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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Injury Updates

The news is coming fast this morning, so let me give you a quick rundown here. Rondo is now in, Noah is out. Kobe is out. Anthony Davis is still questionable, but it looks like he will be rested. I will try to update again later as more comes in. Remember too there’s a lot of trade talks ongoing that could also shake things up. It’s going to be an interesting day.

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Pelicans @ 76ers

Game Analysis

The Pelicans played the first game without starting PG Jrue Holiday and were able to go into Detroit and take a 104-95 victory with them on their road trip. Tyreke Evans had a nice game slotting into the lead guard role and assuming a lot of those ball handling responsibilities. The Pelicans have played to the over more often recently, but that has a lot to do with the low totals they are seeing. They tend to play games that end right around 200 points and the pace of the last game was above average for them if that is an indication of how things will be without Jrue. He will most likely miss this game as well, so keep that in mind. The Sixers lost two key pieces before last game as Tony Wroten was known to be out before hand and Robert Covington injured his shoulder in warm ups. Both are likely out again Friday which slots Simms at Center and Noel at PF with KJ McDaniel sliding in for Wroten at the SG spot. The big key and mystery here relates to Anthony Davis and his injured toe. Word is he is going to play, but be aware that they may sit him to rest it and that changes a lot of the analysis here. MCW with no Wroten had a monster game last out and I would expect another nice stat line with the added responsibilities they put on him in this one. The spread is high and the O/U low at the moment, but this game and it’s make up could change drastically before tip off depending on injuries, so keep an eye on how everything plays out before line up lock.

Line: Pelicans -9.5, O/U 195.5

Players to Watch

  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Sixers ($8600)
  • KJ McDaniels, SF, Sixers ($5100)
  • Tyreke Evans, SG, Pelicans ($7900)
  • Ryan Anderson, PF, Pelicans ($5300)

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Nets @ Wizards

Game Analysis

The Wizards are back home and have been pretty solid again lately. Winners of 5 of their last 6 and keeping the game totals in the low 190s while scoring close to 100 a game in most of those and limiting opponents to the low 90s. The Nets have lost 7 straight and played to the under in five of those. It would be 7 unders, but they now see some of the lowest totals nightly due to the struggles on the offensive end and the slower pace they are playing with the two big man line up and no Deron Williams. Williams remains out, which means more minutes for Jack again, but the Nets should have all the big men healthy which means a few less minutes for Brook and Mason with KG likely playing in this one, unless he gets a suspension for the D. Howard head butt incident. Either way I am not a huge fan of this game for fantasy purposes as the Wiz are a solid defensive club and the Nets struggle to score as it is. Both teams play a slower than average pace and I would be shocked if this game gets anywhere near the 200 total point mark. I have some concern about an easy Wizards victory and some guys getting a light workload as well, so I will be shying away from this one in all but a few of the GPP lineups I make. It’s not the best spot to target this evening.

Line: Wizards -9.5. O/U 192.5

Players to Watch

  • Mason Plumlee, C, Nets ($6800)
  • Joe Johnson, SG, Nets ($6200)
  • Nene Hilario, PF, Wizards ($5200)
  • Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards ($6100)

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Pistons @ Pacers

Game Analysis

The Pistons are still on fire since voting Josh Smith off the island and the surviving players have thrived in his absence. They have won 9 of 11 and are getting it done on the defensive end which is a big reason why. The Pacers have lost 4 of the last 6 and not getting it done on the defensive end is a big reason for their struggles as well. Those two things combined lead me to think the Pistons should have the upper hand in this one. Both teams seem to be relatively healthy with Paul George and George Hill the only two casualties I see now. I’m not expecting a super fast paced game here, but you should see a few good performances on each side. I would not be in a hurry to stack this game as we have much better spots elsewhere, but I can see one or two of these guys paying off big.

