Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Wednesday

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 January 18th are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.

Trending Up: The Hawks have won three straight and are playing as well now as they have at any point this season entering a matchup tonight with Luka Doncic. Back them against the MVP candidate? Atlanta is an impressive 7-2 ATS this season when taking on the underdog role in a game with a total over 230 and, for what it's worth, under tickets have cashed in six of those seven covers.

Spot Game: Underdogs of more than five points are 19-12-2 ATS this season when facing a team on a back-to-back this season, the exact spot the Timberwolves find themselves in tonight. They are traveling for the first time in a week against a Nuggets team that is playing their fourth back-to-back since Christmas.

Low Temp: The Heat are pacing for a fourth straight season as a bottom-five pace team and yet, their game totals are still being posted too high. They opened tonight as a favorite in New Orleans and in their 11 such instances this season, unders are 9-2. Those two overs? One came back in October and the other required 25 points to be scored over the final five minutes to go over the number by one whole point with Miami fatigued on the second night of a back-to-back.

Plum Spot: Sound the sirens; the Charlotte Hornets are road favorites in Houston this evening. Tonight's contest appears attractive for fantasy purposes with the third-highest total of the slate. It's an ideal spot to pick up and play Mason Plumlee (46% available in ESPN leagues). Plumlee has slashed for 14.7 points, 14.3 rebounds, and four dimes over the past week. Houston, meanwhile, has allowed 55.1 DraftKings points to game to centers over the last two weeks. Building DFS lineups around LaMelo Ball ($9,600 on DK) could pay off, as he's delivered at least 50 DraftKings points in eight of his last 10 while no team allows a higher PER or more DraftKings points to point guards than Houston.

Mann Up: Clippers coach Tyronn Lue told reporters after last night's loss to the 76ers that Paul George would sit for tonight's matchup against the Jazz in Utah. The last time George was sidelined, Terance Mann (90% available) went off for a season-high 31 points. Mann's passing production is up lately, as well, tallying at least four dimes in four of his past five games. With the Jazz allowing the seventh-most DraftKings points to shooting guards, target Mann for not just streaming and DFS value but also for scoring and passing props.

Target Thomas: The total for tonight's matchup between the Lakers and Kings sits at a robust 244.5, one of the highest of the season. With the Kings enjoying a historic offensive stretch and the Lakers 11th in offensive rating over their last 10 games, it's an ideal spot to find some streaming values given the uptick in possession in opportunities. Which leads us to Thomas Bryant, who is rostered in just 29% of ESPN leagues and yet posted 29 points and 14 boards against Sacramento just a few weeks back.

-- Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe

Games of the night

Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Line: Mavericks (-2.5)
Money line: Mavericks (-135), Hawks (+115)
Total: 234 points
BPI Projected Total: 226.4 points
BPI Win%: Hawks (52.1%)

Questionable: Luka Doncic, Josh Green, Dorian Finney-Smith
Ruled Out: Tim Hardaway Jr., McKinley Wright IV, Maxi Kleber
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Reggie Bullock (rostered in 0.8% of ESPN leagues) Bullock has scored in double figures in two straight games, including a 24-point performance on 8-of-10 shooting from downtown on Saturday against Portland. The Mavs will be without Tim Hardaway Jr. tonight and Bullock should be in the starting lineup in his place. If Bullock can continue to stay hot from beyond the arc Dallas might need fewer murals featuring Luka Doncic asking for someone to send him some help. With Hardaway in street clothes, Bullock should see plenty of looks tonight against a defensively challenged Hawks team. -- Steve Alexander

Best bet: Luka Doncic over 52.5 combined points, rebounds and assists. There aren't many head-to-head matchups in today's NBA that generate as much excitement as when Doncic and Trae Young meet up. And while the argument about who won the draft-day trade appeared to be reasonably close for a few years, Doncic has blown up over the past two seasons, while Young has been heading in the other direction. Both players will tell you there's nothing personal here, but there is something very personal here. You can be sure Doncic wants to put on a show tonight and he's been resting since his 15-point dud last Saturday, meaning he should be ready to go nuts. If you throw out Saturday, Luka has averaged 34.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists (54.2) over his past five games. Add in some rest and extra motivation and we could see something really special on Wednesday. -- Alexander

Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
10 p.m. ET on ESPN, Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado

Line: Nuggets (-8)
Money line: Nuggets (-335), Timberwolves (+260)
Total: 236.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 237.1 points
BPI Win%: Nuggets (74.6%)

