Check out a quick breakdown of every game on Friday’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. Good luck!
Toronto Raptors @ Washington Wizards
Line: Toronto -1.5
With a total over 200 and only a 1.5 point spread, Vegas is telling you they expect good games out of both of these teams. And with Beal and Carroll both still out, and both teams playing good defense up front, that means they expect good games from John Wall and DeMar DeRozan. And why wouldn’t they? DeRozan has been at 30 or more DK FP four times since Christmas, and for $1,400 more, Wall has been over 40 DK FP four times in the same time span.
Otherwise, you’re looking for injury replacements for value, in the form of James Johnson and Garrett Temple. Johnson doesn’t score enough to be a real option in a GPP format, but if he’s still getting the minutes he does enough on the glass and on defense to be a consideration in a cash game (8 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks last time out). Temple has been filling in for Beal, and with 30+ minutes and 23 or more DK FP in each of his last two, he’s seems to be starting to get a bit more comfortable with a larger role on both ends of the floor.
- John Wall ($9,400)
- DeMar DeRozan ($8,000)
- Garrett Temple ($4,500)
- James Johnson ($3,500)
Orlando Magic @ Brooklyn Nets
Line: Magic -3.5
The Nets were already one of the worst rosters in the league, and the loss of Jarrett Jack has proved a tough hurdle to overcome, with them losing each of their last two games after the starting PG was diagnosed with a torn ACL. The biggest beneficiaries in terms of increased opportunity are Shane Larkin, the new starting PG, and Donald Sloan, who has gone from unusable to sort of usable (averaging 20 minutes and 14 DK FP over the last two). In all seriousness though, the injury to Jack leaves the Nets with Young and Lopez as their best players, and no one to get them the ball – it brings down the value of everyone on the team.
The Magic have lost four in a row, and everyone on the team has struggled to some extent, but three of those four games were against Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana, some of the better teams and defenses in the conference. Their last win? Against Brooklyn. All of their best players are in line to meet or beat their averages in this one. Evan Fournier has been picking up some extra opportunities with Payton out, but he shouldn’t be out long and could even return for this one tonight.
- Thaddeus Young ($7,400)
- Nikola Vucevic ($7,100)
- Victor Oladipo ($6,600)
- Evan Fournier ($5,300)
Indiana Pacers @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pacers -2.5
While the Pacers play solid D across the board, they don’t appear to have anyone who can slow down Davis on an individual level. Davis just spent two games tearing up Dallas (averaged just under 57 DK FP in their home-and-home), and Hill isn’t tall enough and Mahinmi isn’t strong or quick enough to keep him from getting the looks his wants or from crashing the boards. Tyreke Evans also came back in their last game, and went for 35 minutes, so you know they’re confident he is healthy. And he looked good, going for 16-9-5 in 35 minutes.
For Indiana, the story for right now is Paul George, again. He opened the season on a tear, but he cooled off all of a sudden a few weeks ago. Now, he has been over 35 DK FP in five straight, with three of those at at least 49.75. He is doing everything well, but the scoring is what turns his games from good to great, and the opportunity is there for him to exploit the options the Pelicans have to defend him on the wing.
- Anthony Davis ($10,600)
- Paul George ($9,100)
- Tyreke Evans ($7,700)
- Ian Mahinmi ($4,500)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Cavs -9.5
If any team is going to be motivated to beat up on the Wolves, it’s Cleveland, right? Possible revenge game for both Love and LeBron the GM?
It will be interesting to see how Towns reacts to the matchup. Realistically, you shouldn’t be expecting much from him – the strength of this Cavs team (other than their primary strength, having LeBron) is their length up front, their defense and their ability to slow the game to their own pace. They’ve built their team around maximizing the value of having the single best option in the league for scoring and creating offense for others out of a half-court set. It seems like, once Towns has some more experience under his belt, he might be relatively matchup-proof, but you’re still not expecting his best fantasy game to come against a defense like this one.
For Cleveland, Kyrie is finally starting to come on, pouring in 40+ DK FP in each of their last two games, including a 32-5-3 last time out against Washington. Perhaps even more importantly, he played 34 minutes, the first time he has cracked 30 this year. The game was a few days ago now (maybe why they chose that day to push it?), so he should be fully rested and ready to have another full complement of playing time in this one.
- LeBron James ($9,800)
- Kyrie Irving ($6,900)
- Andrew Wiggins ($6,200)
- Tristan Thompson ($5,200)
Dallas Mavericks @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Mavs -2.5
The Bucks, losers of two in a row, five of their last seven and eight of their last twelve, are currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Nets and the Sixers. After finishing sixth in the East at 41-41 last year, it is safe to say they are underperforming so far this season. With Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Carter-Williams (20-12 last time out) all producing as solid fantasy contributors, it feels like they should be better than they are, and it’s true that they have had a tough schedule lately, with losses to Chicago, San Antonio, OKC and Toronto all since Christmas. But over that twelve game stretch I mentioned, they also had an 18-point loss to the Lakers.
Dallas, on the other hand, is now 21-15, good for 5th in the West, and it is safe to say no one saw them coming this year. The key factor? Everyone who attempted to calculate their potential started by deciding how much Dirk would decline an an asset and going from there. I don’t blame those people, at all – but so far, they were wrong. Dirk is just still being Dirk. He might not be at Finals MVP form anymore, but he is playing 30+ minutes, and averaging just over 17 points (and 31 DK FP) on the year. He can always get a look when he wants it with his 7-foot frame and high, falling away release point, and that enables Dallas to slow games down to suit their personnel, and still and they will always have a chance at a bucket in a half-court setting.
