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 match ups.
Big Money Wednesday
Pistons @ Pacers
Detroit snapped a four game losing streak with back to back wins that played to the over. It seems they have righted the ship and the offense is back on track. A lot of that has to do with the play of DJ Augustin who has been amazing since taking over the starting PG role with Brandon Jennings done for the year. Indiana has been very up and down lately. They have only won 2 of their last 10 and are alternating overs and unders during that stretch. In their two wins they scored over 103 points both times and have failed to do so in the other 8 games which were all losses. These two teams last met about three weeks ago in Indiana as well and the Pistons walked away with a two point victory in that game. After having a rash of injuries, both teams are now completely healthy. Lately both teams seem to be playing towards totals ahead of what Vegas expects today. The last time they met the total was 194 so I think we are right about where we should be. The Pistons seem to have righted the ship after getting blown out three back and only scoring 69 points, so I think this game could play to the over here and remain close throughout. We have a large slate today so this is not the best spot for fantasy purposes, but we could see a few decent stat lines come out of here.
Line: Pacers -3, O/U 193
Players to Watch
- DJ Augustin, PG, Pistons ($6200)
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Pistons ($4000)
- George Hill, PG, Pacers ($4500)
- CJ Miles, SF, Pacers ($3300)
Nets @ Raptors
The Nets have one only one of their last five. After back to back blowout losses to the Clippers and Jazz by a combined 75 points they lost close games to the Hawks and Raptors before finally getting back in the win column with a solid victory over the Clippers. They have played some good games and some really bad ones, so it all depends on which team shows up for Brooklyn on any given night. Toronto had won six in a row with five of those playing to the over before dropping the last one to Milwaukee in a very low scoring affair. They had been playing well over the totals with both teams cracking the triple digit mark and a very hot pace during the winning streak, so I’m not sure what happened last time out. oth teams have been putting up and giving up numbers lately, so this game should feature a pretty hot pace and a lot of scoring. There’s been a lot of inconsistent play out of guys on both these teams and with the stars like DeRozan and Deron Williams returning from injuries the rotations and usage rates are out of whack again. Both teams seem to be healthy for now and with everyone getting a few less minutes to accommodate the returning stars I am trigger shy on using a lot of these guys today. I like this game, but think both tams spread the wealth enough to make me cautious of using anybody here.
Line: Raptors -7, O/U 202
Players to Watch
- Patrick Patterson, PF, Raptors ($4300)
- Demar DeRozan, SG, Raptors ($7000)
- Joe Johnson, SG, Nets ($5600)
- Brook Lopez, C, Nets ($6300)
Wizards @ Hawks
Two of the best the East has to offer are squaring off in what could be a second or third round playoff preview. The Wizards have struggled recently losing three in a row and playing to the under in 3 of the last 4. Washington tends to struggle more in paced up games as they have lost to most of the teams who were able to score 105+ in their recent contests. They prefer the game in a slower more methodical pace where the scores remain below 100 on both sides. I don’t think they get that type of game today against a Hawks team that can put up points and limit their opponents. New Orleans finally snapped the Atlanta win streak which had not seen them lose in over a month. Over the last ten games the Hawks have consistently scored about 108 points and given up under 100. I see more of the same happening today as well. Everyone seems healthy for this one with the exception of Demarre Carrol for the Hawks. He did come back and play last game, but he still looks rusty and may need more time. I expect the Hawks to take care of business at home today, but do not expect this to be the key game that wins or losses someone a GPP based on the slower pace the Wizards enjoy and the stout defense both teams can play when they try.
Line: Hawks -5.5, O/U 198
Players to Watch
- Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards ($6000)
- John Wall, PG, Wizards ($8900)
- Denis Schroder, PG, Hawks ($3800)
- Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7900)
Nuggets @ Celtics
Both of these teams have been playing to the under lately so the first thing that jumped out at me is the 200 total. I would not be surprised to see it drop a little today or to see the under hit if it did not. The Celtics have won 4 of their last 8 and the losses have come against some solid teams so they can be excused a bit. Boston tends to win when they are able to keep the totals to the under, so I am hoping and assuming that is the case again today. As for the Nuggets, I do not even know where to start here. If Brian Shaw lasts the full season I will be shocked. The worst indictment of a coach is when his own players quit on him and from watching this team lately I think that is what is happening. I can not even blame them sometimes, because I feel he created a lot of the ill will in the locker room. His substitution patterns and bench usage are pretty horrible. Ty Lawson plays way too many minutes on most nights and it’s no wonder the bumps and bruises are catching up to him. Same goes for Wilson Chandler. The big man rotation is a mess and makes no sense. Faried, Hickson, and Nurkic have all played 30+ minutes in some games and 15 or less in others. I do not know if Shaw is trying to use minutes to get some point across or something, but it does not seem to be working. Body language on the court is something every coach picks up on at any level and the messages the Nuggets players are sending is they do not want to be here playing for this guy. They do have some talent on that team and while I do not think they should be championship contenders I also think they should not lose 9 of the last 10 with a full squad. I like the Celtics a lot today to score over 100 and win this game. I hate the Nuggets and likely will not use any of them on a large slate night like this, because I do not know who to trust.
