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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Bulls @ Hornets

Game Analysis

Chicago is on the tail end of a back to back that saw a two overtime game with heavy usage for the starters. Dallas played at a very high pace last night against Chicago and now they get the opposite in Charlotte. When you factor the slow pace, the heavy minutes on the front end of the back to back, and the travel it becomes easy to see Chicago being underwhelming today. Vegas seems to think it is viable too, because the O/U on this one is not that high. Between Charlotte’s injuries and Chicago’s marathon game last night I think value plays might be the way to go in a game that is expected to be lower scoring. If Rose sits, then there’s minutes there and with Pau and Noah playing the entire overtime yesterday, maybe they get a little bit less work tonight which also opens some minutes up. For Charlotte the injuries to wing players and Marvin Williams create some value opportunities to exploit, but keep in mind the low total here is not exactly condusive to high fantasy output and this game should be used cautiously on a large slate.

Line: Bulls -4.5, O/U 192.5

Players to Watch

  • Kirk Heinrich, PG, Bulls ($3600)
  • Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls ($5600)
  • Cody Zeller, PF, Hornets ($4400)
  • Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets ($7699)

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Lakers @ Wizards

Game Analysis

The Wizards have been scoring over 100 a game and limiting opponents into the 90s recently. The Lakers are playing games in the 110s and 120s lately, so i think Washington will have little trouble scoring. I think they give up a few more points than usual as well, but hold the Lakers under their season averages. To me that means Washington gets a tick up and the Lakers all get a tick down. Stacking players from both sides of the Lakers game has become a popular strategy, but remember that tonight they are playing a good defensive team with home court advantage and the Lakers on the tail end of a back to back. This is the third lowest Lakers total over the last three weeks and they are big under dogs, so there’s a blowout risk and the risk of players getting rested if one does occur.

Line: Wizads -8, O/U 208.5

Players to Watch

  • John Wall, PG, Wizards ($10200)
  • Marcin Gortat, C, Wizards ($7000)
  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers ($6500)
  • Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers ($9400)

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Pistons @ Celtics

Game Analysis

The Celtics have managed to hold only 2 of their last 10 opponents under 100 points. It would be a good bet to take today though as the Pistons have not scored 100 once in their last 10 games. Add in the travel for Detroit as they are on the tail end of a back to back and this could be a very underwhelming performance from them again. Both teams played last night and if you want to know how certain I am the Pistons will not score 100, here is an interesting fact. They played the Lakers last night who have a league worst Defensive efficiency rating and play at a top 10 pace. The Lakers are also near the top of the league in points allowed, so it was basically the dream match up. The Pistons still only managed to score 96. This game should be played to the under with a comfortable Celtics win the most likely outcome. One Celtic I want to mention is Jeff Green. Every once in awhile he goes off for like 50 real life points and with Josh Smith playing the 4 now, that means he has guys like Kyle Singler, Caron Butler, Luigi Datome, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who will be attempting to guard him tonight. I am not sure any of those four can do it.

Line: Celtics -4.5, O/U 203.5

Players to Watch

  • Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics ($7500)
  • Jeff Green, SF, Celtics ($6300)
  • Josh Smith, SF, Pistons ($7500)
  • Brandon Jennings, PG, Pistons ($7300)

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Spurs @ Nets

Game Analysis

The Spurs have won 8 straight since losing by 3 at Sacramento. They are averaging close to 110 points in those games and holding opponents under 100 often. They are one of the best teams in the NBA and I expect them to win comfortably tonight. The Nets have found some life as they won 3 of their last five after snapping a 6 game losing streak. The problem is San Antonio has already accounted for one of those 2 losses in the last five. The Nets are at home which is nice, but they did have a game last night that stayed close to the end as they edged out their cross town rivals. You never know who will sit and who will play with the Spurs, but even the substitute guys have had huge performances, so it does not really matter.

Line: Spurs -9 up from -6.5, O/U 194

Players to Watch

  • Deron Williams, PG, Nets ($8100)
  • Joe Johnson, SG, Nets ($6200)
  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($7500)
  • Marco Bellinelli, SG, Spurs ($4200)

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Hawks @ Heat

Game Analysis

When looking at these two teams I noticed a lot of counter trends going on that I wanted to look at deeper. The Heat are actually not that bad defensively this season as they only allow 97 points a game. What kills them though is they have struggled to score and are playing games at a slower pace than a season ago. I’m not sure if the defense is really that great and think the lower opponent output has more to do with the slowed down pace. This is evidenced by the big numbers a few teams have hung on them in faster paced match ups and the pretty high shooting percentage their opponents have this year. That may also be due to the fact that they are weak inside and many of those high percentage shots are rather close to the basket, but the trend is still easy to see. The Hawks on the other hand were known more as a stout defensive team that controlled the pace and slowed it down. This year though, that is not really the case. The Hawks have scored over 100 in five straight games and limited opponents to under 95 during that stretch on average. They can score the ball pretty well and the O/U they have been seeing are creeping upwards. I think this game has a chance to play to the over and I’m honestly thinking of taking the Hawks straight up as well.

