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 games. Good luck!
Miami Heat @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Miami -3.5
The story of this game has got to be Ricky Rubio, right? Coming out of the gate averaging 17-10 with 5 rebounds and a steal per game thrown in, the 25-year-old point guard is living up to the expectations many put on him when he first entered the league five years ago. Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins just hasn’t made the jump many were hoping for, and his price doesn’t reflect that reality. There is some built-in nonexistent upside there.
On the Heat side of the ball, Goran Dragic has been very solid, although perhaps not the flashy acquisition many hoped they’d see when he was brought in last year. We have already seen his price drop somewhat ($6,600 in game 1), as it appears that his reality is somewhere in the 20-30 fantasy-point range, without a lot more upside than that. Wade had his minutes limited on Tuesday as he dealt with some migraines, but he still logged 27 minutes of action, and he is expected to go tonight. He’s going to continue to average something like 21-5 for the Heat all season long, like he is now, but without his former burst, he just doesn’t have the capability to put up random 10 rebound, 3 or 4 steal performances that could make him a fantasy superstar. You just know he’ll get the looks, which makes him a manageable play in cash games.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Chicago Bulls
Each of these teams has started off the year 3-2, but the Bulls last game was a 25-point loss to the Hornets, and the Thunder just lost to the Raptors by 5 last night. Both of them will be looking to improve on that showing in this one. For the Thunder, Westbrook has been a complete beast, averaging 28-10-7 through five games, good for almost 60 fantasy points a night. In fact, he has gotten you exactly 55 in three out of five games so far. However, there is this other guy on the team, who is playing a ton of minutes and who went off for 52.5 fantasy points of his own last night. KD had 27-7 in the loss to Toronto, with three blocks and two steals. At this point in the year, Westbrook might be the more consistent contributor, but they each have the same sky-high upside.
For the Bulls, it’s been the Jimmy Butler show, but they seem to be at their best when they’re not relying on him for their scoring, notching nice wins against Cleveland and Orlando with a big man leading the way in that department. With the firepower OKC has, though, I could see Chicago turning early and often to their primary option. Whether that’s good for the Bulls remains to be seen, but it should be good for fantasy owners.
Charlotte Hornets @ Dallas Mavericks
Line: Mavs -4
The Hornets are coming off an impressive win over Chicago, but it was their first W of the season. Jeremy Lamb led the way with 20 points in that one, which should tell you something – they don’t have an elite scorer. Marvin Williams has been playing well for them, filling the stat sheet in a lot of ways, with a shot at a double-double basically every time out. He also provides the majority of their defense down low (with both Big Al and Spencer Hawes getting time at center), so he could cause problems for Dirk.
Normally, you might think, well, Dirk isn’t the focal point of the Mavs the way he used to be – they can probably work around that. But he has been gettign used extensively, with ten or more shots in every game. As Chandler Parsons continues to be eased into action, and with Deron Williams struggling, it has been falling on him and Wesley Matthews to create plays for this offense. In a game with two decent defenses and no real scoring threats, I would take the under on 197 here and avoid as much as possible in my DFS lineups.
Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets
Line: Utah -2.5
In a matchup of two 2-2 teams in the West, it might seem surprising that the Jazz are getting 2.5 points on the road, but it is because of their big men. Favors and Gobert are a tough pair to deal with for anyone, but especially for this depleted Denver lineup. Gobert and Favors are almost guaranteed to at least not be busts (barring injury) with the lack of big men playing defense on Denver combined with the lack of other options on their own team.
For Denver, Gallinari rebounded from a couple of off nights to put up 21 on Tuesday, and is the purest threat to score on the roster. Faried also re-established himself in a big way on Tuesday, going for 28 points and 15 boards in 40 minutes. Gallinari might be able to get his shot in this one, but it could be a tough matchup for Faried to try to keep the momentum going, especially as his is likely to have his hands full on the defensive end.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Portland Trailblazers
Line: Grizz -4
Damian Lillard is putting his talent on display here. Overshadowed on Aldrich’s team for a while now, he is team’s unquestioned leader. He has put up a total of 52 shots int their last two games, connected on 28 of them, including 50% from three (on 18 attempts). C.J. McCollum, also listed at PG, is actually running at the 2, so he is getting plenty of minutes alongside Lillard (instead of being relegated to competing with him for time). As a result, he has yet to post a game with fewer than 29 fantasy points, incredible upside and consistency for a player at this price. They are using a number of different players to replace Aldridge, but the missing offensive production is coming from the backcourt.
For the Grizzlies, the strength of the team, as it has been for so long, is in the front-court, but Gasol is listed as questionable for tonight’s game after leaving on Tuesday with neck spasms. If he is inactive, the Blazers fill-in forwards would all get a boost, and the Grizzlies chances of winning the game would take a hit.