Line: Celtics -2, O/U 200
Players to Watch
- Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics ($6500)
- Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4200)
- I don’t like any of the Nuggets to reach Value
Bulls @ Rockets
Chicago only has three wins in their last eight games and played to the under in five of those. They have not been defending like we usually think the Bulls team should and they just do not look fluid on either end of the floor at the moment. The Rockets have won four of their last five. After playing two really high scoring games up in pace against the Suns and Warriors they played three straight where neither team reached triple digits before playing a very high scoring game last out against the Pistons. It defies reasoning as most would assume the defense would take a hit without Dwight Howard in the middle, yet they have looked OK without the anchor to that defense. He is still listed as out, so we probably do not see him again today and that keeps the minutes high for guys like Motiejunas and Josh Smith who will be needed today to contend with the likes of Pau, Noah, and Gibson for Chicago. The Key match up in this one will be a banged up James Harden against Jimmy Butler who is also fresh off an injury. Both guys have thrown up some pretty sick numbers lately, so it’s going to be a really nice match up between one of the best wing defenders in the league and one of the best players with the ball in his hands. I expect to see Harden start the offense more as one of the strengths of Butler is denying the ball to his man. The Rockets main advantage today is going to be at the SF spot as they can run out guys like Ariza and Brewer which will force the Bulls to have to use more Tony Snell as guys like Mirotic would not be able to match up with Ariza or Brewer on the perimeter. Snell in the game really hurts Chicago on Offense as he offers very little positive on that end of the floor. The Bulls have struggled and I do not see them going into Houston and winning this game. We should see a decent pace and a decent amount of points here as well. It should remain close throughout and that means full run for the starters. Knowing how much Thibs plays his starters and how the Rockets are playing a man or two down with a shorter rotation I think a few guys can reach value here if for no other reason than minutes and volume.
Line: Rockets -3, O/U 202
Players to Watch
- James Harden, SG, Rockets ($10800)
- Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Rockets ($5600)
- Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls ($9300)
- Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls ($7500)
Heat @ Timberwolves
Minnesota welcomed back Pekovic and Martin last week and just got Rubio back Monday, so for the first time all season they are finally healthy. They have lost three in a row and are playing to totals in the 190s. Even with the uptick in pace expected against the Mavs, they failed to come anywhere near a 200+ point total and the pace was still slower than expected. Against a team like the Heat who play way down in pace I think this could be even worse and Vegas has the line nailed on this one. Dwayne Wade is still out for the Heat who have played to the under in eight of the last ten and have only four wins during that stretch. Most Heat games tend to stay very low scoring. Detroit, Milwaukee, and Golden state are the only three teams to crack 100 against them in the last ten and they average slightly above 90 points per game with quite a few 80s in there as well. This should be a very low scoring game and I would shy away from guys who rely on points and assists solely for their fantasy value.
Line: Timberwolves -2, O/U 188
Players to Watch
- Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat ($7700)
- Chris Bosh, C, Heat ($7800)
- Kevin Martin, SG, Timberwolves ($5500)
- Thad Young, PF, Timberwolves ($6200)
Lakers @ Milwaukee
Injuries are going to create a lot of value in this game despite both teams playing to low totals in the last few. Kobe is definitely out, so guys like Clarkson and Elligton are good value plays again tonight at low prices. For the Bucks you have a slew of questionable players and if Knight, Ersan, and Zaza miss another game the Bucks rotation is shortened to the point where all the starters are interesting again. Guys like Dudley, Henson, Bayless, Giannis, and Middleton all are seeing increased minutes and usage as they try to weather the storm created by the injury bug. The Bucks have won five of the last six games, but have seen the pace and scoring drop recently as they try to slow it down a little to make the short rotation work better. The Lakers have only won one of the last ten and I think they are trying to let the young guys get some experience in order to see what they have. Guys like Price, Lin, and Ed Davis have noticeable drops in minutes and production lately as the aforementioned guard combo and Tarik Black and Robert Sacre have seen the minutes tick up recently. Even with all the injuries the remaining Bucks players are more talented than what LA is running out there for 30+ minutes on a nightly basis. The silver lining to this game is that we have a lot of cheap options here who should play 25+ minutes tonight regardless of the score, so while this is not a great game for fantasy on paper, we could have a few guys reach value due to the upticks in usage and minutes that go along with the injuries. If some of these Bucks players are healthy enough to go it will tick down almost all of them, but if all those guys remain out, we could see five or six solid value guys come from this contest on both sides.
