Each Tuesday and Friday, I’ll be analyzing the players and teams involved in the (projected) highest-scoring games of the night. Those vegas guys that set the over/under totals tend to know their stuff, so we should definitely use their hard work to our easy advantage. Total points in a game translates quite well to fantasy points for the players involved in that game in the National Basketball Association, so we’ll be looking to start our teams each night with players from these games.
Cavaliers @ Suns Over/Under - 211.5
The Cavaliers individual values tonight depend almost entirely on whether or not LeBron James plays this evening. He’s a true game-time decision, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t play given he came out and said anything at all. I’d expect James to be fully healthy if he suits up and not on a minutes limit, which makes him an intriguing play at a small forward position that has been utterly futile lately. With LeBron back, it sends a ripple effect through the entire squad though. Kyrie Irving won’t be forcing up 25 or so shots a game, but trust me, he’ll still get his 20ish most nights. He’s still a fine play in a fast-paced matchup as his price never really caught up to his play like Kevin Love’s did. Love is simply too highly priced as the third-fiddle in Cleveland, so you can ignore him until his price comes way down again. JR Smith simply won’t see enough volume in shots, even if he gets the minutes, to be a solid play with the Cavs roster fully healthy. Timofey Mozgov looks locked in as the starting center as the Cavs know Tristan Thompson is better off the bench. Mozgov has double-double potential nightly with some blocked shots upside for a nice price, especially against the Suns, who have been one of the league’s worst teams against centers this season.
The Suns continue to try to use their three-guard rotation as much as possible, but facing LeBron James tonight, it could severely limit the minutes of all three points guards as Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas all lack the size necessary to even have James notice they are there. Eric Bledsoe is the best bet for minutes as usual with this team and the matchup with Irving at home is an elite one. Bledsoe is one of my favorite plays of the night overall, even if he’s limited to the mid-30s in minutes. Both Dragic and Thomas are off my radar, but as usual, could each have a big game if they are hot. Markieff Morris continues to turn in a random collection of impressive and disappointing games, rarely finding the middle ground of consistency. He, like all the other Suns, is hampered by the hot hand rotational approach Jeff Hornacek uses. Alex Len has been much improved of late, playing at least 24 minutes and scoring at least 25 fantasy points in each of the past four games. Look for him to continue to play at least 25ish minutes until his production falls off.
Mavericks @ Kings Over/Under - 214
The Mavericks play the most efficient and selfless offensive basketball in the league and that’s led by Dirk Nowitzki. He’s playing right around 30 minutes a night and playing more minutes and taking more shots in competitive games, while letting other players take the wheel in good matchups and softer games. Nowitzki has taken 19 shots in back-to-back games and he’s been more aggressive with his offense of late as the Mavericks have needed his stabilizing presence. He’ll draw an excellent matchup with Jason Thompson tonight, who is a foul machine. That should lead to many easy looks this evening and a very efficient night in what’s expected to be a close game. Monta Ellis is the other Maverick I really like in this matchup. He’s excellent against the Kings in the past and has taken at least 15 shots in nine of the last ten games. Rajon Rondo has been up and down, but Darren Collison has really struggled defending point guards who get in the lane and the Kings bigs have a tendency to overhelp, making for easy assists, especially from a passer as good as Rondo. Chandler Parsons continues to be the odd man out in this scoring free-for-all the Mavericks have going on and it doesn’t look likely to change any time soon. I worry about foul trouble for Tyson Chandler tonight, as I do anyone facing Cousins.
DeMarcus Cousins has been simply unstoppable over the last two games, combining to go 23 of 48 from the field for an average of 29 points and 13 rebounds with plenty of other stats. Cousins can’t be stopped unless he stops himself at this point, which can happen with foul trouble and dumb plays, but those seem to occur less and less these days. Rudy Gay has become an afterthought on offense at times as his efficiency has dipped and Cousins is playing well. Gay is still more than capable of a huge game, but I’d going to wait for his price to come down some more before I get really interested in playing him again. Darren Collison is the other King that you’ll want to keep an eye on in this game. Rajon Rondo is no longer the defender he gets credit for the Mavericks have struggled all season keeping point guards in check due to their scheming. With Cousins finishing for him and the Kings actually having quite a few shooters, it’s made Collison’s job really easy this season while the Kings have been healthy. He’s not elite by any means, but gets the job done nightly, with some upside. Jason Thompson, as I mentioned above, is very likely to be in foul trouble guarding Nowitzki, so I’d avoid him even at the cheapest of prices. Ben McLemore is still playing his 30-35 very unproductive minutes a night as a shooter. Of course he’ll have some good games, but when they are coming is totally dependent on his jumper that night.