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NBA Switch And Hedge: Can You Trust Giannis Or Anthony Davis In Games That Vegas Expects To Blow Out?

Chris Spags

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Today’s NBA slate offers an interesting mix of compelling real life games like an Eastern Conference playoff preview of the Raptors vs the Celtics or the rejuvenated TWolves vs the Trailblazers along with some games that could be disastrous to watch where you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth the blowout risk like Knicks-Pelicans and Bulls-Bucks. Variety is the spice of life and this eight-game slate is not lacking for options and tough choices to make that could decide your fate on the evening.

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Toronto Raptors (106.5 implied points) at Boston Celtics (108.5 implied points)

-The totals indicate a 10 point drop for the Raptors on their season average and a 2.9 point boost for the Celtics in a game with a 103.2 adjusted pace

-The team totals here are pretty ugly by modern NBA standards so with two teams regarded for their defense, going here would have some contrarian value. I’m not in love with the major Raptors pieces here with Kawhi Leonard’s price still not offering a ton of upside for him and Kyle Lowry mostly unplayable when Leonard is in the lineup. I’d be more inclined for Kawhi since at least he has a shot at getting above 5x on his $9000 salary but Lowry somehow excelling would be the lower owned outcome

Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka seem like the more appealing matchups here given the Celtics’ poor rebounding, allowing 47.9 boards per game, and their prices are far more appealing. Ibaka coming off of a knee issue could also drive down his ownership a bit too and he does own one 33.5 fantasy point game vs the Celtics earlier this season where he shot 10-for-14 from the floor

-I don’t mind Kyrie Irving in a competitive game that should require some playmaking on his end. Ditto Jayson Tatum coming off his first down night in a while where a lot of people had him in their lineup for the first time in weeks. I’d be less inclined to point chase Jaylen Brown given the defense he’ll find against him as well as his defense that he’ll need to exert himself on the other side

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Marcus Morris is questionable and his return to the lineup could have some appeal and would also drive Aron Baynes back to irrelevancy after he got 19 minutes of hyper efficient play with Morris out. I’d have some interest in Baynes if Morris sits because this wasn’t a one-off thing, he’s averaged 1.24 FPPM with Morris off the court

 

Miami Heat (104 implied points) at Indiana Pacers (109 implied points)

-The Heat’s Vegas total means a 7.5 point drop on their season average while Indiana gets a 3.3 point boost on theirs

Hassan Whiteside had a big 11 point, 20 board game vs these Pacers last time out and with his price inching back downwards, I like him here as I do in any down pace spot. Foul trouble is always a concern for him but this is a very winnable matchup. Kelly Olynyk is also not a terrible play if Whiteside struggles (or maybe even if he doesn’t and they play together); he put up 29 fantasy points in 21 minutes in the same matchup a week back

Goran Dragic also seems like a nice play at $6200 on DraftKings; he still leads the starters in usage and assist rate and there’s going to need to be some offensive creation in tight windows vs the Pacers after he missed the Heat’s last game against them

-The wings continue to be an issue to me with no one really seeing enough usage to have a big day with all of them active. Tyler Johnson’s minutes have been up and he’s at an appealing price but a more contrarian play would be Rodney McGruder, still getting between 26 and 34 minutes but not doing as much with them as he did earlier in the year

Victor Oladipo is the most interesting, maybe only interesting, play on the Pacers side and he’s on a tear with 50+ fantasy points in 5 out of his last six games. I don’t mind him despite the high price given that he’s under 10% ownership in our projections. Darren Collison would be a logical pivot here for much cheaper but I think that may be getting too cute

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-Everything else here looks bleh to me. Bojan Bogdanovic is on a nice run but his price has come up to the point where it feels like a point chase to go back to him. Not a bad guy to have in your player pool though

 

Utah Jazz (107 implied points) at Philadelphia 76ers (110 implied points)

-The Jazz’s total is pretty much flat with their season average while Philly gets a 2.3 point drop on theirs in a game with a 103.5 adjusted pace

-This might be a Donovan Mitchell bounceback spot and I don’t hate it but I think I’m more inclined to roll with Ricky Rubio here. The Sixers play with a bit of pace and Rubio has been strong over his last few outings on a per-minute basis, even that hideous blowout vs the Mavs. He’s also likely to see far less competitive defense than the struggling Mitchell

Joe Ingles is priced back down after one bad game but he’s been really strong this year. I don’t mind him at all either

Rudy Gobert seems like an interesting matchup on the other side. I worry about foul trouble given the Sixers going to the line at a top-of-the-slate 28.3 points per game but Gobert’s price is down and he’ll get a shot at some boards and blocks going against Joel Embiid

Derrick Favors has been a solid value play lately with his second unit center minutes and he looks fine again here as long as the Jazz keep it competitive

Joel Embiid struggled vs Rudy Gobert in one game early last season and, knowing him, it wouldn’t be surprising if he remembers that and wants some redemption. Embiid asserted himself as the main cog of the offense in Jimmy Butler’s first game and even though this matchup is ugly in theory, I don’t mind a contrarian Embiid play

