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What you need to know for tonight’s NBA slate
by Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe
Durant’s return: All signs point to Kevin Durant coming back from a knee injury tonight against the Heat. This likely limits the appeal of Cam Thomas both throughout the season and DFS. The impressive rookie has been held to within 15 points in five of the last six games when Durant was healthy. (He averaged 16.5 PPG in February, a month Durant missed it all).
Thermal control: Miami took a big lead at Milwaukee last night as Kyle Lowry missed another contest for personal reasons. In Lowry’s absence, guard Gabe Vincent — listed in just 2.5 percent of leagues — drove in 21 points to go with six cents. Vincent has now lost at least 20 consecutive games and has recorded 65 minutes in his last two games – both starts. If Lowry remains on the sidelines, finding room for Vincent on your fantasy roster or in the DFS lineups could be a savvy way to find an edge tonight.
See red : Bogdan Bogdanovic’s numbers (31% available) are down from last season, but he is moving in the right direction. Bogdanovic averaged 11.5 PPG in October, 11.6 in November, 12.3 in December, 15.1 in January and 17.0 in February. He’s a nice option in the aftermarkets and DFS games considering he’s been a much better home shooter. than on the road while in Atlanta. He lost 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 attractive option in over 89% of the leagues he’s still available in. The fourth-year guard recorded a steal in every game last month 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 on Boston: The Celtics will be without Jaylen Brown with an ankle injury for the game against Memphis. With Brown on the floor this season, Jayson Tatum has seen the team’s biggest leaps in usage rate and fantasy points per minute, helping his case hit the scoring props. The recently acquired Derrick White is also well positioned to assist DFS investors. Rising DPOY contender Robert Williams’ defensive props could prove rewarding given he’s had multiple shots in back-to-back games and tonight faces a Grizzlies team that ranks fourth in shot attempts under five feet from the basket.
Brilliant Spur: One of the underrated results of the trade deadline was Devin Vassell’s recent leap as a playmaker for Spurs. After White was traded at the deadline, Vassell (lined at 16.2%) has averaged almost five cents over his last five games. His shot hasn’t fallen off lately, but maybe that will change against the Kings’ flexible perimeter defense tonight.
game of the night
Line: Heat (-3)
Money line: Heat (-140), Nets (+120)
Total: 221 dots
BPI Total projected: 216 dots
BPI gain %: Heat (63.6%)
Heat (Spread) 71% tickets, 71% dollars
More than 71% of tickets, 84% of dollars
Main players excluded: Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving
Notable: Overs are 9-2 in Brooklyn’s last 11 and, dating back to last season, overs are 12-1 in Miami’s last 13 on the second night in a row (they were in Milwaukee last night).
Fantastic Streamer: Gabe Vincent. Amazingly, Vincent is still available in 96.3% of ESPN leagues. For personal reasons, Kyle Lowry will not be available in the near future, so you should stream Vincent. When Lowry isn’t in training, he’s a reliable streamer. This season, he has averaged 13.2 points, 4.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 20 starts. –Eric Moody
Best bet: Heat -2.5 points. The Nets are awaiting the return of Kevin Durant, which should give them a big boost, but this is his first game in months, playing with a largely unknown supporting cast against one of the league’s top teams. The Heat have won nine of their last 11 games, by an average scoring margin of +9.3 PPG. After yesterday’s heartbreaking loss to the Bucks, they should be motivated to try and send a message to the Nets when KD returns. –Andre Snellings
Break the rest of the slate
Line: Bulls (-1.5)
Money line: Bulls (-115), Falcons (-105)
Total: 231.5 points
BPI Total projected: 226 dots
BPI gain %: Falcons (60.2%)
Main players excluded: Onyeka Okongwu, John Collins
Questionable: Trae Young (ankle), Lou Williams (hip)
Notable: Under tickets have gone through in each of Chicago’s last three games and in five of the last six. The Bulls have lost consecutive games to the ATS after going 7-2 against the number in their previous nine games.
