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Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Friday

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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 Friday, March 17 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


What you need to know for Friday’s games

Act quickly to acquire “Slow Mo.” Otherwise known as Kyle Anderson of the Minnesota Timberwolves, this playmaking two-way forward is the modest-added player in ESPN leagues over the past week. Even given his recent surge in popularity, Anderson is a free agent in two-thirds of leagues despite slashing for 14.7 points, 10.3 assists, and 8.0 rebounds over the past week. He’s in a nice spot against the Chicago Bulls tonight.

With Luka Doncic and LeBron James due to miss Friday’s matchup that bears pivotal playoff implications, fantasy managers must find worthy wings from the waiver. Anderson or even Jonathan Kuminga, who is set to start and play a big role given Draymond Green‘s one-game suspension, qualify. For those in need of help on the glass, Kevon Looney‘s rebounding production helps his case for prop plays and streaming interest.

It’s an important time of the season to be proactive with fantasy rosters. As our experts explain below, adding the likes of Jeremy Sochan or Trey Murphy III ahead of tonight’s eight-game slate could prove rewarding deep into the fantasy playoffs.

-Jim McCormick


Breaking down tonight’s slate


Philadelphia 76ers at Charlotte Hornets
7:00 p.m ET, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC

Records (Against the Spread)
76ers: 46-22 (38-29-1)
Hornets: 22-49 (31-38-2)

Line: 76ers (-10.5)
BPI Projection: 76ers: 131.9-120.7
Money Line: 76ers (-550), Hornets (+400)
BPI Projected winner: 76ers (84.9%)
Total: 227.5 BPI Projected Total: 252.6

Injury Report:
76ers: Jalen McDaniels, (GTD – Hip)
Hornets: Cody Martin, (GTD – Knee); Mark Williams, (GTD – Thumb); LaMelo Ball, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Nick Richards (rostered in 6.1% of ESPN leagues) had a big game on Sunday with 15 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, hitting 5 of 6 shots from the floor in 32 minutes. He returned to earth on Tuesday with seven points and eight boards, but still had a block in 23 minutes. Mark Williams (hand) might be done for the season and Richards should still get plenty of minutes going forward. He has a tough matchup with Joel Embiid tonight, but Richards is worth a look if you need a big man. -Steve Alexander

Best bet: Joel Embiid over 47.5 points + rebounds: Embiid destroyed the Hornets for 53 points and 12 boards when they met in December and the Hornets are incredibly thin up front with Williams currently sidelined. Richards and Kai Jones will be responsible for Embiid tonight and Charlotte gives up the fourth-most points to opposing centers in the league at 24.7 points per game. Add in the fact that they also give up the most rebounds to opposing centers in the entire league and Embiid should be ready to feast this evening. -Alexander

Best bet: Trae Young over 38.5 points + assists: Young blistered the Warriors for 30 points and 14 assists in their previous meeting this season and Stephen Curry is questionable with a thumb injury tonight, while Draymond Green will serve a one-game suspension for picking up his 16th technical foul. Young is hot, scoring at least 28 points in four straight games and racking up 41 and 35 points in each of his last two games. He’s averaging 36.5 points + assists in March and should be able to get at least 30 points and 10 dimes tonight, making him look like a favorable bet to hit the over of 38.5. And if Curry’s out tonight, feel free to fire up Jordan Poole in this game, as well. -Alexander


Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks
7:30 p.m ET, State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA

Records (Against the Spread)
Warriors: 36-34 (33-36-1)
Hawks: 34-35 (30-37-2)

Line: Hawks (-3.5)
BPI Projection: Hawks: 138.5-128.9
Money Line: Warriors (+130), Hawks (-155)
BPI Projected winner: Hawks (80.4%)
Total: 247.5 BPI Projected Total: 267.4

