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.
Detroit Pistons @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pelicans -1.5
The Pistons played solid game against Houston last night, with all five starters finishing with at least 17 points. That is a great thing for the Pistons and their fans, but I’ll tell you who it’s not good for: Reggie Jackson. He held down the fort as basically the only shooter and creator on the team for the entire first part of the season, and as guys like Caldwell-Pope and Ilyasova begin to emerge – if it keeps up – his opportunities could be somewhat diminished.
The Pelicans have won three of their last four, and it’s not hard to see why – Anthony Davis. This is more reminiscent of what we thought we’d be seeing from him this season, averaging 25.5 points, 7.5 boards, and basically a pair of steals and blocks each. In other words, you were expecting a beast on both ends of the floor, which I think is usually a helpful thing for any team to have. The Pistons have Anderson’s length and Drummond backing him up, which makes them good at defending the position, though, so we’re going to see him get a good test here – because in all honesty, he should be matchup-proof. But his presence means one thing for sure – I wouldn’t want to go trusting Ilyasova to repeat last night’s 18 point performance.
For tonight, with Eric Gordon out, Jrue is expected to start at SG, and there should be more minutes and chances to go around than usual for both him and Norris Cole.
– Andre Drummond ($8,800)
– Reggie Jackson ($7,300)
– Jrue Holiday ($6,500)
– Marcus Morris ($5,700)
Los Angeles Clippers @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Cavs -6
DeAndre Jordan is back after missing some time with an illness, and sometimes, you love him as a fantasy option while Blake is out. Last year, riding him for the entirety of Griffin’s time on the injury list would have paid dividends in DFS play. But tonight he is facing one of the best teams in the league at defending the frontcourt positions. And that means two things: 1. Chris Paul and 2. you could see more chances for other options at the forward position, most notably Paul Pierce and Josh Smith. Smith has gone from hardly ever seeing the court to playing 20 minutes in each of the last two, and that is enough to make him a possible value play at this price. Pierce, too, is cheap enough to consider, as he has played 26, 20 and 22 minutes in his last three, averaging just over 20 fantasy points compared to 17 minutes and 12 fantasy points per game on average for the year. Either one of these guys could be good options in a cash format. Paul, on the other hand, emerges as more of a GPP option, with his upside being readjusted in the right direction as he tries to do more on offense for the Clips.
– Chris Paul ($9,800)
– Paul Pierce ($4,000)
– LeBron James ($9,700)
– Tristan Thompson ($4,800)
Memphis Grizzlies @ Denver Nuggets
Line: Memphis -1.5
The Grizzlies have won five of their last six contests, and they just got Mike Conley back. He played his first game since January 4th on Monday (he missed six games with an Achilles injury). In Monday’s action against NOLA, he played 27 minutes and had 15 points and 10 assists. Chalmers still got 21 minutes of PT, but he had one field goal attempt and five assists, leaving no doubt that Conley’s return marks the end of his fantasy value.
In Denver, after losing six straight to close out 2015, they have won four of their last seven, with their two most recent victories coming against Golden State and Indiana. Will Barton has been a key part of the upswing for the Nuggets, with 21 points in both of those two victories. He is a streaky scorer, but he is getting the attempts, so the question is just whether his shot is falling. After averaging 20-7-3 in December, his number dropped off for the first part of this month, so the two 21 points efforts in their last four games could be a sign he is turning it around again.
– Marc Gasol ($7,600)
– Danilo Gallinari ($7,100)
– Mike Conley ($6,200)
– Will Barton ($5,900)
Atlanta Hawks @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Kings -1
At first look, neither one of these teams are so good on offense that a total as high as 218.5 makes any sense, and then you realize what Vegas must be thinking – neither one of them can play any defense at all. Maybe it will make it fun to watch? The Kings are favored by one here, even though they sit in 8th in the West at 18-23 and are facing the 26-17, 3rd place Hawks. Sure, it’s a long trip from Atlanta to Northern Cali, but that line also just shows the continued respect for the West, even as the East seems to be narrowing the gap between the two conferences somewhat. There are no major injury concerns for either team right now, so you can have your pick of all their options, who should basically be productive if this many points are really going up on the board.
If you’re trying to play it safe, though, stick to the big men – Atlanta’s guards are not their most consistent scorers, but are their most consistent defenders. The star forwards and centers involved, though, should be able to finish in transition, serve as the primary options in half-court sets, and up with with more than enough opportunities for a few of them to be solid fantasy options.
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,600)
– Paul Millsap ($8,200)
– Al Horford ($6,900)
– Rudy Gay ($6,800)
San Antonio Spurs @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Spurs -14
Freaking San Antonio, huh? Are they the single best sports franchise of this century, or just the best basketball team? It’s hard to say, mainly because it’s not over. We still get to see what happens in June, and these Spurs could be adding to their resume as well. And it doesn’t have to end anytime soon – Kawhi and LaMarcus are young, stud building block type pieces that they can fill in around even as their stalwarts start to retire.
The one piece you might have said they needed sooner rather than later at the beginning of the year was a new point guard. And while that need is real, and is coming up soon, Tony Parker has made it seem just a little further away with his performances recently, averaging 13-5 in just under 30 minutes a game. But Pop is holding him out tonight with the hip injury that’s been bugging him all along, and the Spurs will see once again what life will be like without their primary creator. And they will be fine tonight – but over the long haul even Kawhi and LaMarcus will need someone to get the offense in gear.
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,300)
– Brandon Knight ($7,200)
– LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,100)
– Patty Mills ($3,500)