Line: Heat -4.5, O/u 200.5

Players to Watch

  • Paaul Millsapp, PF, Hawks ($8900)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($6800)
  • Chris Bosh, PF, Heat ($8500)
  • Dwayne Wade, SG, Heat ($7000)

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Mavericks @ Bucks

Game Analysis

Milwaukee is one of the best defensive teams in the game to start the year. Dallas is one of the best offensive teams in the league to start the season so something has to give. Dallas has been averaging a sick 113 points over the last 10 including a few games in the 130s and 140s. They are one of the most efficient offenses in the league and have a variety of guys who can score. They play at a good pace too, so it’s no surprise they also give up 100+ points often. Milwaukee has been good against the teams they are supposed to beat, but some of the better teams in the league have come in and hung some big numbers up on the Bucks. Cleveland just scored 111 last night and Toronto put up 124 on their court two weeks ago. They sandwiched those defeats with some brilliant defensive performances against some sub par teams in Minnesota and Detroit, so it is no surprise those teams struggled. I guess my view is that the Bucks insanely good defensive rating is a little of a mirage as good teams had little trouble putting up points. The Bucks are on the back end of a home back to back so I would not downgrade them too much and they did look tough against a surging Cavs team last night. I still think Dallas wins this going away with a big score, but I can see why Vegas thinks it may be closer.

Line: Dallas -4 down from -5, O/U 207 up from 204.5

Players to Watch

  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks ($7000)
  • Jabari Parker, SF, Bucks ($5300)
  • Chandler Parsons, SF, Mavericks ($6100)
  • Tyson Chandler, C, Mavericks ($6500)

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Grizzlies @ Rockets

Game Analysis

At first glance one would think this will be a low scoring battle pitting two of the league’s better defensive teams. That’s what everyone thought two weeks ago too in the first match up that had a 188 O/U and saw a total of 213 points scored in a comfortable Memphis victory. Memphis plays to the under often because they play great defense and control the boards which limits point scoring opportunities for their opponents. They have no trouble scoring points of their own though as 95 is the lowest output in their last ten which includes 7 games over 100 and 4 of those over 110. The Rockets started the season as the stoutest defensive unit in the league, but injuries to ball hawk Patrick Beverly, anchor Dwight Howard, and athletic 4 man Terrence Jones have left them much weaker replacements at each of those spots. All three look doubtful for tonight and teams have been hanging triple digit numbers on Houston in the last few games. I think this game does play to the over and I would tick up the Memphis guys on that assumption. This game is expected to be low scoring and the studs here are pricey, so maybe looking to some secondary plays is the way to go.

Line: Memphis -4.5 up from pick em, 191 up from 188.5

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($10700)
  • Trevor Ariza, SF, Rockets ($6000)
  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies ($7900)
  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($7700)

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76ers @ Minnesota

Game Analysis

If it was not for daily fantasy basketball, no one would care about this game at all. Minnesota has played to the over in 8 of their last 10 and since MCW’s return and Wroten’s injury the Philly team now looks a lot more like the one that was free money to fantasy players last season. Vegas is slow to catch up to the trend as 3 of Philly’s last four games have been more then 15 points over the total. The pace has been picking up and they are now scoring and allowing more points than they were earlier in the season. This should be a very high scoring game and I think it will stay close enough to have starters get a full allotment of minutes. It might not be the sexiest game on the slate, but if that means it is underexposed as well, then sign me up for a big piece of some of these guys.

Line: 76ers -6, O/U 213 up from 207.5

Players to Watch

  • Michael Carter Williams, PG, 76ers ($8000)
  • KJ McDaniels, SF, 76ers ($5600)
  • Mo Williams, PG, Timberwolves ($5700)
  • Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Timberwolves ($4000)

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Raptors @ Jazz

Game Analysis

Utah is an average team all around. For Pace, for scoring, and for giving up points. All right where you might expect them to be. Nothing horrible, but nothing special. Toronto on the other hand is playing at a very high pace, especially since the DeRozan injury and they are one of the league’s highest scoring teams over the last week or two. The Jazz can score and give up some points as well, so I see this being above average for pace and points tonight. Kyle Lowry has been nearly unstoppable lately and the DeRozan and Amir Johnson injuries open up minutes and shots for the whole roster. Be careful who you choose as some of the starters are not getting the biggest minutes and some of the usual bench scorers have underwhelmed recently for Toronto. For Utah, the most consistent source of points is Hayward by a mile, but he fails to reach value often. Good floor, but low ceiling kind of guy for the price. Kanter and Trey have each had 40 recently but then have sandwiched some games in the teens around them which would kill your fantasy roster. Derrick Favors is expected back but if not then Trevor Booker makes a great value play again at his $4000 price. Alec Burks is questionable tonight, which probably slides Hayward over to the 2 and means more minutes and shots for him. They really do not have great backcourt options off the bench so I’m not sure if this really puts any cheap guys in play. Monitor the situation before tip off and you might find a nugget of fantasy gold there.

Line: Raptors -3.5 up from pick em, O/U 203

Players to Watch

  • Gordon Hayward, SF, Utah ($8000)
  • Enes Kanter, C, Utah ($5800)
  • Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors ($8700)
  • Grevis Vasquez, PG, Raptors ($4300)

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Magic @ Clippers

Game Analysis

The Magic fought valiantly in their game last night, but ultimately choked up a lead on a Steph Curry dagger with under 2 seconds remaining. Tonight is the second leg of that back to back and it gets no easier when they roll into LA to face the Clippers. This is especially true if they are again without leading scorer Nikola Vucevic, who missed last nights game as a late scratch with back spasms. Orlando likes the pace a little slower as they have played 3 straight games with both teams in the 80s and 90s. The Clippers have come to life recently after a brutal schedule to open the season. They are back to putting up triple digits nightly and limiting opponents to under 100. It’s no surprise why the spread is where it is and as always with the Clippers you worry about how much run the high priced starters will get and whether it is enough to pay off the asking price. I have no doubt the Clips dominate this one, but that may not be the best thing for fantasy purposes.

Line: Clippers -15, O/u 201

Players to Watch

  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($6400)
  • Kyle O’Quinn, C , Magic ($3300)
  • JJ Reddick, SG, Clips ($4100)
  • Spencer Hawes, C, Clips ($4100)