Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Friday

Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets leads the ball upcourt. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN's fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for December 2 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.

What you need to know for Friday's games

​​Barking 'Dogs: We are more-or-less at the quarter poll of the regular season and some interesting trends have developed. This season, underdogs cover 57.2% of the time when the over/under is below 220 points or over 230 (45.1% when the total is 220-230). The majority of games tonight land in that first bucket, so this very well could be a profitable evening for those looking to back the pouches.

​​Defensive Spike: LaMelo Ball's timeline remains cloudy, but he won't be back tonight. In their first 13 games this season (all without Ball), Charlotte allowed 1.12 points per possession, but in the three games with him, that number jumped (worsened) by 9.7%. He went back on the shelf after that and the defensive efficiency was as good as ever (1.05 points/possession). Yes, they were lit on fire by the historically efficient Celtics on Monday night (so what, everyone is these days), but this defense is legitimately stingy when Ball is out and the Wizards are just 3-6-2 ATS when facing above average defenses this season.

​​Pick Nic: The Nets are the worst rebounding team in the league this season, but that hasn't stopped Nic Claxton from producing elite roto numbers. In November, he was everything we've wanted Mitchell Robinson to be for years: 20 points-plus-rebounds a night on 75% shooting with over 2.0 blocks per game. The star power in Brooklyn gets most of the attention, but with no one ready to eat into his role as paint patroller, Claxton (10th-11th round ADP this fall) is shaping up as an elite value.

​​Rousing Returns: The Hawks haven't had the savvy shooting and playmaking of Bogdan Bogdanovic yet this season due to offseason knee surgery. Upgraded to questionable for tonight's tilt against the Nuggets, Bogdanovic (73% available in ESPN leagues) could make his debut and within a few games reclaim his valuable role as a top creator for second units. For Milwaukee, All-Star wing Khris Middleton (12% available) appears prepared to make his debut tonight against the Lakers.

​​Pursuing Payne: With Chris Paul still sidelined by a heel injury, fantasy managers should be riding with the Suns' Cameron Payne tonight against the visiting Rockets. Not only does Houston yield 58.3 DraftKings points per game to point guards, the highest rate in the entire league, but he's been solid for weeks now, slashing for 15.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.0 RPG, and 2.3 3PG over 11 starts in place of Paul. You can still find Payne in free agency in 78% of ESPN leagues, while he's also a nice DFS play at $6,400 on DraftKings.

​​Trey Day: For New Orleans, Brandon Ingram is sidelined tonight against the Spurs due to a toe injury, vaulting Trey Murphy III to new heights in regards to minutes, usage, and shot diet. The second-year shooter has scored 67 points across his last three games, with at least 20 in each outing. Strong defensive rates fill out a valuable 3-and-D profile for Murphy, who is available for the price of a roster spot in 85% of ESPN leagues.

​​Weekend Waivers: On the doorstep of a weekend full of NBA action, it can help to identify several widely-available names capable of helping your fantasy roster. Denver's Bruce Brown (79% available), for instance, does a bit of everything for both the Nuggets and fantasy investors, averaging 13.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.0 3PG, and 2.3 SPG during his last four games, all starts while Michael Porter Jr. is on the mend. Dillon Brooks (43% available) has averaged 20 PPG with strong peripherals over the last week for Memphis and makes for a nice addition for managers in need of shooting and scoring production. Shake Milton (75%) has one last weekend left before James Harden makes his likely return from a foot injury on Monday in Houston. Milton, after all, ranks 12th overall on the Player Rater the past week and tonight meets a Memphis team that has allowed the fourth-most DraftKings points per game to shooting guards this season.

