Fantasy basketball and NBA betting cheat sheet for Thursday

The ESPN fantasy and betting cheat sheet is your pregame destination for our best intel and data to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.

Jump ahead: Game of the night | Picks and props | Analytics edge

What you need to know for tonight’s NBA slate

by Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe

Return of Durant: All signs point to the Kevin Durant returning from a knee injury tonight against the Heat. This likely limits the appeal of Cam Thomas in both season long and DFS. The impressive rookie has been held under 15 points in five of the past six games when Durant was healthy. (He averaged 16.5 PPG in Feb, a month Durant missed all of).

Heat Check: Miami blew a big lead in Milwaukee last night, as Kyle Lowry missed another contest due to personal reasons. In Lowry’s absence, guard Gabe Vincent– rostered in just 2.5% of leagues – produced 21 points to go with six dimes. Vincent has now dropped at least 20 in consecutive games and has logged 65 minutes across his last two games – both starts. If Lowry remains sidelined, finding room for Vincent on your fantasy roster or in DFS lineups could be a savvy way to find an edge this evening.

Seeing Red: The numbers for Bogdan Bogdanovic (31% available) are down compared to last season, but he’s trending in the right direction. Bogdanovic has averaged 11.5 PPG in Oct., 11.6 in Nov., 12.3 in Dec., 15.1 in Jan. and 17.0 in Feb. He makes for an interesting option in prop markets and DFS games given that he’s been a much better shooter at home than on the road during his time in Atlanta. He dropped a season high 27 points (and five triples) against the Bulls last Thursday.

Magic In Memphis: Ja Morant is on a different level, but De’Anthony Melton is an interesting option in the over 89% of leagues he’s still available in. The fourth year guard recorded a steal in every game last month while averaging 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Boston’s defense is among the best in the league, so Memphis’ supporting cast may need to step up tonight.

Betting Boston: The Celtics will be without Jaylen Brown due to an ankle injury for this matchup with Memphis. With Brown off the floor this season, Jayson Tatum has seen the team’s largest leaps in usage rate and fantasy points per minute, aiding his case to hit scoring props. Newly acquired Derrick White is also in a good spot to help DFS investors. Defensive props for rising DPOY candidate Robert Williams could prove rewarding given he’s swatted multiple shots in consecutive games and tonight faces a Grizzlies team that ranks fourth in shot attempts from within five feet of the basket.

Shining Spur: One of the underrecognized outcomes of the trade deadline has been Devin Vassell’s recent leap as a playmaker for the Spurs. After White was traded at the deadline, Vassell (rostered in 16.2%) has averaged nearly five dimes during his last five games. His shot hasn’t fallen lately, but maybe that changes against the Kings’ soft perimeter defense tonight.

Game of the Night

Line: Heat (-3)
Moneyline: Heat (-140), Nets (+120)
Total: 221 points
BPI Projected Total: 216 points
BPI Win%: Heat (63.6%)

Heat (Spread) 71% of tickets, 71% of dollars
Over 71% of tickets, 84% of dollars

Key players ruled out: Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving

Notable: Overs are 9-2 in Brooklyn’s past 11 games and, dating back to last season, overs are 12-1 in Miami’s past 13 games on the second night of a back-to-back (they were in Milwaukee last night).

Fantasy Streamer: Gabe Vincent. Surprisingly, Vincent is still available in 96.3% of ESPN leagues. Due to personal reasons, Kyle Lowry will be unavailable for the near future, so you should stream Vincent. When Lowry is not in the lineup, he is a reliable streamer. This season, he has averaged 13.2 points, 4.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 20 spot starts. – Eric Moody

Best bet: Heat -2.5 points. The Nets are expecting Kevin Durant back, which should give them a big boost, but this is his first game in months, playing with a largely unfamiliar supporting cast against one of the best teams in the league. The Heat have won nine of their last 11 games, with an average scoring margin of +9.3 PPG. Fresh off yesterday’s heartbreaking loss to the Bucks, they should be motivated to try to send the Nets a message in KD’s return. –André Snellings

Breaking down the rest of the slate

Line: Bulls (-1.5)
Moneyline: Bulls (-115), Hawks (-105)
Total: 231.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 226 points
BPI Win%: Hawks (60.2%)

Key players ruled out: Onyeka Okongwu, John Collins

Questionable: Trae Young (ankle), Lou Williams (hip)

Notable: Under tickets have come through in each of Chicago’s past three games and in five of the past six. The Bulls have dropped consecutive games ATS after going 7-2 against the number in their nine games prior.

