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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Celtics @ Magic

Game Analysis

Many wonder how the Celtics will fair without Rondo, but so far they have been just fine. They have won 3 out of 4 and are playing much better defense holding all but one opponent under 100. This should be troubling for Orlando who has only scored over 100 twice in the month of December. I personally do not see how this O/U is above 200 as I think the low paced and defensive Orlando team against a Celtics squad that is playing slower and scoring/giving up less points recently will be a game that plays towards the under. There’s a lot of value in trying to figure the Celtics rotation and usage with no Rondo, but it’s been a little erratic so far, which means there is upside if you guess right.

Line: Magic -2, O/U 200.5

Players to Watch

  • Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4300)
  • Tyler Zeller, C, Celtics ($4500)
  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic ($8900)
  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($6000)

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Bulls @ Wizards

Game Analysis

Chicago has been hot winning 6 of 7 and scoring over 103 points on average in the process. They have only let two teams (Tor, Por) crack the 100 point mark as well, so they have been playing the usual stout defense we know them for. The Wizards might be even hotter as they have won 8 of their last 10 and routinely see scores in the 104-95 range on average over that run. This should be a very entertaining game that stays close to the end. Neither team really gets an uptick in pace and both probably are even or below when it comes to DvP, so the only upside is you should see a full allotment of minutes from the starters. This game could play either way, but I would be hesitant to go too heavy here.

Line: Wizards -3, O/U 197.5

Players to Watch

  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls ($7700)
  • Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls ($7000)
  • John Wall, PG, Wizards ($10100)
  • Rasual Buter, SG, Wizards ($4000)

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Pelicans @ Pacers

Game Analysis

The Pelicans have really picked up the pace and have been scoring in the 110s a lot recently. The pacers play a much slower game and usually see totals well under 200. The clash of styles in this one makes for an interesting game script. I think the Pacers get a slight tick up and the Pelicans a slight tick down based on the numbers here, but I do think the Pelicans should win this game and be in control. I would be hesitant to use too many Pelicans, but think the value provided by some of the Pacers is appealing.

Line: Pelicans -1, O/U 193.5

Players to Watch

  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11700)
  • Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($8000)
  • CJ Miles, SF, Pacers ($4400)
  • Donald Sloan, PG, Pacers ($3000)

 

UPDATE

George Hill is back tonight, so Sloan and Watson are no longer good plays and Stuckey takes a tick down as well.

 

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Timberwolves @ Cavaliers

Game Analysis

Cleveland has won 7 of 10 and Minnesota has won 1 of their last 10, so the recent results favor the Cavs. The spread here is huge and the Cavs are at home, so I do fear a blowout in this one. That would be bad for the high priced Cavs starters who would need to make value in only 3 quarters most likely. The Wolves have more depth now after the trade of Brewer and some guys getting healthy so be careful using them too as it could mean more evenly distributed minutes all around on both sides, which is bad for fantasy scores.

Line: Cavs -14, O/U 207

Players to Watch

  • Dion Waiters, SG, Cavs ($4100)
  • Andersen Varejao, C, Cavs ($4700)
  • Mo Williams, PG, Timberwolves ($4700)
  • Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Timberwolves ($5600)

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Nuggets @ Nets

Game Analysis

Denver has played to the under in 6 of the last 7 including 4 games under 93 points. They are not playing good basketball at the moment. The Nets are also more likely to score 91 or below then 92 or above as evidenced by 7 of 9 games under that mark recently. The total here has dropped down by one point and frankly I still think it is way too high. Both point guards are hurting as Williams sat the last game and Lawson played through a back injury and saw one of his worst games of the season. Both those guys are key pieces to the teams they run, so without them at 100% the offenses of both suffer. I would not be shocked if one or both sat out and the game was low scoring and ugly. Due to injuries though I think it could open up some value so check the twitter feed for late breaking news and have some of the guys I mention below on stand by in case it does happen.

Line: Nets -2, O/U 199.5

Players to Watch

  • Jarrett Jack, PG, Nets ($5000)
  • Joe Johnson, SG, Nets ($6700)
  • Nate Robinson, PG, Nuggets ($3000)
  • Timofy Mozgov, C, Nuggets ($5400)

 

UPDATE

Word is that Brook Lopez will be coming back tonight. I doubt he plays a ton of minutes, but it does affect Mason Plumlee, Mirza to a lesser extent and any of the other Value Bigs on the Nets.

 

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76ers @ Heat

Game Analysis

One of the lowest O/U on the day and a rather large spread to go with it. Vegas, based off this line, only expects about 90 points out of the 76ers today. Despite the injuries to Miami this spread is still high which is very telling about about how bad Philly really is. I’m going under the assumption Wade plays because without Wade I do not think this is a 10 point Heat win and I would definitely think the under is still in play as both teams should struggle to score. Neither is good at defending bigs, but neither has a healthy big to take advantage of the other, so not really sure where to go here. There are a lot of questions in this game, but what we know is Vegas expects only 191 points which is very low so maybe fading this game all together is not a horrible idea.

