Check out a quick breakdown of every game on Friday’s 10-game 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.
Detroit Pistons @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: Hornets -4
The Hornets have won five in a row and they are now up to 35-28, good for fifth overall in the East. They are a game and a half up on the eighth place Pistons, who have won two in a row themselves in order to stay in front of Chicago for that final playoff spot. The key to this one for me is the point guard matchup. Whoever gets the better of the Kemba Walker–Reggie Jackson duel will have a big advantage when it comes to the final result, since those two players are so integral to what their teams are capable of doing on a night-to-night basis. Over their five game winning streak Walker is averaging 32 points/6 rebounds/7 assists, good for more than 50 DraftKings fantasy points per night. He is the unquestioned leader of the team and gives everyone else on the floor a little bit of confidence, a little bit of swagger. If Jackson can either slow him down, or come close to matching him with his own offensive production, it will go a long way towards mitigating the advantage Charlotte has had over their opponents of late.
“[Andre] Drummond has legitimate 20 point/20-rebound potential”
If Jackson can’t quite manage to match or slow down Walker though, the Pistons are going to have to rely on their big man to pick up the slack. Andre Drummond is averaging more than 15 boards a game on the season and against a frontcourt that consists of Al Jefferson (not exactly known for his defense) and Marcus Morris, a 6’9” forward listed as a SF but playing the stretch 4, Drummond has legitimate 20 point/20-rebound potential.
- Kemba Walker ($8,600)
- Andre Drummond ($7,900)
- Nicolas Batum ($7,000)
- Reggie Jackson ($6,600)
Brooklyn Nets @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Nets -3
A REAL barn-burner! At this point the 76ers are a full 10 games ahead of the Nets in their race to the bottom and have now lost 13 games in a row. Jahlil Okafor, their stud rookie and maybe best overall player, hasn’t played in almost two weeks and there is no information on when he is going to return, although he is still listed as questionable. Nerlens Noel has been getting starts at center and the two guys listed as SF on DraftKings – Robert Covington and Jerami Grant – have been getting plenty of run filling in the two forward slots. In the backcourt, Smith had been struggling for a while but now is up to four out of his last five games with 20+ points, a streak he’ll look to continue against a backcourt that should allow him to thrive.
“If there was ever a matchup in which you should use [Bogdanovic], this is it”
Remember the strength of this Nets team is Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez up front… and Lopez in particular should be able to run roughshod over the depleted and diminituve lineup of Philadelphia. He is averaging over 45 DK FP a night, scoring, rebounding and racking up defensive stats – all of which is in play for this one as well. The only change for Brooklyn mid-season was basically the loss of Joe Johnson and his loss has not seemed to impact the Nets at all. The value of Bojan Bogdanovic has seen a slight uptick, into the “possibly useful consideration” category, now getting just over 31 minutes per game. If there was ever a matchup in which you should use him, this is it.
- Brook Lopez ($7,800)
- Ish Smith ($6,800)
- Thaddeus Young ($6,600)
- Jerami Grant ($5,200)
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Houston Rockets @ Boston Celtics
Line: Celtics -5.5
Somewhat amazingly, this is the third highest line on the board for tonight – so apparently Vegas is telling you there will be plenty of good fantasy options to consider tonight. The Celtics are still holding onto that third spot in the East, and have pushed their home winning streak to 14 games. To put that into perspective, they haven’t lost at home since a game against the Pistons on January 6th. If the Rockets want to break that streak, they have no choice but to rely on big game out of Harden and Howard. Howard makes sense – plenty of big men have had success against Boston this year, as the C’s lack the overall girth to keep someone like Howard off the block and off the glass. Their strength is in the backcourt, where they have four guys who are all upside plays (including Isaiah Thomas, who is a solid choice in any format).
“If there is an opponent who could beat [the Celtics] on offense anyway, it’s James Harden”
Boston’s home winning streak has included games against Miami, Portland, the Kings, the Clippers and a bunch of other decent teams, showing that Boston’s ability to win isn’t limited to one particular type of opponent. They can play with anyone when the shots are falling for their quartet of guards (Turner, Smart, Bradley and Thomas). All four of those names (and Jae Crowder who might as well be lumped in) have become synonymous with solid defense and shot-making in the eyes of Celtics fans, but if there is an opponent who could beat them on offense anyway, it’s James Harden. You are likely to see his efficiency figures drop in a game like this one but no matter how inefficient he is playing, his shot volume and penchant for double-digit assists keeps him an attractive option.
- James Harden ($10,600)
- Dwight Howard ($8,100)
- Isaiah Thomas ($7,300)
- Evan Turner ($5,000)
Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls
Line: Bulls -1
Despite what the matchup looks like on paper, my favorite play in this game is Gasol. He is just getting FED recently and is their first option in a half-court set, which is why Gasol now has 63 or more fantasy points three times in just his past six games. He has been a cash game consideration all year long because he is consistent but if he is going to start occasionally dropping 65 fantasy points, he immediately becomes a consideration for your lineup in any kind of contest.
