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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Knicks @ Pacers

Game Analysis

The Knicks have only won two of their last ten, played to the over in five of their last six, and were waxed by thirty points last night against the Kings. The Pacers have won eight of ten. They have four straight unders and are averaging just under 100 points per game. They are holding opponents under 87 points per game which has been a big reason for the winning streak recently.The Knicks do not have a lot of talented players on this roster. The Pacers are finally healthy with the only real concern being CJ Miles. George Hill and Rodney Stuckey have really stepped up their games recently and I just do not think the Knicks have enough fire power to stay with the Pacers today. The Spread is huge and the total is somewhat low, so be careful using this game on a large slate.

Line: Pacers -13, O/U 190

Players to Watch

  • George Hill, PG, Pacers ($6000)
  • Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers ($5400)
  • Andrea Bargnani, PF, Knicks ($4500)
  • Langston Galloway, PG, Knicks ($4900)

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Suns @ Magic

Game Analysis

The Suns have nose dived into seven losses in their last nine game. They have played six of the last eight to the over and have only held one opponent under 100 points during this stretch. Offensively they are still playing at a high pace, but the defense is the reason for their recent struggles. Orlando has been up and down. They had two losses, followed by three wins, and back to three more losses. The one constant has been how often they play to the under. Orlando has not allowed one of their last nine opponents to reach 100 points. The defense and the pace mean I would be a little surprised to see this one have too big of a score.The total and the spread are right in the wheelhouse of a game we should look at for fantasy goodness and the match ups are not too bad for some of the Magic. On the flip side PGs have done well against Orlando in some recent contests and whichever of Bledsoe and Knight is not guarded by Oladipo, should have a chance to shine through.

Line: Suns -3, O/U 204.5

Players to Watch

  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic ($8700)
  • Tobias Harris, SF, Magic ($6300)
  • Brandon Knight, PG, Suns ($5800)
  • Marcus Morris, PF, Suns ($4200)

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Hornets @ Nets

Game Analysis

The Nets are the true middle of the road team lately. They have played .500 basketball pretty steadily all season. They play some games to the over and some to the under,while scoring and giving up right around 100 points each recently. They can never seem to go on a run or pick up their averages from one side or the other. The Hornets have not been winning much but are a lot more fun to watch since the Mo Williams trade. While they have picked up the pace and scoring recently they are still on the slow side. In fact neither team is incredibly high paced but both have played a little above their season norms recently. The Total here is not that high, but I could see it coming in towards the over based on recent results. It’s not the best game to target, but there’s a few guys worth looking at here.

Line: Nets -5.5, O/U 193.5

Players to Watch

  • Mo Williams, PG, Hornets ($7000)
  • Al Jefferson, C, Hornets ($7800)
  • Deron Williams, PG, Nets ($6600)
  • Thaddeus Young, PF, Nets ($5300)

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Cavaliers @ Raptors

Game Analysis

Cleveland has won five of their last seven and played to the under in five of those games. They have averaged around 105 points and held opponents closer to 95 during this stretch. Kyrie Irving is now back from an injury that forced him to miss a few games and the Cavs should be at full strength tonight. On the other side it is looking like Kyle Lowry will miss this game as well. That’s not good for a Toronto team that has lost five of it’s last six games and has struggled on both ends. They have been playing at a higher pace without their floor general, but the defense has taken a big step backwards. I think the Cavs have some nice match ups today at PG and SF where their two best players happen to be. The spread here is not overly concerning and the total is nice, so you should be able to look here for some solid plays tonight.

Line: Cavs -5, O/U 201

Players to Watch

  • DeMar DeRozan, SG, Raptors ($7200)
  • Jonas Valanciunas, C, Raptors ($5200)
  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavs ($7600)
  • LeBron James, SF, Cavs ($10400)

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Jazz @ Celtics

Game Analysis

Utah has won five of their last ten, but played eight of those to the under. They play at a slower pace and have a solid defense, but I think they will be paced up in today’s game. The Celtics have been playing at a break neck speed since trading for IT2 and losing Sullinger. They are almost forced to given the personnel they have remaining. They had played five straight overs since coming short of the total in their last two. I can excuse them for that since those totals were 218 and 210 which are incredibly high. 193 seems a tad low for me on this one and would not be surprised to see it reach the over today. I think a few guys on both sides are interesting today.

