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. Good luck!
Golden State Warriors @ Orlando Magic
Line: Warriors -8
It’s sort of funny, really. The Warriors lost last week and then won a couple of games by “only” single digits, and all of a sudden there are some concerns about whether they can keep up this level of performance over the long haul. If their downturns consist of a couple of single digit wins, they are in good shape. Like any all-time great team, they have an all-time great player, and their team success is inexorably tied to his performance. And I don’t see his performances dropping off any time soon – he has, after all, dropped 78 points over the last three days (yes, I am knocking on wood).
For Orlando, Vucevic might still be their most effective big man from a fantasy perspective, but the Warriors have the capability of completely removing him from the equation, either by putting Draymond at the 5 and leaving Vucevic with no one to cover, or putting Bogut out there and making his life miserable on the block. This is actually a matchup where a player like Aaron Gordon should be a much better fit, so seeing how the rookie responds to a game on the big stage against a force of nature like Draymond should be interesting. Gordon has six straight double-digit rebounding games, with more than two steals and a block every night over the same stretch. He has only been in double-digits for points in four of the six, though, so he has yet to really fulfill his upside. But he is showing that it’s there in a big way, and they’re going to need someone to score here if they want to keep up.
– Stephen Curry ($10,400)
– Draymond Green ($8,600)
– Victor Oladipo ($7,000)
– Aaron Gordon ($6,500)
Milwaukee Bucks @ Boston Celtics
Line: Celtics -8
The Celtics have played six games on the road this month against only three at home, without so much as two in a row in Boston since the last week of January. They just finished up a three game trip through Utah, Denver and Minnesota, where they dropped two out of three. This game against Milwaukee marks the beginning of the end of that trend, as they kick of a five-game home stand where they are definitely hoping to get a little separation from Chicago for the three-seed in the east. Both of these teams defend guards well, on paper, but the Celtics are going to try to win this one by taking the pace up a notch, and that could play right into the strengths on both sides. But the Celtics’ guards are already priced based on a high-volume, fast-paced attack, and the Bucks guards are not. If this game flow means more opportunities for like Middleton, MCW and Giannis to capitalize on their athleticism, they could all be instant value plays. That type of style just isn’t reflected in their price point.
But in all honesty, if you want a sure bet, make it Greg Monroe. The Celtics’ rotation up front is still impossible to predict, and the guards could cancel each other out somewhat, but Monroe should be able to beast. He is better than the guys Boston can trot out against him, and the Celtics don’t have the personnel to go small enough to keep him off the court.
– Giannis Antetokounmpo ($7,700)
– Greg Monroe ($7,100)
– Jae Crowder ($6,000)
– Evan Turner ($5,200)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: OKC -5
After coming out of the gate scoring 34 and then 59 points, he followed it up a couple of days ago with only 9 against the Wizards. But he also had 20 rebounds. This was the kind of player we expected. Able to score OR rebound well enough to get you to 30 fantasy points, with the ability to supplement it all with assists, steals and blocks to make it a 40-50 point game. And when he brings it all together, the sky is the limit (see: 93.5 DK FP against Detroit less than a week ago). The Pelicans roster, truthfully, is pretty terrible – I expected their team to be better just because of Davis, and for no other reason. And while I was wrong, the premise wasn’t totally incorrect – anything good they do accomplish is because of their dominant young power forward. And in this matchup, Ibaka just doesn’t have the size to keep him from getting his shot off, and he is definitely the closest guy they have to an answer for Davis on defense.
If he wants to grab the W, though, he’s going to have to outperform two elite-level superstars on the other side, which isn’t going to be easy. Of the two, I like Westbrook the most – but how could you not? The guy costs $11,000 and seems like as much of a cash game option as anything because yeah, sure, the 70-point upside is there, but the real value comes from the fact that he is pretty much just always over 50. That’s not a bad way to start building a fantasy lineup.
– Russell Westbrook ($11,000)
– Anthony Davis ($10,000)
– Kevin Durant ($9,800)
– Jrue Holiday ($7,500)
Brooklyn Nets @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Brooklyn -1.5
Anytime Brooklyn is favored on the road, you know they’re facing a team with some deficits. I’ve written this before, and it remains true: Phoenix is a team that was built around their backcourt, and they still play that way even with their two starting guards injured. So you can trust their two backups, just at a reduced level.
But with their starting guards before or their backups now, they haven’t had any production from their frontcourt all year long. In other words, they have the opposite problem as the Nets. Brooklyn’s problem isn’t their big men, it’s that their guard play has been so bad, especially since Jack went down, they can’t get into their sets and get Lopez in a position to succeed. Thankfully, tonight, against the “defense” of the Suns’ guards, that shouldn’t be a problem, and it makes Lopez one of my favorite plays of the entire night, no matter what the matchup looks like on paper. Who else is Brooklyn going to go to?
– Brook Lopez ($7,700)
– Thaddeus Young ($6,700)
– Archie Goodwin ($5,700)
– Devin Booker ($5,600)
Houston Rockets @ Portland Trailblazers
Line: Portland -5
With a total at 222, and only six games on the schedule, you’d think you would be focused on this contest for as many of your picks as possible. But with the lowest game of the bunch total set at 208.5, all Vegas is telling you is that there will be plenty of fantasy points to go around. Luckily, in this one, at least those points should stay consolidated in just a player or two per team.
For the Rockets it’s Harden and then it’s a crapshoot. Every night someone has a chance to step up, and in this matchup, that someone should be Dwight. He’s inconsistent, but there is no one on the Blazers to slow him down. He’s an obvious double-double candidate, making him a good cash game option, but he has a chance at 25+ points tonight, and if he gets there he could be the pick that makes your fantasy squad.
For the Blazers, you know who the options are, but I am just here to make sure you put the appropriate amount of thought into whether you can afford NOT to have them active. Lillard’s price has been steadily climbing, but he costs $9,700 for one reason only right now: he cost less than $9,000 a month ago. If we were basing this on real value right at this moment, he might be the highest priced player on the board. He’s put up fewer than 40 DK FP only once in February, and he is averaging 35.5 actual NBA points over his last five. He has had 51, 30 and 34 in his three since the break, making a strong case that maybe he was, um, overlooked?
– James Harden ($10,500)
– Damian Lillard ($9,700)
– C.J. McCollum ($7,500)
– Dwight Howard ($7,400)
San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz
The Spurs are coming off a win last night in Sacramento, in which Tony Parker had 23 points on 17 shot attempts to lead the team in both categories – which is a way of saying we really don’t know who is going to step up on this team from night to night. I have written about it before, but as a team, they are so efficient that there is almost a direct-line correlation from minutes to fantasy points for everyone on the team, just at slightly different rates (Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard might score different amounts of fantasy points per minute, but they are both straight-line correlations). They have plenty of guys who are capable of going off on any given night – that’s now three straight games over 20 points for Parker – but that really doesn’t mean he’s going to do it again tonight.
So instead, you have to look at the matchup, and it’s not a good one for Utah. The strength of their team – their frontcourt – is going to run into the teeth of San Antonio’s interior defense and Gordon Hayward isn’t bailing anyone out with Kawhi all over him. Utah can defend too, though, so I would expect San Antonio to feature Kawhi, Leonard and maybe even Duncan much more than on other nights, looking for those high percentage shots they need to be successful when the pace has slowed down and the total scoring is closer to the low end of their typical range than the high end.
– Kawhi Leonard ($7,400)
– LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,900)
– Rudy Gobert ($6,400)
– Rodney Hood ($6,100)