Line:

Players to Watch

  • Brandon Jennings, PG, Pistons ($8000)
  • Greg Monroe, PF, Pistons ($8100)
  • CJ Miles, SF, Pacers ($5000)
  • Rodney Stuckey, SG, Pacers ($5200)

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Grizzlies @ Magic

Game Analysis

This is another game you need to keep an eye on the injury report for as Memphis PG Mike Conley is on the wrong side of questionable with an ankle injury that limited him last time out. Magic SF Tobias Harris is already ruled out for this one, so we have the potential for some cheap value plays here. Memphis without Conley is a little bit of a mystery to me, but I would assume they will rely heavy on the inside duo of Gasol and Randolph in his absence. Orlando played the last game without Tobias and they relied heavily on Oladipo and Vucevic to lead them the other night. Vuc has a tough match up against this stout Grizzlie squad inside, so I’m not sure he is worth aying up for in this match up today. The spread is not overly concerning here, but both teams play a slower methodical type of basketball and that is not conducive to huge fantasy scores. I think we could see a high usage rate out of a few guys on each team here to make up for the missing pieces so we may have one or two big games, but I would not want to be all in with too much exposure to this one on one line up.

Line: Grizzlies -6.5, O/U 194

Players to Watch

  • Victor Oladipo, SG, Magic ($6700)
  • Chnning Frye, PF, Magic ($4400)
  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies ($7600)
  • Beno Udrih, PG, Grizzlies ($3000)

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Hawks @ Raptors

Game Analysis

I am really looking forward to watching this game tomorrow night between two teams at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have now won 10 straight games and look to be the class of the conference. They are averaging about 105 points and giving up somewhere in the low 90s. The raptors have 2 wins in the last 3 snapping a four game losing streak that preceded it. They recently welcomed back Demar DeRozan to their rotation and they will need some points out of him to keep in striking distance of the Hawks with a win tomorrow. The rotation for the Raptors has changed with the reinsertion of DeRozan so be mindful of minutes when choosing wing players in this one from Toronto. Despite the rest the Hawks starters are starting to get in recent games, I would expect them to be at full strength tomorrow in a big game, so they are all usable. There’s some very cheap high minutes/high usage options on both sides of this game in a close spread with a high O/U so you better have some exposure to this or you will be sorry you didn’t.

Line: Raptors -1, O/U 207

Players to Watch

  • Amir Johnson, PF, Raptors ($4700)
  • Demar DeRozan, SG, Raptors ($6500)
  • Al Horford, C, Hawks ($6700)
  • Paul Millsap, PF, Hawks ($8500)

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Bulls @ Celtics

Game Analysis

Chicago would normally be an easy team to predict to win this one, but the Bulls are not playing good basketball right now. They have only won 1 of their last 5 games and may be without Joakim Noah tomorrow in addition to Mike Dunleavy is who is definitely out. Noah left Wednesday’s contest early and is considered day to day with an ankle injury. The Bulls have a ton of front court players to mix and match as no Noah would slide Pau to the five and let Taj and Mirotic soak up a few more minutes. It would probably also mean a little more Butler at the three and more minutes for Snell, Hinrich, and Brooks based on the match ups. The Celtics are also struggling as they have only won 3 of their last 10. The defensive end is killing their dreams of playing a faster pace as 8 of the last 10 opponents have reached the triple digit mark. The Celtics do not have enough offensive fire power to allow teams to score that much against them and still win games. The Celtics rotation has undergone quite an overhaul and predicting minutes and usage seems tough to do consistently. The spread is friendly enough and the O/U enticing, so I think you want to have some exposure here.

Line: Bulls -5.5, O/U 203

Players to Watch

  • Taj Gibson, PF, Bulls ($5400)
  • Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls ($4900)
  • Jared Sullinger, PF, Celtics ($6700)
  • Avery Bradley, SG, Celtics ($4900)

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Warriors @ Thunder

Game Analysis

Here we go. A 214 O/U is one of the highest of the night and the spread makes this game a must use as it likely stays close throughout and includes some of the best late game shot makers not named Damian Lilliard we have in the league. There’s no need to dig into the numbers here as they mean very little to me in this one. The Warriors have been winning and doing it while basically in cruise control. They should see an uptick here for no other reason then the fact I think the starters actually get to play a full game with their foot on the gas pedal. When the thunder get into big games, there’s usually two guys they lean on heavy, so the analysis here is very easy for me. I like this game a lot and love some of the players in it. Your only question is not whether to use a few of them, but which ones to target with the high price of these stars making it tough to fit in more then one of them.

