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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Jazz @ Magic

Game Analysis

The Jazz were playing some horrible basketball two weeks ago and have seen the totals on their games fall into the low 190 range nightly. This has allowed them to go over in four of the last five as they have picked up the offense a little bit. They are still a bad defensive team so it all makes sense and fits together. Orlando is not a bad defensive team at all, but they really have a hard time scoring which tends to keep their games under 195 on a nightly basis. I think this one falls into that category as it should not be a high scoring affair. I would shy away from this one for fantasy purposes, although some decent value plays might be usable here. Orlando gives up the second most points to centers, so I think Kanter could provide some sneaky value for example.

Line: Magic -3, O/U 192

Players to Watch

  • Enes Kanter, C, Jazz ($6900)
  • Gordon Hayward, SF, Jazz ($7400)
  • Tobias Harris, SF, Magic ($7200)
  • Channing Frye, PF, Magic ($4900)

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Hornets @ 76ers

Game Analysis

Charlotte has lost four in a row and seen the over hit in 3 of those. They are scoring more which is good, but also giving up more points which is not. Philly has two wins in their last 10 and have scored 90 points or less in 5 of 7. They are not a good basketball team and I could see this one playing to the under despite the uptick in pace for the Hornets in recent games. What is interesting to me here is some of the DvP match ups. Charlotte allows the second most points to opposing PG in the league and the 76ers struggle to stop opposing centers. That puts the two best players in this game squarely in the middle of a good match up on either side. The spread here is higher then normal for both teams and if Vegas is right then you could see a monster stat line or two come from this one.

Line: Hornets -4, O/U 194.5

Players to Watch

  • Al Jefferson, C, Hornets ($8900)
  • Gary Neal, SG, Hornets ($3700)
  • Michael Carter Williams, PG, 76ers ($9100)
  • Robert Covington, PF, 76ers ($5900)

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Timberwolves @ Celtics

Game Analysis

The post Rondo era begins in Boston and that alone should open up some value. I’m not 100% sure what to expect from the Celts without Rondo as I think that changes a lot of the dynamics on the team. For starters it allows everyone to have the ball in their hands a little more often which at the very least should lead to a more even distribution of assists. Beyond that though I’m not sure 100% what to expect. Minnesota has played to the under in four of their last five so I am really struggling to see how this game gets to 211. They have failed to crack 95 points in those last five, so it would be an outlier effort today to reach the lofty goals. Rondo was a one man fast break, so I do not think the Celtics have a chance to match the usual pace without him. For me this game has some interesting options, but I would not go all in as some will when they see the highest O/U here. There’s a few guys you can play, but be careful as I do not think this is the game to stack and expect to win all the money tonight as some predict.

Line: Celtics -6, O/U 211

Players to Watch

  • Phil Pressey/Marcus Smart, Pg, Celtics ($3000/$4100)
  • Jared Sullinger, Pf, Celtics ($6800)
  • Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Timberwolves ($4500)
  • Gorgui Dieng, C, Timberwolves ($7000)

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Raptors @ Pistons

Game Analysis

The Raptors have won every game they have played in December against anyone but Cleveland. They are scoring over 100 a game and giving up under 93 during that stretch. They are playing down a little in pace recently, but that has not stopped them from winning. The Pistons are always playing games under 200 totals and they have a slower pace and a decent enough defense. That is why I think this one stays towards the under tonight.

Line: Raptors -7, O/U 199.5

Players to Watch

  • Josh Smith, SF, Pistons ($7500)
  • Andre Drummond, C, Pistons ($8900)
  • Jonas Valaciunas, C, Raptors ($6200)
  • Amir Johnson, PF, Raptors ($5100)

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Nets @ Cavaliers

Game Analysis

Some people will tell you not to try to predict blowouts and I can see the reasons they would say that, but what I try to do is predict minutes. If you can predict minutes then you can extrapolate per minute averages and DvP to get a good projection based on high probability. While many would say you can not predict a blowout, you can predict what should be an easy victory. It does not mean it will always play out that way, but when you are looking at high priced stars who could get rested if it happens those extra four or five minutes they sit out this game could be the difference between value and bust. That could translate into money won or lost for you, so if the probability is high for a easy win and less minutes then you should try to avoid it if possible. That seems to be the case for me here. Do I like the LBJ match up and the chances for Derron Williams? Of course I do, but if either gets 5 minutes less then that is the thing that could really kill the scores and I would rather take guys in better spots. There are a few value guys due to injury to consider and the good thing about them is the short bench means minutes no matter the outcome.

