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 matchups.

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Houston Rockets at Charlotte Hornets

Game Analysis

The Rockets (54-26) take a 25-15 road record into Charlotte on Monday evening, as they hope to head into the playoffs on a winning note. Houston will either lock up the 5th or 6th seed over their next three games, while the Hornets are looking to save a little face after being eliminated from the playoff picture. The Hornets are 3-7 over their last 10 games, losing four in a row, as they have struggled to maintain consistent offensive production this season with a 94.5 PPG average, which ranks 25th in the NBA. Look for the Rockets to take this road matchup quite easily, even with the Hornets decent defensive capabilities.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets – 20th OPRK ($10,600)
  • Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets – 13th OPRK ($7,400)
  • Marvin Williams, PF, Hornets – 18th OPRK ($5,500)
  • Bismack Biyombo, C, Hornets – 22nd OPRK  ($5,200)


Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers

Game Analysis

On paper, the Pistons (31-49) heading into Cleveland to play the Cavaliers (51-29) would seem like a complete mismatch, but the Pistons have actually played some scrappy basketball since March 17, running a 8-6 record since. If not for a two recent losses to the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, the Pistons would look like a renaissance team. Point guard Reggie Jackson continues to lead the way for the Pistons, and should fill the box score yet again. The Cavaliers don’t really need to push too hard for a win here, considering they’ve locked up the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference, so expect the Pistons to play up to their competition while falling just a bit short of victory.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Reggie Jackson, PG, Pistons – 14th OPRK ($8,500))
  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons – 19th OPRK ($8,400)
  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons – 13th OPRK ($7,400)
  • Timofey Mozgov, C, Cavaliers – 30th OPRK ($4,900)


Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers

Game Analysis

The Bucks (40-40) locked up the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. With the 76ers on an awful 1-9 run over their last 10 games, the Bucks should run the court with ease taking advantage of their outside perimeter 3-point percentage (.364).  The Bucks are averaging .458 FG% for the year overall, but it’s their rebounding that gets them into trouble at times (42.0 RPG, 24th in the NBA). Even with the Bucks poor road record (18-23) this season, don’t fret all you Bucks’ fans – the Sixers only have 12 wins at home.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Bucks – 29th OPRK ($6,600)
  • Khris Middleton, SG, Bucks – 27th OPRK ($6,000)
  • Zaza Pachulia, C, Bucks – 29th OPRK ($5,900)
  • Robert Covington, PF, 76ers – 16th OPRK ($5,600)


New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks

Game Analysis

The Hawks (60-20) may rest a starter or two with just a few games left in the regular season, considering the caliber of competition they’ll get from the lowly Knicks (16-64). In a rare moment in the 2014-15 NBA season, the Knicks pulled out an 80-79 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday, in which both teams totaled only 15 points in the second quarter. If it was ugly you were expecting from the Knicks, it was ugly you got. Cole Aldrich is coming off a career-high 19 points in the game, and he’ll need to repeat that sort of performance if the Knicks want to pull out a victory in Atlanta.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Al Horford, C, Hawks – 18th OPRK ($6,100)
  • Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks – 10th OPRK ($6,000)
  • DeMarre Carroll, SF, Hawks – 9th OPRK ($5,700)
  • Kyle Korver, SG, Hawks – 24th OPRK ($4,500)


Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets

Game Analysis

It’s funny, I still want to write “New Jersey” Nets instead of “Brooklyn”. Some day that will click into the ol’ noggin. In order for the Nets (37-43) to maintain their hold on a playoff spot, they’ll likely need to win out. The Nets did lose yesterday to Milwaukee, but, luckily, the Nets have been coming together as a club at the perfect time, going 8-3 over their last 11 games. This will be a bitterly tough game for the Nets, with the Bulls (48-32) playing better basketball and winning two in row heading into Monday night. Brook Lopez’ rise to DFS stardom has pushed the Nets into playoff contention, with Deron Williams doing his part to feed Lopez the ball.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls – 26th OPRK ($8,500)
  • Brook Lopez, C, Nets – 27th OPRK ($8,400)
  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls – 21st OPRK ($7,500)
  • Deron Williams, PG, Nets – 5th OPRK ($7,100)


Orlando Magic at Miami Heat

Game Analysis

Nikola Vucevic continues to be among the best in the NBA, racking up 44 double-doubles for the Magic (25-55) ranking 5th in the NBA, while averaging 19.4 PPG and 11 RPG. Vucevic will be the Magic’s go-to guy in netting a road victory in Miami against the Heat (35-45). The Heat still hold onto the slim, slim, slim hopes of a playoff spot, but would need the complete failure of three teams ahead of them. Consider the Heat’s playoff chances squashed for the most part, although I like them to handle the Magic easily enough. Expect a sloth-like pace to the game, with both clubs bringing up the tail end in points scored per game.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic – 13th OPRK ($8,000)
  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic – 19th OPRK ($7,500)
  • Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat – 16th OPRK ($7,300)
  • Goran Dragic, PG, Heat – 27th OPRK ($6,800)


New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves

Game Analysis

For DFS lineup purposes, I absolutely love playing Timberwolves (16-64) players of late. Guys like Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins have really been snagging my attention, so hopefully you’ve been getting them into your lineups too. Even though we can exploit certain players from the Wolves roster, it’s apparent this game shouldn’t be much of a contest for the Pelicans (43-37). Is that truly the case though? Yeah, it is. The Wolves have lost 10 games in a row and are currently being spotted 10 points at home, so that gives you some indication of what to expect.

