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 match ups.
Fantasy Basketball World Championship Qualifiers
Rockets @ Magic
Orlando tends to play a slow paced game and struggles to score at times. They also play pretty solid defense usually because of it. They tend to play games in the 190s so the total looks right today. The spread also looks right especially after news dropped that Tobias Harris will be out again tonight. I don’t really think this news benefits anyone on Orlando directly and with Fournier still banged up I think it really just ticks up the usage of the other four starters. The Rockets do not really have many injuries to talk about either, although Dwight Howard is more hurt than they let on based off his recent performances. I would not be surprised if he was out or limited again today. There’s really only two guys I would use on the Rockets tonight and maybe 4 with some interest on Orlando. I will not be using this game heavy with a low total and high spread, so the value options intrigue me more to be honest.
Line: Rockets -9, O/U 196
Players to Watch
- Elfrid Payton, PG, Magic ($5200)
- Channing Frye, PF, Magic ($4300)
- James Harden, SG, Rockets ($10500)
- Donatas Motijunas, PF, Rockets ($5200)
Spurs @ Hornets
A low spread game with a home dog is always interesting as you assume the home team plays with pride and fights to the end, but a very low 192 total gives me some pause here. I think we could see a higher scoring game as the Hornets have been hot lately. They have won 5 in a row and played to the over in each of those games. They have not scored less then 98 points in any of them, and the defense has been limiting opponents to around 91. The Spurs have won 4 of their last 6 and tend to play in the 190s as well with 100 to 90 victories being pretty standard. I think I like the Hornets as both road dogs and the team to play to the over tonight. It’s still not a game that should be fast paced and chock full of fantasy goodness. The spread here is more than 20 points below the top game on the day, so be somewhat reserved in usage here today. I do think we could see a few nice stat lines and guys make value.
Line: Spurs -4, O/U 192
Players to Watch
- Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets ($10000)
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Hornets ($5500)
- Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs ($8900)
- Tiago Splitter, C, Spurs ($4200)
Pelicans @ Pistons
Two teams heading in opposite directions. The Pelicans have struggled to a 2-4 mark over the last 6 while Detroit is 5-1 with that lone loss being to the unstoppable force that is Atlanta. Both teams have played to the over a little more recently and both are up a bit in pace, so I can see this being a high scoring game. With a low spread it should remain close and give ample run to the top stars on both sides, so that makes it a nice spot for fantasy. The big situation here is whether or not Jrue Holiday plays. It looks like they may sit him to rest the ankle injury that caused him to leave the last game early and if so that means more ball handling responsibilities for Tyreke Evans. Keep an eye on injury updates as that would be a big key in roster building tonight if he was out. I expect to use a few guys in this one and it makes a lot of sense to do so tonight.
Line: Pistons -3.5, O/U 204
Players to Watch
- Brandon Jennings, PG, Pistons ($8100)
- Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($8900)
- Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11100)
- Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($7600)
76ers @ Raptors
This is getting a little bit ridiculous at this point. It used to be only the Spurs ever entertained the thought of sitting starters, but now everyone is doing it. Well everyone is doing it against the Sixers at least. The Hawks ran a 8 man skeleton crew of team out last night and stomped the 76ers by about 20 points and I have no doubt a Raptors squad at home will do something close to that. My only question and it’s always the question against the Sixers is what kind of minutes those Raptors guys see. If any of the Raptors get minutes they will produce. Al Horford the one Hawk starter who did play had a triple double, so it’s not like you can’t put up numbers against Philly. It’s just a matter of how much floor time you actually get to do it. If everyone plays 20-25 minutes then it’s not really a good place to target for high scores. Philly is a mess right now and on offense with no Wroten who is likely out I think you have to give a look to MCW as the only PG option and maybe even KJ McDaniel who benefited from extra minutes last game and earlier in the year. Vegas only expects about 90 points out of the Sixers so do not go crazy, but the cheap prices could be a good spot to find some value.
