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.

 

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Lakers @ Hornets

Game Analysis

Both Teams are playing .500 basketball lately. They win one or two, then they lose one or one or two. The difference is the Lakers have been playing to the over with totals close to 200, while the Hornets have been playing under totals closer to 185 or 190. Recent scores tell me the Hornets probably get a slight tick up in pace here today. The Lakers also have had some epically bad PG defense, so Mo Williams has to remain in play for me. Big men have been playing well against the Lakers, so you have to assume Al Jefferson could also be in play. On the Lakers side of the ball a lot of people want to roster Boozer or Davis lately, but until one of them gets the bulk of the minutes I shy away from both. The guards have been the most consistent performers for them lately anyway. They do tend to play higher scoring games then this one though, so be careful what Lakers you use as they may underperform today.

Line: Hornets -8, O/U 192

Players to Watch

  • Wayne Ellington, SG, Lakers ($4700)
  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers ($5200)
  • Mo Williams, PG, Hornets ($7000)
  • Al Jefferson, C, Hornets ($7800)

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Celtics @ Cavaliers

Game Analysis

Both of these teams made some recent trades to get more firepower and the results should be a fast paced, high scoring game. The Celtics have been playing way up in pace since acquiring Isiah Thomas II. With Sullinger down the rotation has shortened, they play small most of the time, and everyone’s production has gone up. The Celtics have played to the over in five of their last six. They have scored over 100 in six straight which is a big reason for the overs. On the other side the Cavs have also been putting up some points lately. They have averaged 105 over their last six games. They also have only allowed one opponent to score over 100 and that was Houston last out. With Kyrie back in the fold today they should have no problem winning a high scoring game today.

Line: Cavs -11.5, O/U 208.5

Players to Watch

  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavs ($7600)
  • Lebron James, SF, Cavs ($10400)
  • Isaiah Thomas, PG, Celtics ($6200)
  • Marcus Smart, PG, Celtics ($4200)

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Rockets @ Hawks

Game Analysis

James Harden is suspended for this one after kicking Lebron in the junk (Can’t make this stuff up). The Rockets should have a ton of shots and minutes from some of the other guys tonight because of it. No one player makes up for all of Harden’s shots or usage so it will be spread around. It would have been fun to have this happen in a high paced game against a weak defensive team, but that’s not what they get here today. Atlanta is one of the best defensive teams in the east. They are on a four game winning streak where they have given up an average of only 88 points during this run. PG Jeff Teague is healthy again and slated to play. This should be a Hawks win and an under with no Harden. I expect Corey Brewer to soak up a lot of those minutes, but that also means we should see an uptick in Ariza, Smith, Jones, and Motiejunas as well.

Line: Hawks -6.5, O/U 201

Players to Watch

  • Corey Brewer, SG, Rockets ($4000)
  • Trevor Ariza, SF, Rockets ($5900)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7300)
  • Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks ($6400)

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Jazz @ Grizzlies

Game Analysis

One of the lowest totals and one of the highest spreads is the exact opposite of a good game to target for fantasy. The Grizzlies defense is back to being one of the toughest in the association. The Jazz have won six of their last 8 games and played to the under in six of them. When you add that to the defense they should see today it makes me think 182 is not only reasonable, but very likely. The Grizz have won five of their last eight, allowing only two opponents to reach 100 and only doing it once themselves. They are happy and comfortable in games where the score tends to stay in the 90 to 80 range. I expect something like that to be the case tonight.

Line: Grizzlies -8, O/U 182

Players to Watch

  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies ($7500)
  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($6200)
  • Trey Burke, PG, Jazz ($4500)
  • Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz ($7400)

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Wizards @ Bulls

Game Analysis

So the line opened Bulls -4.5 and quickly dropped with the news that Jimmy Butler is out for a few weeks. The Wizards are now favored in this match up and are almost at full strength. They welcomed back Bradley Beal before the last game and the only real injury issue left is whether or not Kris Humphries will play. He is still listed as questionable for tonight, but with him out last game we saw good numbers from Gortat and Nene. For the Bulls I think there’s a lot of minutes and shots opened up now. Snell, Mirotic, Brooks, Hinrich, and Dunleavy should all get more minutes, shots, and usage now. Guys like Pau and Noah may be asked to shoulder more of the offensive load as well, so everyone is in line for a slight tick up at worse. Today might not be the best day for it though as Washington has been pretty stout defensively. Still there’s a lot of cheap Bulls options and one or more of them will pay off today. The game should be close but the total is low, so be careful not to go too heavy here.

Line: Wizards -1, O/U 186.5

Players to Watch

  • Tony Snell, SF, Bulls ($3600)
  • Aaron Brooks, PG, Bulls ($4600)
  • John Wall, PG, Wizards ($8600)
  • Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards ($5500)

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Bucks @ Nuggets

Game Analysis

Milwaukee has lost four of it’s last five, played to the under in most of those, and really struggled to score. Twice in the last five games the Bucks scored 75 or fewer. They have only averaged 86 points over their last six and the defense has not been as lock down as it was earlier in the season. For the Nuggets, they have been worse. They have lost six straight and are both struggle to score and struggling to stop people. They have a lot of interior injuries to deal with and this team is in turmoil. They have been giving up over 108 points in their last five, so this might be exactly what the Bucks need to get back on track. This should be an ugly game between two struggling teams, but with some of the other spreads being so low I think it is usable for fantasy tonight.

Line: Bucks -5, O/U 192

Players to Watch

  • Will Barton, SG, Nuggets ($3800)
  • Randy Foye, SG, Nuggets ($3000)
  • Khris Middleton, SG, Bucks ($6200)
  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Bucks ($6900)

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Kings @ Knicks

Game Analysis

The big thing here for me is whether or not Boogie Plays. Cousins should absolutely dominate a Knicks team that has been beaten up by lesser centers already this season. He is still questionable, but that bears watching at is changes everything for me in roster construction. If he is again out, we should continue to see a higher usage rate for Rudy Gay. McLemore and McCallum are also beneficiaries of him being out as both see a ton of minutes. The spread is close and the total is high here so it is one of the better games to target today. As for the Knicks they too will be missing their PG. Both Collison and Calderon are out so the Knicks will probably roll a lot of Larkin and Galloway. Shved has also done a lot with his minutes recently, although he has not seen a big workload yet. Andrea Bargnani has showed some recent glimpses of why he was a first overall pick. He is still cheap and very usable here again today.

Line: Kings -2, O/U 199

Players to Watch

  • Andrea Bargnani, PF, Knicks ($4500)
  • Tim Hardaway, SG, Knicks ($4200)
  • Demarcus Cousins, C, Kings ($9800) If he plays
  • Rudy Gay, SF, Kings ($7700)