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.

_______________________________________________________________

Bucks @ Cavaliers

Game Analysis

This is a really interesting match up. Both teams have been up and down this year, but both are playing pretty well at this moment. Bucks have won 2 of the last three scoring 100 points or more in each. They had two great defensive games keeping opponents under 90 before giving up 117 to the Rockets last out. Cavs are riding a three game winning streak with the final scores averaging 110 to 86. Both of these squads are playing some lock down defense over the past week so I can see this one staying towards the under and being somewhat low scoring. Vegas has a higher total than I would have assumed and the Cavs are a heavy favorite. I think it will be close and low scoring, but I think Vegas is looking for another 105 to 95 Cavs win.

Line: Cavs -10.5, O/U 203.5

Players to Watch

  • Lebron James, SF, Cavs ($11600)
  • Anderson Varejao, C, Cavs ($5400)
  • Jabari Parker, SF, Bucks ($5500)
  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks ($7100)

_______________________________________________________________

Celtics @ Hawks

Game Analysis

The only game Atlanta failed to reach triple digits in their last 6 was the one where they scored 99 points. The Celtics have given up 100 in 7 of their last 9, so I expect the Hawks to score some points today. The Celtics offense has not been putting up as many points recently and the Hawks defense has been really good, so I would expect a Hawks win at home is in the cards and am a little concerned about some of these Celtics options. Be careful with Boston tonight.

Line: Hawks -7, O/U 210

Players to Watch

  • Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks ($7700)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($6800)
  • Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4600)
  • Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics ($7100)

_______________________________________________________________

Lakers @ Pistons

Game Analysis

The Pistons play at a slow pace and usually struggle to score. The Lakers are the complete opposite as they have played 3 of their last 5 games with scores in the 240 range. I don’t think the Lakers are adept at stopping anybody and despite that the Pistons really do struggle to score. While I think I tick up the Pistons a little bit, I would think this game is a pace downgrade for the Lakers. The O/U in this one is lower then Vegas usually slaps on a Lakers game, so while I will never say do not use the “Coors Field” match up of the NBA, I would temper my expectations from it today.

Line: Pistons -1.5 down from -4, O/U 206 down from 208.5

Players to Watch

  • Josh Smith, SF, Pistons ($7300)
  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($7900)
  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers ($6600)
  • Jeremy Linn, PG, Lakers ($5300)

_______________________________________________________________

Nets @ Knicks

Game Analysis

God this game is ugly. Both teams struggle to score and I would say pace has something to do with it, but honestly it’s not the pace. It’s more a problem with bad shooting. Even with Melo back the Knicks again failed to crack 80 points and now have the league’s second lowest scoring average. The Nets are also not setting the world on fire averaging about 98 points and shooting almost as terribly as their cross town rivals. It’s the lowest O/U on the night and the money is still coming in heavy on the under. Stay away from this dumpster fire.

Line: Knicks -1, O/U 192 up from 188

Players to Watch

  • Do not
  • play anyone
  • from this
  • GAME

_______________________________________________________________

Thunder @ Pelicans

Game Analysis

It is very rare when you see Vegas get an opening line as wrong as they got this one. What started as Pelicans favored by 1.5 with a 203 O/U is now down to Thunder favored by 2 with a much lower 195 O/U. Westbrook is back, but Vegas already knew that and from what I see Durant is still questionable. Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, a local OKC newspaper is reporting that Durant could be ready to go tonight and that’s about the only thing I can see that would cause such a large movement in all the numbers. I would take a wait and see approach with the sharpshooter, but it will be nice to see him back on the court. The new line movement has this as the second lowest scoring game on the night and with all the superstars who will likely be highly owned playing in it, it might be a smart game to fade.

Line: Thunder -2 down from +1.5, O/U 195 down from 203.5

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($9500)
  • Steven Adams, C, Thunder ($4400)
  • Omer Asik, C, Pelicans ($4000)
  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11500)

_______________________________________________________________

Mavericks @ Bulls

Game Analysis

I really like this game from a NBA fan prospective and dislike from a fantasy standpoint. The Mavs play fast so I think it ticks up the Bulls. The Bulls are home and play D, I think they hold Dallas under the lofty season averages. The problem with ticking up the Bulls is who to use. Derrick Rose played back to back games, but less minutes than normal. Jimmy minutes is on fire, but his price is up and now he has other guys who also need to get some looks. Noah has had a monster game sandwiched around some really sub par ones. Pau is about the only safe option that really makes any sense to me. I think you can use some guys in this game, but not sure exactly who gets the buckets as some of the top scorers have bad match ups for Dallas. I’d lean Bulls in this one, but not sure how much the D. Rose situation affects the other guys ability to get fantasy points.

