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 games.
Toronto Raptors @ Orlando Magic
Line: Raptors -6
The Magic are a really fun team to watch, and the Raptors are proving once again that they are probably the most overlooked team in the league every offseason. At 5-0, facing off against a 1-4 Orlando team, it’s no surprised Toronto is favored, but the surprise will be if this doesn’t end up being a hotly contested ballgame.
Oladipo is averaging 40 fantasy points per game, largely in losing efforts, and Evan Fournier is averaging 25 actual points per game through four. Both of them might cool down, but for now, they can be viewed as key pieces in a fantasy lineup, and that’s from the 1-4 team. I told you this game would be fun.
- Kyle Lowry ($7,900)
- Victor Oladipo ($7,700)
- DeMarre Carroll ($5,800)
- Evan Fournier ($5,200)
Los Angeles Lakers @ Brooklyn Nets
Line: Brooklyn -3.5
On the bright side, neither of these teams can play defense. On the down side, if you’re expecting a lot of scoring, it’s hard to know exactly who you should trust to make all those shots.
In fact, with Kobe’s minutes hovering just under 30 per night, it’s not even necessarily easy to know who will be taking all the shots. Julius Randle might the best player on the court in this one, if it isn’t Brook Lopez. But the Lakers have the perfect foil to him in Hibbert, whose minutes will likely correlate directly to how much Lopez is out there. And the more the two of them are out there, the more confident I am in taking the under. I don’t think I need that concern on my fantasy roster.
- Brook Lopez ($6,800)
- Julius Randle ($6,400)
- Thaddeus Young ($5,600)
- Jordan Clarkson ($5,500)
Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks
Line: Knicks -1.5
The Bucks and the Knicks are both sitting at 2-3, but one of them is overachieving and one of them is underachieving. I’ll let you decide which is which. It’s hard to know who you would suggest playing from the Knicks outside of Carmelo, and even his scoring has been inconsistent so far through five (and without scoring, Carmelo is not a fantasy asset worth owning).
For the Bucks, their solid young talent is still that, and I could see tonight as a night it starts to fall into place in a way that allows them to stretch this record to well over .500 in the next few weeks.
- Greg Monroe ($8,500)
- Carmelo Anthony ($8,400)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo ($7,300)
- Jerryd Bayless ($4,200)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Cleveland -15
So what Vegas is saying here is that the 76ers are going to lose. They are saying it’s so obvious they’re going to lose that you have to give up a completely unreasonable number of points to pick the Cavs. Because who knows, really, if they’re going to win by 12 or 17 or 30?
The big problem for Philly is that their emerging strengths, for whatever they are, are up front, with Noel and Okafor. The Cavs are fully capable of playing old-school collapse-the-middle Eastern Conference defense, eliminating that strength for the Sixers and then coasting on offense themselves. You might want to look at some of the Cavs’ more secondary scorers in this one, because they might get more looks than you’re used to seeing. Tristan Thompson makes a lot of sense too, since he could see time on the court for his defense (he’s played 26 minutes in each of his last three).
- LeBron James ($9,900)
- Mo Williams ($5,800)
- Tristan Thompson ($4,800)
- Nik Stauskas ($4,100)
Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics
This game is going to be the closest thing you see in the East to a Western Conference style game. This one should be up-tempo from the jump, with plenty of scoring to go around. By now we all know to ignore the fact that Isaiah Thomas isn’t going to start every game all season, because he is going to get as many minutes and shots as anyone. But with Marcus Smart out, the backcourt suddenly seems sorted out, with Thomas and Bradley both seeming like solid plays. Right now, Evan Turner is the odd man out.
Those Boston guards are going to be doing everything in their power to match what Beal and Wall are doing on the other side of the ball. If it weren’t for the fact that Boston is so bad at defending big men, I would just say start the four guards and be done with it, but there might be value to be had elsewhere as well.
- Isaiah Thomas ($6,800)
- Bradley Beal ($6,600)
- Marcin Gortat ($5,400)
- Avery Bradley ($4,400)
Atlanta Hawks @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Hawks -2.5
The Pelicans have got to get off the schnide here. One of four winless teams in the league, they are the only one no one expected (Brooklyn, LA, and Philly are the others). Anthony Davis has not started his MVP campaign off on the right foot here, and they Pelicans need him to be the best player on the court to compete. He’ll do it often enough – it just hasn’t started yet.
