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 @ Pacers

Game Analysis

Boston has 3 wins in their last 10 and have been all over the place in respect to points scored and points allowed. There’s games played 110-100 and games they have won and lost where neither team reached 90 points. They are very up and down and that makes them very hard to predict. It’s also a mystery trying to decipher the rotation in Boston as Stevens rolls with the hot hand often. There seems to be a different high scorer every game and one game a guy gets 30 minutes and it’s followed up by a 15DK point in 20 minute performance.  This can be seen by the fact they are exactly 5-5 to the O/U during that stretch with totals over 225 and under 180 the next night. Indiana is 6 for their last ten and have played to the over a little more often. The Key problem in analyzing this game today is the injury issue’s with the Pacers. George Hill is definitely out and CJ Watson is still listed as questionable despite playing Wednesday night. Rodney Stuckey is also currently on the wrong side of questionable which should open up a lot of minutes at the PG and SG spots for Indy. They also have some big man issue’s as Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahini are listed as Questionable and reports are saying they may both be more like doubtful for tonight’s game. I think all these injuries weaken the Pacers, but do open up some avenue’s to value for guys Like Donald Sloan, Lavoy Allen, and even Solomon Hill and CJ Miles. At full strength I would expect to see the Pacers win this game pretty easily, but with all these injuries I’m not sure they have enough firepower or as deep a bench as they might need. Celtics have been playing at a much slower pace since trading Rondo and I think Indy would be OK playing this game at a slower clip as well, so while the value is definitely there I don’t think it will be the highest scoring game on this slate and you should be cautious putting too many of these guys in a line up.

Line: Pacers -4, O/U 197.5

Players to Watch

  • Lavoy Allen, C, Pacers ($3800)
  • Donald Sloan, PG, Pacers ($4400)
  • Jared Sulliger, PF, Celtics ($6400)
  • Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4100)

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76ers @ Nets

Game Analysis

Brooklyn has lost and gone under in three straight games and will again be without the services of Deron Williams. Philly has lost 6 of it’s last 7 and has gone under in four of those. It amazes me that the Nets would be favored by 11 points against anybody in the NBA, so I think this line is either very wrong or very telling. Both teams have been down in pace recently and this game poses a very interesting question. Many will Assume Jarrett Jack is a slam dunk tonight with no D. Will, but Philly has been very tough on PG DK points this season, especially lately. The list of PG who failed to make value against Philly includes names like Brandon Knight, Goran Dragic, Steph Curry, and Trey Burke and that’s just in the last two weeks. Whether it has something to do with MCW defense or not, they all played less then the normal amount of minutes they usually see. The question we all need to consider today is will that happen to Jack with no D. Will? If you think that he still sees 35+ minutes then he should be able to produce a nice stat line, but we have seen PGs play less often against this team, so it’s not a slam dunk. With a 10+ point spread and a total of only 190, I would be very weary of going heavy on either team in this one.

Line: Nets -11, O/U 190

Players to Watch

  • Joe Johnson, SG, Nets ($6300)
  • Kevin Garnett, PF, Nets ($3500)
  • Nerlens Noel, PF, 76ers ($4800)
  • KJ McDaniel, SF, 76ers ($4900)

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Hawks @ Pistons

Game Analysis

This should be a very good game tonight. The Hawks have won 9 of their last 10 and are one of the best teams in the league at the moment. The Pistons have won 7 straight and are the hottest team in the NBA right now. The Hawks have played under in 5 of the last 7 on the back of some very solid defense and surprisingly the Pistons have also been under in 5 of their last 6 for the same reason. Both teams have consistently been putting up triple digits during this recent run, so the question to ask is whether good defense can trump good offense or vice versa? All the major players are healthy in this one, so that should not factor in. Due to the increased focus on defense by both teams I can actually see this game playing to the under and Vegas agrees as the opening line was 205. Either way it should be a very solid basketball game and I think one or two guys in this one will put up big fantasy numbers. Both teams have multiple options for who that may be, so be careful and choose wisely as this is a usable game, but not the best one on the slate.

Line: Hawks -3, O/U 201.5

Players to Watch

  • Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks ($8400)
  • Demarre Carroll, SF, Hawks ($5400)
  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons ($7500)
  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($9300)

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Bulls @ Wizards

Game Analysis

Two of the best teams in the east square off tonight and it should be a solid game. Both the spread and the under are getting bet here early so I think the smart money is assuming the Bulls could steal this one in a more defensive battle than Vegas expected. The O/U and line have both adjusted downward since by a point or two, so keep an eye n further moves as the day goes on. Chicago has won 8 of the last 10, yet are doing so with higher totals than we usually expect from them. The offense has done more scoring, but the defense is not as solid as years past. Washington had a rough road trip losing 3 of 4 before coming home to stomp out the Knicks. They are a very solid defensive squad and have played under more often then not so far this season and more so recently. They only have three overs in their last 10. Paul Pierce and Mike Dunleavy, both of the starting SFs in this game are still questionable for tonight. With Brad Beal likely to see some Jimmy Butler defense, I think John Wall will need to do a little more. This could be a sneaky good spot for the former #1 pick who is having one of his best NBA seasons to date. The way the Bulls have allowed other teams to score and the way the Wizards have been playing on defense I would have to agree with Vegas and give Washington the advantage. Either way I don’t see this game turning into a track meet, so the pace does not really tick up either team. I will definitely watch this game tonight, but probably not for the bulk of my fantasy plays.

