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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Cavaliers @ Magic

Game Analysis

At no point in time yesterday did the Cavs really look like they were the better team. The Heat had a 16 point halftime lead on them and despite Cleveland fighting back, ultimately they came up short. I can excuse them because they have been playing really well lately. Before the loss yesterday they had won 4 of 5 and I expect them to get back on track today against the Magic. It will not be easy though as the Magic are finally fully healthy. Vucevic is back and should prove tough to stop for a centerless Cavs team devoid of any real inside presence. Kyrie banged up his knee again yesterday, but was able to come back and finish the game. Love also played the whole game, but he looked a tad uncomfortable after suffering an injury to his hand in the last game. Cleveland is not playing great at the moment and have some chinks in the armor, but I still like them to win this one, although I think it will be closer then Vegas does.

Line: Cavs -6, O/U 197

Players to Watch

  • Dion Waiters, SG, Cavs ($4100)
  • Lebron James, SF, Cavs ($11700)
  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Magic ($8900)
  • Kyle O’Quinn, C, Magic ($5300)

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Pacers @ Pistons

Game Analysis

The Pistons are on a four game losing streak with the total of each game creeping up over 200. They had been playing games where both teams tended to stay under 100 so this is a tempo change for them. The Pacers are starting to get healthy again, with George Hill all the way back on the heels of David West’s return. They are looking much better on defense and have picked up the scoring. I expect them to play well tonight against a weak Pistons squad. The Pistons just released there highest salaried player in Josh Smith, which finally opens the door to solid consistent minutes for the do everything Greg Monroe. Monroe can set up teammates, rebound, and score very well from his four spot and I am interested to see if he can continue to produce at a high level now that he isn’t splitting time with Josh Smith. While I like the Pacers to win the game, I do think a few Pistons are interesting value plays in a game that is creeping up in points.

Line: Pacers -2.5, O/U 193.5 up from 189

Players to Watch

  • CJ Miles, SF, Pacers ($4400)
  • David West, PF, Pacers ($6200)
  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons ($7400)
  • Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, SG, Pistons ($4800)

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Bucks @ Hawks

Game Analysis

Atlanta has won 9 of their last 10. They have played to the over in 4 of their last 6 and have been averaging about 108 points with a 9 point margin of victory during that stretch. They seem to be giving up and scoring a few more points recently. Same can be said of the Young Bucks team that was a top ranked defense earlier in the season and has since shown a few cracks. Vegas seems to agree with the assessment as the line started off way higher then I thought it would be and has only come down due to a lot of early money on the under. I think we could see a good amount of points here and that would lead to some fantasy goodness. Both teams are relatively healthy with no surprises today. Jeff Teague is being eased back into his starting role, so be careful as his minutes may not be what they are when he is fully healthy.

Line: Hawks -8.5, O/U 206 down from 209

Players to Watch

  • Zaza Pachulia, C, Bucks ($4200)
  • Giannis Antetekounmpo, SG, Bucks ($5400)
  • Paul Millsapp, PF, Hawks ($8300)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($7700)

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Rockets @ Grizzlies

Game Analysis

The Rockets have recently added a few more pieces to a team that should be in line to make a championship run. The Grizzlies are one of the toughest teams in the league to beat on their home floor. This should be an awesome basketball game to watch. A healthy Rockets squad with the new additions should be one of the top defensive squads in the league. Memphis has also always been in that same conversation. Both teams also are capable of putting points on the board, so I can honestly say I am torn as to how this one turns out. There’s a lot of bad DvP match ups here so tread carefully. I do think the silver lining is a lot of starters will get a full allotment of minutes here and should have ample chances to pay off their salaries. The two injuries to keep an eye on are Zach Randolph and Patrick Beverly. If either is out it will affect the usage rate of the stars on both teams. No Beverly gives a tick up to Brewer and Harden who should see more of the ball in their hands. No Randolph put a lot of pressure on Gasol to have a big game against one of the best defensive centers in the league, so I think that could be troublesome for Memphis. It’s expected to be a low scoring game, but I can see the over and a full amount of minutes for starters, so it would be a yellow light kind of thing for me. You can use guys here, but do it cautiously.

Line: Grizzlies -2, O/U 194

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($11500)
  • Corey Brewer, SF, Rockets ($4900)
  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($8100)
  • Courtney Lee, SG, Grizzlies ($4500)

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Spurs @ Pelicans

Game Analysis

The Spurs are now losers of 5 of their last 6 with 5 of those games being played to the over. They are on the tail end of a back to back so no idea who plays and who sits, but it’s not been a good run for them. Kawhi Leonard is likely still out and that is a huge blow to this Spurs team. The Pelicans have played four straight games without going over after five straight where they went over in each. The defense has been the big change for New Orleans as they went from playing games where both teams scored 100+ to recently playing games where both teams stay below that mark. I would think neither team really gets a pace bump or tick down as they are both evenly matched and neither is playing much faster or slower then usually when you look at the pace figures. Some value may open up depending on who the Spurs use today, but trying to figure out Pops rotation game to game has always been a challenge. I think it stays close and I think we get a score right around 100 for both squads, so we could see a few nice fantasy stat lines from the stars in this one.

