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.

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Trailblazers @ Bulls

Game Analysis

The Blazers just had a five game winning streak snapped when they threw up a stinker last out against a struggling Minnesota team. They have played to the under in 5 of their last 6 as both their scoring averages and pace have seen a tick down. Their opponents points per game has also dropped with that pace number, so it’s not all bad for them. Chicago has seen the over hit in 5 of the last 7 games. Normally a stout defensive team when everyone is healthy, but that is the key as everyone has not been healthy for them. Joakim Noah has already been ruled out for Friday which means Pau slides over to center and we should see an uptick in minutes for Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic. While this is one of the closer spreads on the day it is also only about mid pack as far as O/U goes. The Bulls have been scoring a tad more than usual, but also giving up more points. The pace of their games has ticked up, but I don’t think it is a big enough difference from the normal pace either team sees to expect the numbers to be much higher than usual. If anything I could see this game being a little bit lower scoring although I’m not sure I agree that the Bulls are the favorites here. Lamarcus Aldridge had one of the worst games he had all season last out and I would venture to guess that he will have a better game today. I’m not sure we get a lot of guys busting through to their ceilings in this one, but as a basketball fan it should be a good one to watch, even if I use it sparsely for fantasy purposes.

Line: Bulls -2, O/U 199

Players to Watch

  • Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls ($5900)
  • Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls ($5000)
  • Nic Batum, SF, Blazers ($6700)
  • Chris Kaman, C, Blazers ($4500)

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Clippers @ Wizards

Game Analysis

This is an intersting case study. The Clippers high paced offense has been averaging over 110 points a game and giving up right around 100 while winning nine in a row. Washington is a tad slower and more defensive minded as they average over 100 and have given up under 90 during a seven game stretch that has seen them win 6 of those. Both teams have played to the over more often recently and DvP stats probably favor the Clippers a little more in this one. Both Pgs are two of the best in the league when it comes to limiting opposing players big games, so I think I would look elsewhere for my plays here. Kris Humphries should get another start filling in for Nene tonight and I think that is a huge uptick for Blake Griffin who has been on a tear lately. I expect Nene to play, but he is still rounding back into form. He has the best match up on that side of the ball for the Clips. On the other end I think Bradley Beal will be the key to victory for the Wizards. If Paul manages to keep Wall below his season averages then someone has to step up for Washington if they want to win. Finally the Clips get a game where the starters are expected to see extended run, so I think the top 6 on each roster will get a bump due to the probable uptick in minutes. I know Washington is a stout defensive side but I see the final score here having both teams over 100, so I like the over and probably a few of these guys to make value.

Line: Clippers -2.5, O/U 202

Players to Watch

  • Nene Hilario, Pf, Wizards ($4500)
  • Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards ($5800)
  • Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers ($10300)
  • JJ Reddick, SG, Clippers ($4300)

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Knicks @ Celtics

Game Analysis

The Celtics are not playing good basketball as they have lost 7 of the last 10 games they played. They play at a high pace so despite scoring around 100 a game over that stretch they are giving up even more. Normally that would be bad news but tonight they gets a Knicks team that has lost 10 straight. Melo wants to be traded after picking a fight with SG Tim Hardaway Jr. as both accused the other of shooting too much and being lax on defense. When a second year guard that plays sparse minutes off the bench is challenging the team’s supposed best player and no one is disagreeing with him, then what kind of leadership does that locker room really have? Frankly I am 100% behind Hardaway as Melo needs to grow up and either be the superstar that his salary says he is or realize he is nothing more than an overpriced jock with less talent than anyone else who makes anywhere near his salary. Here’s a guy who has driven multiple coaches, teammates, and GMs out of jobs and yet what does he have to show for his time in the league?  A poor shooting percentage, a high number of shots, and a low number of wins. Add in his lack of leadership ability and his whining for another trade and I would not touch this guy with a ten foot pole. The Knicks will lose again tonight and you can bet the house on that as the dumpster fire they have become has reached epic proportions. Boston gives up a lot of points because they play at a high pace, but the Knicks do it because they honestly just do not care anymore. I will roll out all Celtics tonight since the Knicks could not stop a team of pick up basketball all stars from Rucker Park with the lack of intensity they play with on defense. Melo is complaining about his knee now so he has an excuse for his poor play, but if you watch this team you know it’s more than that. I would not roster any Knick outside of Amare even if I was playing with a free ticket or someone else’s money at this point. Go ahead and do it if you got the stones, but I like money so it will not happen on my rosters.