Line: Wizards -1, O/U 195.5

Players to Watch

  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls ($8500)
  • Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls ($5100)
  • John Wall, PG, Wizards ($9800)
  • Nene Hilario, PF, Wizards ($4600)

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Jazz @ Thunder

Game Analysis

The Jazz have played pretty well lately winning 5 of their last 8 with 7 of those games being played to the under. They have dumped it inside a little more often and are playing much better defensively. Despite being healthy for the first time in awhile, the Thunder have dropped 6 of 10 and failed to cover the spread in their last 6 games. They have tended to play to the over more on the fact they play at such a high pace and score and give up a ton of points. If anything here I think the pace ticks up the Jazz and the stout Jazz defense recently ticks down the Thunder slightly. As long as they are in uniform you always have to respect KD and Westy. Either could go off for 60 on any given night, but I would not play them together at their prices, so you have to choose your poison. The Jazz have a few interesting guys to play here, but I’m still wondering how and who they expect to guard KD or Westbrook tonight. Westy will manhandle the smaller Trey Burke and I doubt Joe Ingles is going to put any fear in KD. I can see why this spread is so high based off of those match ups alone, but it will not be easy for OKC to deal with the size of Gobert and Favors inside, so I think it would be in Utah’s best interest to slow this one down and work inside out. I have to give the nod to OKC, but still would be weary of using this game heavily.

Line: Thunder -11.5, O/U 198.5

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($9900)
  • Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder ($10700)
  • Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz ($7900)
  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz ($6100)

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Grizzlies @ Pelicans

Game Analysis

Both teams have won only 4 of their last 10 games. That’s a bad stretch for the Grizzlies and about what is expected so far out of the talented and underachieving New Orleans team. The Grizzlies have an excuse as they have played 9 of those games without Zach Randolph. The drop off from Z Bo to Jon Leuer is very noticeable and despite the good play of Conley and Gasol they have not been able to make up for his absence. NO has been under in 3 of it’s last 4 and the Griz have only gone over once in the last five. Neither team has been scoring a ton lately which is a major reason for the bad run of each. In fact both teams have failed to crack 100 in three of their last five, so I can see this game playing towards the under and ticking down all parties with a slower than expected pace scenario. Vegas did not have a line out as of 10 AM this morning as they are all still waiting on Z BO news I guess. I think when it does pop up though it will be low and therefore again, this is a cautious game to use for fantasy. Be aware of the price drop and home scoring bump for Anthony Davis today. It could be the reason the BROW makes a good play tonight against a normally tough interior defense for Memphis. Z Bo out would seal the deal for me, but I may still like Davis even with a banged up Z Bo in. I would venture to guess they leave Z Bo in the paint to guard Asik and let Gasol deal with Brow. It’s not a great match up either way, but I doubt they ask Z Bo to step out that far away from the basket today in his return game. He did practice twice this week, so I think he is on the probable side of questionable, but pay attention to late breaking news for more clarity on t.

Line: Pelicans -2, O/U 196 up from 194

Players to Watch

  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11000)
  • Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($7700)
  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($8100)
  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies ($8900)

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Timberwolves @ Bucks

Game Analysis

This is a game I expect to see play towards the over today and with the high total I can see some fantasy goodness here. Minnesota is really struggling as they have no wins yet in the new year. In fact they have not won a game in almost a month since beating Portland back on December 10th. They play at a very high pace though as those games routinely see both teams score over 100. The Bucks tend to play with both teams below 100 as they have a solid defensive squad and have won 5 of the last 8 games they played. I think the bucks win this one and could see a lot of points being scored on both sides. Mo Williams is the only question mark here on either side as he is listed as questionable for today. He picked up an injury last game and if he is out I think Zach Lavine makes for a nice play if only because of the uptick in minutes he will certainly see. The Bucks are much tougher to predict as the “Ghost of Larry Drew” reared it’s ugly head last game during the second half benching of Giannis Antetekounmpo in favor of Nate Wolters who was cut the next day. While I would think the Bucks get an uptick due to pace, it’s very tough to figure who that benefits with the erratic rotations of Jason Kidd. Still I think you have to be aware of the guys on both sides who should see minutes and that should lead to some nice fantasy stat lines. Definitely think some exposure to this game is warranted on both sides of the ball.

