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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Raptors @ Hornets

Game Analysis

The most interesting thing here is that the total has jumped 15 points since the opening line. The game opened at a 184 and is now up to 199. Lowry is listed as questionable here, but I think the bigger reason for the line movement is that Charlotte has been paced up and scoring more lately. Mo Williams has been sensational since coming over and he is a big reason for that. He is scoring and setting up teammates to the tune of 30-50 fantasy point games so far. Add that to the fact these Raptors have been playing faster without Lowry and you can see why the total has climbed. Vasquez and Lou Williams are not the defensive force Lowry is, but both guys can help the team score. This has led to some really high totals in recent games for the Raptors and I think we could see another tonight. Charlotte is not a team that goes for 110 points a night, so I still temper the expectations, but I definitely think there’s a few usable guys to look at in this one.

Line: Raptors -1, O/U 199

Players to Watch

  • Mo Williams, PG, Hornets ($7300)
  • Al Jefferson, C, Hornets ($7600)
  • Lou Williams, SG, Raptors ($5600)
  • Demar DeRozan, SG, Raptors ($7200)

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Bulls @ Pacers

Game Analysis

This should be a defensive battle between two solid teams. The Pacers have won six of their last seven and played to the under in five of those. The Bulls have won four of six and played to the under in four of them. Both teams have been paced down lately and playing some stingy defense. In the last seven games the Pacers have only allowed one team to score over 100 and that was OKC a few games back. Chicago has not scored, nor allowed 100 in any of their last five. This does not look like a great game to target for fantasy. The Bulls had been heavily used in the past week because of some really low prices on guys with bigger roles. Brooks and Mirotic are two of the main ones, but both have seen drastic increases in price. There’s still a bunch of reasonably priced guys on both sides of this one, but the low total and probably slow pace give me pause on a large slate.

Line: Pacers -5.5, O/U 186

Players to Watch

  • Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls ($5700)
  • Aaron Brooks, PG, Bulls ($5400)
  • George Hill, PG, Pacers ($6300)
  • Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers ($5800)

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Kings @ Magic

Game Analysis

Sacramento has won four of seven with five overs during that stretch. Orlando has lost four in a row with three unders. The Magic prefer a slower pace so this game should tick them up, but I don’t think they have the firepower or defensive abilities to hang with the Kings today. Sacramento has averaged over 106 points during their last eight games and are really looking better in this uptempo style. There’s no new injury news in this one to mention. The spread is close and the total is over 200, so I think you can look here for some plays today.

Line: Kings -1, O/U 202

Players to Watch

  • Demarcus Cousins, C, Kings ($9500)
  • Ray McCallum, PG, Sacramento ($3800)
  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($7000)
  • Elfrid Payton, PG, Magic ($4800)

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Jazz @ 76ers

Game Analysis

A low total and a decent spread are not ideal for fantasy. Utah has been good on both ends of the floor recently. They play slow and the combined scores for both teams tend to stay under 190. Utah has won five of the last seven and should make it six for eight tonight. Philly has a problem. Leading scorer Robert Covington is still questionable. Last game it was Jason Richardson who went crazy for the Sixers in his absence. The game before it was Ish Smith and before that it was Nerlens Noel. There’s really no predicting who will be the man for the Sixers lately. Maybe today is Mbah A Moute day or Henry Sims? In all honesty with the total being so low I do not think there is much to look for here. The Sixers are bad against big men, so that has to put a few of the Utah guys in play, but I would steer clear of this game for the most part.

Line: Jazz -7, O/U 185

Players to Watch

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz ($7200)
  • Trey Burke, PG, Jazz (44500)
  • Nerlens Noel, PF, Sixers ($6700)
  • Luc Mbah A Moute, SF, Sixers ($4500)

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Suns @ Nets

Game Analysis

The Nets and Suns have both been playing faster lately. Well the Nets have been playing faster and the Suns have always been a high tempo team. Both teams have routinely been scoring over 100 and combined they have seen mostly overs. Neither team is stout defensively as both have allowed around 100 points each. This is an excellent game to look towards for fantasy goodness. The total is high and the spread is low, so we should see a close back and forth game with a few more possessions then usual. Both teams allow big games to guards so that is where the stats should come from in this one. Definitely think you need some exposure here.

Line: Nets -3, O/U 208.5

Players to Watch

  • Brandon Knight, PG, Suns ($6200)
  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($8200)
  • Deron Williams, PG, Nets ($6400)
  • Brook Lopez, C, Nets ($6700)

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Cavaliers @ Hawks

Game Analysis

As a basketball fan, this is the game you want to watch. If you wonder how the Eastern Conference finals will play out, this could be a preview. Both teams are at full strength, both teams have won seven of the last ten games, and both teams have played to the under more often recently. The pace uptick favors the Hawks and their stingy defense should tick down the Cavs. That is probably the only way the Hawks stay in this as the Cavs ticked down are still a pretty high scoring team. They have reached into the 120’s recently, but I doubt they get near that number today. The uptick in the Hawks from their mid 90s scores and the drop down for the Cavs puts this game right around where Vegas has it. These teams have hooked up three times this season with two 220+ point final scores and one other above 210. Of course those all took place before some of the recent additions and with injuries on both sides.