Injury Report:
Warriors: Kevon Looney, (GTD – Back); Stephen Curry, (GTD – Thumb); Ty Jerome, (GTD – Not Injury Related); Draymond Green, (OUT – Suspension); Andrew Wiggins, (OUT – Personal); Gary Payton II, (OUT – Abdomen); Andre Iguodala, (OUT – Wrist); Ryan Rollins, (OUT – Foot)
Hawks: Jalen Johnson, (GTD – Hamstring)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Trae Young over 38.5 points + assists: Young blistered the Warriors for 30 points and 14 assists in their previous meeting this season and Stephen Curry is questionable with a thumb injury tonight, while Draymond Green will serve a one-game suspension for picking up his 16th technical foul. Young is hot, scoring at least 28 points in four straight games and racking up 41 and 35 points in each of his last two games. He’s averaging 36.5 points + assists in March and should be able to get at least 30 points and 10 dimes tonight, making him look like a favorable bet to hit the over of 38.5. And if Curry’s out tonight, feel free to fire up Jordan Poole in this game, as well. -Alexander

Fantasy streamer: Jonathan Kuminga (rostered in 6.8% of ESPN leagues) will likely be filling in for Draymond Green (technical foul suspension) tonight against the Hawks and they give up a whopping 26.4 points per game to opposing power forwards. Kuminga had 21 points against the Thunder on Tuesday and scored 19 in back-to-back games at the start of the month but has had a couple duds sprinkled in along with an ankle injury that caused him to miss some time. He’s not on the injury report for tonight’s game and should have a solid outing against a Hawks team that struggles to stop opposing big men. -Alexander

Fantasy streamer: JaMychal Green (rostered in 0.5% of ESPN leagues) is on the streaming radar for Friday since Draymond Green will have to serve his suspension since his 16th technical foul was not rescinded. This season, Green averages 18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per 40 minutes. He has a favorable matchup against a Hawks team that ranks 22nd in points allowed per 100 possessions. – Moody

Trend: The first thing on the betting board you’re going to notice is the total in this Warriors/Hawks game (depending where it closes, it could be the highest number on file this season) and I understand the idea behind it, but can you really consider betting the over? When a projected total has crossed 240 points this season, unders are 34-24. If we are sticking with the “fade the Warriors on the road” thing, then it stands to reason to be encouraged that 57.1% of Hawks home covers go under the number (compared to 43.8% in their road covers). -Kyle Soppe


Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers
7:30 p.m ET, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH

Records (Against the Spread)
Wizards: 32-37 (32-35-2)
Cavaliers: 44-28 (37-33-2)

Line: Cavaliers (-6)
BPI Projection: Cavaliers: 138.5-121.2
Money Line: Wizards (+185), Cavaliers (-225)
BPI Projected winner: Cavaliers (72.4%)
Total: 219.5 BPI Projected Total: 248.6

Injury Report:
Wizards: None reported
Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen, (OUT – Eye)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Bradley Beal over 23.5 points. Beal has averaged 23.4 points per game this season. He’s also surpassed 23.5 points in four of his last 5 games. Additionally, Beal is on the verge of becoming the Wizards’ all-time leading scorer. The record is held by Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes. If he meets or exceeds his season-long points per game average, Beal will break the record by the end of the regular season. – Moody

Best bet: Evan Mobley over 28.5 points+rebounds. Since Jarrett Allen has been ruled out with a right eye contusion, Mobley will see considerable playing time. Over the last eight games, Mobley has averaged 17.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He should be able to exceed those per game averages against the Wizards. – Moody

Trend: The fact that the Cavs are 10-4 ATS when favored since the beginning of February and that the Wizards are just 2-5 ATS in their past seven is reason enough to lean the way of the home team in this spot, but let’s not stop there. Washington is a sub-.500 ATS team (13-16-2) when the total is set under 225 points, another check for Cleveland. Oh, and how’s this. Unders are 21-14-1 this season when the Wizards are on the road and the Cavs happen to cover at a 61.1% clip this season when under tickets cash. –Soppe


Minnesota Timberwolves at Chicago Bulls
8:00 p.m ET, United Center, Chicago, IL

Records (Against the Spread)
Timberwolves: 35-35 (34-36-0)
Bulls: 31-37 (34-34-0)

