ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data, featuring ESPN’s proprietary Basketball Power Index (BPI) to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for TODAY’S DATE are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.
What you need to know for Thursday’s games
The All-Star game was famously spiritless, but real NBA action resumes tonight with a robust nine-game slate. The fantasy playoffs are set to begin as early as next week in some formats, so we are truly in the stretch run of the campaign.
Basketball’s break isn’t an actual midseason affair, as each team has between just 21 and 25 remaining games. ESPN’s Fantasy’s NBA schedule grid serves as a helpful resource for those in weekly formats, as it’s crucial to maximize games played as stakes rise.
Among Eastern Conference teams, only the Philadelphia 76ers, who claim the toughest remaining strength of schedule, have as many as 25 games left. In the West, we find the Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Sacramento Kings with 25 remaining. Games played isn’t an end-all differentiator, especially since compressed schedules often result in load management decisions, but identifying teams with balanced and busy schedules does prove important in a hobby that values statistical volume.
A few names stand out tonight as streaming and DFS values who might even claim sustained value. Talen Horton-Tucker (93% available in ESPN leagues) has assumed much more playmaking work for the Utah Jazz in the wake of Mike Conley‘s departure; he’s tallied at least seven dimes in four straight and should log more than 30 minutes against the Thunder on Thursday. The San Antonio Spurs‘ Zach Collins (87%) is due for big minutes against a thin Dallas frontcourt while teammate Malaki Branham (93%) is positioned for success given the team’s wave of injuries in the backcourt.
Trend: The Lakers come out of the break and see plenty of pace-up teams like the Warriors and Grizzlies … gold! Los Angeles has a 59.1% cover rate in games with a projected total of 235-plus, a huge step up from their 38.2% rate otherwise. -Kyle Soppe
Best bet: LeBron James over 41.5 points+assists+rebounds. The Lakers reshaped their roster by surrounding James and Anthony Davis with proven talent and succeeded. The Lakers are serious about getting this team ready for the playoffs, and James will set the tone against the Warriors on Thursday. In his last four games against the Warriors, James has averaged 36.8 points, 6.0 assists, and 12.8 rebounds. -Eric Moody
Injury Report: Nuggets: Jamal Murray, (GTD – Knee); Aaron Gordon, (OUT – Ribs); Zeke Nnaji, (OUT – Shoulder) Cavaliers: Ricky Rubio, (OUT – Knee) Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play
Best Bet: Jarrett Allen over 10.5 rebounds. Allen had at least 10.5 boards in four straight games before collecting just seven of them against Joel Embiid‘s Sixers entering the All-Star break last Wednesday. He’s hit at least 10.5 boards in seven of his last nine games. – Steve Alexander
Injury Report: Celtics: Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee) Pacers: Kendall Brown, (GTD – Lower Leg) Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play
Best bet: Jayson Tatum over 37.5 points+rebounds. Tatum’s momentum should continue against the Pacers on Thursday night after winning the MVP at the All Star Game. Indiana ranks 25th in points allowed per 100 possessions. This season, Tatum has averaged 30.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. It is very likely he will meet or exceed these averages against the Pacers. -Moody
Trend: It’s tempting to take a home team getting this many points and it turns out that it should be! Home teams getting at least seven points this season are 38-25-2 ATS (60.3%), but we don’t stop there. Overs have a winning record when the home team covers in those spots and the Pacers’ cover rate is nearly nine percentage points higher when the total goes over than when it doesn’t –Soppe
Best Bet: Buddy Hield over 3.5 3-pointers. Hield didn’t get it done in the 3-point contest but he is a former champion of the event and has hit at least four triples in seven of his past eight games. He should be comfortable at home and you’d have to think he’s been practicing more than normal from beyond the arc in preparation for the contest (won by Damian Lillard). Boston generally does a nice job at keeping opponents’ 3-point shooting in check but Hield has taken at least nine of them in seven straight games and has hit double digits in attempts in five straight. -Alexander
Injury Report: Pistons: Marvin Bagley III, (GTD – Hand); Nerlens Noel, (OUT – Personal); Cade Cunningham, (OUT – Lower Leg) Magic: None reported Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play
Trend: The Orlando Magic entered the All-Star Break ranked T-24 in offensive efficiency, but when sportsbooks have projected them to score in bunches, they’ve delivered. Overs this season are 13-4 in games in which the Magic are projected to score north of 110 points, something that we can expect to be the case tonight against the league’s second-worst defense.– Soppe