Line: Bucks -7, O/U 193
Players to Watch
- Jordan Clarkson, PG, Lakers ($4800)
- Carlos Boozer, PF, Lakers ($5500)
- Jared Dudley, SF, Bucks ($4500)
- John Henson, PF, Bucks ($5000)
Thunder @ Pelicans
Vegas has been slow to post a total for this game due to the uncertainty surrounding Kevin Durant. It’s looking like he will miss this game again today as he sat out practice Tuesday. If so we know that makes Westbrook almost a must play as he has been awesome when Durant is not in the line up. On the other side of the ball, the Pelicans are without PG Jrue Holiday again and that means Tyreke Evans will continue to be the catalyst and assist man for New Orleans. him, Davis, and Gordon are carrying that team at the moment and all 3 are in play today. OKC has been struggling recently without KD. They have only won two of their last six and have played to the under in all of them. They have only scored over 100 in one of those games, so I would not expect a ton of points from them if KD sits again today. The Pelicans have won six of seven and have done it in various ways. They have played games with 210+ point totals where both teams reached the century mark and have played games where neither team cracked 95 just as often. With Durant questionable and the up and down nature of the Pelicans pace it is easy to see why Vegas is still gun shy to post a total in this one. The Pelicans are expected to win and the game should be close so you have to like the stars to shine in this one today.
Line: Pelicans -3, O/U ???
Players to Watch
- Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans ($6400)
- Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($10800)
- Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($10600)
- Dion Waiters, SG, Thunder ($4500)
Magic @ Spurs
Defending Champs are healthy and rounding back into form. They have the highest Spread today on one of only five games with an expected total over 200. The Spurs should be able to put up some points, but whether or not the starters get a lot of run is the real issue here. Orlando has lost nine straight games and the defense has been so bad they have played to the over in almost all of them. It’s been about a month since they have held an opponent under 100 points and the Spurs have only allowed two opponents to reach the century mark in their last nine so this one makes sense to be an easy San Antonio victory at home. This game reeks of the kind that Spurs players get rested in, so be vigilant when checking the reports before this game. Even without a full roster I still like the Spurs in this one, but the Magic should be happy to know that Oladipo and Harris will be on the court together for the second straight game, so maybe they can get back on track. Going into San Antonio against the defending champs is probably not the best spot for them to put it all togethter though, so I would still wait on that for a softer spot if I was inclined to go that way.
Line: Spurs -13, O/U 203
Players to Watch
- Tobias Harris, SF, Magic ($5600)
- Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($6800)
- Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($7700)
- Tony Parker, PG, Spurs ($5000)
Grizzlies @ Jazz
Memphis is starting to round back into shape. They have won nine of the last ten and are starting to show the defense we have known and loved them for in the past. Seven of the last ten have stayed under and the only team to crack 100 was the high scoring Suns who reached 101. The Jazz have only four wins in their last ten and consistently play to totals right around 200. Sometimes they go a little over and sometimes they fall a little short, but 103-97 is about the score they see nightly not matter which side of the equation they are on. This game is definitely a tick down for them in terms of both pace and scoring, although they do have a nice stable full of big men that may be able to slow down the studs Memphis has inside. Mike Conley looked pretty good in the last game and although he is still shaking off some of the rust I think it is safe to say he is back in business today. The Grizzlies look like a team on a mission and the Jazz are still working through some defensive and rotation issue’s. I like the Grizz in a probable low scoring affair here, so the starters should see full minutes, but may not score a ton of points today.
Line: Grizz -6, O/U 189.5
Players to Watch
- Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($7000)
- Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies ($8000)
- Gordon Hayward, SF, Jazz ($8100)
- Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz ($5400)
Mavericks @ Warriors
Tonight’s Hammer game should be one of the highest scoring on today’s slate and with two of the most high powered offenses going a high placing with no PMR is not a safe place at all. The Warriors have one of the deepest and most talented rotations in the league. They can score, defend, and play at any tempo. They are probably the best shooting team top to bottom in the league and it’s no shock they have won seven of their last nine and played to the over more often. Dallas has also won three in a row after a snapping a losing streak, but they have seen the scoring average and pace drop over the last few. The big news for the Mavs is Rondo being out and Devin Harris leaving the last game in the 4th quarter with an injury as well. If they both sit, we could see a lot of minutes for JJ Barea in a high paced high scoring game with a very low price tag. He and Ray Felton would be the only two PGs left on the roster, so I can see a lot of minutes for them regardless of the score. The Warriors are on fire right now and the Mavs are not a defensive minded team capable of slowing them down. Getting into a shoot out with the Warriors will lead no where, so I’m not sure if they stand a chance today. I do not fear a blowout, but after watching Golden State play last night, it could very well happen. This game will be the deciding factor in a few tournaments tonight, but I would not go too heavy as both teams have tons of guys who can put the ball in the hole, most of them are pricey, and there’s no way to tell who gets the bulk of the work today.
Line: Warriors -9, O/U 217
Players to Watch
- JJ Barea, PG, Mavs ($3400)
- Chandler Parsons, SF, Mavs ($5700)
- Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($8500)
- Draymond Green, SF, Warriors ($7500)