Best bet: Zach LaVine on 31.5 total points + assists + rebounds. In all of the Bulls’ post-break games, LaVine scored 20 or more points while shooting 46.2 percent from the field. In his last five games against the Hawks, he averaged 29.4 points, 4.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds. Atlanta ranks 27th in points allowed per 100 possessions. — In a bad mood
Line: Celtics (-2)
Money line: Grizzlies (+110), Celtics (-130)
Total: 224 dots
BPI Total projected: 216.5 points
BPI gain %: Celtics (59.8%)
Main players excluded: Jaylen Brown
Notable: The Grizzlies are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine games, but totals betting has been a rollercoaster ride: three straight unders on the heels of eight straight games.
Best bet: Grizzlies +2.0. The Celtics (12-2 last 14 games, +14.7 PPG) and Grizzlies (11-3 last 14 games, +10.5) are two of the best teams in the NBA right now. But with Jaylen Brown out, it tips the balance of power toward the Grizzlies even down the road. –Snellings
Line: Raptors (-8.5)
Money line: Raptors (-420), Pistons (+320)
Total: 216.5 points
BPI Total projected: 211.5 points
BPI gain %: Raptors (72.8%)
Main players excluded: 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 last five games, with none of those games going under.
Fantastic Streamer: Isaiah Stewart. With Marvin Bagley III questionable, Stewart, who is available in 37% of ESPN leagues, is on the streaming radar. In his last eight games, he 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. — In a bad mood
Line: Warriors (-2.5)
Money line: Warriors (+105), Mavericks (-125)
Total: 219 dots
BPI Total projected: 223.5 points
BPI gain %: Mavericks (61.6%)
Main players excluded: André Iguodala, Draymond Green
Notable: The Mavs have covered five straight games and nine of their last 10 (under tickets have been obtained in seven of those 10 games).
Best bet: Jalen Brunson on 23.5 points + assists + rebounds. Over the last six games, only Luka Doncic (33) averages more points than Brunson (17). During that span, Brunson averaged 3.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game with a 20.2 percent utilization rate. Over the past six games, the Warriors have given up 116 points per 100 possessions. — In a bad mood
Fantastic Broadcaster: Dorian Finney Smith (available in 83.2% of leagues) has quietly become a key contributor since Kristaps Porzingis was traded. Over his last five games, he averages 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 double-double points/rebounds in his last two games, going 14&9 against the Warriors and 16&9 against the Lakers. — Snelling
Line: Spurs (-6.5)
Money line: Spurs (-270), Kings (+220)
Total: 238 dots
BPI Total projected: 224 dots
BPI gain %: Spurs (71.4%)
Main players excluded: Romeo Langford
Notable: The Spurs play their first game of the month tonight and are looking to get out of a funk at home: 2-5 ATS in their last seven games.
Best bet: Dejounte Murray with over 40.5 points + assists + rebounds. Murray has a great opportunity to bounce back against the Kings, after the Spurs were eliminated by the Grizzlies on Monday night. You should build your DFS rosters around Murray because he has the highest cap of any player on the slate tonight against a Sacramento team that ranks 29th in points allowed per 100 possessions. — In a bad mood
Line: Mowers (-2.5)
Money line: Clippers (-145), Lakers (+125)
Total: 218.5 points
BPI Total projected: 210.5 dots
BPI gain %: Mowers (64.2%)
Main players excluded: nothing
Questionable: LeBron James (knee)
Notable: The Lakers failed to cover three straight games and saw four straight games go under.
BPI Highest Projected Totals
1. San Antonio Spurs (115 points)
2. Atlanta Hawks (114.3 points)
3. Dallas Mavericks (113.4 points)
Lowest projected BPI totals
1. Detroit Pistons (102.4 points)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (103.3 points)
3. Brooklyn Nets (106.1 points)
BPI top probability of winning (directly)
1. Toronto Raptors (72.8%)
2. San Antonio Spurs (71.4%)
3. Los Angeles Clippers (64.2%)