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.
Atlanta Hawks @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Hawks -9
Something changed in Atlanta over the last few years, and now neither of these teams can play defense! So that’s fun. And it’s especially true when you’re talking about big men. With no real big injuries to key players, this should be a relatively straightforward matchup, and that means plenty of looks for Jahlil Okafor and plenty for Horford and Millsap on the other side.
If you’re going to play a guard in this one, it probably should be Ish Smith, who is playing like… well, not like Ish Smith. He’s currently at $6,900, and if he keeps up his current level of production, that price is only going up. Teague might be able to slow him down at least a little with no other real threats in the backcourt to concern himself with, so this isn’t likely going to be his biggest game yet, but he has been playing just under 30 minutes a night and averaging well over 30 DK FP a night for the past couple of weeks, so even an average night is decent value here.
Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls
Line: Bulls -5
These two teams can both play defense to some extent, but the last time they played, the Celtics’ penchant for upping the pace actually meant that the Bulls players were in line for – and had – excellent fantasy days. This was because the Celtics forced their will on the Bulls, made the game much faster than Bulls games usually are, and as a result, there were more opportunities for shots, rebounds, assists, everything for guys like Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic. But that game was in Boston, and this one isn’t, and the Bulls are playing some good ball right now. I could easily see this one going the other way, with Chicago grinding the pace to a halt and bringing down the values of everyone involved.
On the injury front, Noah being out has not left any clear-cut value play behind in Chicago, as they seem to have a rotating group of players all contending for minutes on a given night. For the Celtics, it’s not the best matchup, but Bradley being out should mean plenty of opportunities for Evan Turner in this one, and more opportunities for both Thomas and Marcus Smart on the offensive end as well.
Utah Jazz @ Houston Rockets
Line: Houston -8.5
The Rockets are two games under .500, 5-5 in their last ten, and they are just about exactly .500 at home and on the road. Their latest streak is one win in a row. And here they are, favored by more than a touchdown against Utah, who have two fewer wins, the same number of losses, and are only one spot behind Houston in the “race” for the Western Conference playoffs. Why is the line this high? Well, it’s in Houston, which certainly helps, but doesn’t explain the whole thing.
The reason the line is this high is the reason the two teams have been unsuccessful. The Rockets have James Harden and other players who can put the ball in the bucket, but they keep getting outscored. The Jazz, however, can’t take advantage of that deficiency, because they can’t score. That’s why a team like Houston, who averages 103 points a game and gives up 105 can be favored by 8 in a game with a total set at only 196. It’s hard to trust anyone on Utah with Favors out, but if you’re looking for value, the injuries to Favors and Gobert mean some extra playing time for both Jeff Withey and potentially Trey Lyles as well.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Kings -8.5
The big questions tonight are both in the backcourt, with Kobe and Rondo both listed as questionable. Rondo missed Tuesday’s game with a sore back, and it’s still up in the air whether he’ll play tonight. If he does, he is not likely at 100%, and for someone who relies so much on his physicality, that likely means I am staying away in DFS formats. It would be, in a way, more interesting if he doesn’t play, because Darren Collison would be an excellent start. Without Rondo on Tuesday, he played 47 minutes and put up 41 DK FP, and tonight he’s got the Lakers.
For LA, Kobe has now missed three straight, so it wouldn’t be altogether surprising if he sat this one out as well. In his absence, Lou Williams has been getting the starts at shooting guard, and averaged 44 DK FP against Philly and Phoenix before having a down game against GS (which happens to a lot of people). This matchup is going to feel much more like the first two, which gives him a shot at 35+ fantasy points, phenomenal value at this price.