Line: Pelicans -3, O/U 201.5

Players to Watch

  • Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans ($11600)
  • Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($7700)
  • Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs ($5000)
  • Tiago Splitter, C, Spurs ($4300)

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Hornets @ Thunder

Game Analysis

Hornets have won four straight, averaging 109 points a game and giving up only 91. It was not a stretch against a ton of great teams, but still very impressive offensively and defensively during this run. They are going to need to be to win on the road against a surging Thunder team that played well yesterday. OKC has 3 losses in 5, but they were to Por, GSW, and New Orleans. They have managed to handle all the lesser teams going 7-3 over their last 10 games and despite the recent surge I would still put Charlotte in that category. The pace of the OKC Thunder has picked up drastically with the return of Russell Westbrook to the line up. No one really doubted it would, because it’s very noticeable to anyone who watches them play for five minutes. Kemba Walker is a solid defender, but I think the match up with Westy will be very tough for him. Steven Adams has done a great job at Center for OKC, but Big Al has been a beast and Charlotte is running the offense through him. He is probable today and if he plays I expect a big game from Big Al. If anything I would say the stars here both have good match ups to exploit and should produce. The spread is not too large and the total is not too low, but neither really screams must use for fantasy in this one. Some interesting plays, but not the game I would target heavy.

Line: Thunder -6.5, O/U 195.5

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($12000)
  • Serge Ibaka, PF, Thunder ($6800)
  • Al Jefferson, C, Hornets ($9200)
  • Marvin Williams, SF, Hornets ($3400)

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Lakers @ Mavericks

Game Analysis

The line here really does not scare me off any of the Lakers because they have a short rotation with a few injuries anyway and I think everyone still sees pretty much the same minutes no matter the score here. It may affect some of the Mavs starters, but they are expected to have so many points by the beginning of the 4th quarter I do not think it matters much anyway. The two guys I am concerned with would be Dirk and Tyson Chandler who tend to play less in games where they are not absolutely needed. The old guys have seen a few less minutes than the young legs when the score is comfortably in Dallas favor which I think may happen today. For those worried about the minutes of the Lakers, I choose two guys below that I think play no matter the score. Both guys are starters now, been finishing the games, and are developmental pieces the team would run out there to get experience over the old guys (Boozer and Lin) who they do not feel have a huge future here despite the money they spent on them. Check the reports too as the flu bug that has been ravaging NBA lockers seems to have landed on Dirk and Monta. If they are out there will be some value plays that open up and some bigger roles for others on that Mavs team. Same goes for the Lakers if Kobe is out again.

Line: Mavs -12, O/U 214.5

Players to Watch

  • Ronnie Price, PG, Lakers ($3700)
  • Ed Davis, PF, Lakers ($4500)
  • Rajon Rondo, PG, Mavericks ($7900)
  • Charlie Villanueva, PF, Mavericks ($3000)

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Timberwolves @ Nuggets

Game Analysis

Denver has only won 2 of their last 7, yet that is better then the 1 for their last 10 of Minnesota. Minnesota is really struggling and Denver is usually very good at home. Denver has been playing at a slower pace lately with four straight unders and Minnesota plays very fast with little defense which is why they are on a run of overs. Something has to give. I would lean to the side of a faster paced and higher scoring game today which I think ticks up the Nuggets. My only problem here is I don’t like the price points on many of them, so be careful. Almost $10K for Ty Lawson is a tough price to swallow.

Line: Nuggets -10.5, O/U 211.5

Players to Watch

  • Mo Williams, PG, Timberwolves ($4300)
  • Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Timberwolves ($6400)
  • Timofy Mozgov, C, Nuggets ($5400)
  • Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets ($6000)

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76ers @ Blazers

Game Analysis

A total under 200 and a spread of 14 is not a good recipe for fantasy goodness. Way too many questions in this one and way too few points expected. It’s risky playing anyone here as there is no telling who will get how many minutes. I know the Blazers are banged up, but I just think they are still too good for this epically bad Sixers squad. I will not be using anyone in this game, although some of the value guys on Portland may be attractive if a few of the starters are still out. Sixers have some young pieces that can fill stat sheets if they get minutes, so worth a GPP flyer but very low probability.

Line: Blazers -14, O/U 199.5

Players to Watch

  • Passing on all players here

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Suns @ Kings

Game Analysis

Here is a very good game to target for fantasy goodness. Suns have won four straight and are playing solid on both ends of the floor. Sacramento has one win in their last seven games and are giving up more points now than they ever were under Coach Mike Malone. So far the new look uptempo chippy hanging strategy seems to be not working out so well. They succeeded in scoring a few more points but it has made it even harder for them to win games. I tick up all the Suns due to the putrid effort defensively the Kings have shown recently and I would think the Kings score a few points here as well. The game should remain close and all starters should get their max run in this one. It’s definitely one of the few games where I think you need some exposure and it never hurts to have PMR remaining from the late game on the schedule.

Line: Suns -1.5, O/U 213.5

Players to Watch

  • Eric Bledsoe, SG, Suns ($9100)
  • Alex Len, C, Suns ($4000)
  • Demarcus Cousins, C, Kings ($10700)
  • Omri Casspi, SF, Kings ($3000)