Check out a quick breakdown of every game on Friday’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.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: Cavs -4
When you look up the Vegas line for a game, most of the sites will give you one or two little pieces of information about the game. For the Cavs, every night, you see “Kyrie Irving – OUT.” It just serves as a reminder of how dangerous this team is going to be once – if – they get fully healthy. Right now, we are seeing LeBron be LeBron, but we are also seeing Kevin Love get more comfortable in his new surroundings, and witnessing Tristan Thompson continue to develop into a big man that could help a team win a playoff series.
For the Hornets, unfortunately, they have some quality pieces but those pieces just don’t seem to work well together as a team. With Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, they have two quality scoring options – but no defense. Fortunately for fantasy owners, that usually doesn’t matter much. Unfortunately, the Cavs are not a great matchup for anyone, really. Charlotte will need someone to score, but you might find options who will be more efficient at the same prices elsewhere.
– Kevin Love ($8,300)
– Nicolas Batum ($7,300)
– Tristan Thompson ($6,000)
– Jeremy Lamb ($4,600)
Milwaukee Bucks @ Orlando Magic
Line: Orlando -4
I think that Bucks fans who watched this team a lot last year are probably frustrated watching this year’s iteration. They seem to have regressed defensively, and they don’t run as much as it feels like they should – but they are athletic enough that both of those things could improve as the season goes on.
With Vucevic healthy – or at least slated to start – he and Greg Monroe will each have his respective hands full. They can both score, and rebound, but might cut into each others’ opportunities enough that neither of them reach the top end of their upside, even if they can both manage to turn in solid performances.
– Giannis Antetokounmpo ($6,900)
– Evan Fournier ($6,600)
– Victor Oladipo ($6,600)
– Khris Middleton ($5,400)
Miami Heat @ New York Knicks
Line: Miami -1.5
The lowest-scoring game on the board, and it’s not close, you would think that means that Vegas doesn’t expect a lot of fantasy points out of this one. And honestly, you’re mostly right. But even low-scoring teams can have great fantasy performers, as long as the production is consolidated in just a few players, instead of spread out across the roster.
And thankfully, that is exactly the situation here. You’ve got Wade, Bosh and Whiteside and on the other side you have Carmelo and Porzingis. Everyone else is a shot in the dark, upside value play who is frankly, hard to trust in a contest that is going to yield a 95-93 final, according to the line.
– Hassan Whiteside ($8,300)
– Carmelo Anthony ($8,200)
– Chris Bosh ($7,500)
– Kristaps Porzingis ($7,300)
*Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics
Line: Celtics -3
This game is a perfect example of the Eastern Conference slowly catching up with the West. These two teams aren’t as good as the West’s elite – not even close – but they are evidence of a style change that calls for pushing the it up the floor, and moving the ball, and generally speaking, just playing a much more aesthetically pleasing brand of hoops. And if that leads to more fantasy points, fantastic.
The third highest total on the board in tonight’s action, and with a line at only -3, both teams are expected to perform well in this one. For Washington, putting up that many points means John Wall and Bradley Beal, in all likelihood, both had good games. The Celtics get different contributions on different nights, but on a night when the Celtics’ true centers could see some minutes to counteract Gortat, Sullinger could be matchup up on the Wizards’ forwards in this one, a matchup he could definitely exploit.
– John Wall ($8,100)
– Isaiah Thomas ($7,700)
– Bradley Deal ($6,600)
– Jared Sullinger ($6,300)
Atlanta Hawks @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Grizz -3
The question in this one is whether or not Randolph is going to be able to go, as he sat out on Wednesday for the fourth straight game. During his absence, all of a sudden Jeff Green has been a usable fantasy option, averaging over 30 minutes a game, and scoring more than 30 fantasy points in each of the last two. Since he only costs $5,100, it’s hard to say whether potentially DFS players would rather see Randolph come back or not. But for a Grizzlies fan, there is no such question – you want him back, you just want him to be healthy when he gets back because losing him for an extended stretch could mean the team losing plenty of ground in the super-competitive Western Conference playoff race.
– Paul Millsap ($8,000)
– Marc Gasol ($7,200)
– Al Horford ($6,800)
– Jeff Green ($5,100)
Chicago Bulls @ Indiana Pacers
Line: Pacers -2
Just a half a game apart for second in the East, these two teams are not separated by very much at all, geographically or otherwise. You might not have predicted this before the season, but right now Paul George is looking like he might be the best player on the court in this matchup. Averaging 26-9-5 with a more than a steal a night, he is doing everything the Pacers need to keep them leading the conference. And if anyone tonight will have anything to say about it, it’s Jimmy Butler – averaging 21-5-4 with a steal himself. But the best thing about these two is that they are some of the best on the ball man defenders at their positions in the entire league, none of which leads you to believe that the fantasy points will be easier to come by in this one.