Line: Celtics -1, O/U 193

Players to Watch

  • Trey Burke, PG, Utah ($4500)
  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz ($6700)
  • Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz ($7400)
  • Isaiah Thomas, PG, Celtics ($6200)

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Nuggets @ Timberwolves

Game Analysis

Denver had lost six straight games and a head coach before beating Milwaukee last night. They have played to the under and really looked pretty bad along the way. Without center Jusuf Nurkic they have struggled to put big men on the floor and compete in the rebounding category. Minnesota was playing with a healthy Rubio, Martin, and Pekovic who all came back from recent injuries. All but Rubio have since sat out a few games, but even when fully healthy it did not translate into wins for them. They had only won two of their last eight games, but they have been playing paced up as any team with Ricky Rubio would be expected to. The Nuggets are a tough team to gauge with the new coach and new rotation not really being known yet. The Wolves have some injuries which should tick up a few guys and put a few others in play. The status of Martin and Pekovic are the two things I would keep an eye on here. Other then that I think there’s a few guys on both of these teams that are interesting, especially if both are playing with short benches.

Line: Wolves -8.5, O/U 202

Players to Watch

  • Ricky Rubio, PG, Wolves ($7800)
  • Andrew Wiggins, SF, Wolves ($6700)
  • Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets ($5100)
  • Wilson Chandler, SF, Nuggets ($5100)

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Pistons @ Pelicans

Game Analysis

Detroit has lost three straight games. They have only played to the over once in their last seven. Their scoring and opponents averages are both worse after the trade deadline and they are giving back all the ground they made up when they went on a run after the Jennings injury. The Pelicans are heading in the opposite direction. They have won five of their last six and done so without the services of guys like Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson. They get a home game today against a struggling Pistons squad that looks good for them on paper. My biggest concern is the interior defense for the Pelicans. Asik and Ajinca will have their hands full trying to contend with Drummond and Monroe. The Pistons should be looking to work the ball through their bigs today where they have the clear advantage. The way to get at the Pistons is normally through the bigs and while the low prices make Ajinca and Asik interesting options, I also think they lack the skills to really take advantage of the weak interior defense of the Pistons. The total is fine, but nothing special and the spread is close, so this game is usable.

Line: Pelicans -3.5, O/U 195

Players to Watch

  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons ($7800)
  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($7700)
  • Tyreke Evans, PG, Pelicans ($7700)
  • Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans ($6000)

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Lakers @ Heat

Game Analysis

This may look like a high total for a Heat game, but they have been playing up in pace recently. They have seen totals around this range and still have played to the over in seven of the last ten. The Lakers have also been over in six straight and eight of the last ten, so there’s a good chance this game could see more points than expected. The Match up seems to favor the Heat as the Lakers struggle with bigs and wing scorers which happen to be the strength of this Heat team. I think Whiteside and Wade are both in line for decent showings today and the prices are not too prohibitive. The spread has crept up, but I think this game stays close enough to allow full run for the starters until the end.

Line: Miami -8, O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat ($7100)
  • Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat ($8300)
  • Jordan Clarkson, PG, Lakers ($4700)
  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers ($5200)

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Grizzlies @ Rockets

Game Analysis

Houston had won five in a row before dropping last nights game to the Hawks while Harden served his one game suspension. They are used to seeing higher totals, but have played under recently due to solid defense. Today they also have the added whammy of playing against one of the league’s best defenses, so the lower total seems right on the money. The Grizzlies have lost three of four recently and played to the under in nine of the last ten. They have one of the stingiest defenses in the league, so despite the lower totals they still have managed to stay under them. All the match ups between these two this season have seen the totals creep over 200, so there’s a chance this one becomes a higher scoring affair. Both teams were playing at a higher pace with worse defensive efficiency at the time though, so it could go either way. It will be a tight game tonight, so we should see full run for the starters. With playoff positioning on the line I can see this being an electric atmosphere and definitely one of the games to watch tonight. Zach Randolph is likely out for the Grizzlies which is why I think this one could see a few more points as that is a big blow to the Grizz.

