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!
Chicago Bulls @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Bulls -8.5
Let’s see: Jimmy Butler sprained his ankle Tuesday but played through it and is probable. Derrick Rose is questionable after missing yesterday’s practice, Pau Gasol is out, and Noah is banged up but probably going to play. Assuming Rose and Gasol are the only two out, that leaves the emphasis in this one on defense, so I would expect to see the under hit. But the good thing is, even if the total fantasy points available are reduced, they should also be consolidated, basically all in Jimmy Butler. Despite the injury, he played 41 minutes on Tuesday and racked up 30 points, 8 boards and 6 assists, doing it all for Chicago. Against Philly, I expect to see him do it again. Other options basically include bargain basement injury fill-ins, like Aaron Brooks at the point and some combination of Mirotic and Gibson getting more run and more looks to account for Gasol’s absence.
For Philly, Okafor is an obvious play, especially with the depleted frontcourt of Chicago – he should be their best option on offense all night long in this one. Ish Smith has been providing good value lately, with three of his last four games over 40 DK FP, but Chicago can still defend on the perimeter, so I would expect to see him closer to the low end of his possible scoring range tonight. The hope is that he can do enough to create opportunities for their bigs.
– Jimmy Butler ($8,800)
– Jahlil Okafor ($6,100)
– Nikola Mirotic ($5,900)
– Robert Covington ($4,400)
Detroit Pistons @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Memphis -1
It is easy to look at the lowest total predicted by Vegas and say you should stay away as much as possible, but much like the injury-depleted Bulls, both of these squads tend to consolidate the fantasy value that is there into just a few players. Andre Drummond has had a double-double in five of his last six games and Reggie Jackson is averaging 16 and a half shot attempts a night, even while averaging 8 dimes. In other words, he ALWAYS has the ball in his hands.
Memphis has managed to stay up at the sixth seed in the West at 21-19, with the same formula that has worked for them for years. If you are familiar with that formula, you can see why this total is where it is. They don’t run, they play half court and always manage to get good looks, but they don’t have the shooters they need to really capitalize on their advantages down low. And they never relent on the defensive end, mainly because no matter what else happens, there is always at least one guy in the middle to protect the rim. There’s nothing flashy, but Randolph and Gasol will be given opportunities to excel. For this one, you might also find some value in Mario Chalmers, getting more minutes and looks than usual right now with Conley injured. If Conley misses again tonight, you could see another performance like the three of his last four that have been over 30 DK FP.
– Andre Drummond ($8,700)
– Marc Gasol ($7,400)
– Reggie Jackson ($7,100)
– Mario Chalmers ($6,300)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -5.5
The game of the night, my best bet here is that neither team cracks 90. They both know how to put a big number on a lesser opponent but they can slow it down, play in the half court and lock down on D as well as anyone, and in a big game, those are the tendencies they are prone to fall back on. Kawhi and LeBron facing off against each other is a highlight of the season, but it also means they each have the single worst matchup they could possibly have. If you draft either of them, you have to root for an epic game of one-upsmanship. Actually, we should all root for that.
For Cleveland, when LeBron is otherwise occupied, their best scoring threat is Kyrie once again, with apologies to Love. Irving has had 40 or more DK FP three times in his last five games, all in games where he poured in 20+ actual points. That kind of performance is easy to imagine for tonight out of necessity, no matter how good is the Spurs’ defense.
– LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,900)
– Kyrie Irving ($6,800)
– Tim Duncan ($5,300)
– Tristan Thompson ($4,900)
Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz
Line: Jazz -2.5
Both of these teams are under .500 for the year, but the Jazz are still holding onto the 8th spot in the rankings, even after an extended absence for Favors (now up to 11 games). He is not expected to play tonight either, which should mean another start for Trevor Booker, and a dramatically improved matchup for DeMarcus Cousins. In actuality, though, it’s more likely that Cousins ends up matched up with someone like a Gobert in order to get more out of his defensive ability. With his athelticism, however, that’s still a matchup he can exploit on the offensive end.
Rajon Rondo has had a double-double in two of his last four, and came one rebound away from adding to his career triple-double list a few nights back against OKC. He’s had double-digit assists now in four straight, and while the Jazz are good on paper against point guards, that strength lies in expertly closing out on shooters, not necessarily containing someone who does all his damage with penetration. For Utah, they have been making up Favors’ production – or trying to – with the combination of Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood all of a sudden shooting a lot more, and someone like Booker trying to be an adequate replacement on the boards and on defense. Obviously, though, you don’t lose a player like Favors and get better, so you can’t expect to see the same Jazz out there you were at the beginning of the season.
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,300)
– Rajon Rondo ($8,600)
– Gordon Hayward ($7,200)
– Rodney Hood ($5,900)
Los Angeles Lakers @ Golden State Warriors
Line: Golden State -17
I mean, wow. Despite the total of 214.5, with a 17-point spread Vegas is still saying the Lakers won’t crack 100. And that’s without Draymond. Last night, the Warriors could not hold on against the Rockets, falling 112-110. There was some encouraging news, however, as Steph Curry played 40 minutes and looked great, dropping 38 points in the losing effort. Without Green again tonight, this should be another guard-dominated game, with the potential to see big scoring nights from both Curry and Thompson. There is no power forward on the roster to really take his place, so the extra minutes go to Barnes, Iguodala and Bogut, essentially. Extra playing time never hurt anyone’s fantasy value, but for those guys it could be nothing but more chances at rebounds and defensive stats, because the ball is still going through the guards.
On the other side of the ball, Kobe is listed as questionable for tonight, and there seems to be a good chance he really won’t play. You’ll have to keep an eye on the situation, but his absence could mean increased opportunities for D’Angelo Russell, who has been getting limited chances, but still has flashed serious upside lately (four of six over 20 DK FP, including two over 30). It also should certainly mean more chances for Lou Williams, who has been on an absolute tear, establishing himself as the best option on the team, or trying to, with 6 of 8 games over 30 DK FP, and 8 of 9 over 28, a stretch that has even included two 50+ fantasy point outings.
– Stephen Curry ($10,600)
– Klay Thompson ($8,200)
– Lou Williams ($6,500)
– D’Angelo Russell ($4,800)