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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Nuggets @ Wizards

Game Analysis

Denver is under in two straight games, yet has not scored below 101 in any of their last nine. Washington has scored 111 and 107 in their last two and while that number against the Lakers is commonplace, the hurting they put on the Heat is not. Washington’s offense has been better lately and I think Bradley Beal rounding back into shape has added another dynamic to it. Washington is a much better defensive team, but the pace and the DEF are slightly down when Nene is out. Curiously Vegas still does not have a solid line on this game as of 10:30 AM, which usually only happens when we have some major injury news. I can not find any of that today so even the sharps are struggling to predict how this one plays out. I would imagine a scoreline around 100 for both teams and give the Wizards the edge at home.

Line: Wizards -4, O/U 205.5

Players to Watch

  • Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets ($9200)
  • Wilson Chandler, SF, Nuggets ($6000)
  • Bradley Beal, SG, Wizards ($5800)
  • Marcin Gortat, C, Wizards ($7300)

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Thunder @ 76ers

Game Analysis

Durant and Westy back in the line up basically means that there is no point in looking at the past with the Thunder. Scoring averages, wins/losses, and usage rates have all just been relegated to the garbage can. This is Westy and Kevin’s team and they will dominate the ball now and rightly so. If you want to talk about trends than we have to start by congratulating the Sixers on snapping one. They finally got their first win the other night and are looking to add to it. I’m sorry to say that trend stops here. After going over 100 only once in their previous 7 games the Thunder have now done it twice since Westbrook’s return last week. Philly and Minnesota was 50 points below the Vegas total the other day and I doubt we ever see that kind of defense from a Sixers team again this season. The spread here is huge and climbing so be careful using starters who might get rested. I think OKC cruises to an easy victory.

Line: Thunder -12.5, O/U 199 down from 203

Players to Watch

  • Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder ($9800)
  • Jeremy Lamb, SG, Thunder ($3600)
  • KJ McDaniels, SF, 76ers ($5700)
  • Michael Carter-Williams, PG, 76ers ($8400)

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Knicks @ Hornets

Game Analysis

Neither of these teams have cracked 95 points in the last week. The Knicks have played three straight games where neither team reached 100 points. If you are looking for a hot pace and a lot of scoring you are looking in the wrong spot here. Kemba and Big Al have made for some decent plays recently, but I would be cautious about using anyone in this game. I can’t see either of these teams making it to 100 and the slow pace of both leaves me thinking this game is a complete non-factor in my analysis tonight.

Line: Hornets -4.5. O/U 188.5

Players to Watch

  • Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets ($7900)
  • Al Jefferson, C, Hornets ($8500)
  • Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Knicks ($3000)
  • Amare Stoudemire, PF, Knicks ($5600)

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Hawks @ Nets

Game Analysis

Hawks have gone over in 7 of the last 10. The two lowest outputs were 94 and 99 in that period and they are averaging 105.3 during this run. Brooklyn’s last six has seen only the Bulls crack 100 on either side of the coin so I think that pace mismatch is something to consider. Vegas has it as a one point game with an O/U over 200 which makes no sense to me. I think the spread should be more like -3 to -5 for the Hawks and the O/U should come in under 200 easily. I am in the minority on the Hawks as early money is heavy on the Nets but the under is about 60/40 in this one, so I think most people see it being low scoring as well.

Line: Hawks -1.5, O/U 201.5

Players to Watch

  • Kevin Garnett, PF, Nets ($4400)
  • Joe Johnson, SG, Nets ($6100)
  • Paul Millsapp, PF, Hawks ($8800)
  • Jeff Teague, PG, Hawks ($7900)

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Cavs @ Raptors

Game Analysis

This game was played two weeks ago on Cleveland’s home floor and Toronto won by about 20. This time around though the Raptors are without the service of Demar DeRozan so I think some of that changes. The Raptors get to host a Cleveland team that is surging with five straight wins since that loss. You can bet the Cavs are going to be hungry for some payback. Cleveland had three wins going away against Orlando, Washington, and Indiana before playing two close games against Milwaukee and NY. Only once in the last five have they allowed over 100 points and the slow paced 90-87 victory over the Knicks was the first time since Toronto they failed to crack triple digits. The line is set where it is for now, but the early money is coming in 98% on the Cavs and 100% to the over, so this one could be a shoot out before all is said and done. While Toronto has been a tad worse on defense without DeRozan the pace they play at has picked up, so I think the over and using this game heavily for fantasy purposes sounds reasonable.

