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.
Clippers @ Pacers
The Clippers had a rough start to the season but are now hitting their stride. Blake Griffin has been a man possessed over the last five games as he is averaging just a tick over 42 real life points per game in those five match ups. The Clippers have won 9 of the last 10 contests and Blake’s play is augmented by the fact that Paul, Reddick, and Crawford are all shooting over 40% in recent contests from behind the 3 point arc. When Griffin has the inside game working and those guys are forcing defenders to stay home or be burned by the hot shooting it makes this offense very tough to stop. This is evident by the fact they are averaging 118 points over that five game stretch and have a margin of victory average of over 18. On the flip side Indiana is struggling to score as it has only reached 100 twice over the last seven games and is just 1-6 in those contests. I do not think things will get any easy for them here tonight. The Clips D has been pretty good for a team that plays at a high pace. They tend to keep teams under 100 and that is especially true for lower scoring teams like the Pacers. I think 7 is somewhat generous as I could see this one being a blowout come fourth quarter time. I think the Clips score over 105 again here tonight and I would not be afraid of rolling a few of them out. The home game for Indy means they will probably be playing hard until the end and hopefully that means some fourth quarter time for the Clips starters.
Line: Clippers-7, O/U 199
Players to Watch
- Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers ($10400)
- JJ Reddick, SG, Clippers ($4300)
- Solomon Hill, SF, Pacers ($4400)
- Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers ($4600)
Wizards @ Magic
The Wizards have not been great on the road this season, but Orlando has not really been a great team anywhere. Magic will again be without star center Nikola Vucevic from all reports and that is a big blow to a team that could really use his rebounding and inside scoring presence. While Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris are doing a good job of leading the Magic attack, I think they lack the firepower tonight to stay with a very solid Wizards squad. The Wiz are lead by John Wall who is having his best season as a pro. He is averaging a double double and routinely is putting up 20+ points and over 10 assists per game. They have won 5 of their last 6 and averaged over 103 points while doing it. Washington has also done it on the defensive end recently allowing only the high paced Celtics offense to crack the triple digit mark. This is especially troublesome for Orlando who had not cracked 100 in 7 straight games before reaching that mark last out against an undermanned Sacramento team. I don’t see this game being a huge score and I would expect something in the range of a 100 to 90 victory for the Wizards. With some other games having spreads over 200 and looking likely to see even more points than here, I would be cautious about going too heavy on this one for my line ups tonight. I do think a few guys here though do need to be looked at. Remember too that Washington is on the tail end of a back to back and on the road, so they may be a little tired.
Line: Wizards -4.5, O/U 194.5
Players to Watch
- John Wall, PG, Wizards ($10400)
- Kris Humphries, PF, Wizards ($5100)
- Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($6400)
- Tobias Harris, SF, Magic ($6800)
Celtics @ Hornets
Boston has been playing better recently as they have won 3 of the last 5 with the 3 wins sandwiched between a four point loss at Atlanta and the overtime loss a few days back to the Wizards by 1 point on John Wall’s 10 point explosion. They are one of the highest scoring and fastest paced teams in the NBA and always a team you should look at for good fantasy stat lines. The Hornets snapped a five game losing streak by eeking out a 1 point win over the Knicks the other day, but that is kind of a misleading stat. Those five losses came against GSW, Por, LAC, Chi, and Atl who would all be playoff teams and some of them top seeds if it started today. Five losses is five losses, but against some of the NBA’s best I think I can excuse them a little. This game is expected to be high scoring and close which are two things we like to see in games we target. Both teams have played to the over more often recently although the Hornets have seen O/U more then 14 points below the ones the Celtics routinely see. I think if anything this ticks up the Hornets who should get a hotter pace then normal and I would be weary of using too many Celtics since they are coming off a multiple OT game on one day rest and play a team that is slower paced. Be careful reading too much into Rondo’s stat line for those who check game logs as he was benched in a 20 point blowout in the third quarter last out. Ultimately the Celts reserves lead a comeback that put the game into OT, but I would not expect to see his minutes slashed to the 20 range moving forward as he is still a big piece of the puzzle for Boston.