Line: Celtics -7, O/U 201

Players to Watch

  • Amare Stoudemire, PF, Knicks ($5900)
  • Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Knicks ($4200)
  • Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics ($8100)
  • Jeff Green, SF, Celtics ($6500)

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Magic @ Hawks

Game Analysis

A large spread in a low O/U game is not a recipe for fantasy goodness. Atlanta has won 9 of their last 10 and over the last four games they have really slowed the pace. They have only cracked 100 once over the last four but have limited opponents to a sickly low 83 points per game over that stretch. Both teams have seen the under more often as Orlando has failed to reach it in 8 of their last 10. Low pace, low scoring offenses, and good defense are the complete opposite of a game we should target for fantasy points. If you throw in the high spread on a low total game this one is not usable by any stretch of the imagination.

Line: Hawks -8, O/U 196.5

Players to Watch

  • AVOID
  • THIS GAME
  • ACROSS
  • THE BOARD

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Pacers @ Raptors

Game Analysis

Indiana has not won a game in two weeks and only managed to score 100 once during that stretch. They have only managed to not give up 100 once during that stretch and opponents are averaging over 104 points per game. The Raptors have been ok since Derozan went down with an injury, but they have definitely picked up the pace as they have only failed to score 100 once during that stretch and are averaging close to 105 points per game. This looks like another game with a slightly lower score and a large spread which is not what we look for in daily fantasy. The Raptors should win comfortably and the only saving grace may be that the low score expected makes the game close enough that the starters get some run in the fourth quarter, but honestly I would again be looking elsewhere for fantasy goodness.

Line: Raptors -8.5, O/U 198.5

Players to Watch

  • Jonas Valaciunas, C, Raptors ($5500)
  • Lou Williams, SG, Raptors ($4700)
  • Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers ($5000)
  • CJ Watson, PG, Pacers ($4000)

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76ers @ Nets

Game Analysis

With so many of these low total and high spread games we have to take a stand against Vegas somewhere in order to fill out our rosters and this game seems like one I could live with doing it on. The Nets have seen a few injuries lately and are playing with half of their team. It’s no wonder they have failed to reach triple digits in 8 of the last 9 games with an average of only 87. They are giving up a few more points then that but play a slow pace that sees both teams generally end up below 100. This is not the greatest news for a Philly team that tends to let the opponents dictate the pace. After taking a month to win the first game they now have won two in a week. MCW is on a tear, but I honestly like the value guys more here who will get minutes regardless of how the game plays out. With all the Nets injuries I don’t see them beating anyone by a lot going away so I think you might get a closer one here than Vegas is predicting.

Line: Nets -8.5, O/U 195.5

Players to Watch

  • KJ McDaniels, SF, 76ers ($5900)
  • Tony Wroten, PG, 76ers ($5800)
  • Deron Williams, PG, Nets ($8200)
  • Mirza Teletovich, PF, Nets ($5600)

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Hornets @ Grizzlies

Game Analysis

Forgive me if I sound like a broken record but here is another high spread low O/U game which is not conducive to Fantasy goodness. The silver lining here for me is that both teams have been playing at a slightly higher pace and scoring and giving up a few more points recently. I still think the spread scares me from using this game too heavy but I can actually see a game script where this one plays to the over. Charlotte had a few good games recently after a rough stretch against some of the NBAs best. The problem is Memphis is one of the NBAs best and that is not a good thing for Charlotte’s chances. What further complicates this one is that the DvP for Charlotte’s best players against Memphis is not positive. Again here the high spread says blow out is a risk and the low total says stay away for fantasy purposes so while I think one or two guys make value I doubt more than that have a chance.