-- Jim McCormick & Kyle Soppe

Game of the night

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics
7:30 p.m ET, TD Garden, Boston

Line: Celtics (-7.5)
Money line: Heat (+270), Celtics (-345)
Total: 226 points
BPI Projected Total: 226.3 points
BPI Win%: Celtics (87.1%)

Ruled Out: Jimmy Butler (knee)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best Bet: Jayson Tatum over 29.5 points. Tatum has scored at least 30 points in four straight games, averaging 37.8 PPG in those outings. His opponents, the Heat have allowed opposing small forwards to score the fourth-most points of any team in the NBA. Tatum just played the Heat earlier this week, and dropped 49 points on them. - Andre Snellings

Fantasy streamer: Derrick White (available in 51.0% of leagues) has scored double-digits in each of his last five games, all starts, and has averaged 15.0 PPG, 3.9 APG, 2.7 3PG, 2.3 RPG and 1.4 SPG in his last nine outings. -Snellings

Breaking down the rest of the slate

Washington Wizards at Charlotte Hornets
7:00 p.m ET, Spectrum Center, Charlotte

Line: Wizards (-3)
Money line: Wizards (-155), Hornets (+135)
Total: 224 points
BPI Projected Total: 228.2 points
BPI Win%: Wizards (57%)

Ruled Out: Rui Hachimura, LaMelo Ball (ankle), Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy Streamer: Theo Maledon (available in 99.5% of leagues) is getting more playing time with both LaMelo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. out. In his last two games, Maledon has averaged 12.5 PPG< 5.5 APG, 5.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG and 1.0 3PG in 32.5 MPG. -Snellings

Fantasy streamer: Jalen McDaniels (rostered in 5.3% of ESPN leagues) is on the streaming radar with Gordon Hayward out indefinitely due to a shoulder injury. In the past four games, he's averaged 25.7 minutes and 20 fantasy points. -Eric Moody

Best bet: Kristaps Porzingis over 32.5 points+assists+rebounds. When the Unicorn is healthy he's a sight to behold. In eight of his last ten games, Porzingis has scored 20 or more points. Over that period, he has averaged 9.3 RPG. The Hornets need help at the center position desperately. Porzingis will feast on Charlotte. -Moody

Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks
7:30 p.m ET, State Farm Arena, Atlanta

Line: Nuggets (-2.5)
Money line: Nuggets (140), Hawks (+118)
Total: 232.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 235.2 points
BPI Win%: Nuggets (53.4%)

Questionable: Frank Kaminsky (foot), Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee)

Ruled Out: De'Andre Hunter (hip), John Collins (ankle), Justin Holiday (Covid-19), Jeff Green (knee), Michael Porter Jr. (heel)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best Bet: Jamal Murray over 20.5 points. Murray has scored 21 or more points in three straight games, and five of his last six. The Nuggets lean on him more to score with Michael Porter Jr. is out, and Porter Jr. (heel) will miss his fifth straight game on Friday night. -Snellings

Fantasy streamer: A.J. Griffin (rostered in 1.0% of ESPN leagues) is on the streaming radar De'Andre Hunter out due to a right hip flexor strain. He finished with 25 fantasy points against the Magic on Wednesday. Griffin averages 19.7 points. 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per 40 minutes. -Eric Moody

Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets
7:30 p.m ET, Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Line: Nets (-1.5)
Money line: Raptors (+100), Nets (-120)
Total: 224 points
BPI Projected Total: 227.5 points
BPI Win%: Nets (56.1%)

Ruled Out: Otto Porter Jr. (foot), Ben Simmons (calf) (thigh)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play


Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers
7:30 p.m ET, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland

Line: Cavaliers (-10.5)
Money line: Magic (+430), Cavaliers (-600)
Total: 217 points
BPI Projected Total: 230.2 points
BPI Win%: Cavaliers (87.1%)

Ruled Out: Kevin Love (hand), Jarrett Allen (back), Lamar Stevens (illness), Jalen Suggs (ankle), Gary Harris (hamstring)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy Streamer: Markelle Fultz (available in 89.3% of leagues) could make an interesting long-term pickup or streamer. After missing the first month-and-a-half of the season, Fultze returned on Wednesday with 8 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound and 1 block in only 17 minutes. He's likely still operating under minutes restriction on Friday, but he's also starting, and we don't know what his restrictions might be. He has upside, both for the night and in the long run. -Snellings

Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks
7:30 p.m ET, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee

Line: Bucks (-8.5)
Money line: Lakers (+278), Bucks (-355)
Total: 230.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 235.2 points
BPI Win%: Bucks (80.1%)

Questionable: Khris Middleton (wrist), Anthony Davis (back), LeBron James (leg), Troy Brown Jr. (foot), Lonnie Walker IV (foot)

