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.

HORNETS AT CAVALIERS

Game Analysis

The Cavaliers (13-9) have now lost two in row after previously stringing together an eight-game winning streak. They ran into the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans on the road, but now start a five-game home stand with the Hornets (6-17). LeBron James will try to take the game into his own hands, like he did on Friday against the Hornets, although it could backfire on him if he doesn’t get his teammates more involved. The Cavs are battling some depth issues with Dion Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova likely unavailable due to an illness that hospitalized both on Friday night, but LeBron has plenty of alternatives in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving even though Irving is only shooting 36% over his last five games played. On paper, the Hornets shouldn’t pose much of a problem for the Cavs even with the Cavs defense really lacking lately from the perimeter. The Hornets are equally awful from the offensive and defensive side, only scoring 94.5 PPG (25th overall) while allowing 101.7 PPG (22nd overall). Plus, they gave one of the worst showings of the season on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets as the Hornets were horrendous executing on defense. All signs point to a double-digit Cavs win on Monday. I like ’em to cover the -11.0 points being spotted to the Hornets.

Line: CLE -11.0, Over/Under: 197.5

Players to Watch

  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavaliers – 28th OPRK ($8,900)
  • Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets – 24th OPRK ($8,000)
  • Anderson Varejao, C, Cavaliers  – 27th OPRK ($5,100)
  • Cody Zeller, PF, Hornets – 22nd OPRK ($4,300)

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LAKERS AT PACERS

Game Analysis

In a battle of equally talented teams, the Lakers (7-16) and the Pacers (7-17) are both clubs with potential. The Lakers need to address their defensive problems if they expect to win on the road as they allow a league worst 110.1 PPG; however, they are coming off a fantastic overtime win against the Spurs as Nick Young hit a game-winning 3-pointer, so they’ll have the emotional edge heading into Indiana. The Pacers have now lost eight games in a row, but they do have a shot of breaking their losing streak against the Lakers who are 4-7 on the road in 2014. Expect the game to exceed the 199 over/under, so if you’re a smart bettin’ man you’ll go with the over, but I’d take the Lakers and the six points.

Line: IND -6.0, Over/Under: 199

Players to Watch

  • Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers – 13th OPRK ($9,700)
  • David West, PF, Pacers – 30th OPRK ($6,300)
  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers – 22nd OPRK ($6,300)
  • Luis Scola, PF, Pacers – 30th OPRK ($5,100)

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CELTICS AT 76ERS

Game Analysis

Don’t look now, but the 76ers (2-21) have picked up a couple of wins over the last week of play. If they want to win a few more games this season, Michael Carter-Williams will have to control his turnover rate (45 turnovers over his last eight games played). Carter-Williams, who admits to trying to do too much with the ball, will need to spread things around more if they expect to take down the Celtics (7-14), who have hit a recent rough patch as they’ve lost three games in a row. The Celtics do have a nice advantage defensively with the 76ers scoring a league worst 91.4 PPG. Expect this to be a tight scoring game, with the Celtics edging out the 76ers for the win but with Carter-Williams taking advantage of the Celtics poor defensive skills against point guards (21.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 8.9 APG and 1.9 STLPG).

Line: BOS -4.5, Over/Under: 204.5

Players to Watch

  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, 76ers – 23rd OPRK ($9,500)
  • Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics – 18th OPRK ($8,600)
  • Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics – 23rd OPRK ($7,000)
  • Jeff Green, SF, Celtics – 29th OPRK ($6,900)

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BULLS AT HAWKS

Game Analysis

Over their last eight games, the Bulls (14-8) have managed to score over 100 points per game, while pushing opponents to the edge defensively. However, there’s been some inconsistent play on the offensive side of the ball of late, so the Hawks (16-7), who had their nine-game winning streak busted by the Magic on Saturday, will be a solid matchup for the Bulls in Atlanta. The Bulls currently rank seventh in the league with 44.8 rebounds per game and they’ll look to bounce back from an embarrassing loss to the Golden State Warriors. The Hawks are a good, solid club that won’t lay down for the Bulls. We should see a high-scoring game, even with the Bulls recent inconsistencies with ball in hand. I really like the 201 over in this one.