Best bet: Bojan Bogdanovic over 22.5 points. Bogdanovic has scored 28, 33 and 32 points in each of his last three games and has scored at least 21 points in seven of his last eight. Orlando is giving up 23.84 points to opposing small forwards, good for second-worst in the league and Bogdanovic is coming in hot. Someone’s going to have to score for the Pistons and odds are Bogdanovic and Jaden Ivey will be leading the way. -Alexander
Best bet: Killian Hayes over 1.5 steals. Hayes has two or more steals in three of his last five games. The Magic aren’t a strong offensive team this season ranking 26th in points scored per 100 possessions. Additionally, 15.3% of their possessions have resulted in turnovers. -Moody
Injury Report: Grizzlies: Luke Kennard, (OUT – Illness); Steven Adams, (OUT – Knee) 76ers: None reported Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play
Trend: The Grizzlies may be be the 2-seed in the West, but tonight will mark the 11th time in which they are catching points, and it’s been super-profitable to fade them in such spots as they are 3-7 ATS. The scoring just hasn’t been there in those spots as Memphis has been held under 110 points in seven of 10 (implied team total tonight: 112). – Soppe
Best bet: James Harden over 11.5 assists. In four of Harden’s last six games, he has had 11 or more assists. He should continue to succeed against a Grizzlies team that has struggled on the road and are still without Steven Adams. Memphis will struggle to contain Joel Embiid in this matchup, which benefits Harden as a facilitator. -Moody
Best Bet: Jaren Jackson Jr. over 2.5 blocks. JJJ will be left alone to guard the paint against Joel Embiid and company again tonight with Steven Adams out against due to his knee injury. Jackson somehow didn’t have a block against the Celtics on Feb. 12 but has blocked at least three shots in six of his last seven games, averaging 3.8 of them in February. He blocked four shots against the Sixers in their previous meeting on Dec. 2 and he’ll look to keep it going tonight. -Alexander
Best bet: Brandon Ingram over 24.5 points. Ingram is averaging 29.2 points in February and has scored at least 25 points in all six games this month. The Raptors are giving up nearly 23 points per game to opposing small forwards, seventh-worst in the NBA, and Ingram has pretty much gotten whatever he wants in his six games this month. O.G. Anunoby is questionable to finally return from his wrist injury and he’ll create a bit of a challenge for Ingram, but he’s also not guaranteed to play and could see limited minutes after sitting out the last nine games. -Alexander
Best bet: Jonas Valanciunas over 9.5 rebounds. JV has hit double digits in boards in four of his last six games and had 16 points and 13 rebounds in his previous meeting with the Raptors, his former team, on Nov. 30. He should have some extra motivation against the Raps and asking the seven-footer to grab 10 boards against an Eastern foe who plays a fairly big lineup shouldn’t be too big of an ask. -Alexander
Best bet: Luka Doncic triple-double +650. Luka had 37 points, four rebounds, nine assists, four steals and three 3-pointers in a loss to the Nuggets just before the break and somehow hasn’t triple-doubled since way back on Jan. 12 against the Lakers. He torched the Spurs for a 51-6-9 line back on New Year’s Eve and they give up more than 50 fantasy points to opposing point guards, fifth-worst in the league. Luka should come in rested and somewhat healthy after taking it easy in the All-Star Game and if anyone is due to get back on the triple-double train tonight, it’s him. And with Kyrie Irving around to share the offensive workload, Luka should be able to focus on distributing and rebounding against a team that’s now lost 14 straight games. And with Dallas sitting as the No. 6 seed on a three-game losing streak, they’re going to try to kick off a six-game homestand in style tonight. -Alexander
Best bet: Josh Green over 11.5 points. Green was rolling through February until his final two games before the break when he scored a grand total of 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting. Prior to those two duds he had scored 23, 17, 14, 29, 12 and 15 points in his previous six. The Mavericks know that they need to get more folks involved on offense after losing three straight games and tonight qualifies as a must-win against a Spurs team that is on a 14-game losing streak. San Antonio gives up a league-worst 122.6 points to opponents so there should be room for everyone, including Green, to eat tonight. Green is also worth a streaming look if he was dumped in your league after his last two poor outings. -Alexander
Fantasy streamer: Zach Collins (rostered in 13.4% of ESPN leagues) has a tasty matchup against the center-less Mavericks and has double-doubled in two of his last four games for the Spurs as their default starting center. He only has one block in February but does have four steals over his last two games. Nikola Jokic had a 14-13-10 triple-double against these Mavs just before the break and Rudy Gobert torched them for 21 points and 14 boards in the game prior. While Collins isn’t really comparable to those two he should be able to get things done in the paint tonight. -Alexander
