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.
BUCKS AT PACERS
The Pacers (29-34), who have won six games in a row and nine out of their last 10 played, are currently on a hot streak that has propelled them back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. Going all the way back to February 4th, the Pacers were 18-32 and seemingly looking towards next season, but since then they have only lost TWO games. What’s changed in Indiana? It’s been all about defense, as the Pacers have limited opponents to only 92.4 points per game since their incredible 14-2 run from the start of February. What’s even more impressive is that the Pacers have been winning handily, beating opponents by an average of 16.66 points per game over their six-game win streak. The Bucks (33-30), on the other hand, have been struggling as a club, only winning three out of their last 10 games, while getting extremely loose on the defensive front. Look for the Pacers to take care of business at home, enough that I like them to cover the -7.5 line. Sure, the Pacers’ streak has to be busted at some point but I don’t think it’s in the cards for the Bucks on Thursday evening. If you’re adventurous in building your lineups, consider Solomon Hill at his 3.8K price with the added minutes he’s been netting for the Pacers lately.
Line: IND -7.5, Over/Under: 185.5
Players to Watch
- Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Bucks – 6th OPRK ($6,500)
- Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers – 16th OPRK ($6,300)
- Khris Middleton, SG, Bucks – 13th OPRK ($6,300)
- Solomon Hill, SF, Pacers – 28th OPRK ($3,800)
GRIZZLIES AT WIZARDS
From a matchup standpoint, there aren’t many players to individually take advantage of for your lineups, with the Wizards (36-28) and the Grizzlies (45-18) being so tough defensively. The Grizzlies, who rank best in the NBA in points allowed (95.5 PPG), will keep John Wall and company in check enough to pull out the victory. Bradley Beal offers intriguing value at 5.5K, with his shot improving of late over his last two games (13-for-27). The Wizards, who have gone 5-11 since February 2nd, are happy to be heading back home. Before Monday night’s road victory against Charlotte, the Wizards hadn’t won a road game since January 27th, when they beat the Lakers in Los Angeles. While the Wizards are a different team at home, they’ll need a lot more than what they’ve been getting lately from their outside shooters. Look for this game to be pretty tight on scoring, both teams not doing enough to keep things under the 185 over/under mark.
Line: None, Over/Under: 185
Players to Watch
- Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies – 9th OPRK ($7,500)
- Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies – 9th OPRK ($7,000)
- Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies – 19th OPRK ($6,100)
- Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards – 18th OPRK ($5,500)
ROCKETS AT JAZZ
It’s likely a little too late for the Jazz (27-36), who have won three in a row and eight out of their last 10 games, although it’s nice to see the overall effort as a club. The Jazz are playing excellent perimeter defense, as well as getting top notch defense in the paint. Since the beginning of February, when center Rudy Gobert took charge and became the proverbial rock in the middle, the Jazz has showed teams that you can win at both ends of the court. What’s more impressive is that they’ve beaten teams like Portland, San Antonio, New Orleans and Memphis since February, but they’ve also taken care of teams they should be beating. The Jazz won’t have it easy with the Rockets (43-20) heading into Utah, so look for a highly competitive game. Take note that Gordon Hayward may miss Thursday’s action with a lower back strain, so that would certainly put a kink in the Jazz’ armor if he can’t make a go of it. Expect the game to slide above the 187.5 over, and don’t be surprised to see the Jazz squeak out a victory at home assuming Hayward can play.
Line: None, Over/Under: 187.5
Players to Watch
- Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz – 16th OPRK ($7,800)
- Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz – 20th OPRK ($7,800)
- Gordon Hayward, SF, Jazz – 14th OPRK ($7,500)
- Patrick Beverley, PG, Rockets – 13th OPRK ($4,200)
CAVALIERS AT SPURS
As of January 15th, the Cavaliers (41-25) have gone 22-5, which has erased any doubt that they’re a top-notch club in the NBA now. LeBron James and the Cavs are still a whopping 10 games back in the Eastern Conference behind the Atlanta Hawks, although they hold onto the second seed by a very slim margin. After going 0-4 during a mid-February stretch, the Spurs (40-23) now have strung six wins together as they host the Cavs on Thursday night. The Spurs are averaging over 112 points per game over their current win streak, so the Cavs will have a tough task ahead defensively where the Spurs hold a seasonal 24-7 home record. Tim Duncan is currently questionable to play on Thursday with a hyper-extended shoulder, so keep an eye on his status if you decide to run with Duncan in your lineups. The Spurs have won 10 straight games against the Cavs. Look for the game to be close with both teams doing enough offensively to hit the 207.5 over.
Line: None, Over/Under: 207.5
Players to Watch
- Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs – 13th OPRK ($8,100)
- Kevin Love, PF, Cavaliers – 17th OPRK ($7,600)
- Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavaliers – 14th OPRK ($7,600)
- Timofey Mozgov, C, Cavaliers – 12th OPRK ($5,100)
KNICKS AT LAKERS
It’s been quite some time in the NBA where the Lakers (17-46) and the Knicks (12-51) have both been this bad, ranking as two of the worst teams in the league. The Knicks haven’t beaten the Lakers on the road since 2007, so there’s solid history favoring the Lakers. The Knicks are 0-12 on the road against Western Conference teams, averaging only 82.8 points per game during their current five-game losing streak. There are some decent DFS lineup values to consider in this game, although all represent some level of risk – not even one player is above the $5,800 salary mark. I’d look to the Knicks/Lakers game to fill out my DFS roster more than anything, using my suggestions below to build around a previously chosen core.
Line: LAL -7.5 Over/Under: 191.5
Players to Watch
- Andrea Bargnani, PF, Knicks – 25th OPRK ($5,800)
- Jordan Hill, C, Lakers – 25th OPRK ($5,400)
- Jordan Clarkson, PG, Lakers – 15th OPRK ($5,400)
- Alexey Shved, PG, Knicks – 30th OPRK ($5,000)
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