Line: Warriors -1, O/U 214.5

Players to Watch

  • Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors ($7300)
  • Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors ($10200)
  • Russ Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($10000)
  • Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder ($10700)

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Nuggets @ Mavericks

Game Analysis

Rematch of a game played a few days ago in a different venue. That one saw 221 points scored and a Nuggets win 114-107. The Mavericks had a skeleton crew playing in that game as a few starters were out. Rondo has an achillies injury and may miss a few games. It’s not definite yet, but the tea leaves are looking like that is the case. Tyson Chandler sat out after twisting his ankle in the overtime game two back. He seems to be a little more probable, but is still designated as questionable. Dirk was just DNPOLD as he was given a night off to rest after a tough game two back. He should be fine to suit up and see his regular minutes today. Monta Ellis played his worst game all season in his last without Rondo. He should be in line for a bounce back performance today. As for the Nuggets, all four of the starters not named Wilson Chandler (returning from injury last out) had solid games against the Mavericks. This one moves over to Texas for the rematch, but without some of the studs playing for Dallas I can see a repeat of the last one here. Vegas has lines posted for every game but this one, so they too are waiting to see who is in and who is not. If the Mavericks B team is getting a lot of run again I would expect more of the same, especially from the Denver backcourt.

Line:

Players to Watch

  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets ($9000)
  • Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets ($7300)
  • Monta Ellis, SG, Mavericks ($7200)
  • Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks ($6600)

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Blazers @ Spurs

Game Analysis

At first glance it looks a little strange that the Spurs were a -5 favorite at one point here against a very talented Blazers team that is probably playing better basketball, but when you realize that Kawhi Leonard is slated to make his long awaited return tomorrow and the defending champs are at home then it makes a whole lot more sense to me. I can still see the Blazers doing work, but for the first time all season Parker, Duncan, Leonard, and Splitter will be on the floor in the same game for San Antonio. Both Portland and the Over are taking a lot of early money in Vegas at the moment, so do not sleep on this game as being one of the higher scoring ones. Anyone who doubts the Blazers ability to score is playing with fire and in case you have been living under a rock, that Lilliard kid has ICE in his veins. You do not want to let the Blazers hang around long enough to give him a chance to hit a big shot late, because he seems to be making a habit of it and Tony Parker defensively scares no one.

Line: Spurs -4, O/U 199

Players to Watch

  • LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Blazers ($10000)
  • Chris Kaman, C, Blazers ($4700)
  • Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs ($8700)
  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($7000)

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Timberwolves @ Suns

Game Analysis

Wow, I don’t know what to do with this game. Vegas predicts a 116-101 win for the Suns, so that alone makes this game interesting as it is the highest total on the night. Timberwolves have like 2 of the last 25 games they have played and Phoenix has won 5 of their last 7. The Wolves have played to the over in 4 of the last 5 and that is doubly bad considering they usually have some pretty high O/U due to their high pace and lack of defense. 217 is a very high total so I do not think it’s going to be easy to get there, but even if they fall short the suns scoring 110 points or so would make them a top scoring team on the night. Blowout concern and less minutes for the studs is obviously something to consider here, but with the projected score I think some guys may only need 3 quarters of work for Phoenix. For Minnesota it’s a little better considering they have a lot of young talent they want to develop. Whether they are in a close game or down 20 I still think guys like Wiggins and Levine will see a good amount of floor time. I can not fault those who use this game, but I will be very cautious with it as I think some of the Suns are trap plays today. If it does stay close enough for a full four quarters of action, than you could be paid off, but I think people will gravitate towards this one with the high O/U and I will not be one of them. I also think this will be a trap game for the Mo Williams chasers as he plays more minutes when the score is close, but in a blow out like this one is expected to be, they use those times to get Lavine some experience, so don’t say I did not warn you.

