Check out a quick breakdown of every game on Thursday’s NBA slate. We’ll take a look at the Vegas lines and totals, recent trends, and a few players you can be targeting for tonight’s action.
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Cleveland Cavaliers @ Orlando Magic
Line: Cavaliers -3
The Cavs announced that J.R. Smith didn’t travel with the team to Orlando, and with Kyrie obviously still not back, it certainly would be nice for them if Shumpert made his first appearance. But even if he does, you have to assume there will be plenty of minutes to go around for Dellavedova and possibly even Jared Cunningham.
For the Magic, it is Oladipo and Vucevic, and that’s about it, but tonight Vucevic is basically single-handedly going to have to fend off all the Cavs bigs. And if he is limited on offense, the Magic will need someone to score, and that’s going to mean Oladipo. I’m not saying he has a huge scoring night, because that’s not his thing, but he could easily have 15+ attempts, and if that gets him even to 20 points, that could be a big fantasy night.
– LeBron James ($10,000)
– Kevin Love ($8,100)
– Victor Oladipo ($6,600)
– Matthew Dellavedova ($4,600)
Detroit Pistons @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Pistons -8
Jahlil Okafor returned to action following his two-game suspension last night, and had 22 points and ten boards against Brooklyn. He is the best player on the 76ers, and I don’t even mean that as an underhanded comment – he would be the best player on a few other teams too. But he might struggle getting to double-digit rebounds in this one, which could put a cap on his output in the 30’s.
An interesting matchup here is Robert Covington and Marcus Morris at the SF position. Covington is more expensive, but I get the impression that’s strictly a matter of the player on the worse team getting more opportunities – I think Morris is the better player. That could mean he turns out to be a nice value as the much less expensive option of the two.
– Andre Drummond ($9,500)
– Reggie Jackson ($7,300)
– Jahlil Okafor ($6,400)
– Marcus Morris ($5,900)
Miami Heat @ Indiana Pacers
Line: Pacers -5
The story of the game every time the Pacers are on the floor, until further notice, is Paul George. Averaging 28-8-4 with consistent defensive stats to help pad his fantasy totals even more, he has been over 60 fantasy points in five of his last ten games, with only one game under 40. He has had 48 and 33 actual points in his last two, for a 66-fantasy point scoring average against Utah and Golden State, both of whom are worse matchups on paper than this Miami team.
For Miami, Whiteside missed practice yesterday with a sprained ankle, and his status for tonight is not yet settled. But there is at least a chance he misses, which would likely benefit Haslem and possibly Chris Anderson for Miami (but, realistically, might benefit Ian Mahinmi the most).
– Paul George ($10,200)
– Chris Bosh ($7,200)
– Ian Mahinmi ($5,100)
– Udonis Haslem ($3,000)
Golden State Warriors @ Boston Celtics
Line: Golden State -7
There is no total set for this game, I assume because Vegas knows that it would need to set it at a ridiculously high number to get any action at all on the under – and then they still might go over. There is a chance that Vegas expects this to be the highest-scoring game of the year so far, and in all honestly, I wouldn’t blame you for looking to get multiple players from both of these teams into your lineups. I love Draymond in this matchup, as his combination of size and speed could do a number on the Celtics frontcourt, and despite the fact that on paper both of these teams are a tough matchup for point guards, I expect to see lots of scoring from both Curry and Thomas as they each strive to put their team out in front.
On the injury front, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Klay Thompson was shooting the ball at practice yesterday, which is a really good sign for seasonal fantasy owners about the severity of the injury, but even if he is back really soon, he might miss this one.
– Stephen Curry ($10,700)
– Draymond Green ($8,200)
– Isaiah Thomas ($7,800)
– Jared Sullinger ($6,400)
Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto Raptors
Line: Raptors -8
This game feels like an outright slugfest. There aren’t a lot of great scoring options on either side of the ball here, and where they do exist, they are going to be matched up against a solid defender (see Kyle Lowry vs. MCW, or DeRozan against Mayo and Middleton). You might look at Bismarck Biyombo simply based on potential value created by the injury to Valanciunas opening up minutes for him, but he doesn’t score much and could have trouble on the boards against Monroe. It is not easy to find a solid recommendation from this game, but the players below, in my opinion, have the highest floors in relation to their prices, which could make them legit choices in a cash game.
– Greg Monroe ($7,100)
– DeMar DeRozan ($7,000)
– Giannis Antetokounmpo ($6,500)
– Khris Middleton ($5,200)
Charlotte Hornets @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Grizzlies -3.5
Al Jefferson won’t be out there tonight – he was just handed a five-game suspension for using some unnamed (likely green and smokable) recreational drug, and that’s not even his biggest problem. He is actually missing this one with an injured calf, so he can’t even begin serving his suspension just yet – it could be the new year before we see him back in action at this rate. Over that period of time, whatever it is, we should see more opportunities for several players in this frontcourt, from Spencer Hawes (the obvious name) to Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller as well. However, this leaves Charlotte with two real scoring threats left – Walker and Batum – and I expect to see the shot attempts for both of them to spike while Big Al is MIA.
