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Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Thursday

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


What you need to know for Thursday's games

The grind continues. The NBA marathon continues on a four-game Thursday slate that is interestingly rife with streaming and DFS candidates. Just two stars on today's schedule are projected in my model for at least 50 DraftKings points, as Luka Doncic and his Dallas Mavericks host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Such a top-heavy DFS landscape means that getting the right blend of complementary players proves even more crucial, as it's somewhat unlikely to post a big score sans both of these MVP candidates. Which means the likes of Tyrese Maxey, Buddy Hield, and Charles Bassey stand out as key values during a shallow slate. While there is blowout potential for the Indiana Pacers against a San Antonio Spurs team that lists most of the roster as questionable this evening, Myles Turner is arguably the best pivot from Embiid in lineups.

For those in redraft leagues, this is another good spot to stream Donte DiVincenzo, as he's a free agent in 83% of ESPN leagues and has produced 21 points in consecutive games. DiVincenzo's point-of-attack defense proves crucial for a depleted Warriors backcourt, while his strong steal rate can surface against ball-dominant opponents such as tonight's foe, Russell Westbrook.

-- Jim McCormick & Kyle Soppe

Game of the Night


LA Clippers at Golden State Warriors
10:00 p.m ET, Chase Center, San Francisco, CA

Records (Against the Spread)
Clippers: 33-31 (31-33-0)
Warriors: 32-30 (29-32-1)

Line: Clippers (-3.5)
BPI Projection: Clippers: 131.1-118
Money Line: Clippers (-170), Warriors (143)
BPI Projected winner: Clippers (78.9%)
Total: 231.5 BPI Projected Total: 244.6

Best bet: Donte DiVincenzo over 12.5 points. DiVincenzo continues to enjoy his best 3-point shooting season of his five-year career, and he has hit on 14-of-25 attempts over the past three games. We cannot expect him to be this accurate every game, but DiVincenzo did average 13.3 PPG in February and the Clippers have certainly had issues defending guards lately. Ride the hot streak with DiVincenzo before Stephen Curry returns. - Eric Karabell

Best bet: Russell Westbrook over 27.5 points+assists+rebounds. A motivated Westbrook, even at this stage of his career, is a great thing to bet on. He appears to have a stranglehold on the starting job with the Clippers. In the last three games, Westbrook has averaged 16.0 points, 9.3 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. In each of those games, he played 30.9 minutes. -Eric Moody

Trend: The Warriors are 25-7 outright at home this season and yet, they are catching points tonight when they host the Clippers ... and I like the road team. Los Angeles is 9-5 ATS over their past 14 as a road favorite and over tickets have cashed in 11 of their past 12 in such spots. If you want to extend into the Same Game Parlay (SGP) world and pull on that over trend, you have the green light. Overs are 20-10-2 when the Warriors fail to cover, so banking on scoring is logical. And who will do it? Paul George is averaging 28.6 points (3.7 3's), 6.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists over his past nine games as a road favorite (clearing a 35 PRA in seven of those nine games). Use that information how you will, but there's a trend story to tell and a handful of dots you could connect! - Kyle Soppe


Breaking down the rest of the slate

Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards
7:00 p.m ET, Capital One Arena, Washington, DC

Records (Against the Spread)
Raptors: 31-32 (31-32-0)
Wizards: 29-32 (29-31-1)

Line: Raptors (-2)
BPI Projection: Raptors: 122.5-120.2
Money Line: Raptors (-130), Wizards (110)
BPI Projected winner: Raptors (58.5%)
Total: 223 BPI Projected Total: 242.7

Fantasy streamer: Daniel Gafford (rostered in 10.6% of ESPN leagues) comes off consecutive 40-point fantasy efforts against the Hawks and Bulls and he has averaged 11 PPG, 7 RPG and shot 75% from the field since the start of January. In other words, he has been playing well for quite a while and that should continue versus the Raptors. - Karabell

Best bet: Bradley Beal over 22.5 points. Beal should see significant usage with Monte Morris out, which is great for a Wizards team trying to make the playoffs. In his last eight games, Beal has averaged 20.0 field goal attempts and 25.9 points. Against the Raptors, he should be able to meet or exceed those per game averages. -Moody

Best bet: Fred VanVleet over 29.5 points+assists+rebounds. On Tuesday, Van Vleet struggled mightily in his first game back after missing time due to personal reasons. He should have a much better outing against the Wizards on Thursday night. VanVleet averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 assists, and 4.6 rebounds in his last 12 games. I expect VanVleet to perform like this against Washington. -Moody

Trend: The Raptors are a unique team in that they don't rely on the 3-point shot as much as others. With a sub-.500 record, you could argue the merits of doing so, but they have proven effective when facing other similarly limited (flawed?) teams. Toronto is 11-4 ATS this season in their 15 games against teams who, like them, rank top-10 in percentage of points scored via 2-point buckets. Points have been hard to come by recently in Wizard games (unders have hit in nine of 14) and that's just fine for the the Raptors as they've covered seven of their past nine games that finished under the total. - Soppe


Philadelphia 76ers at Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m ET, American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

Records (Against the Spread)
76ers: 40-21 (34-26-1)
Mavericks: 32-31 (22-38-3)

Line: Mavericks (-4)
BPI Projection: Mavericks: 130.4-126.8
Money Line: 76ers (162), Mavericks (-195)
BPI Projected winner: Mavericks (63%)
Total: 228.5 BPI Projected Total: 257.2

Best bet: Kyrie Irving over 23.3 points. Philadelphia played and won in Miami and this game in Dallas comes on short rest, but the 76ers could have had a week off and it may not have mattered. James Harden cares little about defending and Tyrese Maxey simply is not good at it. The 76ers may or may not have Joel Embiid back in the lineup, but opposing guards generally feast on the 76ers either way, and Irving, who has struggled with his shot over the past week, figures to get back on track with a 30-point game. He's too good to shoot this poorly (23-for-53 over the past three games) for long. - Karabell

Trend: Betting overs when one team is on a back-to-back is an easy sell: fatigue sets in and, in this era of basketball, players are more likely to "take a break" on the defensive end. Believe that if you want, but it hasn't paid in the case of the 76ers as each of their past five games on zero rest have come in under the total by more than seven points. The Mavericks are 4-9-1 ATS both in their past 14 home games (1-3 with Kyrie Irving) and in their past 14 games that have gone under the projected total. -Soppe


Indiana Pacers at San Antonio Spurs
8:30 p.m ET, AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Records (Against the Spread)
Pacers: 28-35 (34-29-0)
Spurs: 15-47 (25-37-0)

Line: Pacers (-5)
BPI Projection: Pacers: 131.1-125.8
Money Line: Pacers (-225), Spurs (185)
BPI Projected winner: Pacers (68.1%)
Total: 238 BPI Projected Total: 256.9

Best bet: Myles Turner over 29.5 points+rebounds. Turner's matchup against the Spurs is too juicy to pass up. San Antonio ranks 30th in points allowed per 100 possessions. The Spurs also allows opponents an effective field goal percentage of 57.8%, the highest in the league. Turner has averaged 29.3 points and 8.3 rebounds over the last three games. -Moody