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 Events

We have a few big events going on at Draft Kings right now. Tonight’s NBA slate is going to award a few trips and a lot of money.  First off is the $1000 Qualifer #12 to the Fantasy Basketball World Championships. There are also two other Qualifiers for a chance to win tickets to the Super Bowl. One is at a price friendly $27 price point and the other is a more expensive $300 per lineup. Last but not least we have the $500K January Jams coming up this Wednesday. They started accepting early reservations, so get yours in here.

______________________________________________________________

Raptors @ 76ers

Game Analysis

Toronto is only two for their last five in the win column with five straight unders. The losses were to Atl, Mem, and NO so it’s not like they are not playing well. One of those two wins was a 16 point victory over this same Sixers squad two weeks ago. The Struggling Sixers are 3 for their last 9 with 8 unders over that stretch, so both teams are playing down a tick in pace recently and a low scoring game seems most likely. The big news here is we have a few guys that are questionable for tonight’s game. For the Raptors we have Valaciunas with a sore knee who looks likely to sit this one out. Kyle Lowry dislocated a finger and it definitely seemed to effect his shooting last game. He’s a warrior and will likely play, but it could be a case where it hurts his shooting and scoring numbers. For the Sixers it is likely Tony Wroten is out again. He went to see a specialist this week and is probably not going to play. Nerlens Noel was a late scratch Wednesday with the flu and he may miss a second game due to the effects of it as well. Last out with no Noel guys like Covington and Sims had extra minutes and solid production, so they are again in play if Noel misses. The Total seems high based on recent performances of these two teams and with an 11 point spread and a few guys banged up we could see some different stars emerge here with extra run and nice stat lines. On an 11 game slate I think we have better games to target.

Line: Raptors -11.5, O/U 194.5

Players to Watch

  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Sixers ($8500)
  • Henry Sims, C, Sixers ($4300)
  • Lou Williams, SG, Raptors ($4500)
  • Amir Johnson, PF, Raptors ($4600)

______________________________________________________________

Magic @ Knicks

Game Analysis

The Magic have lost 3 straight and played to the over each time. That probably has a lot to do with them allowing opponents an average of 120 points during that stretch. The struggling Knicks welcomed back Carmelo Anthony and made a few roster adjustments and have a 2 game winning streak for the first time in a long time. They have been scoring it better with Melo in the line up but are still not playing like a high powered offense. Some of the line up shuffles the Knicks have been using do open up some minutes and value on some cheaper options, so a few of those guys are interesting. As for the Magic they welcomed back Tobias Harris last out and the opposite is true of them. With Harris sidelined we ticked up a few of the other starters and Payton, Vucevic, and Oladipo became guys who out performed consistently. You can even add Channing Frye into that discussion and as last game showed us, having Tobias back hurts them all a little bit. The total here is creeping up and Vegas is expecting a close and high scoring game which means this one is perfectly useable for fantasy goodness tonight.

Line: Magic 2.5 up from 1.5, O/U 206.5 up from 197.5

Players to Watch

  • Langston Galloway, PG, Knicks ($4100)
  • Carmelo Anthony, SF, Knicks ($8900)
  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($6900)
  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic ($8900)

______________________________________________________________

Pacers @ Heat

Game Analysis

Both these teams are playing a slow methodical style of basketball which is not good for fantasy purposes. If you look this O/U is well below all the other games here today and on a large slate the only reason to target anyone here is because they will likely be low owned. In cash games a 183 spread is almost an automatic stay away for me and if you really wanted to throw a low owned player from this game in, I would not even know who to target. Wade and Bosh are the guys for the Heat, but both have high prices and need to score a bunch to get to value. For the Pacers you always have a myriad of mid priced options and no one really knows who to use. Is it another one of those CJ Miles games? Will West take advantage of the injuries to an already soft Heat interior D? Is this a game they lean heavy on Hibbert? Is Sloan or Watson or Stuckey ready to blow up? The questions are endless and the pace is snail like, so steer clear of this game in all formats unless you are looking for a way to differentiate yourself, but even then I think there are better spots to do so.

Line: Heat -3, O/U 183

Players to Watch

  • Stay away from this game tonight

______________________________________________________________

Thunder @ Hawks

Game Analysis

The Hawks just keep winning and the scores look the same every game. They score around 100-110 points and give up about 90. It’s almost like clockwork at this point if you look through the recent game logs. It’s been a good month for Atlanta as they are keeping that undefeated January alive with every team they knock off. Tonight that streak will be tested with OKC rolling into town. The Hawks take pride in stopping people and being able to play at any pace. That too will be tested tonight as OKC has been scoring at a pretty insane clip lately and stopping Westbrook and Durant is never an easy task. OKC is on a four game win streak where they are averaging over 113 points a game. This should be a great game filled with two teams whose strengths clash. Does good offense trump good defense or will we see good defense stop good offense? To me the real key for this game is whether OKC can play enough defense to stop the Hawks? I personally think the Hawks offense is better than OKC’s defense so while the Thunder will still score against a solid Hawks D, I am weary of them being able to do enough on the other end of the floor to get the win. This is a high O/U with a low spread and should be a targetable game for fantasy purposes.