Line: Grizz -10, O/U 191

Players to Watch

  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($7400)
  • Zavh Randolph, PF, Grizzlies ($7100)
  • Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets ($7700)
  • Al Jeffrson, C, Hornets ($7900)

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Thunder @ Timberwolves

Game Analysis

Well at least this one has a high O/U to go with the high spread. OKC is on the tail end of the back to back and KD is still on a minutes restriction. He saw a good amount of run last night, but I would not doubt he will be limited on the tail end of the back to back today. The Timberwolves had a good win the other night but they are still playing sans three big pieces in Rubio, Martin, and Pekovic most likely, and that is not a good sign for a team who would struggle to keep it close even at full strength here. Both teams have been playing faster and scoring decently in recent contests so I can see some upside if it does stay close, but that is a big IF.

Line: Thunder -9, O/U 205.5

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($10100)
  • Jeremy Lamb, SG, Thunder ($4100)
  • Corey Brewer, SF, Timberwolves ($5700)
  • Andrew Wiggins, SF, Timberwolves ($5400)

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Cavaliers @ Pelicans

Game Analysis

The analysis here comes down to whether or not Lebron plays. Judging by the line movement I would think Vegas expects him to sit. Add in that Kyrie rolled his ankle last night (Although did return) and you can see how this might be a tough one for the Cavs. Without Lebron this is a whole different team so there’s no sense checking the past history as it is rendered meaningless without the King. Despite having one of the league’s best young stars the Pelicans are not really a good team. They have lost 6 of 10 and even AD has seen his numbers take a big dip. With a close spread and a decent game total though I think you have to use some of these guys as at the very least we should have a close game with full allotment of minutes to both team’s healthy stars.

Line: Pelicans -2 down from +3, O/U 199.5 down from 204.5

Players to Watch

  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavs ($9000)
  • Kevin Love, PF, Cavs ($8800)
  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11200)
  • Jrue Holiday, PG, Pelicans ($7800)

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Heat @ Jazz

Game Analysis

Miami has failed to score over 86 points in 5 of the last 7 although they play a slower pace and have not given up a ton of points either. Utah has been scoring a little better but also stops absolutely nobody lately. I think we could see this game play to the over and while I do not recommend guys in a game with a 190 point total, on a slate with this many big spreads I think I might have to say to use some of them. Nobody really excites me, but there are a few decent DvP plays and contrasting styles that might allow for a big game or two. Just temper your expectations as the final score of this one will probably not reach triple digits on either side.

Line: Jazz -1, O/u 190

Players to Watch

  • Trey Burke, PG, Jazz ($5200)
  • Enes Kanter, C, Jazz ($6200)
  • Loul Deng, SF, Heat ($5100)
  • Chris Bosh, C, Heat ($8200)

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Pistons @ Suns

Game Analysis

Suns at home with a large spread and a likely easy victory going away. I really am struggling to find games to target tonight so at least this one has a nice O/U as a silver lining. If IT2 remains out you should see increased run for Bledsoe and Dragic but I don’t love either really. Big guys tend to do well against the Suns, but who plays more Smith or Monroe? Nobody ever knows so they are both risky plays. I guess Drummond is the safest but I doubt those words have ever been said in the same sentence before. Someone has to score for the Pistons to approach 97 points here, so I would assume it’s one of them.

Line: Suns -8, O/u 203.5

Players to Watch

  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($8400)
  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons ($7200)
  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($8300)
  • Markieff Morris, PF, Suns ($6600)

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Lakers @ Spurs

Game Analysis

Well if you are waiting for a good game to target then you are officially not getting it here today. The Spurs are dominate and should win again with or without a full compliment of weapons. Lakers play very little D, but do play fast so maybe we see a few good games. On the road though I can not see LA keeping this one close to the end. I’m hoping I am wrong cause I like a few value guys here, but this game is only usable if a bunch of Spurs are out again.

Line: Spurs -13, O/U 207.5

Players to Watch

  • Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs ($8600)
  • Marco Bellinelli, SG, Spurs ($4700)
  • Carlos Boozer, PF, Lakers (45200)
  • Ronnie Price, PG, Lakers (43700)