Line: Raptors -4, 207.5

Players to Watch

  • Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors ($9600)
  • Grievis Vasquez, PG, Raptors ($4600)
  • Lebron James, SF, Cavs ($11600)
  • Kyrie Irving, PG, Cavs ($9300)

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Lakers @ Celtics

Game Analysis

So this is one of those match ups where you throw gasoline on a fire. Two of the highest paced, worst DEF, and highest points allowed averages are on display here tonight with these two storied franchises. The Lakers average total is 211 over their last 10 and the Celtics is 206. Both teams let up over 100 a game and against bad defenses both have scored over 100 as well. There is really no telling how high this score can go as it looks likely to be a 220+ total score at the end of this. Early money agrees as the over is still popular (3 to 1) despite a sky high 217 total. There’s going to be a lot of fantasy goodness here, so fade this game at your own risk.

Line: Celtics -3.5, O/U 217.5

Players to Watch

  • Jordan Hill, C, Lakers ($6500)
  • Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers ($9400)
  • Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics ($7800)
  • Jeff Green, SF, Celtics ($6800)

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Spurs @ Grizzlies

Game Analysis

This one is tough for me. I think pick em is the best way to have this game. Memphis is 8-0 at home and one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Spurs are one of the best teams period and on a neutral floor I would take them 9 out of 10. The Spurs suffered the first loss in their last 10 against the Nets last out and Memphis also lost last out against the Rockets for only their second loss in the last 10. Both teams might have been looking ahead to today a little and you can’t blame them as this is a match up most basketball fans are eagerly anticipating. I said basketball fans and not DFS players, because the low score and low pace here with lots of high priced studs is not exactly the perfect recipe for fantasy goodness. None the less the starters in this game should play all 4 quarters at a very high level and despite the reputations for lock down defenses, both teams are capable of scoring. The question is are they capable of scoring on each other? The match ups kind of favor Memphis here as Conley should be able to get anywhere he wants against Parker defense and I can not say the same in reverse. Z Bo will probably draw Duncan, which leaves a tough match up for whoever is floating outside around the foul line with Gasol. Not sure Memphis has answers for Kawhi and Duncan on the offensive end, so maybe this game sees a few more fantasy points then the line would suggest. I still would not target it heavy on a 12 game slate, but I could see a big game from someone here being a real gem.

Line: Pick, O/U 193

Players to Watch

  • Kawhi Leonard, SF, Spurs ($7500)
  • Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs ($8400)
  • Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies ($8700) <– listed as questionable, so be careful
  • Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies ($7300)

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Rockets @ Timberwolves

Game Analysis

Houston is still playing that lock down defense but lately has been picking up the scoring averages as well. Minnesota is still playing that non-existent defense and the scoring has been erratic. This feels like an easy Rockets win to me and probably one in which they crack 100 mid way through the fourth quarter. Whether or not guys like Harden and Ariza are on the floor when it happens is my only concern. I think -7 is a bit generous and the only reason the spread is not double digits is because Houston is often content to win games 95 to 85. If you guaranteed me 4 quarters of play I would take Harden as my top play of the night, but with that uncertainty he is just a guy to consider. He could still get 50/60 in 3 quarters of work, so definitely risky to fade. Mo Williams and Shabazz Muhhamad are both banged up here. If they fail to play with Rubio and Martin already out then guys like Lavine, Brewer, and Wiggins are gonna see HUGE minutes. They would have no other options, which basically could make them all blow out proof and usable.