Questionable: Taurean Prince, Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Naz Reid (available in 96.3% of leagues) Reid could be in for a larger role tonight if Rudy Gobert is limited or forced to miss any time. Reid is consistently productive even in a bench role, evidenced by his 12.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.0 3PG, 1.0 BPG and 0.7 SPG in 21.7 MPG over his past three games. However, when he is given starter minutes, he's a legit impact player. Reid has averaged 20.3 PPG (55.9 FG%), 8.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 2.3 3PG and 0.8 SPG in 29.6 MPG in four starts this season. -- Andre Snellings

Fantasy streamer: Kyle Anderson (available in 88.0% of leagues) Anderson is a stabilizing force for the Timberwolves and is coming off a triple-double of 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in his last outing. His streak of strong all-around play extends through the entirety of 2023 thus far. He has averaged 10.0 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.1 BPG and 0.9 3PG in 31.4 MPG in seven January games. -- Snellings

Washington Wizards at New York Knicks
7:30 p.m. ET, Madison Square Garden, New York

Line: Knicks (-6)
Money line: Knicks (-225), Wizards (+185)
Total: 222 points
BPI Projected Total: 222.5 points
BPI Win%: Knicks (76.8%)

Questionable: Bradley Beal
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet: Jalen Brunson over 26.5 points. Brunson missed the over on his points total by a single point on Monday but has scored at least 27 points in four of his past five games. He's averaged 31.6 points in eight January games and has recent scoring runs of 34, 34, 44 and 38 points. One of those (34) came against this same Wizards team back on Jan. 13. The Knicks are 6-2 this month and Brunson is a big reason why. -- Alexander

Best bet: Julius Randle over 12.5 rebounds, over 38.5 total points + rebounds. Steve already highlighted Jalen Brunson, so let me shine a light on his teammate. Randle has averaged 29.2 PPG and 13.7 RPG in his past 14 games. He has gone over 38.5 points + rebounds in 11 of those 14 games and over 12.5 rebounds in 10 of the 14... including at least 15 boards in each of the past five games. -- Snellings

Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets
8 p.m. ET, Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

Line: Hornets (-2.5)
Money line: Hornets (-135), Rockets (+115)
Total: 236.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 235.6 points
BPI Win%: Hornets (53.6%)

Questionable: Gordon Hayward, Cody Martin, Kevin Porter Jr.
Ruled Out: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet: Over 237 points. The only team in the league worse defensively than the Hornets is the Rockets, both of which are tanking for a shot at Victor Wembanyama. Young stars like Jalen Green and LaMelo Ball are not known for playing defense and neither are the teams they run. Tonight's game should look more like a Rising Stars game on All-Star Weekend than a real NBA game and my guess is they'll try to run each other out of the gym. The Hornets scored 138 points in their only recent win (against the Bucks on Jan. 6) and the Rockets scored 132 in their last loss against Lakers on Monday. The potential return of Kevin Porter Jr. should help push this one over the point total. I'm actually surprised the total isn't closer to 245. -- Alexander

Best bet: LaMelo Ball over 26.5 points, over 35.5 total points + assists. This game looks fun, with fast pace and little defense, and there could be some big numbers put on the board. The Hornets' offense runs through Ball, who's been taking on more of a scoring role of late. Ball has averaged 28.0 PPG over his past four games, going over 38.5 combined points and assists in three of those four games. He has two efforts of at least 31 points and 7 assists in his past three games and he's facing a Rockets defense that is bottom-three in the NBA for most points (25.8 PPG) and assists (9.1 APG) allowed to opposing point guards. -- Snellings

Fantasy streamer: Jalen McDaniels (available in 89.7% of leagues) McDaniels has played well since moving into the starting lineup seven games ago, averaging 14.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.6 3PG, 1.3 SPG and 0.7 BPG in 30.4 MPG over that stretch. He's coming off a 26-point performance on 9-for-15 FG, 3-for-3 FT and 5-for-7 from behind the arc. In a game that looks to be high scoring, McDaniels seems primed to score in double figures for the 11th time in the past 12 games. -- Snellings

Best Bet: Alperen Sengun over 32.5 total points + assists + rebounds. Sengun is on a tear, averaging 18.3 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 5.7 APG over his past five outings. He dropped 33 points, 15 boards and 6 assists on Monday against the Lakers and is facing a Hornets squad that allows the most fantasy points to opposing centers in the NBA. -- Snellings