Fantasy streamer: Malaki Branham (rostered in 6.5% of ESPN leagues) is coming in hot, averaging 18.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.4 3-pointers in his eight February games. Really, he should be rostered in a lot more leagues by now, as he’s starting and getting nearly 33 minutes per game in February. He hit 10 of 14 shots for 23 points in his final game before the All-Star break and is shooting 52 percent from the field this month. He also won’t hurt you at the free throw line, hitting 10 of his 14 attempts over his last eight games. And he’s failed to even get to the line in five of his last six. -Alexander
Fantasy streamer: Jalen Williams (rostered in 39.5% of ESPN leagues) has averaged 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 3.0 steals in his last four games. In a matchup with one of the highest totals on the slate, he’s an excellent streamer. In three of his last four games, Williams has played more than 33 minutes. During the blowout against the Rockets prior to the All-Star break, he played only 22 minutes and still managed 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a 3. -Moody
Fantasy streamer: Talen Horton-Tucker (rostered in 8.7% of ESPN leagues) is averaging 13.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.2 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers in his five February games for the Jazz. He’s widely available, played 32 minutes last Wednesday and should at least be good for some points, dimes, 3-pointers and blocks tonight against the Thunder, who give up 42.3 fantasy points to opposing shooting guards this season. -Alexander
Best bet: Kelly Olynyk over 12.5 points. Olynyk went off for 28 points, 14 rebounds and six dimes with three 3-pointers last Wednesday against the Grizzlies and has scored at least 14 points in four of his last five games. The Thunder give up more than 23 points per game to opposing power forwards and if Olynyk could destroy the Grizzlies like that, he should be primed for another nice game tonight. And if you want to go with a points & rebounds combo, his over/under of 18.5 looks like a pretty safe bet, as well. -Alexander
Best bet: Walker Kessler over 2.5 blocks. This is the second bet with plus odds on Thursday’s slate that I’m drawn to like a moth to a flame. Kessler has had two or more blocks in three consecutive games. This season, he has also averaged 2.1 blocks per game. Kessler should have success as a shot blocker against the Thunder on Thursday night. -Moody
Best bet: Jordan Clarkson over 33.5 points+assists+rebounds. Now that Mike Conley and Malik Beasley are on different teams, Clarkson could see an increase in usage. This season, Clarkson averages 25.9 points, 5.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per 40 minutes. He should have success against the Thunder on Thursd
Best bet: Damian Lillard over 44.5 points+assists. The Kings rank 23rd in points allowed per 100 possessions, so Lillard should deliver a monster performance. Sacramento also allows an effective field goal percentage of 56.3%, the fourth-highest in the league. Lillard should see more usage now that Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic have been ruled out. Over his last six games, Lillard has averaged 36.3 points and 6.8 assists. -Moody
Best bet: Domantas Sabonis over 13.5 rebounds. Sabonis has surpassed 13.5 rebounds in both of his last two games. This season, he has also averaged 12.3 rebounds. Rebounding is not a strong suit for the Trail Blazers. Sabonis has a chance to prosper with Jusuf Nurkic already ruled out. -Moody
Fantasy streamer: Shaedon Sharpe (rostered in 4.7% of ESPN leagues) has scored at least 13 points in four straight games and is usually good for a few highlight-reel dunks, boards, assists, steals, blocks and 3-pointers on most nights. Anfernee Simons is out with a sprained ankle and could miss several more games with the injury. Cam Reddish drew a start and came out of nowhere with 28 points in his last game before the break and he should be the only thing standing between Sharpe and a fun line tonight. I think Sharpe is worth grabbing for as long as Simons is out, as long as Reddish doesn’t steal his thunder again tonight. -Alexander
Fantasy streamer: Drew Eubanks (rostered in 2.4% of ESPN leagues) has scored in single digits in three straight games while filling in for Jusuf Nurkic (calf) but had 11 rebounds, a steal and four blocks along with three points last Tuesday against the Wizards. He has six blocks and 28 rebounds over his last three games and if you’re OK with the low scoring output, Eubanks could be worth a grab. The Kings gave up 29 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks to Deandre Ayton in their finale before the break, and while Eubanks certainly isn’t anywhere near Ayton’s level, it does bode well for him to have a decent night for the Blazers in Sacramento tonight. -Alexander