Line: Heat -8, O/U 191

Players to Watch

  • Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat ($6100)
  • Shawne Williams, SF, Heat ($3800)
  • Robert Covington, PF, 76ers ($5800)
  • Tony Wroten, PG, 76ers ($4900)

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Clippers @ Hawks

Game Analysis

The Clips play at a high pace and put up a good amount of points. In the last 10 they are averaging close to 110 points per game. They give up right around 100 as well, so the totals we usually see from their games tend to be high. The Hawks have been playing amazing basketball lately and a lot of it has to do with the turn around in Al Horford’s play. He has had over 30 DK points in 8 of his last 9 and is a slam dunk option for cash games off of that in my opinion. They have won recently by scoring a few points and have won last week by holding teams under 90 points so they are versatile enough to win and play at any tempo against any opponent. Jeff Teague is likely still out, so that hurts them here, but they are still favored in a high O/U game, so I think both sides have some interesting options.

Line: Hawks -1.5, O/U 205 down from 207.5

Players to Watch

  • Kyle Korver, SG, Hawks ($5200)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7400)
  • Chris Paul, PG, Clippers ($10300)
  • JJ Reddick, SG, Clippers ($4700)

 

UPDATE

Jeff Teague seems to be good to go tonight and that will definitely Knock some of the value plays recently on the Hawks at PG.

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Trailblazers @ Thunder

Game Analysis

In order to really know who to play here you need to find out the status of Aldridge and Durant before gametime. Both are listed as questionable and both have sat out a few recently. If they play than you have to rethink the analysis I will provide here as I will do it on the assumption both sit, which seems most likely at this point in the day. As always monitor the late breaking news on this. If both are out then the usage and scoring load of Westy and Lilliard tick up. Both become great plays in my book. I think this game can play towards the over and remain close so there should be some value for injury replacements and enough time on the court for the studs to reach value as well. Until I know for sure who is in and who is out I can not give a firm recommendation, but there’s a lot of guys here to consider using.

Line: Thunder -5.5, O/U 200

Players to Watch

  • Damian Lilliard, PG, Blazers ($8700)
  • Meyers Leonard, C, Blazers ($3000)
  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($11900)
  • Steven Adams, C, Thunder ($4400)

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Hornets @ Bucks

Game Analysis

Charlotte has been pretty good defensively only giving up over 100 once in their last five games and averaging just a tick over the triple digit mark in that stretch. They have been going inside more which is why the pace and scores have been slightly lower. The Bucks have played over the 200 total mark often recently as they like the pace a little faster and have been scoring better. I could see the Hornets getting a slight bump due to that here. Both teams run out a plethora of wing options, and the DvP match ups for the stars on both sides are sub par. There’s a lot of questions here with regards to minutes/usage rates, but I think the minutes for the starters should be towards the high side and that is positive for fantasy values.

Line: Bucks -5.5. O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • Giannis Antetekounmpo, SG, Bucks ($5500)
  • Jared Dudley, SF, Bucks ($3700)
  • Gerald Henderson, SG, Hornets ($4200)
  • Al Jefferson, C, Hornets ($9000)

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Mavericks @ Suns

Game Analysis

Today’s game chock full of fantasy goodness is the Suns/Mavs match up. The line moved from Mavs as a road favorite to the Suns being favored slightly at home as the early money came in against Dallas as they try to figure out how to best play with Rondo in the mix. Phoenix has been able to keep the opposition under 100 in three of the last four so they are finally playing some defense to go along with their high powered offense. The Mavs are scoring and giving up over 100 recently which tells me they are lacking on the defensive side and still keeping the pace high. I can see why the line is now in the Suns favor and would use guys from both teams in what is sure to be a close high scoring affair. All starters on both sides and value guys are in play for what should end up a 110 to 105 kind of game.

Line: Suns -1 down from +3.5, O/U 213.5

Players to Watch

  • Monta Ellis, SG, Mavs ($7200)
  • Tyson Chandler, C, Mavs ($6700)
  • Alex Len, C, Suns ($3600)
  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($8700)

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Warriors @ Lakers

Game Analysis

The Warriors are getting healthy finally and they are still the most explosive offense and the most fun to watch. Lakers are getting better on defense but still struggle to stop people. They especially struggle to stop guards and the two on Golden State may be the best combo in the league. This is not a good match up for the Lakers. Many people also bang the ball inside against LA, but with Bogut out I think the Warriors lean heavily on the guard combo in an easy victory here.

Line: Warriors -9, O/U 215.5

Players to Watch

  • Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors ($10900)
  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($7800)
  • Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers ($9500)
  • Nick Young, SG, Lakers ($4800)