Cleveland Cavaliers at Memphis Grizzlies
8 p.m. ET, FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee

Line: Grizzlies (-7.5)
Money line: Grizzlies (-320), Cavaliers (+250)
Total: 228 points
BPI Projected Total: 225.8 points
BPI Win%: Grizzlies (65.7%)

Questionable: Donovan Mitchell
Ruled Out: Draymond Green
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Caris LeVert (rostered in 43.9% of ESPN leagues) should see a big boost tonight with Donovan Mitchell likely out with a groin injury. Darius Garland is also going to see a spike in value but LeVert is the player that should be most directly impacted by Mitchell's absence. LeVert was playing well at the end of December and into January but has struggled of late and only saw 15 minutes of action in Monday's game against the Pelicans. That number should be back up around 30 tonight and he could even find himself in the starting lineup (over Lamar Stevens). -- Alexander

Best Bet: Desmond Bane over 19.5 points. Bane started this season on a heater and I wrote a feature on him back when he was averaging 28.5 PPG through the first month of the season before he got injured. When he returned at the end of December, he slowly worked himself back into shape. Now that he seems to be healthy again, Bane has averaged 22.0 PPG over his past five outings with at least 24 points scored in three of those contests (including the last two). -- Snellings

Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans
8 p.m. ET, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Line: Heat (-3)
Money line: Heat (-155), Pelicans (+130)
Total: 219.6 points
BPI Projected Total: 222.8 points
BPI Win%: Pelicans (55.1%)

Questionable: Caleb Martin, Kyle Lowry, Herbert Jones
Ruled Out: Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Indiana Pacers at Oklahoma City Thunder
8 p.m. ET, Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Line: Thunder (-4)
Money line: Thunder (-180), Pacers (+152)
Total: 240 points
BPI Projected Total: 231.2 points
BPI Win%: Thunder (61.3%)

Ruled Out: Tyrese Haliburton
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: T.J. McConnell (rostered in 14.2% of ESPN leagues) McConnell is coming off the bench behind Andrew Nembhard while Tyrese Haliburton sits with knee and elbow injuries, but McConnell is the player I've been recommending fantasy managers pick up off the waiver wire.

McConnell has scored in double figures in four straight games and flirted with a triple-double in all of them. He blew up for 29 points, five rebounds, nine assists, three steals and four 3-pointers on 11-of-16 shooting in Monday's loss to the Bucks and has averaged 17.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 2.3 steals over his past four games. McConnell should not only be streamed, but he's basically a must-have player until we see Haliburton back in action. -- Alexander

LA Clippers at Utah Jazz
9 p.m. ET, Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

Line: Jazz (-5.5)
Money line: Jazz (-225), Clippers (+185)
Total: 227.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 231.2 points
BPI Win%: Clippers (52.1%)

Questionable: Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Kawhi Leonard, Lauri Markkanen
Ruled Out: Paul George, John Wall, Kelly Olynyk
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Terance Mann (rostered in 9.4% of ESPN leagues) Mann has scored in double figures in six of his past seven games and had 31 points, six rebounds, four assists and five 3-pointers on 12-of-16 shooting on Sunday with Paul George out. The Clippers are on the second night of a back-to-back, George has already been ruled out and Kawhi Leonard will likely be a game-time decision. Mann should be a lock to get a ton of looks tonight and if he can stay hot with his shooting touch, could be in for another big game. He had 12 points, four rebounds, four assists, a block and two triples while playing alongside George and Leonard Tuesday night. -- Alexander

Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers
10:30 p.m. ET, Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California

Line: Kings (-4)
Money line: Kings (-190), Lakers (+158)
Total: 245.09 points
BPI Projected Total: 243.9 points
BPI Win%: Kings (58.7%)

Questionable: LeBron James
Ruled Out: Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker IV, Austin Reaves
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet: LeBron James over 50.5 points + assists + rebounds. King James is showing no signs of slowing down at age 38 and he should be fired up at home against an up-and-coming Kings team that is currently the No. 4 team in the West. LeBron had 48 points, eight rebounds and nine dimes (65) in Monday's win over the Rockets. He has averaged 35.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.5 assists (53.5) in his six January games. With Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker all out, LeBron will once again have to do the heavy lifting himself. James is listed as questionable but if he plays tonight, he's going to go off. -- Alexander