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What you need to know for tonight’s NBA slate
by Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe
Blazing Values: It’s quite clear that Portland values lottery positioning, as the team has shut down several key veterans for the season. This agenda still leaves room for fantasy fun, as forward Drew Eubanks (64% available) just logged a team-high 32 minutes this past Tuesday and posted yet another double-double performance. Second-year wing Keon Johnson (99%) was acquired from the Clippers in the Norman Powell deal and just paced Portland with 15 shots against San Antonio.
The Jones Bros: The Wolves face the Spurs this evening in a contest with a robust point total just shy of 240. All-Star guard Dejounte Murray is sidelined for San Antonio again, which vaults Tre Jones — rostered in fewer than one percent of leagues — into the starting lineup. Jones has tallied 17 total assists while averaging 16 points over his last two games, both starts in place of Murray. With Ja Morant out again for Memphis, older brother Tyus Jones (88% available) is also due for a start and has impressively averaged 24.5 points and 5.5 assists over his last two starts in place of his All-Star teammate.
Gettin’ Iggy With It: Calling any player a “lock” to produce is simply unwise, but it’s tough to overlook how well things shape up for Ignas Brazdeikis of the Magic. He started the second half of Tuesday’s win for Franz Wagner (ankle, ruled out for tonight) and seems poised to fill a high-minute, high-usage role for an Orlando team that is playing out the string (not to mention without the services of Cole Anthony tonight as well). That role meshes nicely against a Hornets team that ranks top-five in pace and has allowed opponents to shoot 50.3% from the field over the past two weeks. This game means virtually nothing in the standings, but there’s a decent chance it means plenty in GPP’s tonight!
Passing Prowess: In his first start since last January, Orlando’s Markelle Fultz (88% available) tallied 16 points to go with six dimes and two steals in an upset win over the Cavaliers earlier this week. With Anthony ruled out for tonight’s game against the Hornets, it’s worth noting Fultz has posted a team-best 50.1% assist percentage (rate of field goals he’s assisting while on the floor) during his last five games and is poised to start once again. The former top pick could help fantasy rosters on one of the last smaller slates of the regular season.
Game of the Night
Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks
7:30 p.m. ET, Fiserv Forum • Milwaukee, WI
Line: Bucks (-6)
Moneyline: Bucks (-250), Celtics (+205)
Total: 228 points
BPI Projected Total: 229 points
BPI Win%: Celtics (57.3%)
Key players ruled out: Robert Williams III
Notable: After a brief offensive pause where four unders cashed in a five-game stretch, the Bucks are back and have seen each of their past three games go over Vegas’ projection.
Best bet: Giannis Antetokounmpo over 49.5 points+assists+rebounds. As the Bucks fight for playoff seeding, Antetokounmpo should play well and deliver a dominant performance. Since March, he’s averaged 32 PPG, 5.0 APG and 12.4 RPG. Despite being a strong defensive team, Antetokounmpo is not your average NBA player. — Eric Moody
Best bet: Celtics+6.5. As good as the Bucks are, this seems like way too many points to give against a Celtics team that has won 14 of its last 17 games with an average scoring margin of +14.2 PPG. The Celtics are on the second half of a back-to-back, but they beat the Bulls by 23 points last night and, unless there are some pregame scratches, they should be good to go tonight. According to BPI, the Celtics should be favored to win outright by an estimated margin of 2.0 points. — André Snellings
Breaking down the rest of the slate
Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets
7 p.m. ET, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Line: Hornets (-13.5)
Moneyline: Hornets (-1000), Magic (+650)
Total: 228 points
BPI Projected Total: 222 points
BPI Win%: Hornets (82.9%)
Key players ruled out: Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony
Notable: The Magic are seeking consecutive covers for the first time since covering four straight from March 8-13 (they went the entirety of the NCAA Tournament without covering back-to-back games!).
Fantasy streamer: Markelle Fultz. There are a lot of viable streamers in this matchup because the Magic are tanking and Cole Anthony (toe), Wendell Carter Jr. (wrist) and Franz Wagner (ankle) have already been ruled out. Fultz is one such streamer. Over the last six games, he’s averaged 14.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.5 APG and 2.0 SPG. Fultz is available in 86% of ESPN leagues. — Moody
Fantasy streamer: Mo Bamba. Bamba is still available in 33.6% of ESPN leagues, which is surprising. He’s a solid streamer and someone to bet over on when it comes to points+rebounds. Five out of his last seven games have seen Bamba record a double-double. During that time period, he averaged 14 PPG and 9.4 RPG. — Moody
Fantasy streamer: Moritz Wagner. Wagner is another player who benefits from all of the players out for the Magic. The last three games, he has averaged 14 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 2.0 APG in 25.3 MPG. Wagner is available in 98% of ESPN leagues. — Moody
Best bet: Miles Bridges over 27.5 points+rebounds. With Gordon Hayward doubtful because of a foot injury, Bridges should absorb additional minutes. Bridges averaged 26.2 PPG and 8.0 RPG over the last six games. The Magic rank 19th in points allowed per 100 possessions. — Moody
Best bet: LaMelo Ball over 35.5 points+assists+rebounds. Over his last seven games, Ball has averaged 22.7 PPG, 9.1 APG and 5.4 RPG in 34.7 MPG. In an attempt to help the Hornets secure the 10th seed in the East, he’ll bring his “A” game against the Magic. This season, Orlando has allowed the sixth most DraftKings points per game to point guards. — Moody
Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors
7:30 p.m. ET, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada
Line: Raptors (-1.5)
Moneyline: Raptors (-125), 76ers (+105)
Total: 218.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 220 points
BPI Win%: Raptors (54.7%)
Key players ruled out: Matisse Thybulle
Notable: It’ll be interesting to see how much the Raptors value this game after locking up a playoff berth Tuesday night, but they are 5-2 ATS over their past seven games and have covered three of their past four as an underdog.