Tonight, though, facing a Memphis team that has long defined itself with solid play in the interior, this is probably just better news for Randolph and Gasol. They are now facing an already-good matchup in Charlotte without their best rim protector and rebounder, and with no low-post threat to concern yourself with on the defensive end either.
– Nicolas Batum ($7,500)
– Marc Gasol ($7,400)
– Kemba Walker ($7,000)
– Spencer Hawes ($3,600)
Washington Wizards @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pelicans -3
Just looking at the matchups in this game, it’s easy to imagine lots of players succeeding, and it’s clear from the 216 over/under that Vegas agrees. The Pelicans don’t defend guards that well at either position, which plays right into the strength of the Wizards. But, the Wizards don’t defend forwards well, and Anthony Davis is the type to take advantage of that sort of thing.
Davis had four straight 55+ fantasy points games before Monday’s game against Boston, and I expect him to get back on that track in this one. John Wall has been at 58.5 fantasy points or higher in four of his last six, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him right back in that 60 point range either. And they aren’t even the only two – with Vegas predicting something along the lines of a 109-106 finish, there will be plenty of overachievers to go around. If you don’t want to build around Celtics and Warriors, this is probably the next best place to start.
– Anthony Davis ($10,800)
– John Wall ($9,100)
– Bradley Beal ($7,200)
– Tyreke Evans ($6,900)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Denver Nuggets
Wolves fans probably started off this year excited about Andrew Wiggins, and who could blame them, honestly. Former #1 pick, ended last season playing well, lots of potential. And they are probably still excited about him, and should be (even if his production has proved inconsistent so far this season), but forgive them if their hearts now belong to Karl-Anthony Towns. Averaging 15-9 with two blocks on the year, and improving (19-9 with 2 blocks over the last couple of weeks), he is the early front-runner for rookie of the year, as long as Porzingis doesn’t have anything to say about it. The matchup with Denver should keep the pace up for this one, which should only help increase the fantasy value for everyone involved.
– Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,000)
– Ricky Rubio ($7,000)
– Danilo Gallinari ($6,900)
– Emmanuel Mudiay ($5,600)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Utah Jazz
Line: OKC -2.5
At 10-10, the Jazz are sitting three games behind the 14-8 Thunder, and while I know the game is in Utah, this was the line that surprised me the most – I expected to have to give more than 2.5 points if I wanted OKC. And, truthfully, I would have expected a higher total, even if only by 2 or 3 points. I think that if you’re looking at this game, you should be looking at the top options from each team (Westbrook, Durant and Favors), because neither side really has an answer for any of them.
With Gobert continuing to miss time with his sprained MCL, Favors will continue to be the starting center for Utah, which is opening up more PT for Trevor Booker more than anyone else. If you’re looking at the production of Jeff Withey, the second center on the depth chart, technically, make sure you remember that a good chunk of his minutes – as well as his 8 points and 9 boards – last time out came in junk time late.
– Russell Westbrook ($10,400)
– Kevin Durant ($10,100)
– Derrick Favors ($7,900)
– Trevor Booker ($4,800)
Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -14.5
Is Pop even going to play anyone in this game? I mean that kinda seriously. But in all honestly, he usually only outright benches people for rest for road games, so theoretically at least, everyone should go tonight. They don’t even have any injuries right now, so their starting five is actually entirely intact! But if that means that the Spurs are covering this 14.5 spread midway through the third – very possible, if not likely – then all bets are off. Who knows who will be out there in the fourth quarter closing this one out.
On the Lakers side of the ball, this is just a terrible matchup. Whatever value they can produce comes from some kind of inside-out game featuring Kobe and Julius Randle, but the Spurs interior defense could render someone like the inexperienced Randle completely ineffective.
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,600)
– Tim Duncan ($6,000)
– Julius Randle ($5,900)
– Tony Parker ($5,300)
Portland Trailblazers @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Suns -4
The third-highest scoring game on the board based on Vegas’ projections, behind the Pelicans-Wizards and the Celtics-Warriors, this is another game that feels like it might as well be 2-on-2. I mean, essentially, it is.Let’s just say, it’s hard to imagine Mason Plumlee or Alex Len being the piece that determines the outcome of this one.
This game boils down to a matchup of Lillard and McCollum vs. Knight and Bledsoe, and there is very little doubt that the combo that comes out on top is going to lead their team to a W. And if it does turn into a shootout, the advantage probably leans towards the Portland combo, who can both shoot the lights out of a gym when their stroke is feeling good.
– Damian Lillard ($8,800)
– Eric Bledsoe ($8,300)
– Brandon Knight ($7,700)
– C.J. McCollum ($6,900)