Line: Rockets -7, O/U 203

Players to Watch

  • James Harden, SG, Rockets ($11200)
  • Zac Lavine, PG, Timberwolves ($4200)
  • Corey Brewer, SF, Timberwolves ($5700)
  • Andrew Wiggins, SG, Timberwolves ($5300)

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Suns @ Mavericks

Game Analysis

Another example here of throwing gas on a fire. The one thing I am sure of is we should see a lot of points. Exactly how many and from whom depends on whether Dirk and Isiah Thomas come back from injuries today as expected. The Suns have been very up and down lately as they lost to lowly Orlando before coming back to trounce the Pacers. They won and lost by double digits in a home and away with the Nuggets and had wins against Detroit, Boston, and Philly sandwiched between losses to Toronto and the Clippers. The point is that Phoenix tends to beat the teams they should and lose to the ones you expect. With the Mav’s favored by five today that is not a good sign for Phoenix. Even without Dirk for the past few games the Mavs keep on winning. They dropped a close one with Houston two weeks ago and the hangover from that cost them in a home loss to Indiana. Since then though they have been awesome. Monta Ellis has picked up the slack and the clutchness while Dirk was out.This Mavs team always finds a way to win as evidenced by many of these close games.

Line: Mavericks -5, O/U 215.5

Players to Watch

  • Monta Ellis, SG, Mavericks ($8200)
  • Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks ($6200)
  • Markieff Morris, PF, Suns ($7200)
  • Goran Dragic, PG, Suns ($7400)

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Heat @ Bucks

Game Analysis

The Heat like playing games where both teams stay under 100. They play a slower pace and better than average defense most of the time. The Bucks like most young talented teams are very up and down. They tend to play up to the level of competition and have had quite a few close games lately. As most young teams do, they have struggled to win many of those. The encouraging thing is they have one of the league’s better defensive units and a few guys who can score on any given night. Larry Drew may be gone, but the rotation and it’s lack of predictability are not, so be careful digging too deep into the numbers as I can promise you Jason Kidd does at least one thing that makes very little sense to most of us nightly. Luckily it is rarely with Brandon Knight, so at least you know the biggest and best piece to use here for fantasy purposes. Remember too that we have a very low O/U and it is dropping, so go light here on usage if you include anyone at all. Keep in mind too that Bucks are likely without Henson and Illyasova tonight, so guys like Parker, Middleton, and even maybe a Zaza should see increased minutes to compensate at the PF spot.

Line: Bucks -1.5, O/U 195 down from 197

Players to Watch

  • Dwayne Wade, SG, Heat ($7500)
  • Chris Bosh, C, Heat ($8600)
  • Brandon Knight, PG, Bucks ($7200)
  • Jabari Parker, SF, Bucks ($5300)

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Magic @ Jazz

Game Analysis

These two teams have combined for 1 win in the last two weeks. Utah is currently sporting the third worst DEF in the league while Orlando is averaging a league worst 86 points over their last five games. Does bad offense trump bad defense or vice versa? I don’t know if it will even matter in a clash between these two probable lottery destined franchises. The O/U is low, the Jazz are home, and I think Jazz and the under is the way this plays out. That probably ticks down all Magic players for fantasy and the Jazz probably fall short of value at most, if not all spots.

Line: Jazz -5, O/U 194

Players to Watch

  • Trey Burke, PG, Jazz ($5400)
  • Enes Kanter, C, Jazz ($5700)
  • Tobias Harris, SF, Magic ($6800)
  • Kyle O’Quinn, C, Magic ($3600)

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Pacers @ Kings

Game Analysis

Kind of a blah game to finish off the slate here. A 191 O/U with a -3 spread is really nothing spectacular. Neither of these teams is very exciting at the moment and injuries are a big reason for that. Indiana has been struggling to score recently and have been averaging only about 95 over their last 5. The Kings have scored a little better but with injuries to almost every starter except Ben McLemore at one time or another their vaunted defense to start the season has seen a few cracks. I think the O/U here is kinda low, but if Vegas is right then there is very little, if any fantasy goodness here. Might be better off fading this game for some of the juicier ones we already discussed. Remember here that Cousins is most likely out with a viral infection, so there’s minutes and rebounds to be had in this one.

Line: Kings -3, O/U 191

Players to Watch

  • Reggie Evans, PF, Kings ($4200)
  • Rudy Gay, SF, Kings ($7700)
  • David West, PF, Pacers ($6600)
  • Roy Hibbert, C, Pacers ($7100)