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.
Fantasy Basketball World Championship
We have another direct buy in qualifier for the FBWC today and it’s of the $1000 buy in variety with 65 entrants. It’s less than half full now, so get in before it is too late. You can win your way into these qualifiers through satellite tournaments for as little as $2 during the week so give them a try and best of luck to those participating.
Timberwolves @ 76ers
According to the rules of Basketball someone has to win this game. Minnesota won it’s first game in six tries last out and scored 110 points for the highest output they have had over this stretch. They normally score under 100 so it was somewhat surprising. The Sixers got their first win in seven tries last out and have not scored 100 points in ten straight with 9 unders hitting. In fact they have only cracked 90 points twice in the last ten. Both teams have been playing slower paced games with totals under 195 often. It’s counter to the early season trends and most have not picked up on that yet. While the Sixers were the worst defense last year and Minnesota’s season long numbers are also near that mark this season, neither team has been a fantasy goldmine for opponents lately. I think many will mistakenly assume this will be a shootout, but looking at the numbers tells me this is one of the lowest totals on the day and at best should be used sparingly. Check on the status of Mo Williams before game time. If he is out, then Lavine becomes a good value play again.
Line: TWolves -2.5, O/U 192.5
Players to Watch
- Thad Young, PF, Timberwolves ($6600)
- Gorgui Dieng, C, Timberwolves ($7000)
- Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Sixers ($8200)
- Robert Covington, PF, Sixers ($5200)
Blazers @ Hawks
Atlanta has not lost a game in over a month. They score about 108 points per over that stretch and give up somewhere in the mid 90s consistently. They are solid offensively and defensively and have a deep bench of players who contribute. Portland has struggled recently losing 3 of the last five and playing towards the under more often. The pace is slower as they are both scoring and conceding less points. Portland has only played one game that went over 200 in the last two weeks and the Hawks have played two straight that totaled over 111. If anything here despite the solid defense I would say this ticks up the Blazers a little today. There’s some really nice match ups here we should be aware of tonight. Jeff Teague gets some Damian Lilliard defense which has been kind to opposing PGs over his career. Wes Matthews on the other side draws some Kyle Korver D which has also not been too opposing. I do not like Carroll or Batum if he plays as they both are plus defenders and should make life tough on the other one. The Hawks for the season struggle to stop PFs, but have been much better lately. The Blazers are usually not tough on PFs but have been lately. Aldridge has been playing well lately, so if anything I think he has the edge, but it’s very murky at the position. The Match up I really like is for Al Horford. He tends to get rested when he is not needed. In games they are comfortably ahead he sees under 30 minutes sometimes, but he can still play his 30-35 when needed and I think today is one of those days. His per minute averages are very good and he is an under rated player. Given a few extra minutes in a probable tight game today with a decent total leads me to believe he is going to have a nice stat line. This game is not the best one on the day for fantasy, but it’s no where near the worst. I think exposure to one or two guys here makes some sense.
Line: Hawks -7, O/U 203
Players to Watch
- Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7600)
- Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks ($7600)
- LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Blazers ($9500)
- Wes Matthews, SG, Blazers ($5900)
Raptors @ Nets
Toronto has won five of it’s last six and in those wins have averaged about 102 points while giving up low 90s. The Nets have lost three straight while averaging under 90 points and giving up nearly 115. While I see a good game coming from the Raptors today I can not say the same for the boys from Brooklyn. The Nets had been pretty good against the guard spots this season, but lately that has not been the case. Both Lowry and Derozan have played well lately and could both be in line for solid games today. Outside of Jarrett Jack who has a bad match up but really high usage for a lower priced player I do not like any of the Nets today. This should be an easy victory for the Raptors and the pace should be slower with a risk of blowout, so use this game sparingly tonight.
Line: Raptors -7, O/U 198
Players to Watch
- DeMar DeRozan, SG, Raptors ($6900)
- Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors ($8900)
- Jarett Jack, PG, Nets ($6200)
Rockets @ Celtics
The Rockets have won 7 of the last 10 with 7 overs during that run. The Celtics have won 3 of their last five and are both scoring and allowing right around 100 apiece. Based on recent performances and game logs I would say this one looks more likely to hit the under. Dwight Howard is the only question mark here today, so both teams seem pretty healthy. The Celtics normally struggle against bigs too, so no Howard means a good match up and added minutes for someone like Donatas Motiejunas. Harden actually has a pretty tough match up against Avery Bradley so while he is always in play it will not be easy. The Total is high enough to make me still want him, but he’s not a must play for me tonight. On the flip side of the ball whoever gets Harden defense could have a good showing. That will likely be a combination of Avery Bradley and Evan Turner depending if Smart is on the floor with them or not. Ariza and Beverly are both very good defenders for their positions, so the SG spot has been the way to attack the Rockets. I see this one remaining lower scoring, so again here be careful going too heavy for fantasy.
Line: Rockets -7, O/U 205.5
Players to Watch
- James Harden, SG, Rockets ($11000)
- Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Rockets ($5300)
- Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics ($5600)
- Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4200)
Kings @ Cavs
You might wonder why I have the ??? marks next to the total here and it’s because after posting the O/U early Vegas took it down. The reason for this is Lebron is Doubtful for today and Cousins and Love are both questionable. These are three of the key pieces to this game and without knowing their status it changes a lot. The man it changes the most for as we saw last time out is Kyrie Irving. He put up the speed limit (55) with Lebron out and Love limited last game and I expect another big game from him with huge usage if that is the case again tonight. Guys like Mozgov and JR should also be ticked up if that is the case. Tristan Thompson would most likely slide into a starting roll too, so there’s a lot of interesting pieces here. For the Kings if Cousins sits then Collison in a good match up vs. Kyrie and Gay should tick up a bit. Gay is especially interesting with no Lebron Defense if he sits and because his usage will be sky high if there’s no Cousins. With so many questions on both sides it’s tough to give definitive answers yet until we get more info. If any of these guys sit, think who on their team benefits most from the absence of a high usage player? Then think how it affects the match up on the other end of the court for those guys who remain. I can almost guarantee you at least one of these guys misses the game tonight, so there’s some underpriced gems to be found of both sides here once we know who is in or out.