- Michael Carter-Williams ($7,000)
- Khris Middleton ($6,900)
- Dirk Nowitzki ($6,200)
- Zaza Pachulia ($6,000)
Denver Nuggets @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Grizzlies -4.5
It’s funny, but as of this morning, there was no line or total set for this game, something that happens often when there is a piece of information missing that might swing how you feel about the potential outcome. In this case, that info was the status of Mike Conley and Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay is expected to play for the first time in almost a month, and Conley is listed as doubtful, although there is a chance he could be active. The crazy thing is how important these marginal fantasy options really are to their teams fortunes.
If Mudiay is out, you can slide Jameer Nelson right into his role and almost replicate the production entirely. But having both of them available affords them so much more flexibility, it just makes them a better team. The thing to watch is if the pending return impacts the playing time for Barton or Harris, their two shooting guards, as well as Nelson. Both of those two have seen a steady uptick in minutes and fantasy value, a trend that could start to turn around if Mudiay is taking up more court time.
For Memphis, the dropoff is more obvious and immediate – especially with Courtney Lee listed as doubtful, Conley being out means a starting backcourt that will likely feature Tony Allen and Mario Chalmers. In other words, they are left with a starting backcourt unfortunately unable to even get the ball to the team’s best weapons, and who are giving fantasy owners marginal options at best as fill-ins, not random value plays who might be enough to win you a tourney for a night or two.
- Danilo Gallinari ($7,100)
- Marc Gasol ($6,800)
- Jeff Green ($5,300)
- Tony Allen ($3,800)
New York Knicks @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -14
Carmelo missed both meetings between these two last year, so it’s been a while since he’s seen Kawhi out there opposite him. I don’t think he’s going to like it. With total this low and a line this big… sorry Knicks fans, some people out there think this could be ugly. The Spurs are just so deadly efficient – I can hardly envision a more perfect opposite to the Knicks over the past decade or however long, and it’s apparently going to continue into tonight. The game will be look competitive and be fun to watch going back and forth, and then Spurs will be up ten. So it goes.
As for the players you do want to roster, it’s pretty obvious – you want the Spurs frontcourt and the Knicks backcourt. Jose Calderon could easily see the high end of his usual fantasy scoring range – the Knicks aren’t getting shut out, and against this defense, him and Afflalo might be their best options.
- LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,800)
- Tim Duncan ($5,300)
- Arron Afflalo ($4,800)
- Jose Calderon ($4,100)
Miami Heat @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Heat -4
In a game that features a very distinct clash of styles, the line and especially the total both clearly indicate which style is expected to win out. The Heat are playing good basketball, 21-14 in the East, and are getting a Suns team without Eric Bledsoe.If the Heat play to expectations and slow this game down, they have the weapons to score consistently against this Suns defense.
And now that Bledsoe is officially out for the year, expectations for the team have to be lowered. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good fantasy options. I don’t love any of them in this particular matchup, but Devin Booker and T.J. Warren could both prove to be solid plays in cash games, just because they are so inexpensive to begin with.
- Chris Bosh ($7,900)
- Goran Dragic ($5,700)
- T.J. Warren ($4,900)
- Devin Booker ($4,700)
Golden State Warriors @ Portland Trailblazers
Line: Golden State -9.5
On so many levels, the only thing that really matters in this one is Steph Curry’s left shin. He returned to action with seemingly no problems, but then aggravated the injury Tuesday against the Lakers. Initial reports were that he might have to miss several more weeks, but now it appears he practiced yesterday and is on pace to play tonight. Of course it wouldn’t be totally shocking if they held him out just for precautionary measures, but at least it doesn’t seem like we’ll be without our most exciting team and #1 fantasy option for too long.
Lillard and McCollum are both back, and while GS is a good defensive team, they also play at a pace that affords themselves and their opponents plenty of opportunities. On a team like Portland, where opportunities are concentrated so heavily in a couple of guys, that could mean big fantasy nights in an attempt to keep up. After the weird situation that kept McCollum out of the lineup on Tuesday, he should be primed to go and continue his recent strong play (averaging 46 DK FP over his last ten). Because of that missed game Tuesday, him and Lillard have only had one game together since the starting PG returned from injury, and both players ended with more than 30 DK FP – which they have done consistently all season long.
- Draymond Green ($10,000)
- Damian Lillard ($8,400)
- Klay Thompson ($8,000)
- C.J. McCollum ($7,300)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers
Line: OKC -13
Kobe came back from his short absence last night with a vengeance. He had 28-2-3 on10-for-18 shooting in a 118-115 loss to the Kings. So, he’s not still hurt. But the question remains – can he do that – or anything even approaching that – two nights in a row? But maybe Lakers fans don’t need to worry so much about that anymore, because Kobe wasn’t the only one who stepped up last night. D’Angelo Russell came off the bench to record 29 minutes, and he went 11-for-16 from the floor for a 27 point, 2 rebound, 4 assist game (with a couple of steals thrown in on top). He hit three three’s, and… AND, he wasn’t event only legit fantasy option on the Lakers other than Kobe. Lou Williams had a good game too, for what he is, pouring in 20 points and recording three assists of his own.
But who thought I’d spend so much time talking about the Lakers? The fact is, in this one, the great thing about the Lakers is how little defense they play. If there is a way to get Westbrook and Durant both in your lineups, do it (I know, it’s hard). But lately, as these two have thrived out on the court together, neither one of them had had to be otherworldly for the team to take the next step up in performance. Well, in this one there is room for them both to be “that” good without stepping on each other’s toes, through sheer volume and efficiency. I think I think both of the two stars more in this matchup than I have in any other matchup over the past couple of weeks.
- Russell Westbrook ($10,800)
- Kevin Durant ($10,300)
- Serge Ibaka ($6,300)
- Lou Williams ($5,900)