Ruled Out: Serge Ibaka (illness)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Philadelphia 76ers at Memphis Grizzlies
8:00 p.m ET, FedExForum, Memphis

Line: Grizzlies (-5)
Money line: 76ers (+185), Grizzlies (-225)
Total: 217 points
BPI Projected Total: 231.5 points
BPI Win%: Grizzlies (60.3%)

Questionable: Tobias Harris (illness)

Ruled Out: James Harden (foot)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Shake Milton (rostered in 25% of ESPN leagues) will have his hands full with Ja Morant on Friday night, but is still a viable streamer against the Grizzlies. Over the last five games, he has scored at least 39 fantasy points four times. This will be your last chance to stream Milton with James Harden expected to return on Monday. -Moody

Best bet: Ja Morant over 43.5 points+assists+rebounds, triple double: Morant has exceeded 43.5 PAR in only two of his last four games, but he's likely to do so against a 76ers team without James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. Morant should have a field day against Philadelphia's backup guards. He's averaged 28.2 PPG, 7.6 APG and 6.3 RPG this season. Against the 76ers on Friday, Morant could record a triple-double. -Moody

Fantasy Streamer and Best Bet: Shake Milton (available in 75.0% of leagues, over 17.5 points on Friday) remains a rinse-and-repeat fantasy streamer for as long as James Harden and Tyrese Maxey are out. Milton has scored at least 14 points in each of his seven starts, and is averaging 21.9 PPG during that stretch. -Snellings

New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs
8:00 p.m ET, AT&T Center, San Antonio

Line: Spurs (-7)
Money line: Pelicans (-305), Spurs (+240)
Total: 232 points
BPI Projected Total: 235 points
BPI Win%: Suprs (71.3%)

Questionable: Josh Richardson (ankle), Romeo Langford (back), Doug McDermott (ankle), CJ McCollum

Ruled Out: Herbert Jones (ankle), Brandon Ingram (foot)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Trey Murphy (rostered in 16.6% of ESPN leagues) will be provided significant minutes with Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones out for Friday's game. Over the last three games, he has averaged 36.3 fantasy points. Murphy is a solid point source in category formats, but he is also capable of providing a few rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. -Eric Moody

Best bet: Zion Williamson over 32.5 points+rebounds. Williamson is in the midst of a superb season. He's averaged 23.1 PPG and 6.6 RPG. Williamson's matchup with the Spurs is what makes him so interesting from a betting perspective. The Spurs rank 30th in points allowed per 100 possessions and allow opponents to accumulate a lot of rebounds. Williamson scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds last time he faced the Spurs on November 23rd.

Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns
9:00 p.m ET, Footprint Center, Phoenix

Line: Suns (-11.5)
Money line: Rockets (+500), Suns (-700)
Total: 227.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 239.1 points
BPI Win%: Suns (83.1%)

Ruled Out: Chris Paul (heel)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz
9:00 p.m ET, Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City

BPI Projected Total: 241 points
BPI Win%: Jazz (69.4%)

Questionable: Tyrese Haliburton

Ruled Out: Mike Conley (leg), Rudy Gay (hand)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Kelly Olynyk (rostered in 45.9% of ESPN leagues) is a great streamer against a Pacers team that ranks 19th in points allowed per 100 possessions. He has scored 28 or more fantasy points in seven consecutive games, including three games with 45 or more points. -Eric Moody

Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors
10:00 p.m ET, Chase Center, San Francisco

Line: Warriors (-7)
Money line: Bulls (+228), Warriors (-285)
Total: 236.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 236.8 points
BPI Win%: Warriors (74.2%)

Fantasy streamer: Alex Caruso (rostered in 10.2% of ESPN leagues) is a viable streamer in deeper formats because of his ability to contribute in nearly every statistical category. Caruso is well positioned to accumulate fantasy points in what is expected to be a high-scoring game against the Warriors. Five of his last eight games have seen him score 18 or more fantasy points. -Eric Moody

Analytics edge

BPI highest projected totals

1. Phoenix Suns (125)
2.Utah Jazz (123.3)
3. Milwaukee Bucks (122.4)

BPI lowest projected totals

1. Boston Celtics (107.2)
2. Orlando Magic (112.8)
3. Los Angeles Lakers (112.8)