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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BUCKS AT MAGIC

Game Analysis

This is the only real competitive game on the NBA schedule for Thursday, unless some other teams take it upon themselves to play fantastic basketball. The Bucks (23-22) are actually favorites heading into Orlando to face the Magic (15-33), as the Magic have lost six in a row and 12 out of their last 14 played. The Magic actually have some solid players in Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic, with Vucevic making my “Groovy List” more times than not. Unfortunately for the Magic, they’ll need to be on top of their game if they expect to beat the Bucks on Wednesday. The Bucks keep hanging around the .500 mark, winning games they should while also losing games they should. The Bucks aren’t carrying any major injuries on roster, so look for Brandon Knight and the Bucks to cover the line. Look to play the under in this one – I don’t see either team doing enough offensively.

Line: MIL -4.5, Over/Under: 206.5

Players to Watch

  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks – 28th OPRK ($7,200)
  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic – 12th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Tobias Harris, SF, Magic  – 30th OPRK ($6,000)
  • Khris Middleton, SF, Bucks  – 21st OPRK ($5,200)

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KNICKS AT PACERS

Game Analysis

Carmelo Anthony is expected to return to action for the Knicks (8-37) on Thursday, but keep in mind that his individual 2nd OPRK matchup is quite awful. Still, considering the options you’ve got to choose from at the SF position you’d be wise to spend the money on Anthony and budget at another position. His status could change, of course, so be mindful up until game time if you run with Anthony. On that note, the Knicks actually have a shot at a win here as the Pacers (16-31) have only won two out of their last 10 games, while the Knicks have won three out of their last four games. The Knicks do get a boost when Anthony plays, so expect a strong presence in the paint and outside from him. Surprisingly, the Knicks have been playing better defense limiting opponents to an average of 91.25 PPG over their last four.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Carmelo Anthony, SF, Knicks – 2nd OPRK ($8,800)
  • David West, PF, Pacers – 6th OPRK ($6,300)
  • Cole Aldrich, C, Knicks – 21st OPRK ($5,200)
  • Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers – 27th OPRK ($5,100)

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NUGGETS AT GRIZZLIES

Game Analysis

In what appears to be a lopsided game, the Grizzlies (33-12), who have won eight of their last nine games played, match up very well against a struggling Nuggets (19-27) club that is trying to play better defensively (allowing 104.5 PPG for 27th overall). After winning five games in a row at the beginning of the month, the Nuggets went into a tailspin losing seven in a row, although they did bust their losing streak with a gutsy win on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans who lost Anthony Davis for a bit in the game (Davis did return in the fourth quarter). If the Grizzlies don’t win by double digits, I’ll be very surprised. Look to take advantage of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, both of whom have fantastic matchups and are reasonably priced.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies – 29th OPRK ($8,200)
  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies  – 27th OPRK ($8,000)
  • Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets – 26th OPRK ($6,800)
  • Arron Afflalo, SG, Nuggets – 25th OPRK ($6,100)

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BULLS AT LAKERS

Game Analysis

If you think the Grizzlies/Nuggets game is a mismatch, then get a load of the Bulls (30-17) and Lakers (12-34) matchups. Although the Lakers did show some guts on Tuesday night getting out to a sizable early first quarter lead, they ended up losing the contest to the Wizards, 98-92, after blowing a 19-point lead. The Lakers lost superstar Kobe Bryant for the season to injury, so Wayne Ellington will be expected to step in and play solid basketball as he did Tuesday. Even with the Lakers putting up their best offensive front, they won’t be able to beat the Bulls who are playing wonderful basketball of late. Pau Gasol is leading the team offensively and defensively, as he’s averaged just over 15 rebounds a game over his last six played.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls – 22nd OPRK ($9,300)
  • Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls  – 30th OPRK ($7,600)
  • Joakim Noah, C, Bulls  – 20th OPRK ($6,300)
  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers  – 28th OPRK ($5,100)

 

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