Line: ATL -1.0, Over/Under: 201

Players to Watch

  • Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls – 11th OPRK ($9,300)
  • Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks – 14th OPRK ($7,500)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks – 23rd OPRK ($6,800)
  • DeMarre Carroll, SF, Hawks – 27th OPRK ($5,600)

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MAGIC AT RAPTORS

Game Analysis

DeMar DeRozan (groin) has been seriously missed by the Raptors (17-6), who have started to finally gel as a club as DeRozan still recovers. There’s still no timetable on his return, so the Raptors will have to continue without him as they’ve played decent of late by winning four out of their last six games. The Magic (10-16) will offer some resistance defensively against the Raptors, but their offense is only averaging 94.3 PPG (26th overall) and they have a difficult time distributing the ball with only 19.5 APG (29th overall). The Raptors shouldn’t have a problem beating the Magic, but will they do so by the eight points they’re giving up? I’m passing there and taking the Magic and the points. We should see Orlando do enough to keep things close as center Nikola Vucevic returned Saturday, but in the end Toronto will do enough to pull the victory out. Look for Kyle Lowry to continue his dominant ways as he’s averaging 48.2 FPPG over his last five played.

Line: TOR -8.0, Over/Under: 198

Players to Watch

  • Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors – 27th OPRK ($10,100)
  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic – 28th OPRK ($8,500)
  • Tobias Harris, SF, Magic – 20th OPRK ($6,800)
  • Amir Johnson, PF, Raptors – 21st OPRK ($5,500)

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BUCKS AT SUNS

Game Analysis

We’ve got two teeter-tottering teams, with the Bucks (12-12) and the Suns (12-12) on the verge of showing that they can play good basketball, while at other times they show why they’re .500 clubs. The Bucks are struggling of late, only winning two out of their last seven games played. During their rough patch of play over those seven games, the Bucks have allowed 109.3 PPG which points to a relative collapse on defense. The Suns haven’t been much better defensively, as they’re currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak where they’ve given up 107.3 PPG over the short stretch. So what to expect on Monday from these two wish-washy clubs? Expect points, enough to cover the 212 over.

Line: PHX -5.0, Over/Under: 212

Players to Watch

  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns – 20th OPRK ($8,500)
  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks – 16th OPRK ($6,700)
  • Larry Sanders, C, Bucks – 26th OPRK ($4,900)
  • P.J. Tucker, SF, Suns – 30th OPRK ($4,400)

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SPURS AT TRAIL BLAZERS

Game Analysis

If there’s one game I’m excited about watching on Monday, this is it. The Spurs (16-7) and Trail Blazers (18-6) are possibly showing us a preview of the Western Conference Finals, representing two of the upper-echelon clubs in the NBA each being tops in points per game differential (Spurs at +6.6, Trail Blazers at +6.3). The Spurs are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Lakers, where Nick Young tossed up a game-winning 3-point shot in overtime and they’ll look to tighten up some defensively. While the Spurs are one of the more rounded clubs in the NBA, the Trail Blazers are a top defensive club as they rank 1st overall in rebounds per game with 46.4 and 5th in points allowed with 95.7. The success of the Spurs will be shouldered upon Tim Duncan, who is expected to slow LaMarcus Aldridge down. Expect a low-scoring defensive battle, where the game will stay under 200 total points.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs – 20th OPRK ($9,100)
  • Nicolas Batum, SF, Trail Blazers – 24th OPRK ($8,500)
  • Cory Joseph, PG, Spurs – 21st OPRK ($4,600)
  • Boris Diaw, PF, Suns – 20th OPRK ($4,500)

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PISTONS AT CLIPPERS

Game Analysis

I really don’t see the Pistons (5-19) giving the Clippers (16-7) much of a game, with the Clippers hosting in Los Angeles with an 8-3 home record this season. They’re glad to be home after suffering two road losses in a row, one to the Wizards and then a tough and surprising loss to the Bucks on Saturday. Look for Chris Paul and Brandon Jennings to give viewers plenty of highlights, both of whom are immediately worth rostering when building your DFS lineups for Monday. Jennings is only shooting 37 percent right now, but is making sure he gets his teammates the ball with 55 assists over his last eight played. Paul, who fouled out for the first time in his last game played, and the Clippers shouldn’t have a tough time defending against the Bucks who only average 99.3 points per game.

Line: LAC -12.0, Over/Under: 203

Players to Watch

  • Josh Smith, SF, Pistons – 25th OPRK ($7,900)
  • DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers – 29th OPRK ($7,500)
  • Jamal Crawford, SG, Clippers – 25th OPRK ($5,100)
  • J.J. Redick, SG, Clippers – 25th OPRK ($4,700)

 

Catch me on Twitter @TheRolyPolyBoy! Good luck on Monday!