Line: Cavs -1, O/U 200

Players to Watch

  • LeBron James, SF, Cavs ($10500)
  • Kevin Love, PF, Cavs ($7800)
  • Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks ($6400)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7400)

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Lakers @ Grizzlies

Game Analysis

The Lakers have been playing over a lot recently and it has not been good for them. They are allowing over 100 a game and failing to score over 93. The Grizzlies stout defense has been keeping opponents down and they have showed the ability to put a few more points on the board in recent games. There is no recent injury news in this one, so there’s nothing to be concerned about here. I just think the spread is showing a big 104 92 win for Memphis and it could get ugly based on their ability to limit the other team to one shot and the Lakers ability to miss shots. Memphis is much the better team and their defense will prove to be the key. I am staying away from all Lakers because ofthis and tick up the Grizzlies slightly due to the ease which players have scored big fantasy points on the Lakers.

Line: Grizz -11, O/U 196

Players to Watch

  • Jeremy Lin, PG, Lakers ($4800)
  • Wayne Ellington, SG, Lakers ($4700)
  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($5900)
  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies ($7400)

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Pistons @ Rockets

Game Analysis

The nice total here makes me think I will be needing some exposure for fantasy. Houston has been playing fast and really giving the scoreboards a workout lately. Detroit has slowed themselves down and have payed towards the lower end of the spectrum lately. The Pistons have only gone over once in the last eight games and the pace has slowed more for them in recent contests. The Jackson for Augustin swap has not worked out the way they had hoped so far and the big men are still carrying this team. I think the pace and match ups here favor the Rockets and I would not be surprised to see them win this game pretty easily on their home floor. Both Pat Beverly and Terrence Jones are in danger of missing this game, so keep an eye on the injury report as that will open up some value for Houston.

Line: Rockets -7, O/U 204.5

Players to Watch

  • Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Rockets ($5100)
  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($10400)
  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($7800)
  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons ($7800)

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Heat @ Wizards

Game Analysis

Miami had been the slowest paced team in the league until the Dragic trade. Lately they have been smashing through the overs on their way to winning four of the last six. Washington is tail spinning at the moment as they have dropped six of the last seven and are struggling to score. The games with the Wizards tend to stay lower scoring due to the slow pace and good defense, but if they do not figure out how to get some points they may slip further down the rankings before playoff time. Kris Humphries is the only real injury of note in this game, which should boost minutes for Gortat and Nene. Dragic and Beal are both back in their line ups, so I think this one should be a little hotter pace than expected. The total is not overly high here and the defense of the Wizards gives me some pause. I do think the Heat being paced up evens out a lot of the differences between these teams and we should see a close game with full run for the starters regardless. Not my favorite spot for fantasy, but definitely not a stay away game.

Line: Wizards -4, O/U 194

Players to Watch

  • Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat ($7200)
  • Goran Dragic, PG, Suns ($6600)
  • Marcin Gortat, C, Wizards ($6200)
  • Nene Hilario, PF, Wizards ($4700)

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Celtics @ Pelicans

Game Analysis

Two weeks ago these were two of the teams in the league playing the most above their seasonal pace. In the last week though that has come crashing down for both. The Celtics lost SG Avery Bradley so the pace has dropped along with their scoring. The Pelicans were playing differently without their main man in the middle. In order to compete they had to run a little more and rely on penetration and outside shooting. With Davis back though they seem to be content reverting to the slower pace of play they showed earlier in the year. The Pelicans are favored here and expected to hang a big number on Boston. I can see it because Boston has come back to earth after playing a bunch of games in the 215 total range in a row. The shortened rotation with no Bradley or Sullinger should open up some usgae and value for the Celtics. The slower pace and Davis being back should hurt some of the Pelicans who are still priced as if he was out. I can back a few Celts today despite them being the underdog, but be careful using Pelicans not nicknamed Unibrow.

Line: Pelicans -7, O/U 200

Players to Watch

  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($10800)
  • Tyreke Evans, PG, Pelicans ($7400)
  • Isaiah Thomas, PG, Celtics ($6000)
  • Evan Turner, PG, Celtics ($5200)

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Nuggets @ Spurs

Game Analysis

After six straight losses, the Nuggets have turned it around and won their last two. They face their sternest test tonight though with a visit to the defending champ’s house. The Spurs have won three straight and done so by an average score of 106 to 85. The Spurs are always tough at home and they are literally using all hands on deck to try and keep pace in a very tight Western Conference race for playoff spots. They lost a few games recently to teams ahead of them in the standings, but at home they rarely have trouble beating teams they are supposed to. The total is nice here, but the spread is really big. Pop is never slow to let his bench finish off the game if the lead is a few points, so all the Spurs are suspect in this one. In fact I would be cautious about using too many guys on either side here. It’s not a game I would target heavy.

Line: Spurs -12, O/U 205

Players to Watch

  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($7400)
  • Will Barton, SG, Nuggets ($4300)
  • Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets ($5800)

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Mavericks @ Warriors

Game Analysis

Hammer game has a high total with an equally high spread. Two teams that had been playing fast all year and are a tad below those numbers lately. When they met a month back the Vegas total was 10 points higher and they managed to play to the over anyway. As much as I would like to say this game goes over I think the spread is about right as both teams are 10% or more below their seasonal scoring averages over the last few weeks. I still think there’s some points scored here, but would be cautious about going too heavy. Steve Kerr does tend to let his guys play a little more, but the high priced studs will need to get their points early to avoid falling short of value if they get a light workload in the fourth. I like them for cash, but not sure about the upside potential for a GPP.

Line: Warriors -10, O/U 208

Players to Watch

  • Steph Curry, PG, Warriors ($9500)
  • Draymond Green, PF, Warriors ($7100)
  • Rajon Rondo, PG, Mavs ($5700)
  • Monta Ellis, SG, Mavs ($6800)