Line: Bulls (-2.5)
BPI Projection: Bulls: 127.4-119
Money Line: Timberwolves (+122), Bulls (-145)
BPI Projected winner: Bulls (73.9%)
Total: 225.5 BPI Projected Total: 245

Injury Report:
Timberwolves: Austin Rivers, (GTD – Back); Naz Reid, (GTD – Calf); Rudy Gobert, (GTD – Ankle); Jaylen Nowell, (OUT – Knee); Karl-Anthony Towns, (OUT – Calf)
Bulls: Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee); Alex Caruso, (GTD – Illness); Javonte Green, (GTD – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend: Chicago has covered seven of their past 11 when favored and Minnesota is just 8-19 ATS this season in games that feature a total under 230 points. For what it’s worth, both teams are also on the front night of a back-to-back, leaving the door open for some potential injury maintenance as we get closer to tip and/or if someone gets dinged up in game. Nothing really to act on there, but just valuable knowledge to have as you look to handicap this game. -Soppe


New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets
8:00 p.m ET, Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Records (Against the Spread)
Pelicans: 33-36 (31-37-1)
Rockets: 17-52 (27-39-3)

Line: Pelicans (-5.5)
BPI Projection: Pelicans: 127-123.9
Money Line: Pelicans (-225), Rockets (+185)
BPI Projected winner: Pelicans (61.1%)
Total: 230 BPI Projected Total: 250.9

Injury Report:
Pelicans: Jose Alvarado, (OUT – Leg); Zion Williamson, (OUT – Hamstring); E.J. Liddell, (OUT – Knee)
Rockets: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Herbert Jones over 17.5 points+assists+rebounds.Jones is entrenched as a starter on a struggling Pelicans team, averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds over the past six games. Jones faces one of the worst defensive teams in the league in the Rockets. Houston ranks 29th in points allowed per 100 possessions and allow opponents an effective field goal percentage of 56.4%, the fourth-highest in the league. – Moody

Best bet: Trey Murphy III over 15.5 points. Murphy is on fire, scoring 20 points in 38 minutes in Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers after torching the Blazers for a career-high 41 points on Sunday. He’s scored at least 16 points in four of his last five games and the Rockets can’t stop anyone in their quest to land Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 pick. Murphy scored 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting in their last meeting on Jan. 4 but he’s in the zone and is a different player right now. In fact, he’s quietly returning late first-round fantasy value over the last two weeks. Murphy’s rostered in just 32 percent of ESPN leagues, so make sure he’s not available in yours right now. And look for him to keep his streak of 20-point games alive against Houston tonight. -Alexander


Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs
8:00 p.m ET, AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Records (Against the Spread)
Grizzlies: 41-27 (32-33-3)
Spurs: 18-51 (28-41-0)

Line: Grizzlies (-9)
BPI Projection: Grizzlies: 131.1-124.9
Money Line: Grizzlies (-400), Spurs (+310)
BPI Projected winner: Grizzlies (70.7%)
Total: 234.5 BPI Projected Total: 256

Injury Report:
Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, (OUT – Achilles); Jake LaRavia, (GTD – Back); Vince Williams Jr., (OUT – Shoulder); Ja Morant, (OUT – Suspension); Steven Adams, (OUT – Knee)
Spurs: Keita Bates-Diop, (GTD – Achilles); Devonte’ Graham, (OUT – Quadriceps); Khem Birch, (OUT – Knee); Romeo Langford, (OUT – Thigh); Charles Bassey, (OUT – Kneecap)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Tyus Jones (rostered in 31.9% of ESPN leagues) is a solid streamer until Ja Morant returns to the Grizzlies next week. Over the last six games, he’s averaged 16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.5 steals. The Spurs also allow opponents an effective field goal percentage of 57.6%, the highest in the league. – Moody

Best bet: Xavier Tillman over 19.5 points+assists+rebounds. Tillman is thriving with Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke out. He’s averaged 10.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 steals over the last 10 games. The Spurs rank 30th in points allowed per 100 possessions. – Moody