Line: Hornets -2.5, O/U 203.5
Players to Watch
- Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets ($8100)
- Lance Stephenson, SG, Hornets ($7500)
- Jeff Green, SF, Celtics ($6500)
- Kelly Olynyk, C, Celtics ($3600)
76ers @ Hawks
What can we really say about this game? We all know the 76ers are epically bad. Maybe ending the season as the worst team in NBA history. They have injuries to two or three key pieces (Embiid, Wroten) and are running out a cast of guys that were either cut or not resigned by teams they previously played on. The Hawks on the other hand have been playing at a faster pace and really look like a solid playoff type team. Judging by the line, Vegas expects a blowout and I wanted to point out that Starting PGs are underperforming against the 76ers this year. It’s not because of production, but more a function of minutes. Starting players against the 76ers play an average of 13% less minutes against them than they do in all other games and that means lower fantasy scores. I agree that 76ers are horrible and you can use guys and expect big games from them IF they get the same minutes they usually do. They are getting no where near the same number of minutes as usual though, so temper the expectations for 40 DK point games all around for the Hawks. I am not going to mention any of the Hawks starters as players to watch, because I think this blowout will not help any of them reach value.
Line: Hawks -13.5, O/U 202
Players to Watch
- Michael Carter-Williams, PG, 76ers ($8900)
- KJ McDaniels, SF, 76ers ($5800)
- Mike Scott, PF, Hawks ($3000)
- Thabo Sefalosha, SG, Hawks ($3000)
Knicks @ Spurs
Spurs are on the tail end of a back to back and Knicks are a sinking ship at the moment. Neither team is really playing well, but remember that is a relative term. Spurs have lost 2 of the last 4 with PG Tony Parker sitting out a couple of those. There is no word on tonight’s game yet, but I would assume that Pop let’s most of his guys play to try and shake this losing streak they started. Spurs are not used to losing more than a few games a year, so when they lose two in a week, I think he will go all hands on deck. The Knicks have lost the last nine games and as someone who lives close enough to the Garden to be able to see it out his window this is a tragedy. I can not think of any redeeming qualities this team possesses. They have no one making value consistently other then maybe Amare and they look lost on both the offensive and defensive ends. They have a cast of overpriced scrubs who lack the will and maybe even the ability to play on both ends of the floor. It’s a dumpster fire and exactly what the Spurs need to right the ship. I would expect a comfortable Spurs victory here as they are hungry to get back on the winning track and the Knicks are just counting the days to the end of the season. When a team is doing that before Christmas you know you will have some serious problems.
Line: -10.5, O/U 193.5
Players to Watch
- I have no idea who to play here
- Maybe Tim Duncan if he is in
- Maybe Amare who is getting a few minutes
- Check Injury reports to see if any Spurs sit to create some value
Nets @ Bulls
Both of these teams are struggling right now. The Bulls are 4-5 over the last nine games while giving up a ton of points. They usually are a very stout defense and have yielded an average of over 104 to opponents during that stretch. Brooklyn has been hit by the injury bug and the viral bug as they will again be without starters Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Mirza Teletovich had stepped in and been playing well until he too went down with an injury. When you role out guys like Mason Plumlee, Bojan Bogdanovich, Kevin Garnett, James Jordan, and Alan Anderson for 20+ minutes each than you really can not be surprised when you lose by over a dozen points and fail to score 90. Chicago will be playing without Center Joakim Noah tonight as well, so maybe we will see a few good value guys put up decent scores. I really think Chicago wins this game easy and normally I would recommend fading most starters in a probably blow out, but due to the lack of players available for both teams at some positions I think no matter the score a few guys should still see big minutes and make value for you.
Line: Bulls -11, O/U 195
Players to Watch
- Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls ($9000)
- Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls ($5000)
- Jarrett Jack, SG, Nets ($4200)
- Alan Anderson, SG, Nets ($3000)
Trailblazers @ Timberwolves
The Blazers are one of the better teams in the NBA and they prove it often with their solid play. They have the big guns to score with anyone, but are usually content to play a tad slower pace and dominate on the defensive end. They are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA and have some solid bench depth finally. The Wolves are young and have a lot of injuries and it’s no wonder this one is also expected to be a blow out. The Blazers probably get the tick up in pace playing against a faster Minnesota team, but can they really keep it close playing without any of the best players on their team. Rubio is out, Kevin Martin is out, Mo is out, Pekovic likely still out. They will probably run out a five of Lavine, Wiggins, Brewer, Thad, and Gorgeous D. That ain’t going to cut it against the Talented Blazers team even on their home court. I think all the Minny guys are well priced so you have to consider them, but I would shy away from most if not all Blazers who should be getting a rest come late in the fourth quarter.
