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.
Heat @ Celtics
The NBA must really not want to steal the NFL’s Thunder on Super Bowl Sunday with the double header they gave us here. With only two games on the slate you can not really fade anything, so despite both games having totals of 190 or below, everyone is in play. Miami is slightly above .500 over it’s last 10, but they have played to the under 9 times. They enjoy the incredibly slow pace and play some solid defense as well. They have only allowed two of their past ten opponents to score over 100 and one of those was Golden State, so we can excuse that one. Dwayne Wade is likely out again which should mean increased minutes for Chalmers and usage bumps for a few others. Loul Deng is probable to return tomorrow too, so that should be a boost on both ends of the floor for Miami. The Celtics were one of the fastest paced and worst defensive teams in the league. They have slowed down their pace and the scoring against average has dropped with it. They have played to the under in 5 of their last 7 as well, so this could be a very ugly game. This line is a full 10 points below the lowest total the Celtics have seen all season, so since tomorrow is the biggest gambling day of the year I don’t think an early over bet is a horrible idea. We could see a few more points in this one and based on the way the Celtics interior has played it should come in the form of the Heat big men. The Celtics tend to spread the wealth, but an interesting story released yesterday about a conversation between Coach Stevens and Sullinger said he was being asked to take on more offensive responsibilities so that is a positive.
Line: Celtics -3, O/U 186.5
Players to Watch
- Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat ($8100)
- Chris Bosh, C, Heat ($8300)
- Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics ($7100)
- Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4200)
Lakers @ Knicks
The Knicks have won four of their last six and played to the under in four of those games. The Lakers have one win in their last ten and despite the perception of a lot of points in their games the total has gone under in 7 of those 10 games. In six of the Lakers last ten and four of the Knicks last seven neither team has reached 100, so this game is destined to be at the total or below today. Most people will probably go heavier here with the larger spread, but to be different on a small slate it might be a good idea to do the opposite and there is actually merit to it today. The good thing is you have a plethora of cheap options to consider in this one. Wayne Ellington and Jordan Clarkson have been spectacular for the Lakers in the last few games and Galloway and Jason Smith have done some good work for New York. Melo will likely play with a few days off leading up to this one, but check his status. If he is banged up he may be an injury risk. It’s impossible to predict an injury though, so I would not fade him solely on that. He’s the one expensive option in this game and on a small slate even if you do not love him it is still tough to fade a likely 40 point day from him and score enough points to win. There is definitely some guys you have to consider in this one, but don’t go too heavy since neither game is really expected to be high scoring, but both should stay close which likely means full run for the starters.
Line: Knicks -3, O/U 190
Players to Watch
- Wayne Ellington, SG, Lakers ($5700)
- Jordan Clarkson, PG, Lakers ($5000)
- Jason Smith, PF, Knicks ($4900)
- Carmelo Anthony, PF, Knicks ($9400)