Line: Raptors -16, O/U 201.5
Players to Watch
- Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Sixers ($8500)
- KJ McDaniels, SG, Sixers ($4900)
- Greivis Vasquez, PG, Raptors ($4100)
- Jonas Valanciunas, C, Raptors ($6100)
Grizzlies @ Nets
Memphis has lost 3 of it’s last 5 and like tonight all three losses have been on the road. They have been very Jekyl and Hyde as the scored an average of 113 points at home in those two wins and around 89 on the road in those 3 losses. The Nets have lost six straight and played to the under in five of those. They have really slowed down the pace of play as they have seen their scoring average drop in connection with their opponents over this stretch. They are only averaging 89 points scored over this stretch and failed to crack 90 in 4 of those 6 games. The positive is they are also only letting up about 95 points, so they are staying in these games. The O/U this low seems warranted, but definitely not a huge positive for those looking for a good place to target for fantasy points. Neither team plays particularly fast and both of them play solid defense (At least recently), so be cautious about using this game heavy. I could see a very low scoring game but that probably also means it stays close enough to allow the starters to play all four quarters. I don’t think we can support a ton of guys going off in this one, but I bet there are a few that do, just be selective.
Line: Griz -6, O/U 192
Players to Watch
- Mason Plumlee, C, Nets ($6900)
- Bojan Bogdanovich, SF, Nets ($3200)
- Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($8200) 1
- Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies ($7300)
1 – Conley is listed as probable but double check the injury report closer to tip off.
Hawks @ Celtics
Atlanta has won 9 in a row. It’s been done in impressive fashion too as they can play fast or slow and win games 120-100 or 94-87. They have a very stout defense with great rotation and man principles. It’s as fun to watch them play defense as it is to watch Golden State play offense for a basketball junkie. Do not be fooled by the guys who sat out yesterday as that was done to give some starters a little bit of rest against an inferior opponent. I expect the Hawks to be back at full strength tonight and that’s bad news for a Celtics team that has only won 2 of it’s last 7 games. Big men have feasted on the undersized and/or unathletic Celtics front court this season and I expect the Hawks bigs to do the same. Hawks Coach Mike Budenholtzer is a Gregg Popovich disciple, so I would assume we see Millsapp and Teague back in the line up tonight. This game is in Boston with a higher total than most and a spread that does not scream blowout, so I think this game is certainly useable for fantasy tonight. I tick up the Hawks as well since Boston plays at a higher pace, although somewhat less since Rondo departed. Still would not be surprised to get a nice game or two out of Atlanta here and I would be weary of the Celtics given the strong defense of the Hawks.
Line: Hawks -6, O/U 204
Players to Watch
- Al Horford, C, Hawks ($6600)
- Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks ($8500)
- Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4800)
- Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics ($6700)
Wizards @ Bulls
Chicago has lost and played to the under in 3 of their last 4 games. They scored 77, 86, 95, and 114 over that stretch. That is pretty much all over the map. The 114 was in a 121 114 lose to Orlando last time out, but what has me worried is the 77, 86, and 95 before that. Mike Dunleavy and Derrick Rose have been out, but It’s hard for me to fathom that low of a scoring output. Earlier in the season without Rose they were still putting up 100s so I don’t know what has changed really. Rose is back now, but I’m not sure if that helps the way he has played. Jimmy Butler is not playing bad, but he is not the borderline MVP candidate he was earlier. If anything that might be Pau Gasol over the last few games. Joakim Noah looks like he is injured or something, because he is not playing like he did last season and that really only leaves Brooks, Hinrich, Gibson, Snell, and Mirotic to pick up the pieces and I’m not sure any of those guys are capable of stepping up much more to fill the void. Washington on the other hand has won 4 of it’s last five. They tend to score around 100 and give up about 90, and despite being on the road I can see something similar to that today. I think this game is neutral as far as pace for Washington and would not tick them up or down. The Bulls get a slight tick down due to solid Wizards defense, but overall I do not expect this to be a high scoring game. You can use a few guys here and there from this one, but I would be cautious about going all in here with a game stack or anything. Just do not think we see enough of a pace to pay off ALL of these higher salaried guys today.