Best bet: Jeremy Sochan over 15.5 points. Sochan went ballistic on Tuesday against the Magic with 29 points and 11 rebounds and has scored at least 19 points in three of his four March games. He sat out Wednesday’s loss to Dallas with a sore knee that’s kept him out of three of the Spurs past five games. But when he plays, he’s been going off on a nightly basis. And he’s not on the injury report for this one. Add to it that the Grizzlies aren’t all that great at stopping opposing wing players and it looks like Sochan is in a good spot for success tonight. -Alexander

Best bet: Devin Vassell over 23.5 points+assists+rebounds. Romeo Langford and Devonte’ Graham have already been ruled out. Vassell should be provided a ton of minutes in the Spurs rotation. Over his last four appearances, Vassell has averaged 10.8 points, 3.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds. He has averaged 18.4 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game for the season. – Moody


Boston Celtics at Portland Trail Blazers
10:00 p.m ET, Moda Center, Portland, OR

Records (Against the Spread)
Celtics: 48-22 (36-33-1)
Blazers: 31-38 (33-35-1)

Line: Celtics (-4)
BPI Projection: Celtics: 131.1-125.8
Money Line: Celtics (-180), Blazers (+152)
BPI Projected winner: Celtics (60.6%)
Total: 230.5 BPI Projected Total: 254.5

Injury Report:
Celtics: Jayson Tatum, (GTD – Hip); Payton Pritchard, (OUT – Heel); Robert Williams III, (OUT – Hamstring); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Blazers: Damian Lillard, (GTD – Calf); Jerami Grant, (GTD – Quadriceps); Justise Winslow, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Celtics -4: After losing three straight games the Celtics have righted the ship, sort of, with easy wins over the Blazers and Hawks, a very weird loss to the Rockets on Monday, and a tough win at Minnesota on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the Blazers are on a four-game losing streak, which includes a 115-93 loss to these Celtics last Wednesday. Both Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown are going off for the Celtics on a nightly basis and the Blazers give up a ton of points to opposing shooting guards and power forwards. Boston will look to sweep the season series with a win tonight and the Blazers have fallen out of the playoff picture sitting 2.5 games back of the No. 10 Thunder. Don’t expect the Celtics to sleep on the Blazers like they did with the Rockets on Monday. -Alexander

Trend: When these two teams played last Wednesday, the C’s turned in their most efficient defensive effort of the season. I tend to believe that wasn’t an accident and if I’m right on that, the Blazers are in trouble: 2-15 ATS in their past 17 games that have gone under and unders are 12-8 when Boston is favored by fewer than five points this season. -Soppe


Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers
10:30 p.m ET, Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA

Records (Against the Spread)
Mavericks: 35-35 (25-42-3)
Lakers: 34-36 (33-35-2)

Line: Lakers (-5.5)
BPI Projection: Lakers: 128.7-124.7
Money Line: Mavericks (+185), Lakers (-225)
BPI Projected winner: Lakers (60.6%)
Total: 226.5 BPI Projected Total: 252.3

Injury Report:
Mavericks: JaVale McGee, (GTD – Ankle); Kyrie Irving, (GTD – Foot); Markieff Morris, (GTD – Knee); Tim Hardaway Jr., (GTD – Calf); Luka Doncic, (OUT – Thigh)
Lakers: Anthony Davis, (GTD – Foot); LeBron James, (OUT – Foot); Mo Bamba, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Austin Reaves (rostered in 10.5% of ESPN leagues) has become a reliable source of points and helps boost the field goal percentage for fantasy managers in category formats. He has scored 28 or more fantasy points in four of his last five games. As the Lakers seek to solidify their position in the Western Conference playoff race, Reaves should remain actively involved. – Moody

Best bet: Anthony Davis over 40.5 points+rebounds. Davis continues to carry the load for the Lakers while LeBron James is out due to a foot injury. Over the last six games, he’s averaged 27.8 points and 12.8 rebounds. This season, the Mavericks allow the most points per game to power forwards. Dallas will have a difficult time containing Davis. – Moody

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