Normally, I stay away from games like this if I’m betting the line, with home teams being spotted double-digit points; however, the Pelicans are in a desperate situation for a win considering they are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. I really like them to come out like crazy, covering the -10 line and putting the Wolves to shame.

Line: NO -10.0, Over/Under: 200.0

Players to Watch

  • Tyreke Evans, PG, Pelicans – 15th OPRK ($7,700)
  • Andrew Wiggins, SF, Timberwolves – 14th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Zach LaVine, PG, Timberwolves – 14th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans – 29th OPRK ($4,900)


 

Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder

Game Analysis

As previously mentioned above, the Thunder (46-37) are tied with the New Orleans Pelicans for the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs, but the Pelicans get it much easier than the Thunder who have to face the Trail Blazers (51-29). Fortunately for the Thunder, the Blazers are struggling some having lost two in a row heading into this contest. Russell Westbrook, who was carrying the Thunder for quite some time, needs to get help from his surrounding cast if they expect to eek out a victory. We will see tough game defensively, with both teams being tops in the league in rebounds per game. The Thunder is averaging 47.5 RPG (1st), while the Blazers bring in 46.0 RPG (2nd). Aside from Westbrook, Damian Lillard is a nice play considering his talents as a facilitator and rebounder.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder – 22nd OPRK ($11,800)
  • Damian Lillard, PG, Trail Blazers – 11th OPRK ($8,000)
  • Nicolas Batum, SF, Trail Blazers – 25th OPRK ($6,600)
  • C.J. McCollum, PG, Trail Blazers – 11th OPRK ($4,500)


Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz

Game Analysis

It’s nice to see the turnaround in the season from the Jazz (37-43), who probably wish they had done so earlier in the season. At one point, the Jazz lost 12 out of 13 games from November 21 to December 16, but have gone 20-10 since February 7. Unfortunately, it’s a little too late for the Jazz, who will take on the Mavericks (49-31) in Salt Lake City. The Mavericks rely solely on their ability to score points (105.1 PPG, ranked 3rd overall), as their defense lacks serious grit and toughness. I won’t be surprised one bit to see the Jazz pull out a victory here, even winning by double-digit points.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz – 23rd OPRK ($7,700)
  • Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks – 4th OPRK ($6,000)
  • Rodney Hood, SF, Jazz – 16th OPRK ($5,300)
  • Trevor Booker, PF, Jazz – 5th OPRK ($4,800)


Los Angeles Lakers at Sacramento Kings

Game Analysis

How the mighty have fallen, right? The Lakers (21-59) are not only struggling to win games, but they lack team identity with Kobe Bryant having ridden off into the sunset. While the Lakers are in complete rebuild mode, the Kings (27-53) are playing just as poorly. DeMarcus Cousins is out for the season due to injury, and while there’s some intriguing DFS value in Jason Thompson for the last two games, the Kings are a fair matchup for the Lakers.

I see the game trudging along at times, but the Kings should be able to do enough at home to win this game by 4 points. Take the Kings to cover, but I’d be careful about running with the 197 over in the game. I just don’t expect a ton of points scored between these clubs.

Line: SAC -3.0, Over/Under: 206

Players to Watch

  • Jordan Clarkson, PG, Lakers – 28th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Omri Casspi, SF, Kings – 20th OPRK ($5,200)
  • Ben McLemore, SG, Kings – 14th OPRK ($4,500)
  • Jason Thompson, PF, Kings – 24th OPRK ($4,400)


Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors

Game Analysis

Could this be a preview of the Western Conference Championships? The Grizzlies (54-26) and the Warriors (65-15) are two of the better clubs in the game this season, and we should see both teams using their full arsenal starting lineups. The Warriors are arguably the most well-rounded team in the game, scoring 109.7 PPG on average this season while ranking 5th in the league in team rebounding with 44.8 RPG. Stephen Curry is as dominant as ever these days, and the best part is that he’s getting the support needed to win games. Memphis was battling injury issues not long ago, now have Zach Randolph back to full capacity. He’s someone I really like as a DFS lineup play.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors – 4th OPRK ($9,600)
  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies – 15th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors – 12th OPRK ($7,000)
  • Jeff Green, SF, Grizzlies – 21st OPRK ($5,300)


Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

Game Analysis

As I previously mentioned above, I’ve been using some Minnesota Timberwolves players – thanks again Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins – to a high degree of success of late for my DFS lineups, but the Nuggets (30-50) have been equally helpful, especially Danilo Gallinari and Randy Foye. Hint, hint. You have to stay on top of the news to see who is sitting with playoff-bound teams, but clubs like the Nuggets are not sitting anyone. The Clippers (54-26) have a fantastic 29-11 home record this season and they’ve been on fire with their overall game, going 9-1 over their last 10 played.

I don’t see the Nuggets doing enough to get close in this game, so look for a big win out of the Clippers.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Chris Paul, PG, Clippers – 7th OPRK ($9,700)
  • Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers – 30th OPRK ($8,700)
  • Danilo Gallinari, SF, Nuggets – 29th OPRK ($6,400)
  • Randy Foye, SG, Nuggets – 3rd OPRK ($4,800)

Catch me on Twitter @TheRolyPolyBoy. I just might answer your questions if I don’t have anything better to do.