Rudy Gay, SF, Kings – 21st OPRK ($7,700)
  • Nicolas Batum, SF, Trail Blazers – 26th OPRK ($5,600)

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LAKERS AT SUNS

Game Analysis

Since the middle of December, the Suns (24-18) have posted one of the better records in the NBA. The Suns have gone 12-4 since December 17, while averaging 111.4 points a game during their run and shooting 54.4 percent excluding three-point attempts. The Lakers (12-29) are unfortunately heading into a different direction as they try to break a four-game losing streak in Phoenix. The Lakers are being fronted 11.5 points in this one, but it’s not enough for me to ride them into Phoenix, although I’m not thrilled about taking the Suns either. I would actually stay away from the line, although if forced to make a choice I’d go with the Suns to cover. Take the under, however, as the Lakers have been only scoring 89.0 points a game on average over their current four-game slide.

Line: PHX -11.5, Over/Under: 215

Players to Watch

  • Goran Dragic, PG, Suns – 30th OPRK ($6,800)
  • Markieff Morris, PF, Suns – 22nd OPRK ($6,600)
  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers – 16th OPRK ($5,800)
  • Isaiah Thomas, PG, Suns – 30th OPRK ($5,000)

 

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