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What you need to know for Wednesday night’s NBA slate
By Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe
Valuing Vassell: All signs point to Devin Vassell (86% available) returning from a one game absence (groin) and he’s been more productive than most seem willing to admit. He has scored at least 10 points in six straight and has either a block or steal all 13 games he’s appeared in since February 1. He’s shooting 37.5% at home this season and with the Spurs ranking top 5 in pace of play, there’s streaming intrigue here given that San Antonio plays three home games in the next four days.
Save on Smart: Jayson Tatum deservedly gets the headlines in Boston, but don’t lose track of Marcus Smart ($ 6,500 on DraftKings) if you’re trying for a unique build tonight. He’s averaged 13.8 points, 2.5 made 3’s and 7.7 assists following the All Star Break and he finds himself in a pace up spot against a Hornets team on the second night of a back-to-back.
Star Stash: It’s time to roster Michael Porter Jr., as the gifted forward could return to action in the next few weeks. Rostered in just 55% of leagues, even a slow reintegration to the Nuggets’ lineup could result in some big scoring outings by the end of the month.
Campaigning: The Suns pulled off a close road win in Orlando last night thanks to some deft playmaking from Cameron Payne (available in 78% of leagues). With Chris Paul ruled out for tonight’s matchup in Miami, Payne is truly a must-add option in all formats and a strong play for assist props given he’s dished out an absurd 36 dimes the last three games.
Get the Bag: Isaiah Stewart will not play against the Bulls tonight due to a knee injury. With Stewart leaving the team’s recent win over Atlanta after just 10 minutes of action, Marvin Bagley III (available in 53% of leagues) played 36 minutes and delivered a double-double for the Pistons. Likely to play a large role against a Chicago team that lacks interior defense, Bagley is in a good spot to hit his scoring and rebounding props.
Going Deep: The shorthanded Trail Blazers are heavy underdogs to the Jazz this evening, but there could be some helpful fantasy contributors found deeper on the roster. With Anfernee Simons questionable, we could see guard Brandon Williams (available in 98% of leagues) shine again. Williams erupted for 27 points, 10 combined rebounds and assists, and four steals in the team’s last game. With Portland in need of playmaking, shares of both Williams and Josh Hart could prove rewarding in the redraft and DFS competition.
Game of the Night
Line: Heat (-8.5)
Moneyline: Heat (-400), Suns (+300)
Total: 217.5 points
BPI projected total: 210.5 points
BPI win%: Heat (78.3%)
Notable: The Heat at 5-1-2 ATS in their past 8 games and seven of their past 10 at home have gone over the total.
Key players ruled out: Chris Paul, Markieff Morris
Questionable: Cameron Johnson (quadriceps), Caleb Martin (Achilles)
Best bet: Bam Adebayo over 32.5 total points + assists + rebounds. The key will be playing time. Adebayo has gone over 32.5 PAR in nine straight games in which he has played at least 32 minutes. He’s been below the mark in four straight games when he’s played under 32 minutes. In their last three games, the Suns have allowed a frontcourt player to score at least 20 points or grab at least 10 rebounds in every contest (including Julius Randle, who was ejected in the third quarter), with those three players averaging 21.3 PPG and 10.7 RPG. – André Snellings
Fantasy streamer: Cameron Payne. The fact that Payne is available in 81.7% of ESPN leagues boggles my mind. He has recorded two double-doubles in his last three games. In addition, Payne has recorded 44 assists in four games since returning from injury. He has had a 26.5% usage rate over that time period. –– Eric Moody
Breaking down the rest of the slate
Line: Jazz (-17.5)
Moneyline: Jazz (-2200), Blazers (+1100)
Total: 221 points
BPI projected total: 221.5 points
BPI win%: Jazz (94.1%)
Key players ruled out: Justise Winslow, Eric Bledsoe
Questionable: Anfernee Simons (quadriceps)
Notable: On the heels of nine straight unders in home games, each of Utah’s past two in front of their home crowd have gone over Vegas’ total.
Line: Celtics (-7.5)
Moneyline: Celtics (-320), Hornets (+250)
Total: 227 points
BPI projected total: 230 points
BPI win%: Celtics (74.6%)
Key players ruled out: Gordon Hayward
Notable: The books have been unable to properly adjust to the Jayson Tatum explosion, as seven of Boston’s past eight games have gone over the total.
Best bet: Robert Williams III over 22.5 points + rebounds. the Hornets have been a favorable matchup for centers all season long, which bodes well for Williams. Over the last five games, he has averaged a double-double. The Hornets rank 20th in points allowed per 100 possessions and allow opponents to grab a lot of offensive rebounds.
Line: Bulls (-6)
Moneyline: Bulls (-265), Pistons (+215)
Total: 226 points
BPI projected total: 221.5 points
BPI win%: Bulls (59%)
Key players ruled out: Isaiah Stewart, Lonzo Ball, Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso
Questionable: Nikola Vucevic (hamstring)
Notable: The Pistons are 7-0-1 ATS over their past eight games and their past three games have gone under the total.
Best Bet: Pistons +6 over Bulls. The Pistons are not only hot against the spread, but hot overall. They’ve won six of their last eight outright, including victories over teams contending for the postseason like the Celtics, Cavaliers, Raptors, Hawks and Hornets. The Bulls, meanwhile, have lost five straight by an average of 9.2 PPG. – Snellings
Fantasy streamer: Marvin Bagley III. With Isaiah Stewart out, Bagley (56% available) is on the streaming radar. He’s averaged 18 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game in 29 minutes. Bagley’s chemistry with Cade Cunningham should be on full display against the Bulls. – Moody
Best bet: Ayo Dosunmu over 19.5 total points + rebounds + assists Dosunmu should get all the work he can handle since Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are still out for the Bulls. He has averaged 13 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds over the last four games. The Pistons are 25th in points allowed per 100 possessions and allow opponents to rack up a lot of offensive rebounds.