Line: Blazers -11.5, O/U 206
Players to Watch
- Zach Lavine, PG, Timberwolves ($5000)
- Andrew Wiggins, SF, Timberwolves ($5000)
- Chris Kaman, C, Blazers ($4500)
- Steve Blake, PG, Blazers ($3000)
Pelicans @ Mavericks
I love targeting teams playing against Dallas as well as the guys they roll out every night. Dallas leads the league in scoring and offensive efficiency. They also play at a very high pace and over the last nine games they have scored and given up triple digits. The Pelicans tend to beat up on bad teams and get rocked by good ones as evidenced by the recent score lines against the likes of the Clips, Warriors, and Nuggets. With Monta Ellis expected back the Mavericks will again be at full strength and although the match ups in spots favor the Pelicans I just think Dallas is deeper and more talented from top to bottom. The good thing though is a lot of these high scoring Mav’s game tend to see the starters from both teams get extended run, so I think guys on both sides are in play. With the high O/U I would definitely not fade this game as it would be a killer to your line ups.
Line: Mavs -7, O/U 209
Players to Watch
- Jrue Holiday, PG, Pelicans ($7800)
- Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($7400)
- Chandler Parsons, SF, Mavs ($7300)
- Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavs ($6400)
Heat @ Nuggets
Denver and Miami are both struggling recently. Denver has dropped four straight and Miami four of five. Both teams have some injuries and neither of them has a deep or talented enough bench to cover up the holes. The Nuggets return home after a road trip that saw them play four starters over 40 minutes each and the tired legs showed down the stretch. Nate Robinson, Kenneth Faried, Randy Foye, and Javale McGhee all missed that game and look like they may miss tonight too. The upside of that is more minutes for the rest of the guys, but at some point that will take a toll on them. Miami snapped a four game losing streak with a 6 point win at Phoenix last night on the back of a big game by Chris Bosh. They like to play the game at a slower pace than the Nuggets so I think that may tick up a few of them tonight. Overall I expect a sloppy game with a lot of points and a lot of big minutes from the stars, so definitely a game to consider using in your line ups tonight.
Line: Nuggets -5.5, O/U 203
Players to Watch
- Chris Bosh, C, Heat ($8500)
- Dwayne Wade, SG, Heat ($7900)
- Timofey Mozgov, C, Nuggets ($5700)
- Wilson Chandler, SF, Nuggets ($6300)
Rockets @ Warriors
If you like the term “Three ball in corner pocket” then you will hear it a lot tonight as these two teams have already combined for over 400 3 pointers made so far this season. I did a double take at the line because it did not make much sense to me and let me explain why. These are two of the best teams in the league with a total of 6 losses combined. Both teams will be playing without their star centers as Bogut was just announced as questionable and Howard has been out for awhile. Warriors won the first meeting a few weeks back, but played that one without Patrick Beverly who should help slow down Steph Curry who went for 50 DK points in the last match up. A slowed down Curry and a Bogut less Warriors team should not be a double digit favorite against another top team in the Western Conference in my opinion even on their home floor. I also think the O/U in this one is low as the pace should be hot and heavy. I expect a barrage of three pointers in transition and half court with the bigs not being in the middle and I could see this becoming a shoot out. Many will shy away from this game when they look at the spread, but I just do not see it getting that out of hand. I will be looking to roll out a few guys here and would think the pace uptick favors some of the Rockets players tonight. If you are a fan of offensive basketball then make sure you call out of work tomorrow cause this one has a late start and should be entertaining. I expect the late game hammer to move a few people up in the standings here, so fade at your own risk. I would not want to be on top of a leaderboard hoping for sub par efforts from the likes of Curry, Klay, and Harden in this one as all have 40+ DK point upside and you know they will be owned. Harden did have a back spasm that was bothering him and word is they will make an announcement about it after morning shoot around. I expect him to play, but if not then this line makes a whole lot more sense to me.
Line: Warriors -11. O/U 201
Players to Watch
- James Harden, SG, Rockets ($11400)
- Donatas Motiejunas, SF, Rockets ($5200)
- Draymond Green, SF, Warriors ($6300)
- Maressee Speights, PF, Warriors ($4100)