Check out a quick breakdown of every game 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 for tonight’s action.
Sacramento Kings @ Miami Heat
Line: Miami -8
It is hard to find options to really promote in this game, because the scoring just isn’t likely to be there like the late-night Western Conference battle, and the scoring won’t be as concentrated in a few players as you might expect in the Cleveland-Milwaukee tilt. Cousins is obviously never a terrible choice, and but the Heat do well defending big men, for the most part. And Bosh has enough of a game facing the basket from 12-15 feet that he should be able to get his own looks on offense as well. I just think that with these frontcourts battling all night long, one guy might not get enough rebounds and other stats to turn a moderate scoring night into a huge fantasy performance.
A couple of players to watch in this one, then, are Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade. Wade has been struggling, so despite the good matchup, he is tough to trust: he hasn’t scored more than 25 fantasy points in two weeks, averaging just UNDER 11 points per game over that stretch, on 32% shooting from the floor. Rondo, on the other hand, has been playing like the versatile All-Star we remember from his days running point for the Celtics. He had 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists last night, for his fourth triple-double in his last six games. With Collison’s return, his minutes did take a dip last night, as he played only 31, but that should still be plenty of run for a player like him to stuff the stat sheet on a night-to-night basis.
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,300)
– Rajon Rondo ($8,700)
– Chris Bosh ($7,300)
– Rudy Gay ($6,900)
Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Cavs -10
These two teams faced each other just five days ago, in Milwaukee. In that game, the Bucks came out on top behind a balanced attack that saw all five starters finish the game in double-digits. Greg Monroe was the best fantasy performer of the night for Milwaukee, going for 16 points and 17 boards, surprising with the success Cleveland has had in defending big men so far this season. I wouldn’t necessarily expect history to repeat itself for Monroe in this one.
For Cleveland, the top performers in that game were LeBron and Love, and it wasn’t close. Love went for 24-14 and LeBron dropped 37-12-5 with a steal and three blocks. Cleasrly he was trying to win. But the point here is that these were both continuations of a trend. Trend one: Love has sneakily been having a much improved season compared to last year. Last year he finished the year basically averaging 16-10, and so far this year those numbers are up to 17-12. We knew his scoring would dip coming from being a solo act in Minnesota, but assumed all the other skills would be in play, and so far this season, it has looked like that’s the case. Who knows what will happen to him between now and the end of the year, but at the moment, he’s a fantasy option you can trust. And for LeBron, it’s just about the scoring. He is shooting more, and just as efficiently, which is great for the Cavs, because they need him to carry this offense with Kyrie out for such an extended period. He’s their best creator and their best finisher, one of their best rebounders, and maybe their best defender. Right now, the finishing is taking center stage, which increases – from a fantasy perspective – both his floor and his ceiling.
– LeBron James ($10,100)
– Kevin Love ($8,000)
– Giannis Antetokounmpo ($7,200)
– John Henson ($3,800)
Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Clippers
Line: Warriors -7.5
The Warriors are facing off what will be one of their main competitors in the West as they push for 13 in row to begin the season. But the big story tonight is that we’re not sure how much of a “competitor” the Clips will really be in this one, with both Chris Paul and J.J. Redick currently expected to miss the game. Coach Dr. Rivers referred to both of them as “not probable,” whatever that means. For starters, it means plenty of minutes for Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers – what they do with them is still up in the air. Beyond that it could just mean that the Clippers are in for a long night.
This line and total is telling me a couple of things: one, that Vegas expects the losing team in this game to put up as many points as the big favorite in either of the other two. And two, when you’re thinking about which Warriors to play, the answer is “all of them.” With Bogut back and the Clips likely trying to generate offense with their frontcourt, he could get plenty of action for his defense. Last time these two teams faced each other, Draymond didn’t do much, likely concentrating on stopping Blake on the other end (successfully, I might add – Griffin had 23 points on 21 attempts). Barnes was the better play over Iguodala and Steph and Klay were Steph and Klay.
– Stephen Curry ($10,800)
– Klay Thompson ($6,300)
– Harrison Barnes ($5,200)
– Jamal Crawford ($4,600)