Check out a quick breakdown of all four games 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 from each of them.
Phoenix Suns @ Miami Heat
Line: Miami -13.5
With the way the Heat defend the backcourt, and the Suns’ reliance on the backcourt, it would be easy to see the crucial matchups in advance even if Knight and Bledsoe weren’t hurt. But the Suns are relying instead on two backups, and don’t have the personnel up front to change their style, so they are just trotting out a guard-centric offense with two below-average guards – which honestly makes me wonder why this line isn’t higher.
This is a game where I am hard-pressed to see how the total goes over – Miami is second only to San Antonio in terms of average points allowed per game, and this matchup could not be more perfect for them to limit what their opponent does well. But, on the other hand, the Heat have dramatically increased their pace since the All-Star break, suddenly looking like one of the more high-flying offenses out there. This could be in part because of the loss of Bosh, which necessitated a smaller lineup that features more time for Justice Winslow and more opportunities for Luol Deng. It could also be in part because of the addition of Joe Johnson, another smaller forward (compared to Bosh) now getting plenty of run and looks. But whatever is causing it, the biggest beneficiary is probably Dragic, who finally looks like he is running the type of offense he was meant to, and has seen the spike in fantasy value to prove it. In what looks like a classic chicken or egg dilemma, the change in style for the whole team benefited Dragic, but the improvement to Dragic is the biggest benefit to the team.
– Dwyane Wade ($7,100)
– Goran Dragic ($6,700)
– Joe Johnson ($5,700)
– P.J. Tucker ($4,700)
San Antonio Spurs @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Spurs -8.5
The last time these two teams faced off, Anthony Davis had 26-10 and LaMarcus Aldridge went off for 36 points of his own, as the power forward matchup proved to be the key to the game (which the Spurs won by 13). This matchup is again going to be key, and Davis is going to need to do more if he wants to keep the Pelicans in it. We’ve all seen his upside recently, and while he is not going to go off for 50-20, 25-15 would be a big help. The problem, of course, is that Aldridge knows he has help. He has teammates that help him make the Spurs the best defense in the league, and who are more than capable of picking up the slack on offense if he’s not feeling another 30+ point performance. Davis doesn’t have that luxury. He has to hold down the fort on defense against all comers from the Spurs, and he has to contend with whoever Pop throws at him on the other end, whether it’s Kawhi, Duncan or an Aldridge kept fresh by all the different rotations. It’s really not a fair fight.
All that being said, $9,800 still represents a value for someone who is the focal point of everything his team does, and who has the skills to turn that into fantasy points every way imaginable – scoring, rebounding, moving the ball, racking up defensive stats, you name it, he can do it. For the Spurs, as usual, it’s impossible to predict what they will do or who will step up, but it is interesting to note that Tony Parker has been at 29 or more DK FP in four of his last six – the best playmaker on the team, if he’s playing at anything close to full speed, he can be a difference maker for the Spurs and for your fantasy team. Kawhi has also been playing well, with over 40 DK FP in every game since February 5th. He is the guy getting the most consistent minutes on the team, making him the only great cash game option, always nice for a guy who also has a little bit of upside for the price.
– Anthony Davis ($9,800)
– Kawhi Leonard ($7,700)
– Jrue Holiday ($7,500)
– Tony Parker ($5,200)
Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks
Line: Mavs -7.5
Sacramento averages 107 ppg, and gives up 109. Dallas scores and gives up 102. All of which makes this another line that is somewhat hard for me to understand – Vegas thinks that they’re both going to score above their averages, and yet think Dallas will win easily. I feel like Dallas wins this game most handily by keeping the score suppressed, not falling into a more uptempo pace dictated by Sacramento, especially at home. They have played each other twice this season – one time the total came in at 210, and in the other it was 233, but that took two overtimes. All of which is to say, pick these guys if you want, but don’t do it because Vegas is telling you more points will be scored. Do it because you love the players.
For me, it’s really hard to love any Mavs from a DFS perspective this year – they are middle of the pack in terms of scoring, and their production is spread out all over their roster, which makes them hard to predict and lacking in upside. Cash game options, the lot of ’em. The Kings, on the other hand, are the opposite. Their fantasy value, whatever it is, is consolidated in just a few players. As a team, their overall production fluctuates pretty broadly, but their studs produce regardless. Guys like Rondo and Cousins are going to have the ball in their hands all the time, so when the team soars, they do too – GPP options, anyone?
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,700)
– Rajon Rondo ($8,200) QUESTIONABLE TONIGHT
– Zaza Pachulia ($5,400)
– Wesley Matthews ($4,900)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Golden State Warriors
Line: Golden State -6
It’s like they kept the slate small tonight just so you would have plenty of time to prepare yourself mentally for this one. After their epic battle last week, it’s hard to imagine that the excitement for the rematch could be any higher, but somehow, the Thunder blowing a 22-point lead to the Clippers last night seems to have raised the stakes yet again. The thing is, the narrative on this OKC team is that they’ve been playing well, with Durant and Westbrook both playing at a high level, but then you look up and realize that they’ve lost three of their last four, five of their last seven, and six of their last ten. Something is going wrong for the Thunder, but the talent is there. And tonight they have an opportunity to make a statement, right the ship, alleviate any short-term concerns and boost their confidence heading into the stretch run, all at once. You know that their two stars are going to do everything in their power to make that happen, making them both great options tonight – if you’ve got more than one lineup going, you should have a stake in each of them.
And for Golden State, all this is good news too – a team that can go toe-to-toe with them only forces their stars to be at their best. Last week against these guys, Steph had 46, Klay had 32, and Draymond had one of the strangest amazing fantasy games you’ll ever see, ending with 2 points, 14 boards, 14 assists, 6 steals and 4 blocks. He was all over the place – imagine if a couple of his shots went down? The big news this week of course is Steph’s ankle, as he was held out of last night’s win and is listed as questionable tonight. But the feeling right now is that last night was a precaution and he will be out there tonight, and if he goes, I expect to see him go full-tilt.
EDITOR’S NOTE (5:45 PM ET): Steph Curry is still questionable tonight. We would expect him to play in a marquee matchup but he did miss Tuesday’s game and is certainly far from a lock to go tonight. If he were to miss this one, look for Shaun Livingston to pick up the slack again. Livingston played 34 minutes on Tuesday and had 22 fantasy points.
– Russell Westbrook ($11,200)
– Stephen Curry ($10,800)
– Kevin Durant ($10,300)
– Draymond Green ($8,900)