Line: Bulls -1.5 down from -3.5, O/U 203.5

Players to Watch

  • Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls ($8100)
  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls ($7500)
  • Chandler Parsons, SF, Mavericks ($6200)
  • Tyson Chandler, C, Mavericks ($6600)

_______________________________________________________________

Trailblazers @ Nuggets

Game Analysis

Two of the NBAs hottest and highest scoring teams hook up in this one. Denver has won 8 of 10 and are a completely different team then the one that lost to the Blazers earlier in the year. The Blazers have won 9 of 11 and are one of the best teams in the entire NBA so far. The Blazers have been winning games with their scoring and their defense as they have averaged about 105 points and given up only 95 over their last 10. Denver on the other hand routinely plays games with 200+ O/U and hits them. They have scored 110+ point 4 times in their last 6. They have also given up 100+ in 4 of the last 7, so I would think the Blazers are in line for a bump up in production. Denver probably takes a tick down as that Blazers defense is not an easy nut to crack. There are some interesting DvP match ups in this one so you should see some good fantasy lines from guys on both sides. With Foye out if Afflalo has to serve a one game suspension for his flagrant foul last night, then Chandler and Gallinari will see all the minutes they can handle and should be bumped up. Keep an eye out for any announcement.

Line: Blazers – 3.5, O/U 211

Players to Watch

  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets ($9000)
  • Timothy Mozgov, C, Nuggets ($5700)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Blazers ($9100)
  • Nic Batum, SF, Blazers ($6400)

_______________________________________________________________

Pacers @ Suns

Game Analysis

Both of these teams have show flashes of talent and mixed in stretches of bad play with it. The pacers beat the Mavericks the other night in Dallas and played the defending champs tough before being waxed by the Cavs. Phoenix has lost 3 of 4 and look like a much less formidable team without Isiah Thomas providing a spark off the bench to that second unit. Both teams have alternated overs and unders with good and bad games recently so the lack of consistent play makes it tough to predict. Some of that may be due to injuries and recoveries as Indiana’s rotation is in upheaval because of the returning players and Phoenix is being shuffled to make up for the minutes Isiah Thomas used to play. Overall neither team looks like they are in full stride right now, but at home I would give the nod here to Phoenix in a lower scoring game then they are used to playing.

Line: Suns -6, O/U 197.5

Players to Watch

  • Markieff Morris, PF, Suns ($6700)
  • Goran Dragic, PG, Suns ($6900)
  • CJ Watson, PG, Pacers ($3200)
  • CJ Miles, SG, Pacers ($3500)

_______________________________________________________________

Raptors @ Kings

Game Analysis

The big news here is injury concerns. Demar DeRozan is out for Toronto. Demarcus Cousins is still listed as questionable, but the buzz is he is going to play. It’s too early in the day yet to fully know the answer to that question, so keep an eye out for any definitive news sources. So far all I can find from beat writers and oddsmakers is a slew of questionable and probable tags that do not give me confidence one way or the other. Vegas has a nice O/U on this game and the spread has swung from a pick em to Kings -0.5 and finally looks to be settling with Raptors as a -1.5 favorite on the road. Again here I think the Cousins news is what is driving the flucuations. If Cousins is out I expect the Raptors to win this one easy. The guys like Vasquez and Williams picking up the slack for DeRozan are capable NBA players and good places to find value. Without Cousins in the middle for Sacramento though, things get tougher for the penetration of Gay and Collison. Ironically though if he is out, then I still love those two guys because of the volume of offense touches they will each get. Without Cousins I tick up Raptors offensively, but if he is in that Sacramento defense with him as the anchor has been pretty stout, despite the knock on him as being a lazy defensive player.

Line: Raptors -1.5, O/U 203.5

Players to Watch

  • Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors ($8600)
  • Grevis Vasquez, PG, Raptors ($4300)
  • Darren collison, PG, Kings ($6700)
  • Rudy Gay, SF, Kings ($7600)

_______________________________________________________________

Magic @ Warriors

Game Analysis

If this game was in Orlando I would take the points and the over and make a ton of money doing it. Orlando is getting healthy after welcoming back Tobias Harris and Kyle O’Quinn, so I think they are a much better team then even just a week ago. The problem is the Warriors are absolutely running teams off their floor at home. The have had a long road stretch, but now return to a place where they won the last three times by an average of 113 to 88. A healthy Orlando does have some good defensive pieces, but no one has been able to hold down the splash brothers and company, so I doubt today is the day. Orlando plays a little slower so I tick them up slightly and the Warriors down maybe a tad. Honestly though I think the Warriors play this game at their pace and the only thing that might keep them from value is a light workload in a second half blowout. Of course if they decide to let Steph Curry rest his bum ankle tonight, then things get a lot more interesting.

Line: Warriors -13, O/U 202

Players to Watch

  • Shaun Livingston, PG, Warriors ($4600) <—- If Steph is out
  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($7100)
  • Tobias Harris, SF, Magic ($6900)
  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic ($8500)