Line: Bucks (59.5%)
Moneyline: Bucks (-240), Hawks (+195)
Total: 237 points
BPI projected total: 233.5 points
BPI win%: Bucks (59.5%)
Key players ruled out: none
Questionable: Grayson Allen (hip)
Notable: The Hawks have failed to cover seven of their past eight road games, including each of their past four.
Best bet: Bucks -5 over Hawks. The Bucks have been streaking down the stretch, winners of five straight games by an average of 13.6 PPG. The Hawks have been stagnant, going 3-3 in their last six games and 7-8 in their last 15. – Snellings
Line: Lakers (-4)
Moneyline: Lakers (-165), Rockets (+145)
Total: 232.5 points
BPI projected total: 228 points
BPI win%: Lakers (56.4%)
Key players ruled out: Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder
Questionable: LeBron James (knee), Christian Wood (illness), Garrison Mathews (ankle), Jae’Sean Tate (ankle)
Notable: Saturday’s exciting win over the Warriors was great, but that is the only game the Lakers have covered in the second half of the season.
Line: Timberwolves (-14.5)
Moneyline: Timberwolves (-1125), Thunder (+700)
Total: 229 points
BPI projected total: 227 points
BPI win%: Timberwolves (89.3%)
Key players ruled out: Anthony Edwards, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort
Questionable: D’Angelo Russell (hamstring), Jarred Vanderbilt (quadriceps), Patrick Beverley (ankle)
Notable: The T-Wolves are working on their second five-game ATS unbeaten streak in the past five weeks.
Best bet: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over 42.5 total points + assists + rebounds. Since returning from a right ankle sprain, Gilgeous-Alexander has surpassed 30 points in six of his last seven games. Over the same period, he also averaged 7.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds. Gilgeous-Alexander should see plenty of playing time with Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort out.
Line: Pelicans (-8)
Moneyline: Pelicans (-380), Magic (+290)
Total: 221.5 points
BPI projected total: 217.5 points
BPI win%: Pelicans (77.7%)
Key players ruled out: Markelle Fultz
Questionable: Brandon Ingram (hamstring), Jalen Suggs (ankle)
Notable: The Pelicans have failed to cover in five of their past seven second nights of back-to-backs.
Fantasy streamer: Herbert Jones (85% available) contributes stats across the board for fantasy managers. In his last five games, he has averaged 8.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.3 SPG, and 1.0 BPG. This season, the Magic have allowed small forwards to average 21 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game. – Moody
Line: Mavericks (-8)
Moneyline: Mavericks (-380), Knicks (+290)
Total: 215.5 points
BPI projected total: 215.5 points
BPI win%: Mavericks (80.4%)
Key players ruled out: Obi Toppin, Nerlens Noel, Cam Reddish, Derrick Rose
Questionable: Jalen Brunson (foot), Mitchell Robinson (illness)
Notable: After Monday night’s comeback in Sacramento, the Knicks have now covered three straight after dropping 10 of their previous 11 ATS. Also of note: seven of the past eight Knick games have gone over the total.
Fantasy streamer: Immanuel Quickley. Quickley has scored 20 or more points four times this season, with three of those performances coming in his past five games. It is my hope that head coach Tom Thibodeau will come to the realization that Quickley (94.5% available) should be the Knicks’ starting point guard instead of Alec Burks.
Line: Raptors (-1)
Moneyline: Raptors (-110), Spurs (-110)
Total: 228.5 points
BPI projected total: 220.5 points
BPI win%: Spurs (51%)
Key players ruled out: Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, OG Anunoby
Notable: The Raptors have failed to cover four straight games and all four of those contests have gone under the total. It hasn’t just the result of a banged up Fred VanVleet: Toronto has failed to cover eight of their past 10.
Line: Nuggets (-4.5)
Moneyline: Nuggets (-190), Kings (+160)
Total: 237 points
BPI projected total: 223 points
BPI win%: Nuggets (70.1%)
Key players ruled out: Richaun Holmes
Questionable: Will Barton (ankle), Jeremy Lamb (hip)
Notable: Overs have come through in 10 of Sacramento’s past 14 games and the Kings actually have a winning record ATS over that stretch (8-6).
Line: Clippers (-4.5)
Moneyline: Clippers (-190), Wizards (+160)
Total: 219 points
BPI projected total: 221 points
BPI win%: Wizards (52%)
Key players ruled out: Robert Covington
Questionable: Raul Neto (ankle)
Notable: The Wizards are 4-1-1 ATS over their past six games and over tickets have cashed in five of those contests.
ESPN’s NBA Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a measure of team strength developed by the ESPN Analytics team.
BPI highest-projected totals
1. Minnesota Timberwolves (120.8 points)
2. Utah Jazz (119.3 points)
3. Milwaukee Bucks (118.5 points)
BPI lowest-projected totals
1. Phoenix Suns (101 points)
2. Portland Trail Blazers (101.9 points)
3. New York Knicks (103.1 points)
BPI top probability to win (straight up)
1. Utah Jazz (94.1%)
2. Minnesota Timberwolves (89.3%)
3. Dallas Mavericks (80.4%)