-It was a quiet debut for Butler and Ben Simmons without the ball in his hands with Simmons posting a season low 11.9% usage rate. One would think coach Brett Brown will attempt to remedy that a bit but I think I’d be more inclined to take the discount and hope Butler asserts himself more than trust Simmons

JJ Redick was a beneficiary of the additional defensive attention needed for Butler in a highly efficient 8-for-13 shooting day that crushed value. His price is coming up and I don’t mind him if he remains a very low owned play but it might be a night to jump off the train if he isn’t

 

Brooklyn Nets (108 implied points) at Washington Wizards (115 implied points)

-The Vegas totals mean a 1 point drop on the Nets’ season average and a 3.4 point boost for the Wizards in a game with a 103.3 adjusted pace

D’Angelo Russell had a dud of a first game without Caris LeVert, a situation that’s been the case all year with Russell putting up just 0.8 FPPM with LeVert off the court. It wasn’t for lack of usage though with Russell jacking up 18 shots in 24 minute and versus a Wizards team allowing 47.5% from the floor and 38.8% from three I like this spot for him to get rolling

Spencer Dinwiddie also looks fine even with his price jumping a bit. It’s an easy defensive matchup that should result in more pace for the Nets and I don’t mind rolling out both D’Angelo and Dinwiddie together

-If Rondae Hollis-Jefferson plays I would absolutely want him in my lineups since he should be a really strong matchup vs this Wizards team. Jarrett Allen is also questionable and he too looks like a great play if he’s active while Ed Davis would crush if he were ruled out

Allen Crabbe picked up the start vs the Heat without LeVert and the 26 minutes of run he got would be much better spent vs these Wizards. As a GPP flyer, he makes sense (but not at his current projected 20% ownership)

John Wall’s price keeps rising and he’s still got some upside if this game can stay close. I think he’s a strong matchup here and would prefer him to Bradley Beal given how the Nets clamp down on threes, allowing just 25.2 attempts per game and 8.8 makes

Dwight Howard is expected to be one of the most popular plays on the slate but the Center Vs The Nets spot is not the lock it’s been in the past. I question his ceiling with the usage at other positions and the possibility of smaller lineups that omit him, particularly if Allen sits, but some exposure makes sense just in case

Otto Porter didn’t exceed value in the Wizards’ last game mostly because it became a blowout fast and this is a decent spot for him to keep it rolling. Some exposure to Porter at low ownership seems logical to me

 

Sacramento Kings (104 implied points) at Memphis Grizzlies (110 implied points)

-The team totals here mean a huge 10.5 drop on the Kings’ season total and a 7.1 boost on the Grizzlies’ in a game with a 103 adjusted pace

-The lack of pace for the Kings seems theoretically a bit scary here, particularly for guys like De’Aaron Fox who tend to thrive with room to run. But Fox had a big game vs Memphis earlier this season and did well vs the Spurs last time out so it may be a bit of a fallacy to think he can’t do the same again today at under 5% ownership

Nemanca Bjelica also had a 43.75 fantasy point game vs these Grizzlies earlier this year and it’s very possible they’re a good fit for his style of play, particularly if Buddy Hield finds himself smothered

Willie Cauley-Stein’s price is a bit high for me in this matchup but he had a decent game vs Gasol last time as well and with how he’s played, it’s not crazy he does it again either. These Kings overall are just better than people give them credit for and even though their shooting success early this season seems untenable, they’re competent

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are projected to be popular plays tonight with both projected for over 30% ownership. Gasol struggled with his shot vs the Kings last time but I don’t mind he and Conley even if I don’t love them as chalk plays

Jaren Jackson is projected for half the ownership of Conley and much less than Gasol so he could be the pivot to make here. Ditto Garrett Temple who is cheap and getting 34+ minutes a game, not a high enough usage guy to trust but worth some exposure

Shelvin Mack has been good enough that he should be in your player pool but I wouldn’t want to bank on him. Ditto Kyle Anderson who’s had some good games but doesn’t have much of a ceiling

 

Portland Trailblazers (112.3 implied points) at Minnesota Timberwolves (111.3 implied points)

-The Trailblazers get a 3.7 point decrease on their season average while the TWolves get a 0.3 point boost on theirs in a game with a 103.8 adjusted pace

-This seems like a prime Damian Lillard spot and the price he’s at offers a ton of upside that he just showed vs the Lakers. At under 10% projected ownership, Lillard could be sneaky

Jusuf Nurkic put up 39 fantasy points in 23 minutes vs the Wolves a couple weeks ago and his minutes have been up recently, as long as he can avoid foul trouble. I like Nurkic again even with his price up

CJ McCollum will still get enough shots to be useful with the pace expected here and while normally it’s not great to play him alongside Lillard, with him shooting 20 shots even in games where Lillard goes off, it’s viable given the prices involed

-The Wolves give up a slate worst 49.2 boards per game so Al-Farouq Aminu should get a bit of a boost on his prospects as well. I’m not usually huge on the Trailblazers but there are a lot of things to like on this side

Karl-Anthony Towns seems fine given the usage he’s had but there may be enough cheaper center plays that he’s not a necessity tonight. His upside is crazy in any matchup though so I wouldn’t rule him out if you can afford him