Line: Bucks -9, O/U 204.5

Players to Watch

  • Zach Lavine, PG, Timberwolves ($3500)
  • Andrew Wiggins, SF, Timberwolves ($6600)
  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks ($7500)
  • Zaza Pachulia, C, Bucks ($5900)

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Suns @ Spurs

Game Analysis

Another good game to target for fantasy is this one between the high paced Suns and the defending champion Spurs. The suns have won four straight while averaging over 113 points per game and giving up around 103. The spurs have gotten back on track after a 1-4 stretch with 3 wins in their last 5. The turn around has coincided with their defense tightening up and after a string of bad defensive efforts to put them in that 1-4 hole, they have held Memphis, New Orleans, and Washington to average of around 90 points in recent games. They did just lose to the pistons while allowing 105 last out, but we can excuse that as Detroit is red hot lately. I think Tony Parker plays despite his questionable tag, but how much and how well are left to be seen. Overall I think the Suns might be a bit much for the struggling Spurs tonight and if you need more proof, when was the last time the Spurs were a 5 point home dog with the early money coming in heavy against them? 205 is one of the higher O/U on the day and I think this game is usable for fantasy purposes. The Spurs get the uptick in pace, but I would not knock the Suns too much as the Spurs defense is not what it has been in the past.

Line: Suns -5, O/U 210

Players to Watch

  • Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs ($9100)
  • Tiago Splitter, C, Spurs ($4200)
  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($8700)
  • Goran Dragic, PG, Suns ($7400)

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Nuggets @ Kings

Game Analysis

Low Spread and highest O/U on the day is a great place to look for fantasy goodness. This is a game you would be crazy not to have at least some exposure to tonight. Denver seems to be playing the better of the two recently and are coming into this game on a three game win streak. They beat a slow paced Orlando squad 93-90 last out which snapped a 6 game streak of them scoring over 100. They also have allowed 100+ in 5 of the last 7 so the total here is not only reasonable, but warranted. Kings have played over in 7 of their last 10 and except for OKC last out they have allowed 100 points in the other nine games. This too screams fantasy goodness to me and with a hot pace expected and preferred by both teams this one could even play towards the over despite the high total. It’s very rare two high paced teams get an uptick, but I think that could be the case here as I expect this game to be played at break neck speed. Everyone from both sides is interesting and it’s just a matter of preference for who to take. If you fade this game there is a huge chance you will not cash even in a 50/50 so definitely start here and fill out the rest of your roster with some of the other guys.

Line: Kings -3, O/U 212.5

Players to Watch

  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets ($8800)
  • JJ Hickson, C, Nuggets ($4500)
  • Demarcus Cousins, C, Kings ($10500)
  • Darren Collison, PG, Kings ($7000)

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Cavaliers @ Warriors

Game Analysis

Some very expensive and extremely high scoring PGs square off in this one. Cleveland is in shambles right now with only 2 wins in their last 9 games and only hitting the over once. The reason for that has nothing to do with Cavs defense as it is 100% lack of offense that is the culprit. Kyrie has done his part so he gets a pass, but this team is really just not that good even with Lebron James in a Cavs uniform. Golden State has won 7 of their last 9 games and are undefeated when not playing in LA’s Staples Center. If you take out the 86 point dud against the Clippers then they have averaged close to 116 points over the last few weeks. That’s an insane number for a team who just got back another big piece in Andrew Bogut. Despite the high pace and insane scoring numbers their defense is still allowing right around 100 a game too, so this dominance is both real and spectacular to watch. Kyrie may go all superman again tonight as Steph is not known as a lock down defender, but this game should not be close. Luckily for fantasy purposes, the Warriors tend to play the starters deep into the fourth quarter no matter the score, so look for some big numbers today as no one on Cleveland is really known for their defense. This could get ugly, but it could also produce some big games from a few key pieces. Which one goes off is the question you need to answer to reach the top tonight.

Line: Warriors -12, O/U 206

Players to Watch

  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavs ($8800)
  • Steph Curry, PG, Warriors ($10300)
  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($7100)
  • Draymond Green, SF, Warriors ($8200)

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Magic @ Lakers

Game Analysis

The Magic tend to play a much slower pace and the Lakers tend to play fast. The Magic are pretty solid defensively and the Lakers are one of the worst. The Lakers are one of the higher scoring teams in the league though, due to the pace. Orlando is one of the lower scoring due to their pace. If you have not seen the pattern yet this is a clash of opposites. It’s tough for me to really figure this one out based on all that information, but my gut tells me to tick up the Magic and Tick down the Lakers due to it. That likely means a lot of the Magic are in play for me and many of the Lakers are not. As far as injuries go in this one, it looks like Ronnie Price will be back and Swaggy P may join Wes Johnson on the injured list. If so there’s a lot of minutes at the 2 and 3 that need to be covered. Maybe we see a little bit of Lin and Price together for LA, but that’s not a huge deal against a Magic team that runs out Oladipo and Payton together. It would mean Kobe guarding Harris if so though and I think at this stage that is bad news for Kobe as Harris is athletic and active. There’s a lot of questions and bad match ups here as bigs tend to do OK against LA and Orlando has a great scoring big in Vucevic. This game is tough to decipher, but I think it remains close and sees a few more points than a bunch of the others so I am ok having exposure here, just make sure you pick and choose good spots for it.

Line: Lakers -3, O/U 201.5

Players to Watch

  • Elfrid Payton, PG, Magic ($5300)
  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic ($8400)
  • Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers ($8600)
  • Ronnie Price, PG, Lakers ($4000)