Line: Rockets -3, O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($10500)
  • Terrence Jones, PF, Rockets ($7000)
  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies ($7500)
  • Courtney Lee, SG, Grizzlies ($3000)

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76ers @ Thunder

Game Analysis

Philly has played to the over more often recently and it has a lot to do with the lack of defense they play. They have allowed opponents to score about 104 points per game while failing to reach into the mid 90s themselves. Allowing a lot of points and not scoring a bunch is a bad recipe for a team going up against the Thunder. Westbrook should be back tonight and the Thunder have been playing way up in pace with totals routinely in the 210 range. I hate to call for a blowout, but it’s a real concern for me here. The only real scoring threat the Sixers have left is Robert Covington and he is questionable again today after missing the last game. Without him in the line up I see no way this game even remotely has a chance to stay close. Russ can still get a triple double in three quarters of play, but he is also a risk to miss value if he sees less time. This should be an easy Thunder victory and the big question is whether the Sixers can keep it close enough to allow the Thunder starters some 4th quarter minutes.

Line: Thunder -12, O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($11500)
  • Enes Kanter, C, Thunder ($5900)
  • Ish Smith, PG, Sixers ($3800)
  • Nerlens Noel, PF, Sixers ($6500)

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Kings @ Spurs

Game Analysis

Sacramento was back to full strength last night and blew out a weak Knicks team. The good news was the starters saw a few less minutes than usual which should benefit them on the tail end of this back to back. Their opponent tonight is the defending champs and that will be a much tougher test. These two last met a few days ago and played to a total higher than anticipated today. The Spurs won that game by nine and now get to play the rematch on their home turf. This game should be an easy Spurs victory which means some rest for the big guns on San Antonio. The Kings will probably keep it close to the end and their recent pace uptick leads me to think an over is coming. The total is high enough to use, especially if you agree the over is likely. The spread does give me some concern and the fact the Spurs go deep in their bench makes me cautious to use any of them. I think there’s better spots tonight, but this game should see a lot of points.

Line: Spurs -11, O/U 200

Players to Watch

  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($7400)
  • Patty Mills, PG, Spurs ($3000)
  • DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kings ($9700)
  • Rudy Gay, SF, Kings ($7600)

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Bucks @ Warriors

Game Analysis

Another one of these high spread games with a lower total for the favorite then we are used to seeing. Warriors should be the better team here and despite the solid defense we have seen from Bucks earlier in the year they have not been as good lately. The Bucks have lost five of the last six and that offense has really struggled during this stretch. Golden State has dropped a few games recently and played to the under, but the reason for that is their stout defense. They have managed to keep opponents under 100 points which would not be considered stout expect for the fact that their killer pace gives both sides more possessions. The efficiency for them is well above what you would expect looking just at the scoring averages. This means they should be slowed down by the Bucks pace a tad and the Bucks should struggle against the tough defense of the Warriors. Overall there are not a lot of ways I can see this being a good game to target for fantasy. The best bets you can hope for are some injuries or DNPs to allow rest for some of the Warriors big men. Otherwise I would not use anyone here.

Line: Warriors -13.5, O/U 203

Players to Watch

**Be careful if you use anyone from this game*

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Blazers @ Clippers

Game Analysis

One of the best games to target today also happens to be the late night hammer. There’s no fewer than seven guys in this one I think are worth looking at. Both teams have won three in a row. The Blazers are paced up and have scored and allowed more points than usual. The Clippers are doing it with decent scoring and solid defense, so if anything I would click up the Clippers slightly and not really change much in the way of Portland. The DvP match ups here are interesting as well. Chris Paul is a great defender so that limits the upside of a Lilliard. Lilliard is not a very good defender so that boosts Paul up a tad. The Clippers have no answer for LaMarcus Aldridge which could be a problem and Robin Lopez will struggle to keep DeAndre Jordan off the boards. The Clips have been better lately, but have allowed wing players to eat them alive this season. That should mean decent games from Batum and Wes Matthews as well. Crawford and Barnes are both questionable and if either misses we should see a lot of Reddick and a little more Austin Rivers as well. I think this will be a close game that can go either way. I also expect it to be high scoring and back and forth near the end. This is an excellent game to target and/or stack tonight. Plus it’s always nice to have PMR left when you are chasing people on the leader board.

Line: Clippers -2, O/U 205

Players to Watch

  • Chris Paul, PG, Clippers ($10200)
  • DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers ($9000)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Blazers ($9100)
  • Wes Matthews, SG, Blazers ($5600)