Best bet: Zach LaVine over 31.5 total points + assists + rebounds. In all of the Bulls’ post-break games, LaVine has scored 20 or more points while shooting 46.2% from the field. In his last five games against the Hawks, he has averaged 29.4 points, 4.6 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. Atlanta ranks 27th in points allowed per 100 possessions. – Moody

Line: Celtics (-2)
Moneyline: Grizzlies (+110), Celtics (-130)
Total: 224 points
BPI Projected Total: 216.5 points
BPI Win%: Celtics (59.8%)

Key players ruled out: Jaylen Brown

Notable: The Grizzlies are 6-2-1 ATS over their past nine games, but betting the totals has been a roller-coaster: three straight unders on the heels of eight consecutive overs.

Best bet: Grizzlies +2.0. The Celtics (12-2 last 14 games, scoring margin +14.7 PPG) and Grizzlies (11-3 last 14, +10.5 scoring margin) are two of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. But with Jaylen Brown out, it tilts the balance of power towards the Grizzlies even on the road. – Snellings

Line: Raptors (-8.5)
Moneyline: Raptors (-420), Pistons (+320)
Total: 216.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 211.5 points
BPI Win%: Raptors (72.8%)

Key players ruled out: OG Anunoby

Questionable: Fred VanVleet (knee)

Doubtful: Marvin Bagley III (ankle)

Notable: Don’t look now, but the Pistons are 4-0-1 ATS in their past five, with zero of those games going under the total.

Fantasy Streamer: Isaiah Stewart. With doubtful Marvin Bagley III, Stewart, who is available in 37% of ESPN leagues, is on the streaming radar. In his last eight games, he has averaged 10.5 points and 8.4 rebounds. Betting on total points + rebounds and a double-double is a good idea. The Raptors are one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the league. – Moody

Line: Warriors (-2.5)
Moneyline: Warriors (+105), Mavericks (-125)
Total: 219 points
BPI Projected Total: 223.5 points
BPI Win%: Mavericks (61.6%)

Key players ruled out: Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green

Notable: The Mavs have covered five straight games and nine of their past 10 (under tickets have come through in seven of those 10 games).

Best bet: Jalen Brunson over 23.5 total points + assists + rebounds. Over the last six games, only Luka Doncic (33) averages more points than Brunson (17). Over that period, Brunson has averaged 3.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game along with a usage rate of 20.2%. Over the last six games, the Warriors have given up 116 points per 100 possessions. – Moody

Fantasy Streamer: Dorian Finney-Smith (available in 83.2% of leagues) has quietly become a key contributor since Kristaps Porzingis was traded. In his past five games, he’s averaging 13.0 PPG (61.5 FG%, 53.8 3P%), 6.0 RPG, 2.8 3PG, 1.2 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.6 BPG in 35.2 MPG. He’s flirted with a points / rebounds double-double in both of his last two games, going for 14 and 9 against the Warriors and 16 and 9 against the Lakers. – Snellings

Line: Spurs (-6.5)
Moneyline: Spurs (-270), Kings (+220)
Total: 238 points
BPI Projected Total: 224 points
BPI Win%: Spurs (71.4%)

Key players ruled out: Romeo Langford

Notable: The Spurs play their first game of the month tonight and are looking to snap out of a home funk: 2-5 ATS in their past seven.

Best bet: Dejounte Murray over 40.5 points + assists + rebounds. Murray has an excellent opportunity to bounce back against the Kings, after the Spurs were blown out by the Grizzlies Monday night. You should build your DFS rosters around Murray because he has the highest ceiling of any player on the slate tonight against a Sacramento team that ranks 29th in points allowed per 100 possessions. – Moody

Line: Clippers (-2.5)
Moneyline: Clippers (-145), Lakers (+125)
Total: 218.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 210.5 points
BPI Win%: Clippers (64.2%)

Key players ruled out: none

Questionable: LeBron James (knee)

Notable: The Lakers have failed to cover three straight games and have seen four in-a-row go under the total.

Analytics Edge

BPI highest projected totals

1. San Antonio Spurs (115 points)
2. Atlanta Hawks (114.3 points)
3. Dallas Mavericks (113.4 points)

BPI lowest projected totals

1. Detroit Pistons (102.4 points)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (103.3 points)
3. Brooklyn Nets (106.1 points)

BPI top probability to win (straight up)

1. Toronto Raptors (72.8%)
2. San Antonio Spurs (71.4%)
3. LA Clippers (64.2%)


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