With Millsap, Horford and Davis all patrolling the paint, there is a lot of talent inside, but enough of it is defensive talent that it could cancel out to some degree. Horford could make life difficult for Davis, and Davis could cause problems for both of them. That leads me to look for value plays in the backcourt here wherever I can find them.
- Anthony Davis ($10,700)
- Al Horford ($7,400)
- Jeff Teague ($6,500)
- Eric Gordon ($5,700)
Miami Heat @ Indiana Pacers
Line: Miami -1
The fact that this is the lowest total on the board is proof enough for me that Vegas know what it’s doing. Neither of these teams are predicted to produce all that much in the way of fantasy value. That sometimes isn’t too much of a problem if the value that is available is consolidated (in a predictable way) in only a few players. But that is not – at all – the case here. Each of these teams have a few different players who can contribute, and all of them often do, and the most talented guys might not play the most minutes (see: Wade). If there is one sure-fire performer in this game, it is Paul George, so it’s up to you to decide if that $8,100 could be better spent elsewhere. It’s tough to know who he will match up against in this one, and that could make a big difference in his final stat line.
- Paul George ($8,100)
- Hassan Whiteside ($7,500)
- Dwyane Wade ($6,800)
- Jordan Hill ($4,300)
Detroit Pistons @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Suns -5
This game is a contrast in styles. The Suns have most of their talent in the backcourt, and the Pistons, the opposite. You really don’t want to be starting any low post scorers with Drummond lurking around anyway, but from a pure basketball standpoint, Phoenix is definitely hoping Markieff Morris is at 100% in this one (he has missed some practice time this week with an illness). He participated in the shootaround on Friday, which is a good thing, because they could really use as many guys as they can get with size and skills around the hoop.
For the Pistons, Reggie Jackson has been their primary ballhandler, and as the most talented player in their backcourt, he is getting plenty of opportunities to shine, with 20+ shots attempted in each of the last two while still racking up a half-dozen assists per game.
- Andre Drummond ($8,900)
- Eric Bledsoe ($7,700)
- Reggie Jackson ($7,500)
- Brandon Knight ($7,200)
Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors
Line: Golden State -17
This combination line/total is predicting the Warriors score 116 points in this one. I mean, it’s high – but I certainly buy it. I wouldn’t want to bet on that NOT happening. Take your pick: Curry, Thompson, Green, Barnes – they are all good plays.
For the Nuggets, Gallinari has been really solid for the first set of games here this season, so Nugget fans are certainly hoping he remains healthy for a significant chunk of the season. And aside from that, the exciting development so far on the year is Emmanuel Mudiay. He is averaging 11-5-4, not bad for someone just getting acclimated to the league, but he also flashed legit upside with a 12 point, 10 assist double-double earlier this week.
- Stephen Curry ($10,300)
- Klay Thompson ($6,900)
- Danilo Gallinari ($6,400)
- Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,200)
Houston Rockets @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Rockets -6.5
The Rockets come into this game at 2-3, and for a team with 50+ win aspirations, they need to beat the Kings in this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make the over, but do it while Houston is legitimately blowing out Sacramento. Harden has scored 37 and 28 points in their last two, finally seeming to get on track, as the Rockets have secured their first two wins after starting 0-3. They are going to be looking to make it three in a row here, and Harden is going to be a big part of it. If his shot is falling early, he’ll take a crack at 40 in this one.
The Kings have lost three in a row, which is not surprising, because Cousins is out. Cousins is the only thing that makes them a threat on most nights, and without him they are going to struggle to tread water, and he won’t be back until next week. His absence has created some fantasy value in other places, but not the kind of value you can really trust on a nightly basis, with the possible exception of Rudy Gay. He has averaged just over 7 boards a night over the last three games, a nice complement to his 20+ point scoring potential every time out.
- James Harden ($10,000)
- Rudy Gay ($7,500)
- Kosta Koufos ($4,700)
- Darren Collison ($4,700)