Line: Hawks -4.5, O/U 208.5

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($10200)
  • Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder ($10600)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7200)
  • Kyle Korver, SG, Hawks ($4900)

______________________________________________________________

Hornets @ Cavaliers

Game Analysis

The Hornets are red hot winning 8 of their last 9 and doing so in a slow down methodical type of pace. They are both scoring and giving up fewer points over this stretch and for the first time all season they have the whole starting five healthy and playing well. The Cavs also have won four straight and have their full team ready to go in this one as well. They have been scoring a ton lately with no less then 106 in any of those last four and averaging over 112 during that stretch. I’dgive the nod to Cleveland in this one, because I still think Kemba and Big Al are less then 100%. If they were healthy I might look at this game differently, but I think the Cavs are starting to roll and doubt the Hornets have enough to stand in their way today. The spread seems a bit high, which gives me concern that Vegas thinks the Cavs might win this going away. Nine point spreads are not that crazy, but when the O/U is under 195 that’s a pretty sizable number. What it really tells me is they think the Hornets will struggle to score and that ticks down those guys who rely on points to inflate fantasy scores. Keep in mind Al Jefferson is still on a minutes limit, so while that $7200 price seems inviting, it could very well be a trap today.

Line: Cavs -9, O/U 194.5

Players to Watch

  • Timofey Mozgov, C, Cavs ($5100)
  • Lebron James, SF, Cavs ($10200)
  • Cody Zeller, C, Hornets ($4200)
  • Michael Kidd-Gichrist, SF, Hornets ($5500)

______________________________________________________________

Bulls @ Mavericks

Game Analysis

Chicago has struggled lately with only 4 wins in their last 10. Their scoring is down and their opponents scoring is up which is a bad combination for them. Dallas has won 4 of 5, but is playing under the sky high overs recently due to an increased focus on the defensive end. Normally I would say the Bulls defense could limit the Mavs, but this is not the same Bulls team we have seen on that end of the floor. They have been allowing opponents to score triple digits often and I think the Mavs at home have a good chance to keep that trend strong. The O/U in this one is pretty high and the Bulls are scrappy and prideful enough to not give up if they do get down so I expect it to be a little closer then Vegas does and the starters to get full run to the end here. Guys like Taj and Pau should see a ton of minutes and the same goes for Butler and Rose in the backcourt. I prefer Bulls over Mavs since the Mavs spread the fantasy points around to five or six guys each game and it’s tougher to predict who goes off. Chicago is on tail end of a back to back on the road which is a concern, but I still think they play well enough to make the Mavs work for 48 minutes so while I will not be stacking this game, a few guys here will make a few of my GPP rosters.

Line: Mavs -8, O/U 207

Players to Watch

  • Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls ($6100)
  • Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls ($7300)
  • Chandler Parsons, SF, Mavericks ($5900)
  • Tyson Chandler, C, Mavericks ($6200)

______________________________________________________________

Pelicans @ Timberwolves

Game Analysis

The Pelicans have won three of the last five games with four unders. They are playing a slower pace with the final scores tending to be below 190 total points in the 90s for both teams. The Timberwolves have won two of five as well for one of the better stretches all season for them and despite giving up a ton of points and playing at a high pace they have only managed to win when they are able to score a ton of points. What I mean by that is the young Timberwolves are very inconsistent. They consistently give up over 100 points but only are able to match their opponents scoring occassionally. When they do they are able to stay in those high paced games they tend to play and when they do not, it becomes a major problem for them since they stop nobody. Pace factors seem to favor the Pelicans and I would tick them up here because of it. I would not play any of the Wolves today as the prices are high and the minutes are down with some of the injured players returning.