“The Heat are averaging 112 points per game now so far in March”
For the Heat, we are still looking at a team that averaged 101 ppg in February and is averaging 112 now so far in March, after averaging just 96 for the entire period prior to the All-Star break. Chris Bosh is out but the improvements have been undeniable. Wade is suddenly attacking the lane and getting to the free throw line, and Gragic is orchestrating the whole offense beautifully, which, if anything, should only make life easier for Bosh on his return. If health never becomes a factor, not only do I LOVE them getting a point in Chicago to the Jimmy Butler-less Bulls, I think they’re a team no one will want to face come playoff time.
- Pau Gasol ($8,200)
- Dwyane Wade ($7,100)
- Goran Dragic ($6,600)
- Derrick Rose ($6,200)
New Orleans Pelicans @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Memphis -1.5
I am not sure why there was no early line on this game – as far as I am aware, Anthony Davis will be playing this game by himself, against an array of chairs, in an empty gym. With Gasol out, Randolph likely out, Mike Conley listed as questionable (but probably playing), and pretty much everyone New Orleans had to play guard at the beginning of the season hurt, this one should be interesting. Jrue Holiday and Conley, assuming he plays, will have each other to contend with, Tony Allen and Matt Barnes should each get plenty of minutes, as should Davis and Ryan Anderson. There is no need for the Pelicans to run their centers out much with all of Memphis’ size benched on the sidelines. And when I say all, I mean there will be people named JaMychal Green, P.J. Hairston, and Ryan Hollins trying to guard one of the best PFs in the game here. I like Davis’ chances of keeping up his 50+ DK FP streak.
“Tony Allen came back and now has two games under his belt with a 30 minute per game average”
The big news for this week in Memphis though, was actually someone returning from injury, and not a moment too soon. Tony Allen came back and now has two games under his belt with a 30 minute per game average. His versatility does help them fill a lot of holes, and so far through two games he has 38 points/7 rebounds/6 assists/7 steals/1 block.
- Anthony Davis ($9,800)
- Jrue Holiday ($8,300)
- Mike Conley ($6,400)
- Tony Allen ($4,800)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: OKC -12.5
Still not quite at the highest total of the night, Vegas is still predicting the Thunder to approach 120 points in this one. When that is the expectation, you know you are facing a team with a few issues on defense (or you’re Golden State). OKC is coming off their emotional win over the Clippers Wednesday night, when Durant and Westbrook were both firing on all cylinders. When that happens, this team can beat absolutely anyone, so the Timberwolves better hope the momentum doesn’t carry over.
In order to secure that win over LAC, Durant finished with 30 points/12 boards/7 assists, and it is actually difficult to decide who was better – him or Westbrook. Westbrook didn’t quite get to 30 points, but he left the game with one of the more ridiculous triple-doubles you’ll ever see – 25 points/20 assists/11 boards (with 2 steals and 1 block thrown in for good measure). He went for over 75 DK FP in that game, and in this one, he’s capable of the same. The problem is the Thunder won’t need them both going off tonight. So choose wisely.
In Minnesota, it’s still the youth parade. They’re not doing anything this year, but as a Wolves fan, you have to be encouraged with the way LaVine, Wiggins, and Towns are playing. Of the three, Towns faces the staunchest defense in this one, as Kanter is almost specifically designed to try to contain someone like him and the ability to throw an athlete like Ibaka at him in help will only help Kanter try to contain him. Wiggins and LaVine, though, should have the ability to score some here, using their quickness to penetrate into the heart of the Thunder defense and either look for the open man or his own shot, either way.
- Russell Westbrook ($10,800)
- Kevin Durant ($10,500)
- Zach LaVine ($5,900)
- Andrew Wiggins ($5,800)
Washington Wizards @ Utah Jazz
Line: Utah -4.5
There was no early line on this game – I assume because Bradley Beal is questionable. And while my first thought was “who cares, he hasn’t done anything in a while,” clearly his presence impacts the total number of points you might expect out of Washington. He missed Tuesday’s game, but is in Utah with the team right now, so there is a chance he suits up. John Wall and him together produce almost unfathomable matchup problems for the Jazz, who do not have the guards to even pretend to keep up. Wall is averaging 22 points/10 assists/5 rebounds over the past couple of weeks, just dominating the ball on every play, and more often than not making the right decision to carve up a defense.
“This game is going to come down to a battle to see who can control the pace”
Instead, the Jazz will need to change the game, slowing down the pace and throwing the ball into Derrick Favors and Gobert, or setting up looks for Hayward in their half-court sets. And while the Wizards have Gortat, they have no one else to contend with that size down low, so those guys could end up producing real, quality fantasy value. This game is going to come down to a battle to see who can control the pace – fast, and the Wizards could run away with it (no pun intended, pun intended); slow, and the Jazz might be able to pound it down low and grind out a win.