San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves
8 p.m. ET, Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Line: Timberwolves (-8.5)
Moneyline: Timberwolves (-360), Spurs (+285)
Total: 238.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 233 points
BPI Win%: Timberwolves (73.7%)
Notable: The Timberwolves were an ATS printing press not long ago, but they’ve dropped four of their past five ATS (four of those five games have also gone over the total).
Key players ruled out: Dejounte Murray
Fantasy streamer: Tre Jones. Dejounte Murray is out with an illness, which makes Jones an excellent streamer. All three of his last games have been starts, and he averaged 13.7 PPG, 8.7 APG and 5.3 RPG. Jones is available in 96% of ESPN leagues. — Moody
Fantasy streamer: Devin Vassell. It is surprising that Vassell is available in 87% of ESPN leagues, given his performance over the last 12 games. Over that time frame, Vassall averages 14.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, and 1.3 SPG. The Spurs will rely on him with Murray out. — Moody
Best bet: Jakob Poeltl over 23.5 points+rebounds. Poeltl will operate as the Spurs primary big man with Jock Landale out with a foot injury. Over the last 11 games, he’s averaged 13.3 PPG and 9.5 RPG. This season, the Timberwolves allow the sixth most PPG to centers. Furthermore, Minnesota allows opponents to snag a lot of offensive rebounds. — Moody
Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans
8 p.m. ET, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Line: Pelicans (-16.5)
Moneyline: Pelicans (-2400), Blazers (+1100)
Total: 224 points
BPI Projected Total: 225 points
BPI Win%: Pelicans (91.6%)
Key players ruled out: Justise Winslow
Notable: The New Orleans-Sacramento game on Tuesday night went over the total, but that’s just the second such result in the Pelicans’ past 10.
Fantasy streamer: Ben McLemore (available in 98.1% of leagues) is flying under the radar on a decimated Trail Blazers team, but he has notched double-digit scoring efforts in 11 straight games. During that stretch, he has averaged 17.3 PPG, 3.5 3PG, 2.0 RPG and 1.2 SPG in 25.3 MPG off the bench. He obviously has the green light to shoot as much as he wants on the lottery-bound Trail Blazers. — Snellings
Line: Nuggets (-3)
Moneyline: Nuggets (-150), Grizzlies (+130)
Total: 232.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 223 points
BPI Win%: Nuggets (52%)
Key players ruled out: Ja Morant
Notable: Vegas cannot manage to get a grip on this Memphis team without Ja Morant; the Grizz are 6-1-1 ATS over their past eight games.
Best bet: Aaron Gordon over 25.5 points+assists+rebounds. Over the past 11 games, Gordon has averaged 18.3 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 7.0 RPG in 32.5 MPG. The Nuggets will do everything they can to avoid the play-in tournament and assure a playoff spot. Gordon’s performance is peaking at the right time. — Moody
Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors
10 p.m. ET, Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
Line: Warriors (-12.5)
Moneyline: Warriors (-900), Lakers (+600)
Total: 222 points
BPI Projected Total: 225.5 points
BPI Win%: Warriors (65.3%)
Key players ruled out: none (LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook are all questionable)
Notable: The Warriors have covered three straight games and seen each of their past four games go under the projected point total.
Fantasy streamer: Malik Monk. It would be a surprise if LeBron James (ankle), Anthony Davis (foot) and Russell Westbrook (shoulder) play considering they are all questionable with various injuries. It’s time to stream Monk once again. Over the past 15 games, he has averaged 15.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.0 SPG. Monk is available in 70% of ESPN leagues. — Moody
BPI highest projected totals
New Orleans Pelicans (120.4 points)
Minnesota Timberwolves (120 points)
Charlotte Hornets (116.3 points)
BPI lowest projected totals
Portland Trail Blazers (104.9 points)
Orlando Magic (105.7 points)
Philadelphia 76ers (109.3 points)
BPI top probability to win (straight up)
New Orleans Pelicans (91.6%)
Charlotte Hornets (82.9%)
Minnesota Timberwolves (73.7%)
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