– Paul George ($10,200)
– Jimmy Butler ($8,200)
– Nikola Mirotic ($5,700)
– Ian Mahinmi ($4,500)
Detroit Pistons @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: OKC -7.5
The Thunder’s frontcourt is going to have it’s hands full trying to handle Drummond. My guess is you will see plenty of Kanter in this one, but the attempt at slowing him down tends to change the way the Thunder play offense. If I were a better man, I would guess that this game doesn’t get to 206. The way Drummond can rebound should suppress the upside of a guy like Ibaka, as well. And if you think all of this is a long way to say that Drummond, Westbrook and Durant have the best chance at big fantasy points, I have one thing to say. Obviously those three are the best players in the game, but if you were looking for a fourth option, for me it would have to be a pull from the Pistons, as OKC isn’t likely to see big production from the 4 and 5 slots.
– Russell Westbrook ($11,100)
– Kevin Durant ($9,600)
– Andre Drummond ($9,100)
– Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4,800)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Houston Rockets
Line: Rockets -11
Apparently Jahlil Okafor doesn’t like hearing about the, um, struggles of the Sixers. But barring any word from the league, he will be out there trying to turn around their prospects on his own. Or, well, not totally alone – he’s got a running mate up front in Noel, and together they might actually be able to cause plenty of problems for the Rockets, who have underperformed all year long. The issue of course will be the problems caused by the Rockets everywhere else on the court. This could be a night where Houston looks as good as we all expected them to be.
– James Harden ($10,100)
– Jahlil Okafor ($7,000)
– Nerlens Noel ($5,800)
– Trevor Ariza ($5,700)
San Antonio Spurs @ Denver Nuggets
Line: Spurs -9.5
No Tim Duncan, but Aldridge returned to the lineup on Wednesday with 35 minutes of PT, so the juggernaut just keeps rolling along. The sheer volume of games in which the Spurs have been favored in a high-scoring affair over the past decade is remarkable. If only Pop had a habit of giving his guys enough run to really be fantasy superstars night in and night out – but he plays the long game, and you can’t blame him.
And while that might be true, Aldridge has been averaging 31 minutes a night this season, and came back from his ankle injury with 35. With Duncan sitting out, he could see a bump in his time, and even if it is incremental, it will help. As I have said before, the Spurs seem to have the most direct correlation between playing time and fantasy points – they are just so efficient that all you have to do is be a part of it and you’re going to be a fantasy asset.
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,300)
– Danilo Gallinari ($7,000)
– LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,800)
– Boris Diaw ($3,400)
Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Warriors -8.5
The line here is 8.5 because no one in their right mind would bet against the Warriors right now. A team that can go on a 15-0 run in 2 minutes flat, Golden State can’t be favored by less than a half-dozen points against anyone. But all that being said, Phoenix is a team that could give them a run for their money right now.
At 7-8, with three losses in a row under their belts, you might think I am crazy. But with the strength of their squad on the perimeter, they can bring enough energy to keep up with the Warriors, at least, which is a good first step in trying to take them down. Bledsoe missed one game last week, but was back in action for 37 minutes on Wednesday against the Pelicans, so he should be good to go tonight.
– Stephen Curry ($10,900)
– Eric Bledsoe ($8,400)
– Draymond Green ($7,500)
– Andre Iguodala ($5,300)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Kings -2
With Cousins out, Karl-Anthony Towns should have his way with the people left in the Sacramento front court. And on the other side of the court, Rubio is listed as questionable, but it is safe to say that if he does play, it won’t be at 100%. It will be interesting to see how the Wolves combat the athleticism of Rondo and Collison – you could see plenty of LaVine, and could even see Wiggins trying to stick with whoever is bringing the ball up the court. Hey look – a reason to watch!
– Rajon Rondo ($9,300)
– Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,300)
– Rudy Gay ($7,300)
– Andrew Wiggins ($7,100)
New Orleans Pelicans @ Los Angeles Clippers
Line: Clips -6.5
Jrue Holiday is still on a minutes restriction, but it is getting looser. And he is playing well in his time out there with his teammates, so the values of him and Ish Smith are bound to start leveling off over the next month or so, which makes Smith potentially overpriced and Holiday a potential value every night until then.
Anthony Davis is playing the kind of basketball right now that we all hoped we’d see – making every power forward and center on the opposing team a risky play, and making you fearful every time you decide to fade him. He could put up enough fantasy points to make it almost impossible to win without him, no matter how expensive he gets (over 50 fantasy points in each of his last four full games, with a high of 69.25).
– Anthony Davis ($10,800)
– Chris Paul ($8,400)
– Eric Gordon ($6,300)
– Jrue Holiday ($4,400)