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.
What you need to know for Thursday’s slate
By Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe
Drum Beat: The Nets are beginning to get consistent play from Andre Drummond (44% available). Drummond ranks 12th in the league in rebounding chances over the past 10 games and has real upside for Brooklyn. Expect some high-percentage looks in pick-and-roll sets combined with heavy minutes in a matchup against a large Milwaukee lineup.
Lake Effect: Malik Monk (74% available) has averaged 24.7 points and 3.7 3-pointers over the past three games as the primary scoring option for the Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis sidelined. James and Davis are both ruled out again ahead of tonight’s tilt against the Jazz and Monk is a strong candidate to flirt with 10 3-point attempts and a heavy usage rate for a depleted Los Angeles team.
Wing Men: Atlanta has endured some frontcourt woes with both John Collins and Danilo Gallinari injured. Collins won’t play against the Cavaliers, so if Gallinari can’t go, Bogdan Bogdanovic (26% available) and Kevin Huerter (85%) will be strong fantasy starters. Huerter has averaged 20.7 points to go with solid peripherals over the past week.
Detroit Depth: Isaiah Stewart (35% available) has made multiple 3-pointers in consecutive games for the first time in his career and has become a fun target at plus odds for hitting another tonight against the 76ers. Stewart ranks eighth in the NBA with 17.8 rebounding chances per game over the past 10 games, supporting value even as he faces Joel Embiid in the post. Marvin Bagley III (40%) struggled against Brooklyn earlier this week, but could thrive if he is matched up against Embiid’s exploitable backups.
Punt Play: Isaiah Hartenstein is available in over 85% of leagues and checks in at just $5,100 on DraftKings tonight despite facing a below average rebounding team in the Bulls. Paul George‘s return got the headlines in Tuesday’s win, but Hartenstein quietly kept doing his thing and has averaged 14.7 points on 15-of-22 (68.1%) shooting over the past three games. The scoring bump is nice, but he has also averaged 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game over that stretch. There are plenty of appealing stars on tonight’s slate and if you want to build around two of them, Hartenstein is a savvy place to find salary relief.
Super Punt Play: It’s pretty clear that the Cavaliers believe in going big consistently and with Evan Mobley out for at least three games, Moses Brown becomes an interesting option. He posted 12 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes last night against the Mavericks so we know there is some upside to chase here. He also averaged 9.4 PPG and 10.3 PPG last May with the Thunder. Brown gets a below average rebounding Hawks team tonight that has allowed an average of 236.1 total points scored on them over their past 10 games. If you play your cards right and on a short slate there are reasonable DFS roster builds with both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant if you believe in that game is going to be special.
Game of the Night
Line: Nets (-2.0)
Moneyline: Nets (-120), Bucks (+100)
Total: 243 points
BPI Projected Total: 235.5 points
BPI Win%: Nets (50.5%)
Key players ruled out: none
Notable: Overs are 8-4 in Milwaukee’s past 12 road games.
Best bet: Bucks +2.0 points. The Bucks are peaking as they prepare for the postseason, having won 10 of the past 12 games (+7.0 scoring margin) with Giannis Antetokounmpo against a bevy of playoffs-caliber teams. The Nets have been solid, but are seemingly working through some growing pains with Kyrie Irving playing full-time again. The Nets have gone 2-2 (+0.3 scoring margin) in their past four games with Irving, and have failed to cover in three of those four games. — André Snellings
Fantasy streamer: Brook Lopez. Lopez’s workload continues to increase. He has averaged 12.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 1.0 BPG in 25.7 MPG over his last four games. With the Nets still struggling to defend consistently, Lopez (59% available) should put up solid numbers. — Eric Moody
Breaking down the rest of the slate
Line: 76ers (-10.5)
Moneyline: 76ers (-550), Pistons (+400)
Total: 223 points
BPI Projected Total: 219.5 points
BPI Win%: 76ers (70.5%)
Key players ruled out: none
Notable: Less is more? The Pistons are 7-1-1 ATS in their past nine games that have gone under the total.
Fantasy Streamer: Killian Hayes. Hayes has played very well over the past five games. He has averaged 11 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 2.0 SPG and 1.0 BPG. Due to his back injury, Cory Joseph is questionable and considering the Piston’s record, he may not play. Regardless, Hayes makes sense as a streaming option. — Moody
Best bet: Pistons +10.5 points. The Pistons have been a covering machine since the All-Star break, going 15-2-2 ATS during that stretch. They’re getting 10.5 points, at home, against a 76ers squad that has been decidedly average for the past month. Philadelphia sports a 7-6 record with a +0.1 scoring margin over their past 13 games. — Snellings
Best bet: Joel Embiid over 42.5 points + rebounds. Embiid has averaged 28 PPG and 11 RPG in 12 games against the Pistons in his career. He posted 40th double-double on Tuesday against the Bucks and the Pistons rank 22nd in points allowed per 100 possessions and 28th in offensive rebounds allowed. — Moody
7:30 p.m. ET, State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Line: Hawks (-5)
Moneyline: Hawks (-230), Cavaliers (+190)
Total: 222.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 228 points
BPI Win%: Hawks (73.5%)
Notable: The Cavaliers are 0-6-1 ATS in their past seven games on the second night of a back-to-back: they hosted the Mavericks last night.
Fantasy Streamer: Lamar Stevens. Stevens (99.0% available) is a deep sleeper for the Cavaliers. He has been productive over the past couple weeks and has averaged 13.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.7 3PG and 0.7 SPG in over his past six games. While he has been coming off the bench for the last four games after starting the previous five, with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley out he’s will get consistent minutes and opportunities. — Snellings
Fantasy streamer: Moses Brown. Evan Mobley is out with an ankle injury for the next two to three games, so Brown started on Wednesday night against the Mavericks. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. As a streamer, Brown is someone to consider in deeper formats. He is available in 98% of ESPN leagues. — Moody
Best bet: De’Andre Hunter over 14.5 points. Hunter had 18 points against the Thunder and has averaged 12 free throws and 15 points over his past nine games. He’s scored 16.4 PPG in his five career games against the Cavaliers. — Moody
Line: Bulls (-3.5)
Moneyline: Bulls (-170), Clippers (+145)
Total: 222.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 216 points
BPI Win%: Clippers (52.7%)
Key players ruled out: none
Notable: After nine of 12 games went under the total, each of the Clippers’ past three games have gone over.
Best bet: Clippers +3.5 points. The Clippers are an entirely different team with Paul George in the lineup, as they demonstrated in his return on Tuesday with their huge comeback win over the Jazz. Meanwhile, the Bulls have struggled for more than a month, having lost 11 of their last 16 games with a -6.3 average scoring margin in that stretch. — Snellings
Best bet: Nikola Vucevic over 32.5 points + assists + rebounds. Vucevic has averaged 19 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.0 BPG over the past four games. He had a usage rate of 29% on Tuesday night against the Wizards. Billy Donovan recently mentioned publicly that the Bulls should involve him more. Centers have averaged 24.6 PPG, 16 RPG, and 3.6 APG against the Clippers this season. — Moody
10 p.m. ET, Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Line: Jazz (-12.5)
Moneyline: Jazz (-700), Lakers (+475)
Total: 225.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 226 points
BPI Win%: Jazz (83.7%)
Notable: The Lakers’ struggles have been well documented, but how about the Jazz having failed to cover each of their past five games?
Fantasy streamer: Malik Monk. Monk (70% available) has been one of the best offensive players for the Lakers as of late. He has averaged 24.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.0 SPG in 31 minutes over the past three games. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Monk will continue to be heavily utilized. — Moody