Baseball Season has not started yet and we still have two weeks left of NBA action. We do have some rather important college basketball games on tonight too, but we also have a nice little 5 game NBA slate. It is not the highest scoring set of teams every with the exception of that Sacramento and Denver game. It is a pretty wide open slate though with guys from every game in play. No huge blowouts expected here, so this should be a tough puzzle to unlock. Here is a list of the games today with a breakdown of some important players and trends to take note of:
Indiana Pacers @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Pacers -10
Indiana travels to Philly here, but I think they should win this game easily on the road. Indiana is trying to finish off the season and hold on to a playoff spot. Philly is trying to just end the season, so the motivation is clearly with the Pacers. For the 76rs, I have a tough time today looking for plays. Ish Smith and Robert Covington have carried them in most of the recent games, but both draw tough defensive matchups with George Hill and Paul George. Center is usually the way to attack the Pacers, which at this moment is basically Carl Landry. Landry has only played about 23 minutes a game, but he has been pretty good in those minutes. Jerami Grant and Hollis Thompson are two other guys who will see big minutes and are a tad cheaper if needed.
For the Pacers, Paul George is starting to step it up. They need to keep winning to make sure they are in the playoffs and George has accepted the challenge. He has three straight games between 47 and 51 fantasy points, so he makes a lot of sense to stick with here against a team getting lit up by wing players. Ian Mahinmi is the other guy I would look for here. Philly is very bad against opposing centers and Mahinmi has been the second most consistent Pacer behind George over the last week. He had three games of 30 before only getting 24 last time out. His price remains pretty cheap, so those returns are enough to give him 5-6X value for you. Indy should win this one easily, so I would rather be exposed to them then to Philly.
- Ian Mahinmi ($4,900)
- Paul George ($8,700)
- Ish Smith ($6,100)
- Carl Landry ($4,400)
Detroit Pistons @ Chicago Bulls
Line: Bulls -3
The Detroit Pistons are hanging on to their playoff spot and doing what they need to do to make sure hey do not lose it. They have won six of the last eight and hold a two game lead ahead of the last spot. They face a Bulls team also clinging to their playoff hopes, but needing wins. This should be a hotly contested contest. The Pistons have been pretty balanced lately. Marcus Morris, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Tobias Harris have all taken turns being the top dog. It makes it tough to narrow down who you want to play when they all are capable of giving you a 5-7X performance on any given day. I think the way to play it is to look at the matchups. Chicago has been putrid lately against point guards, so that points to Reggie Jackson. They have also struggles all season long with centers, so this could be a big Andre Drummond game too. I would not rule out using any of the Pistons here, but I would limit my exposure to maybe two at the most.
For Chicago, Pau Gasol is the main guy I would want exposure to. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are both under-performing lately, and Pau is relatively cheap and very consistent. Butler finally had a good game last time out, but the matchup for him against Huston was softer than it is today. The other guy I really like is Nikola Mirotic. With Taj Gibson missing the last game and being injured the game before, Mirotic stepped up with two huge performances. His price is still relatively cheap, so he has big upside in this matchup. Chicago needs his scoring, so I think his floor is safe and he continues to offer us upside.
- Nikola Mirotic ($5,200)
- Pau Gasol ($7,400)
- Andre Drummond ($7,500)
- Reggie Jackson ($5,700)
Toronto Raptors @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -9
So far there is no news about anyone sitting out in this game. Luis Scola is questionable, but that is the only guy we know of at the moment. Both these teams are squarely in the playoffs, so this game means little besides seeding to either team. For the Spurs, we always worry about how much court time the starters will see. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are usually the two exceptions. Both guys tend to see a few more minutes and get a few more shots than the other starters, so they are always the two I look at. With the Toronto forwards being their weak spot, I expect that to be the case here.