Line: Suns -14.5, O/U 217

Players to Watch

  • Zach LaVine, PG, Timberwolves ($3500)
  • Andrew Wiggins, SF, Timberwolves ($6900)
  • Isiah Thomas, PG, Suns ($5300)
  • PJ Tucker, SF, Suns ($4300)

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Lakers @ Jazz

Game Analysis

The Lakers have lost 5 of their last 6 and gone under in 5 of those games. The Jazz have lost 4 of the last 5 and gone under in 3 of the. The Lakers are now playing at a much slower pace than earlier in the year and the Jazz are rebounding and playing better defense which is limiting the oppositions chance to score. While a month ago I would say the bad defense and fast pace of both teams would have me leaning towards a very high scoring game, I’m not sure that is the case here today.  Vegas and the early money are all agree on this as the total is lower than usual for the Lakers and the spread is climbing. That news also has a lot to do with the early announcement that Kobe will not be traveling with the team to Utah for this game, so Wayne Ellington lovers get another chance to fire up your boy. The Jazz have everyone healthy from the looks of it, especially in that front court, so be careful as it’s crowded enough to make me not like any of them. Remember Gobert had a big last game with Booker out as he soaked up the back up Center and PF minutes. With Booker back he should drop down a few minutes and may struggle to get the same type of stat line.

Line: Jazz -7.5. O/U 196.5 down from 198.5

Players to Watch

  • Wayne Ellington, SG, Lakers ($3000)
  • Wes Johnson, SF, Lakers ($3000)
  • Trey Burke, PG, Jazz ($5500)
  • Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz ($7900)

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Heat @ Kings

Game Analysis

Normally I would talk about the studs on the wing for each team in this game, but Rudy Gay is on the wrong side of doubtful and Dwayne Wade is listed as day to day and missed the game Wednesday night. The status of both will have serious effects on the usage rate of the other starters so if they do not play then we see some elite options we must consider here. I’m going to go on that assumption and if Wade does play be mindful that he becomes a very solid option as well. Without Wade the biggest beneficiary would be Chalmers. He had a sub par game last out in relief of the superstar, but the track record this year points to him as a solid start whenever D. Wade does not play. The Hassan Whiteside train keeps chugging along and I’m thinking he is still on track for a good game here today again. Of course my concern is he gets in foul trouble because Demarcus Cousins is playing some of the best basketball of anyone in the League right now. He really becomes a top option even at the price with no Gay in as he will be expected to handle more of the offensive responsibilities. Darren Collison also sees an uptick when Gay is out so I would look there as well for my plays. Omri Casspi is normally the pivot with no Gay, but he is questionable as well with a knee and that elevates Derrick Williams to a solid play in my eyes as well. The Heat play at one of the slowest paces in the league, so temper the expectations for huge score here, but I still think some of the Kings can get it done and some of the Heat would see an uptick if Wade does indeed miss.

Line:

Players to Watch

  • Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat ($4500)
  • Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat ($6000)
  • DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kings ($11300)
  • Derrick Williams, SF, Kings ($4300)

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Cavaliers @ Clippers

Game Analysis

The Cavs snapped a six game losing streak last night with a win in LA. They get the varsity team that plays at the Staples Center today on the tail end of a back to back that saw the starters play heavy minutes to hold off the Lakers surge. Not exactly a recipe for pulling off the upset. In Clevelands defense they did play most of those losses without Lebron who has been very good since returning. The Clippers have won 6 of their last 8 and surprisingly both teams are playing towards the under way more often recently. For the Clippers it has been defense that is keeping totals low as 6 of 8 opponents failed to crack 100. The Cavs had been struggling on both ends of the floor, but with Lebron back they have looked and scored much better, so it’s a toss up which way that goes. I would not be scared away by the spread as everyone should see a good amount of minutes and I think the game stays closer as most of the early money in Vegas would agree. An interesting side note here is that last night DeAndre Jordan posted and deleted a quick tweet saying good bye to his teammates. I don’t know any more than that, but be careful in case you hear any trade news today as the talks from both coasts and all teams is getting hot and heavy.

Line: Clippers -8, O/U 207.5

Players to Watch

  • JR Smith, SG, Cavs ($4600)
  • Lebron James, SF, Cavs ($10700)
  • Chris Paul, PG, Clippers ($9700)
  • Jamal Crawford, SG, Clippers ($4800)