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ESPN NBA Fantasy and Betting Cheat Sheet for Thursday

Steph Curry and the Warriors face the undermanned Trail Blazers. Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

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

Sun rise: Chris Paul will be out through March (thumb), making this offense one to watch as we come out of the Break. Paul exited Phoenix's final game of the first half of the season and Devin Booker responded with a season best 11 assists-plus-steals. Aaron Holiday handed out six dimes off the bench in that win over the Rockets, giving him more assists in that game than the rest of the Sun reserves combined.

King Me: De'Aaron Fox is averaging 28.3 points on 21.4 shots per game in his five games this month, all of which have come following the Tyrese Haliburton trade. Those are significant usage spikes from his January numbers (23.7 points and 17.8 shots) and he faces a Nuggets' defense that has dipped in efficiency.

Promise in Portland: Add Anfernee Simons in all fantasy formats. Simons has seen his usage rate leap to Dame-like levels with Jusuf Nurkic off the floor this season. With Nurkic ruled out, Simons is positioned to exceed his 30.5 prop for combined rebounds, assists, and points on DraftKings this evening. Teammates Josh Hart and Justise Winslow are also priority targets in both redraft and daily fantasy for Thursday.

Waiver Warrior: Draymond Green is still weeks away from returning to Golden State's rotation. Jonathan Kuminga has enjoyed a team-high leap in fantasy points per 36 minutes with Green off the floor this season. The rookie is rostered in only 7.0% of ESPN leagues and is $4,500 on DraftKings.

Nothing but Net (reserves): With Brooklyn at home tonight, Kyrie Irving will be inactive and while Kevin Durant (knee) is progressing through rehab, he's not ready to play yet. Cam Thomas came off the bench to lead the Nets in shots in their most recent home game (17 shots in 28 minutes against the Wizards) while Bruce Brown played a team-high 35 minutes (10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists). -- Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe


Game of the Night

Golden State Warriors @ Portland Trail Blazers


Line: Warriors -9.5
Moneyline: Warriors (-475), Trail Blazers (+360)
Total: 223 points
BPI Projected Total: 222.5 points
BPI Win%: Warriors 67.8%

Warriors-Blazers trends:
Warriors 78% of tickets, 79% of dollars
Over 75% of tickets, 90% of dollars
Warriors ML 93% of tickets, 90% of dollars

Key players ruled out: Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic, Eric Bledsoe

Notable: In each of the four games leading into the All Star Break, the Warriors failed to cover as favorites of five-plus points and saw the total go over the projected number.

Best bet: Josh Hart over 28.5 total points assists rebounds

Since arriving in Portland, Hart has scored 20 or more in three consecutive games, averaging 36.5 minutes and a Usage Rate of 23.4%. Hart also provides a high ceiling in a matchup that we anticipate being high scoring, especially with Jusuf Nurkic out with an injury. -- Eric Moody

Best bet: Andrew Wiggins under 16.5 total points

As Wiggins' scoring has decreased, Jonathan Kuminga has seen a spike in his minutes and production. In the last eight games, the rookie has averaged 15.3 PPG in 26.4 MPG, and Wiggins' scoring has dropped to 13.7 PPG with only one game over 16.5 points. In the three games before, Kuminga averaged 3.0 PPG in 13.0 MPG and Wiggins scored at least 19 points in all three. Kuminga is expected to get big minutes on Thursday. -- André Snellings

Best bet: Stephen Curry over 24.5 total points

Curry is coming off 16 3-pointers in the All-Star game, and Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns are the only players on Thursday's slate with a higher ceiling. On defense, the Trail Blazers rank near the bottom of the league in points allowed per 100 possessions played and effective field goal percentage allowed. -- Moody


Breaking down the rest of the slate

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons


Line: Cavaliers -6.5
Moneyline: Cavaliers (-280), Pistons (+230)
Total: 208.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 204.5 points
BPI Win%: Cavaliers 64.8%

Key players ruled out: Darius Garland, Caris LeVert

Note of the Day: The betting favorite has covered each of the past five Cavaliers games (Cleveland was favored in three of those games, covering those three games by an average of 4.8 points).


Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets


Line: Celtics -8.0
Moneyline: Celtics (-350), Nets (+280)
Total: 215.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 209 points
BPI Win%: Celtics 73.9%

Key players ruled out: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Goran Dragic, Joe Harris

Note of the Day: The Nets have covered three straight games in which they are labeled as the underdog (coming on the heels of going 0-4-1 ATS in the underdog role).

DFS value: Look to Cam Thomas

With a usage rate of 26.6%, Thomas has scored 20 or more points in three out of his last four games. With Irving out and Kevin Durant still out with a knee injury, he will continue to see plenty of minutes against the Celtics. -- Moody


Atlanta Hawks @ Chicago Bulls


Line: Bulls -3
Moneyline: Bulls (-160), Hawks (+140)
Total: 237.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 227.7 points
BPI Win%: Bulls 57.4%

Key players ruled out: John Collins, Lonzo Ball

Note of the Day: The books seem to have caught up to the Bulls during this DeMar DeRozan scoring binge. Under tickets cashed in three of five games heading into the All Star Break, a massive correction given that Chicago's previous seven games all went over the total.


Memphis Grizzlies @ Minnesota Timberwolves


Line: Grizzlies -3
Moneyline: Grizzlies (-145), Timberwolves (+125)
Total: 239.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 228 points
BPI Win%: Grizzlies 51.7%

Key players ruled out: Dillon Brooks

Note of the Day: The Timberwolves are 5-1-1 ATS over their past seven home games, with overs coming through in five of those seven instances.

Best bet: Karl-Anthony Towns over 37.5 total points + assists + rebounds

Towns has one of the highest ceilings on the slate and is an ideal player to use in a DFS lineup. He is also expected to play more in the post moving forward, which could result in more assist opportunities and higher percentage shots. -- Moody

Best bet: Total under 239.5 points

The Timberwolves have stark home/road splits of late when it comes to total points scored. In their past 14 road games, the Timberwolves and their opponents have combined to average 244.4 PPG. But, in their last 14 home games, that number is 221.4 PPG. These two teams have already played three times, and the only time they've gone over 239.5 points was in Memphis, in an overtime game -- Snellings


Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder


Line: Suns -10.0
Moneyline: Suns (-650), Thunder (+450)
Total: 217.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 209.5 points
BPI Win%: Suns 69.7%

Key players ruled out: Chris Paul, Cameron Payne, Luguentz Dort, Kenrich Williams

Note of the Day: The Thunder have covered three straight and are 7-1-1 in their past nine games as a double digit underdog.

Best bet: Devin Booker over 40.5 total points assists rebounds

Booker has averaged 27 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in his last nine games. Booker will receive all the usage he can handle because Chris Paul is out for the remainder of the regular season. Booker has the highest DFS ceiling of any shooting guard on the slate. -- Moody

Best bet: Deandre Ayton over 27.5 total points + assists + rebounds

In the past eight games, Ayton has averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 26.4 minutes. Defensively, the Thunder have allowed centers to average 21 points, 17.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Ayton provides a similar ceiling from a DFS perspective to more expensive alternatives. -- Moody


Denver Nuggets @ Sacramento Kings


Line: Nuggets -4.5
Moneyline: Nuggets (-190), Kings (+160)
Total: 233 points
BPI Projected Total: 219.5 points
BPI Win%: Nuggets 65.4%

Key players ruled out: Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, DeMarcus Cousins, Terence Davis

Note of the Day: Over tickets have come through in each of the past three games in which the Nuggets were favored. In fact, overs are 9-3 in the past dozen games with Denver pegged as the better team.


Analytics Edge

ESPN's NBA Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a measure of team strength developed by the ESPN Analytics team.

BPI highest projected totals

1. Chicago Bulls (vs. Atlanta Hawks): 114.7
2. Memphis Grizzlies (at Minnesota Timberwolves): 114.3
3. Golden State Warriors (at Portland Blazers): 113.9

BPI lowest projected totals

1. Detroit Pistons (vs. Cleveland Cavaliers): 100.3
2. Brooklyn Nets (vs. Boston Celtics): 101.0
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (vs. Phoenix Suns): 102.0

BPI top probability to win (straight up)

1. Boston Celtics: 73.9%
2. Phoenix Suns: 69.7%
3. Golden State Warriors: 67.8%

ESPN Stats & Info contributed to this piece.