- John Wall ($9,600)
- Derrick Favors ($7,300)
- Marcin Gortat ($6,800)
- Rudy Gobert ($6,500)
Orlando Magic @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Kings -1
With Vucevic and Cousins both out, give me some Willie Cauley-Stein and Aaron Gordon! Truthfully, Cauley-Stein is a little more unknown, since we haven’t seen what the Kings would do without Cousins out there. I can’t imagine Kosta Koufos spending too much time out there tonight, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen Cauley-Stein get extended run. He was often productive earlier in the season, so you can’t rule him out as a solid value play tonight, especially with Vucevic out on the other side.
Gordon though, is a much easier option to consider, given his recent form. This is a guy who now has seven 20+ point scoring nights in his last ten tries, and every one of those games got him to a minimum of 32 fantasy points, with 40+ point upside. Because along with that scoring, the Magic have been getting really consistent rebounding out of their young PF as well, as he is averaging slightly more than 12 points and 9 rebounds a game since the All-Star break.
Because of these injuries and suspensions, though, the outcome of this game will rest in large part in the hands of some guards, with Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison doing battle with Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier. With the rim protection that will be missing from both lineups, it’s easy to see both of these pairs being able to penetrate and create almost at will, so I think this game might be a higher-scoring game than you might otherwise expect from this matchup.
- Rajon Rondo ($7,800)
- Victor Oladipo ($7,200)
- Aaron Gordon ($6,700)
- Willie Caulie-Stein ($3,000)
Portland Trailblazers @ Golden State Warriors
Line: Warriors -13
As if they ever seem to need more motivation when they are playing at home, the Warriors are not going to forget what happened the last time these two teams met. In case you’ve forgotten, though, the Blazers won that game… by 32 points. This wasn’t just a defeat for the best team in the league, it was resounding, and it came on the back of 51 points, 7 points and 6 steals from Damian Lillard. Since then, he put up another 50 against Toronto – apparently he likes stepping up in big games, against the best teams.
“On their home court, [Damian] Lillard could go for another 51 and it probably wouldn’t be enough”
While no credit at all should be taken away from Lillard and the Blazers, Golden State just did not play a great game last time these two met. 137 points is the most they’ve given up on the year, and Draymond Green had 9 turnovers, while Steph and Klay combined for 4 turnovers… and only 6 assists. On their home court, Lillard could go for another 51, and it probably wouldn’t be enough for them to win.
- Stephen Curry ($10,300)
- Damian Lillard ($9,800)
- Draymond Green ($8,000)
- Klay Thompson ($7,000)
New York Knicks @ Los Angeles Clippers
Line: Clippers -9.5
If I could only say one thing about this game, it’s that Chris Paul might be the #1 target for me across every game on the slate, for a few reasons. First, he’s awesome. Second, coming off the loss to the Warriors, he is going to come into this one motivated. Third, it’s the Knicks.
“This Knicks’ team that doesn’t feature any remotely capable of slowing down CP3“
That last one though, isn’t just meant as an insult to the Knicks. The matchup is just right for LA. With Blake still out, the Knicks’ frontcourt trio of Melo, Porzingis, and Lopez has the ability to put a body on Jordan at all times and still have a pair of options on offense. Their focus is going to have to be on exploiting those advantages. If they’re successful, Paul is going to be both motivated and compelled to try to take over on offense, because who else will? This Knicks’ team that doesn’t feature any remotely capable of slowing down CP3, especially not while Afflalo is still sidelined. The expectation from Vegas is that the Clippers can still win handily, even if Lopez, Anthony, and Porzingis all make good cash options, and that reason is CP3.
- Chris Paul ($9,700)
- Carmelo Anthony ($8,500)
- Robin Lopez ($5,700)
- J.J. Redick ($4,900)
|Out||Mario Chalmers, DeMarcus Cousins (SAC), Elfrid Payton (ORL), Lance Thomas (NYK), Arron Afflalo (NYK), Jimmy Butler (CHI), Dion Waiters (OKC), Jahlil Okafor (PHI)|
|Doubtful||Mike Conley (MEM), Chris Andersen (MEM), Nikola Vucevic (ORL), Ben McLemore (SAC), Norris Cole (NO)|
|Questionable||Kelly Olynyk (BOS), Nemanja Bjelica (MIN), Dioin Waiters (OKC), Norris Cole (NO), Zach Randolph (MEM), Rodney Hood (UTA), Arron Afflalo (NYK), Luc Mbah a Moute (LAC), Derrick Rose (CHI)|
|Probable||Brook Lopez (BKN), Zach LaVine (MIN), Bradley Beal (WAS), Marco Belinelli (SAC), J.J. Redick (LAC)|