Line: Pelicans -6, O/U 203

Players to Watch

  • Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans ($5500)
  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11100)
  • Thad Young, PF, Timberwolves ($6100)
  • Nikola Pekovic, C, Timberwolves ($4500)

______________________________________________________________

Lakers @ Spurs

Game Analysis

The Lakers have lost six straight games and averaged slightly over 87 points during that run. They have slowed the pace of their games considerably from early in the season and as we all know on the tail end of a back to back with San Antonio and a chance for a blow out there is no one on the Spurs who has safe projected minutes. While I think this game is going to be low scoring and the Spurs are going to win I can not offer anyone here on either side up as a really quality fantasy option on an 11 game slate. Vegas expects a 105-90 Spurs win and those 105 on the Spurs side will be distributed amongst 10 guys all playing 20-30 minutes eachh. At this time I will recommend no one in this game and that will only change if Pop decides to sit guys and those benchings are known beforehand. I could easily fade  this game today and not be too worried about it haunting me later in the evening.

Line: Spurs -14, O/U 195.5

Players to Watch

  • Fade this game unless Spurs get benched.

______________________________________________________________

Rockets @ Suns

Game Analysis

This is a game we all need to have some piece of tonight. 220 O/U with a two point spread is the type of game I would create if you asked me to create the perfect game to target for fantasy. Houston is averaging 111 points over there last six. They only have a 3-3 mark but two of those losses were on a home and away with the Golden State Warriors and even in those games they put up some real big scoring numbers. The defense is what is troublesome for me out of this Rockets team. The same can be said about Phoenix defense that let a 16 point lead slip by late against the LMA-less Blazers last out. Phoenix has won 8 of 10 and is averaging over 112 points in doing so. Both teams are playing about 50/50 to the overs but both have had overs above 210 to contend with so even when they fall short the games see a ton of points. This could be an epic offensive explosion today and I think you need to include at least a few guys here if you want to make the top of the leader boards tonight. For those who roll out multiple lineups in GPPs this is a one I think you have to game stack. It’s a good spot for the stars as well as some value plays since the risen tide of the total should help buoy all the scores across the board.

Line: Suns -2, O/U 220

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($10800)
  • Corey Brewer, SF, Rockets ($3900)
  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($8700)
  • Isiah Thomas, PG, Suns ($5300)

______________________________________________________________

Celtics @ Nuggets

Game Analysis

The Celtics have 3 wins in their last 8 and have played to the under more often over that stretch. The Nuggets have lost four in a row and have been struggling to score points recently. The total on this game seems a bit high to me here based over recent production. Normally I love targeting bigs against the Celtic, but Nurkic left practice early with back spasms and is questionable tonight. If he is out that really only leaves Hickson and Faried as big men for the Nuggets. Faried has the flu as well so if he is out then really it’s just Hickson. Be careful if you use Olynyk or Zeller as the Celts may go small to match up and that would mean some Sullinger and bass as a combo at the 4/5. The Nuggets struggles have coincided with a drop off in production from Ty Lawson. Not sure if he is still feeling effects of the bumps and bruises he picked up last week but his numbers say that is likely the case. I really do not see this game getting to 208 points so I would be cautious using too much here.

Line: Nuggets -7.5, O/U 208.5

Players to Watch

  • JJ Hickson, PF, Nuggets ($5200)
  • Aaron Afflalo, SG, Nuggets ($6100)
  • Evan Turner, SG, Celtics ($5300)
  • Brandon Bass, PF, Celtics ($3300)

Update

It appears Ty Lawson was arrested on DUI last night and will likely not play today. No definitive confirmation on that, but you have to think it makes Jameer Nelson an elite value play if so as the only other real PG on the team. It might give a boost to Randy Foye as well.

 

______________________________________________________________

Kings @ Warriors

Game Analysis

Another team tries to slow down the juggernaut that is the Warriors and another team will likely fail to do so. Golden State has won 9 of the last 10 and their lowest output over that stretch was 104 points. THE LOWEST OUT PUT WAS 104. They has three straights games over 120 points scored and with an average margin of victory of 27. On the flip side Sacramento has five straight losses. It’s not looking like a good evening coming up for the Kings. There’ a lot of stars in this game with some bad DvP match ups and with everyone healthy I just can’t see how the Kings can win this. Cousins is a man amongst men, yet Bogut plays some of the best Center defense in the league so it’s not goig to be easy for him to put up 65 DK points and pay off his salary in a GPP. Gay gets Draymond Green on him and Green is physical enough to bother Gay and long and quick enough to stick with him. Collison probably has the best match up with Curry, but Steph tends to wear guys down chasing him around on the offensive end. On the Flip side I think Klay should have no problem shooting of McLemore, Gay will struggle with the activity and athleticism of Green, and Steph Curry is well, Steph Curry. I don’t see Darren Collison being the guy who stops him. I think Vegas got this one absolutely right and the Warriors should romp today in an easy victory.

Line: Warriors -14, O/U 217.5

Players to Watch

  • DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kings ($11000)
  • Ben McLemore, SG, Kings ($4400)
  • Draymond Green, SF, Warriors ($7700)
  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($7900)