Andrew Wiggins had a nice first post-Butler game vs the Pelicans despite shooting 8-for-22 from the floor and I like him here, though I worry that Derrick Rose’s expected return could take enough off the table to harm his prospects. I would not want Wiggins or Jeff Teague if Rose ended up starting alongside Teague, Wiggins, Covington, and Towns but they’re still playable, albeit less bankable, if Rose is active off the bench

Robert Covington got 40+ minutes in his first game with the Wolves and he looks fine with his current price with the same downside he had in Philly. Taj Gibson and Dario Saric do not currently look playable given the time share they seem likely to be locked into for a while

 

New York Knicks (108.5 implied points) at New Orleans Pelicans (118.5 implied points)

-The Knicks get a 2.4 point increase on their season average and the Pelicans get a 1.5 increase on theirs in a game with a slate high 104.4 adjusted pace

Tim Hardaway Jr is the highest usage guy on this side and he’s always in consideration for me as a result even though I do not particularly enjoy him as a player. If the Knicks can stay in this game, it will likely come because of his relentless gunning and with his price down, that’s a bet I don’t mind taking

-The Knicks are starting Hardaway along with Emmanuel Mudiay, Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, and Mitchell Robinson. Neither jumps out in their court time with Hardaway thus far. Kevin Knox’s usage was strong in his first start vs OKC but I do worry he just gets eaten alive by the bigs on New Orleans. At his $4300 price, I’ll play some of him still. I’d favor Trier out of the rest of that group and if Hardaway draws Jrue Holiday defense he could benefit as being the best shot creator not totally outmanned on defense

-It’s not a terrible Enes Kanter spot but his bench run and price still don’t make a ton of sense. Damyean Dotson getting some blowout run seems like a possibility here so I’ll throw that out there as well. There’s a decent chance the Knicks get boat raced here on the road

Anthony Davis is going to feast on these Knicks and it’s all a matter of how much time he gets on the court. I have no problem playing AD in any situation even with the blowout risk

Nikola Mirotic is fine enough after seemingly reinjuring his ankle in the Pelicans’ last game and this is a solid matchup for him. If not rostering AD, I would think Mirotic is the logical pivot

Jrue Holiday would get another boost if the currently questionable Elfrid Payton misses again and coming off a surprising dud vs Minnesota seems like a good time to get back on board

-I find it hard to believe E’twaun Moore will keep shooting over 15 times a game at his 56.3% field goal percentage with an outlandish 49% from three. That said, the Knicks are awful so one more stupidly successful E’twaun game is a possibility, infuriating though it may be

 

Chicago Bulls (105 implied points) at Milwaukee Bucks (119 implied points)

-The Bulls get a 0.7 point boost on their season average while the Bucks get a 2 point drop on theirs in this possible blowout with a 103.8 adjusted pace

Zach LaVine is going to have a tough time with the defense here and much their last blowout vs the Celtics, I think that will benefit Jabari Parker a bit. Revenge game yeah yeah but more so I like Parker in games where the defense should be able to limit LaVine since the usage ends up trickling back Jabari’s way (and Wendell Carter’s, to a lesser extent)  – Jabari was on pace for a solid day vs Boston before the game just got away from them. If you think this game can stay close, one of these guys will be a big reason why

-The Bucks allow teams to put up a slate high 37.1 threes per game and other than LaVine, that could benefit Justin Holiday and his 7.2 shots from three this year. Holiday will get less defensive attention and at his price there’s some potential upside

Ryan Arcidiacono should remain a solid low-ceiling play here and Shaq Harrison has been solid in less minutes with the added benefit of a highly probable blowout run here

Giannis Antetokuonmpo put up 44 fantasy points in 22 minutes vs these Bulls in the preseason so even in a blowout, there is a path to Giannis hitting value. He’s currently projected for 23% ownership and I’d rather go to Anthony Davis for lower ownership in his equally likely blowout. If either guy ends up in a surprisingly competitive game, that could break the slate

-It could be a nice Eric Bledsoe or Khris Middleton day but at their prices, I wouldn’t be inclined to play them unless you have some Bulls to keep the game close. Brook Lopez’s price is cheap enough that I could talk myself into him but it’s tough knowing these guys could be done for the day in the 3rd quarter

 

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags, subscribe to the Awesemo YouTube now for the Live Before Lock show later today with me and Fast Eddie, and I’ll see you guys on Monday with more NBA analysis

Chris Spags is the senior director of editorial strategy at Awesemo.com and contributes to the site's NBA, NFL, and MLB coverage as a writer and host of video content. Chris's content background from sites like Guyism, Uproxx, and Barstool Sports allows him to bring a unique spin to the world of daily fantasy sports analysis. Chris writes regular columns with NBA and NFL analysis as well as his inimitable style and his 'Four Corners' videos for basketball, baseball, and football DFS are the primary short form content offering on Awesemo's YouTube channel. You can find him on almost any given night providing analysis right up to slate lock on Awesemo's flagship Live Before Lock livestreams or on Twitter @ChrisSpags. You can contact Chris by emailing [email protected].

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