Line: Cavs -6, O/U 206???
Players to Watch
- Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavs ($9000)
- Timofey Mozgov, C, Cavs ($5200)
- Rudy Gay, SF, Kings ($7700)
- Darren Collison, PG, Kings ($6500)
Clippers @ Pelicans
Another game Vegas is waiting on news for before throwing out a total. The Reason here is for another possible superstar injury as Anthony Davis is questionable today. He went down last game, but did return. He is listed as questionable and there’s already talk of resting him, so we may not see him play. If he is out I think that helps guys like Tyreke and Gordon most. People will flock towards Ryan Anderson, but his match up is with Blake Griffin. For starters Griffin is more than athletic enough to come out and guard him on the perimeter and on the flip side Anderson will struggle mightily if asked to guard Blake. Ryan Anderson pulling Blake away from the basket should hurt Blake’s rebounding numbers a tad on defense and boost up DeAndre Jordan’s who is already cleaning the glass at an insane rate. If JJ Reddick is out again that makes Jamal Crawford a very interesting value guy today as well.
Line: Clippers -6, O/U ????
Players to Watch
- Jamal Crawford, SG, Clippers ($5300)
- DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers ($8000)
- Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans ($5300)
- Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($7900)
Mavericks @ Heat
The Heat play one of the slowest paces in the entire league. They have nine unders in the last ten games despite seeing totals routinely in the 180 range. The Mavs also have 5 unders over their last 7, yet they routinely see totals up above 200. I think this ticks down the Mavs slightly and ups the Heat a tad. I would be especially weary of players who are heavily reliant on actual points scored for their fantasy production. The Heat will be without both Dwayne Wade and Loul Deng today, so there’s some value options in guys like Chalmers, Granger, Ennis, and Williams. None of them are really stand outs to me, but they are all cheap if you want to go that route. I think the big guys for Miami are going to have to come up huge or this could turn ugly. The total is low, the spread is one of the higher ones on the day and the favorites are playing down in pace, so it’s not the ideal spot to use too many Mavs. I might go for some Heat players here, but if you have more then two guys from this game it is probably too many.
Line: Mavs -8, O/U 193
Players to Watch
- Mario Chalmers, PG, Miami ($4800)
- Chris Bosh, C, Heat ($7700)
- Rajon Rondo, PG, Mavericks ($6700)
- Chandler Parsons, SF, Mavericks ($5900)
Warriors @ Jazz
Golden State has won eight of it’s last ten. They average close to 117 points per game and have given up at least 100 in all but one of those ten. Fantasy wise at least that’s good news for the Jazz players who should get a tick up because of pace here. It’s also bad news for the Jazz who have lost four of their last six and played to the under in four of them. This will most likely be an easy Warriors victory and I think the guards for Golden State will play a key role. Both Bogut and Hayward had colds and missed practice but it looks likely both will play tonight. That’s bad news for guys like Gobert and Kenter who will see some Bogut defense which has been the undoing of quite a few centers already. I think the Jazz players are interesting in what should be a paced up game for them. This is the highest O/U currently so minutes are a concern for the Warriors starters, but this is still one of our better targets for fantasy points tonight.
Line: Warriors -9, O/U 205
Players to Watch
- Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz ($7400)
- Gordon Hayward, SF, Jazz ($7800)
- Steph curry, PG, Warriors ($10100)
- Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($8500)
Bulls @ Suns
Phoenix opened in some books as a -3 dog for tonight, but the double OT game for the Bulls which included Jimmy butler going down with an injury pretty much changed that quick. The Suns are listed as a five point favorite as the Bulls starters played heavy minutes last night and had to travel for a back to back today. I can totally see why the line has moved so drastically here and I think every savy sports fan can understand the implications. This one could very easily turn ugly as the Bulls decide to just mail it in and rest their overworked stars. Noah, Rose, and Pau have all had a few bumps and bruises, yet all 3 played 40+ minutes last night. They definitely can not play at full capacity for another 35+ tonight, but if the game stays close I would not put it past Thibs to try them. I want to say the added usage will help them all with no Butler likely, but I can see things turning south quickly here for them. As for the Suns, they have played really well of late. They have won 5 of 7 while averaging over 110 points a game. They also have allowed opponents t score triple digits often, but my fear here is that the tired Bulls legs will wilt under this pace. Short Legs on jump shots, slow offensive possessions to control the pace a little. This game could play to the under if it posted in the 210 range like most of the Suns recent games have been. Again Vegas is slow to post a line here and a lot of that has to do with the Butler injury and my thoughts he may be joined by at least one of the bigs sitting out. If so we can fire up Taj Gibson again and maybe even Mirotic who could see a few minutes at the three as well. This is one of the best games on paper to use tonight, but just remember all the red flags I just mentioned. There’s just as much a chance this turns ugly as there is it becomes a shoot out, so GPP targets might make the most sense.
Line: Suns -5 down from +3
Players to Watch
- Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($8300)
- Isiah Thomas, PG, Suns ($5400)
- Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls ($3000)
- Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls ($5900)