Line: Cavs -11.5, O/U 197.5

Players to Watch

  • Joe Johnson, SG, Nets ($6300)
  • Mason Plumlee, C, Nets ($6100)
  • Dion Waiters, SG, Cavs ($4500)
  • Anderson Varejao, C, Cavs ($5000)

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Wizards @ Heat

Game Analysis

Washinton has won 9 of their last 10 and only allowed Boston to score over 96 points during that run. They get a banged up Heat team tonight that has struggled to score since Bosh went down. The Heat are averaging under 90 points in their last five, so take bad offense against good defense and this looks like a Wizards win to me. The Heat do play at a slower pace, so I would think this one stays low scoring as Vegas predicts and 100-90 final is not out of the question here. Add to the fact that Washington has been very good against SG which is where Miami’s best player resides and I think this could be a tough night for the Heat.

Line: Wizards -5, O/U 192

Players to Watch

  • John Wall, PG, Wizards ($10400)
  • Nene Hilario, PF, Wizards ($4500)
  • Rasual Butler, SG, Wizards ($4700) <—– If Pierce out
  • Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat ($5300)

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Bulls @ Grizzlies

Game Analysis

Memphis is know as a slow down defensive team yet has played to the over in 7 of their last 10 and scored triple digits in 7 straight games. They are averaging over 110 during this run. They are also giving up a few more points then usual as well. Chicago is playing without Rose, while Taj Gibson and Noah have missed games recently due to injuries. Kirk Heinrich is also banged up and the Bulls were fully extended in order to beat the lowly Knicks last night who were playing undermanned. As much as I like Chicago I do not think this is a good spot for them. Throw in the fact Memphis is almost unbeatable on their home floor and this might not be a good game for the Bulls. I think this one could be played to the over though and I like all the mid range options to make value if it does in what I expect to be a close game until the end. Especially important is to watch if Tony Allen plays, because if not it could be another one of those games for Jimmy Minutes as Courtney Lee will not be able to guard him.

Line: Grizz -6.5, O/U 194.5

Players to Watch

  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($8100)
  • Zach Randolph, PF, Grizzlies ($7600)
  • Joakim Noah, C, Bulls ($7000)
  • Jimmy Butler, SG, Bulls ($6800)

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Trailblazers @ Spurs

Game Analysis

The Spurs are coming off an epic multiple OT game against the Grizzlies a few days back, so watch the reports to see if anyone sits. I tend to believe they will have a full squad devoid of healthy scratches tonight for this one as they want to avenge the loss to the Blazers earlier this week. The Spurs have dropped five of their last nine games which is very unusual for the defending champs. I know the Blazers have since lost Robin Lopez but I do not see how a team that hot should not be closer or favored against one that seems to be struggling. I think this should be a very entertaining game if the starters all play for San Antonio, so let’s keep an eye on late breaking news here and hope for the best. Kawhi Leonard is already ruled out tonight, so we should see some minutes and shots open up because of this.

Line: Spurs -4, O/U 195.5

Players to Watch

  • Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs ($8800)
  • Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs ($5000)
  • Damian Lilliard, PG, Blazers ($8500)
  • Thomas Robinson, PF, Blazers ($3000)

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Clippers @ Nuggets

Game Analysis

If you were looking for the low spread high total game to target tonight then I think we have found our winner. The Clips have won 8 of 10 while scoring over 112 points and limiting opponents to right around 100. Denver has only three wins in the last 10 and have seen the scoring averages dip below 97 while they are giving up close to 105. It should be a tough game for the Nuggets as well as they have some bad DvP match ups in this one. The home court advantage better be a big boost to them tonight or the Clips could keep on rolling. I like this game being in Denver as I think it helps keep it close and make all the starters in play for fantasy with a full load of expected minutes.

Line: Clips -4, O/U 213

Players to Watch

  • DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers ($8200)
  • Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers ($10500)
  • Wilson Chandler, SF, Nuggets ($6000)
  • Darrell Arthur, PF, Nuggets ($4200)

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Thunder @ Lakers

Game Analysis

OKC is starting to hit their stride. They are scoring more points, picking up the pace, and building up a nice margin of victory while raising the averages in every category from the early season without Westy and KD. KD went down with an ankle last night and I think that accounts for the drastic line moves to make this closer as he is on the wrong side of questionable from all reports. I really hope it does stay close as the Lakers DEF is still one of the worst in the league, both teams play at a high pace, and no KD means a ton of Westbrook. I think Westbrook is almost match up proof already, but throw in the chance to play fast, in a high scoring game, expected to be close, and without his partner in crime and his usage and touches are going to be through the roof. I like that it is in LA and that the Thunder are on the tail end of a back to back, because I think that helps keep it close. Neither Jeremy Linn nor Ronnie Price have a prayer to keep him in front of them, so this is an easy one for me to like.

Line: -6.5 down from 10, O/U 206.5 down from 211

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($11500)
  • Andre Roberson, SG, Thunder ($3500)
  • Carlos Boozer, PF, Lakers ($5800)
  • Wes Johnson, SF, Lakers ($4800)