Line: Bulls -5.5, O/U 194
Players to Watch
- Marcin Gortat, C, Wizards ($6100)
- John Wall, PG, Wizards ($9400)
- Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls ($9700)
- Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls ($6500)
Mavericks @ Nuggets
If you are looking for fantasy goodness this is definitely the spot. 214 total and the game is a pick em so it should go down to the wire with full run for all the starters on both sides. Mavericks have won 7 of 9 and played to the under in 6 of them. Nuggets have won four straight with an average total of 205. Both teams play up in pace and while the Mavericks might be better at putting the ball in the hole, the Nuggets are very good at doing it as well, especially at home. Dallas struggles defending PGs so that plays right into Denver’s hands as Ty Lawson is the engine that drives that team. They just traded Nate Robinson for Jameer Nelson yesterday too. I mention this because I am not sure if Nelson is going to be in uniform tonight, which could mean a ton of minutes from Lawson in a game against a guy who admits he hasn’t played defense since 2011 with an expected total of 214 and the ball in his hands every play. Both teams have been known to score and give up points so I have confidence in the Vegas line tonight as well, and think you absolutely MUST have some exposure to this game tonight.
Line: Pk, O/U 214
Players to Watch
- Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets ($8700)
- Aaron Afflalo, SG, Nuggets ($5800)
- Rajon Rondo, PG, Mavericks ($7900)
- Monta Ellis, SG, Mavericks ($7300)
Heat @ Warriors
The team that likes to play the fast and the team that loves to slow it down collide in this battle of wills, and if the line is any indication, I guess “Speed does Kill”. The Warriors are just fun to watch. They push the ball, they move it around the floor to the open man, and man can they splash. Plus they tend to keep a pretty rigid minutes split even with all the guys healthy so you can always count on opportunity even if the game gets away from them a little, Especially at home. Given the Glut of healthy options they now have to play the 3,4,and 5 spots on GS I think I will sway to the guards if I use anyone here. Again the pace ticks down a lot for the Warriors and the blowout potential is there on a back to back for some rest, so this game is not without risk, but that also makes it a very sneaky GPP option if you are looking for lower ownership so that’s an option. On the other side of the game the big mystery is when does the Hassan Whiteside magical trip end? He put up another really nice game last night and paid off his price even at it’s elevated level. He’s going to highly used by anyone who just checks his game log and if Bogut is out he may pay it off again. Bogut is one of the better defensive centers in the NBA though, so be weary. If you have been riding this guy I still think he is playable tonight, but not in cash. He’s a definite high upside guy for a GPP though, although the idea of using him is now a lot more popular. Wade is also doubtful tonight, which means it’s time to fire up Mario Chalmers again at his insanely low price tag.
Line: Warriors -12.5, O/U 203.5
Players to Watch
- Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat ($5700)
- Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat ($4300)
- Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors ($10200)
- Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($7300)
Clippers @ Trailblazers
This should be a very entertaining game between two of the best in the west. The Blazers have won 8 of 9 and the clippers have won 6 of 9. Both teams tend to score a little over 100 and give up right around 90. I don’t think the pace difference really benefits one team or the other but it does not hurt them either. DvP match ups are interesting in this one as Lilliard and Paul are two of Fantasy NBAs best PGs yet the match up data says Paul should make it tough for Lilliard on one end of the floor while Lilliard makes it easy on Paul on the other end. Paul is cheaper than Lilliard tonight and based off of DvP seems like the better play of the two in that price range. Wing players usually do well against the clippers and both Wes Matthews and Nic Batum are reasonably priced. The PF match up consists of two all stars on each side so that should be fun to watch, and Center is a little harder to predict in my opinion. Portland is missing starter Robin Lopez and they have given up a full 6 points over their fantasy average for the season with him out to opposing centers. Much of that has come from rebounding differentials, so this could be a sneaky good spot for a rebounding machine like DeAndre Jordan. The spread here is low and the total is high, so exposure to this game is warranted tonight. Plus as the late game with some high scoring potential It’s nice to have PMR and watch your team climb in the standings.
Line: Blazers -3.5, O/U 205.5
Players to Watch
- Wes Matthews, SG, Blazers ($5700)
- Nic Batum, SF, Blazers ($6000)
- Chris Paul, PG, Clippers ($9600)
- DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers ($7800)