For the Raptors, we have a few interesting guys to look at. Norman Powell has seen more minutes lately and done something with them. He has averaged around 30 minutes per game and has reeled off between 6-8X in his last five contests. At only $3300 today, he is again worth a look. The matchup with Kawhi is not ideal, but a $3300 does not need to do much in 30+ minutes to pay off his salary. Jonas Valaciunas has also looked good lately. The big man has scored in double digits in each of the last 5 games and has no fewer than 9 rebounds in any of them. He has a pair of 50 fantasy point performances in the last five as well as a couple 32 point games which are good for 6X+ at his current price. Lowry has been banged up and under-performing a bit, so I would not pay up for him today. DeRozan on the other hand has picked up his scoring. It’s not a great matchup against the Spurs, but he can get his against anybody.
- Jonas Valaciunas ($4,800)
- Norman Powell ($3,300)
- Kawhi Leonard ($7,600)
- LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,500)
Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets
Line: Nuggets -5
Both Denver and Sacramento play fast and high scoring games. Neither team plays good defense, so we should get a lot of production here. The big news is Boogie Cousins sitting out this game. That becomes even more important after we saw Willie Cauley-Stein leave yesterday with an injury he picked up. That means Kosta Koufos will see huge minutes again at a pretty cheap price. Rajon Rondo is also out for this one, so that will tick up Darren collison who should get the increased usage with the ball in his hand most of the game. Guys like Seth Curry and Rudy Gay will be needed to pick up the scoring slack as well. Both of them had big games last time out. Curry is insanely cheap and one of the top value plays on the day. Gay is the main scoring option available, but he has disappointed before and is tougher to trust.
For the Nuggets, figuring out fantasy production is a chore. Mudiay and Augustin have alternated good games at the point. Guys like Will Barton and Nikola Jokic have played really well and been benched for long periods over the last few games. Figuring out what coach Malone wants to do on any given day is not an easy task. This game should be high paced, which is good for the Nuggets players. If Nurkic remains out, I like Jokic a lot here. He is one of the few Nuggets with the potential to put up a big number. Since I can not figure out the rhyme or reason for the point guard spot, would probably look to target a scorer like Will Barton second. Sacramento is bad against shooting guards, so Barton could have a big game here. It is not easy to figure where the production will come from, but producing against the Kings has been something NBA teams have done all season long.
- Will Barton ($5,200)
- Nikola Jokic ($5,600)
- Darren Collison ($5,400)
- Kosta Koufos ($4,300)
Miami Heat @ Portland Trailblazers
Line: Blazers -4
This is a good matchup of two solid teams. Miami is traveling on the tail end of the back-to-back for those wondering why the total is a tad high and the Blazers are a solid favorite. I could see this game going either way though. Miami is known to play slow and well defensively. They are still a solid defensive team based on defensive efficiency, but the slow tag is a little bit outdated. It has been over a month since they finished a game with a total below 200. I’m not calling them the Warriors here, but you do not have to shy away from them like we once did. Portland has played high scoring games all season too, so we should see some nice stat lines here.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have been carrying the scoring load for this team all season. Both are top options, but other guys have stepped up recently for the Blazers. Al-Farouq Aminu and Mo Harkless are two of the main ones. Both guys are doing more in the scoring and rebounding departments and it has helped this Blazers team win some games. They are much cheaper than the top two, so keep it in mind. Myers Leonard is still out, so guys like Ed Davis and Mason Plumlee are both worth a look too. I’m not thrilled with either going up against Whiteside, but both can do a little damage against Amare when he is in.
For the Heat, we assume Dwyane Wade is back in the mix for this one. Hassan Whiteside has the best matchup on paper against the weak Portland interior defense. He is pricey now though, but can put up 40-50 fantasy points. Goran Dragic and Wade draw the weak backcourt defense as well. Portland has been getting burned by guards all season, so I expect these guys to do some damage today. If Wade can not go, I think we have to look at Josh Richardson for near min salary. He has been getting the extra minutes and looks good with them.
- Al-Farouq Aminu ($4,800)
- Damian Lillard ($8,500)
- Goran Dragic ($6,700)
- Hassan Whiteside ($8,800)