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.

KNICKS AT BULLS

Game Analysis

This is the biggest mismatch of the night as the Knicks (5-22) head into Chicago to play the Bulls (15-9) on Thursday evening, so if it’s a lopsided game you’re interested in then here you go. The interesting thing here though is that the Bulls are only 4-5 at home this season, which is quite a disparity looking at the overall win-loss record. Still, I don’t see there being much resistance from the Knicks and see an easy cover of the 10 points being given to the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony, who is still dealing with a sore knee, remains the only good thing the Knicks have going right now, so he’ll need to have a miraculous night with his shot or complete collapse by the Bulls – I’m not seeing either especially if center Joakim Noah returns to action. The Knicks are only averaging a little over 91 points a game over their last 11 games.

Line: CHI -10.0, Over/Under: 194.5

Players to Watch

  • Carmelo Anthony, SF, Knicks – 26th OPRK ($10,300)
  • Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls – 21st OPRK ($9,400)
  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls – 25th OPRK ($7,200)
  • Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls – 21st OPRK ($5,100)

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PELICANS AT ROCKETS

Game Analysis

As long as Anthony Davis is in the lineup, the Pelicans (12-12) have a shot at winning any given night even against the hard-charging Rockets (18-5) who are equally impressive at home and on the road in 2014. The Pelicans rank decently well in all offensive categories, but are hurt by their lack of defense which allows 102.6 PPG, ranking 24th in the league overall. And, it’s just the opposite for the Rockets which rank 2nd in the NBA only allowing 95.3 PPG. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, but this game is about the Rockets defense being able to stop the Pelicans on offense – strength versus strength. Expect things to be fairly tight overall, but the Rockets pulling out the victory. Good defense normally stumps good offense.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets – 21st OPRK ($11,600)
  • Dwight Howard, C, Rockets – 23rd OPRK ($9,000)
  • Trevor Ariza, SF, Rockets – 23rd OPRK ($6,500)
  • Tarik Black, C, Rockets – 23rd OPRK ($3,400)

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BUCKS AT KINGS

Game Analysis

It looks like the Kings (11-14) will have Rudy Gay’s services on Thursday, as he’s been dealing with Achilles tendinitis. That bodes well for the Kings, who really couldn’t afford to be without Gay considering DeMarcus Cousins has been out with a viral infection since the end of November. If Gay and Cousins are out, expect it to be a very long night for the Kings as the Bucks (13-13) will certainly take advantage. The Kings are only shooting a bit over 45 percent as a team while only dishing out 19.5 assists per game (29th overall), and they lack on the defensive side. I’ve got the Bucks taking this game by five points, since they’re facing an unhealthy Kings club. But, if Cousins returns to action (50/50 chance right now) and Gay plays like advertised, then the Kings will at least have a fighting chance at home.

Line: None, Over/Under: None

Players to Watch

  • Rudy Gay, SF, Kings – 30th OPRK ($9,200)
  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks – 23rd OPRK ($6,900)
  • O.J. Mayo, SG, Bucks – 12th OPRK ($5,000)
  • Ben McLemore, SG, Kings – 24th OPRK ($4,700)

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THUNDER AT WARRIORS

Game Analysis

The Thunder (12-13) is not the same team they were before the return of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but that’s pretty obvious now, isn’t it? The Warriors (21-3), who are coming off a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, ended a 16-game winning streak and are still the team to beat in the Western Conference right now. In a dream matchup of point guards, Stephen Curry and Westbrook will be battling back-and-forth all night. The Thunder has the edge historically against the Warriors over their last 18 meetings, winning 13 of those games, but don’t be surprised to see both teams score close to 110 points. That puts me in for the over at 210, but I’m taking the Thunder and the 2.5 points they’re being spotted. Westbrook will be the deciding factor in the end.

Line: GS -2.5, Over/Under: 210

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder – 11th OPRK (11,700)
  • Draymond Green, SF, Warriors – 17th OPRK ($7,500)
  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors – 19th OPRK ($7,400)
  • Serge Ibaka, PF, Thunder – 15th OPRK ($6,600)

 

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