Thursday, February 29, 2024

Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Tuesday

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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 Tuesday, March 21 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.

What you need to know for Tuesday’s games

The fantasy playoffs can introduce us to new and wondrous names, such as Sandro Mamukelashvili and Malaki Branham of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs’ injury list for Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans is longer than Victor Wembanyama’s wingspan, confirming big minutes for “Mamu” and Branham ahead of tonight’s tip.

With so many injured stars and regular rest spots at this stage of the season, it’s time to get creative with streaming candidates. Whether it’s deep into the Spurs’ rotation or the more familiar options such as Caris LeVert of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he’s still a free agent in over half of ESPN leagues and yet is on a career-best defensive run while getting more work on offense ahead of the playoffs. For some context, he’s 15th overall on the Player Rater the past seven days and plays his former team in Brooklyn this evening. The Spurs’ Keldon Johnson and Detroit’s James Wiseman (75% available in ESPN leagues) are two of my favorite DFS building blocks for the night.

Reading Tuesday’s schedule directs me to the final two games of the night; the Boston Celtics vs. Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder vs. LA Clippers. Both contests claim competitive spreads and lofty totals, a coveted combination for fantasy value and DFS strategy. Beyond the bevy of All-Stars to choose from these rotations, Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams and Sacramento’s Keegan Murray stick out as two rising rookie talents ahead of tonight’s six-game slate.

— Jim McCormick

Breaking down Tuesday’s slate

Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic
7 p.m. ET, Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

Records (Against the Spread)
Wizards: 32-39 (32-37-2)
Magic: 29-43 (39-31-2)

Line: Magic (-1)
BPI Projection: Magic (128.9-125.9)
Money Line: Wizards (-105), Magic (-115)
BPI Projected winner: Magic (60.8%)
Total: 225.5 points BPI Projected Total: 254.8 points

Injury Report:
Wizards: Kyle Kuzma, (OUT – Ankle)
Magic: Jalen Suggs, (OUT – Concussion); Jonathan Isaac, (OUT – Thigh)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Wendell Carter Jr. over 25.5 points + rebounds. In the last five games, Carter Jr. has averaged 20.4 points and 9.8 rebounds. The Wizards rank 22nd in points allowed per 100 possessions. This season, Washington’s defense has given up the fifth most points to centers. Carter Jr. should have success against the Wizards on Tuesday night. — Moody

Trend: I believe in what the Magic are building, but it’s fair to question their comfort level with expectations. This season, Orlando is just 4-8 outright as a favorite and 7-12 ATS in coin toss games (when the spread is three or fewer points). If you’re looking for a total trend, under tickets have cashed in five of Washington’s past seven road games and cash in 62.5% of Wizard covers. — Soppe

Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks
7:30 p.m. ET, State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

Records (Against the Spread)
Pistons: 16-56 (31-40-1)
Hawks: 35-36 (31-38-2)

Line: Hawks (-14)
BPI Projection: Hawks (137.6-121.6)
Money Line: Pistons (+700), Hawks (-1100)
BPI Projected winner: Hawks (92.6%)
Total: 236 points BPI Projected Total: 259.2 points

Injury Report:
Pistons: Isaiah Livers, (GTD – Hip); Alec Burks, (OUT – Foot); Bojan Bogdanovic, (OUT – Achilles); Jalen Duren, (OUT – Head); Isaiah Stewart, (OUT – Shoulder); Cade Cunningham, (OUT – Lower Leg); Hamidou Diallo, (OUT – Ankle)
Hawks: Dejounte Murray, (GTD – Illness); Jalen Johnson, (OUT – Hamstring)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets
7:30 p.m. ET, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

Records (Against the Spread)
Cavaliers: 45-28 (38-33-2)
Nets: 39-32 (38-33-0)

Line: Cavaliers (-3)
BPI Projection: Cavaliers (137.6-120.5)
Money Line: Cavaliers (-155), Nets (+130)
BPI Projected winner: Cavaliers (62.6%)
Total: 218.5 points BPI Projected Total: 244.4 points

Injury Report:
Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen, (GTD – Eye)
Nets: Dorian Finney-Smith, (GTD – Wrist); Ben Simmons, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Spencer Dinwiddie over 28.5 points + assists + rebounds. As the starting point guard for the Nets, Dinwiddie has become an incredibly consistent source of assists. Over the last five games, he’s averaged 17.2 points, 11.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds. Dinwiddie has been trying to put pressure on the rim as often as possible so that he can create opportunities for his teammates. On Tuesday, he’ll try it again against the Cavaliers, and he should have success. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Cavaliers -3.0. It is difficult to bet against Cleveland with how they have performed lately, especially on the road. The Cavaliers are 3-2 against the spread in their last five road games while the Nets are 2-3 against the spread in their last 5 home games. This will be a hard-fought game between two playoff teams in the Eastern conference, but the Cavaliers should come out on top. — Eric Moody

Trend: This total would qualify as “low” in today’s NBA, so the inclination may to be to take the over. Be careful. Under tickets have come through in six of Brooklyn’s past seven games and have a winning record this season (75-66-1) when the game closes with a projected total under 220 points. The Cavs have cashed ATS tickets in eight of their past nine games that have come in under the total and have been rolling when installed as a road favorite of late (6-1 ATS in their past seven). — Soppe

San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans
8 p.m. ET, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Records (Against the Spread)
Spurs: 19-52 (30-41-0)
Pelicans: 34-37 (32-38-1)

Line: Pelicans (-13)
BPI Projection: Pelicans (133.7-121.5)
Money Line: Spurs (+600), Pelicans (-900)
BPI Projected winner: Pelicans (86.6%)
Total: 232 points BPI Projected Total: 255.2 points

Injury Report:
Spurs: Devonte’ Graham, (GTD – Quadriceps); Doug McDermott, (GTD – Hip); Tre Jones, (GTD – Hamstring); Devin Vassell, (OUT – Knee); Jeremy Sochan, (OUT – Knee); Khem Birch, (OUT – Knee); Zach Collins, (OUT – Rest); Charles Bassey, (OUT – Kneecap)
Pelicans: Jose Alvarado, (OUT – Leg); Zion Williamson, (OUT – Hamstring); E.J. Liddell, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Malaki Branham (rostered in 2.9% of ESPN leagues) should have a heavy workload tonight with Tre Jones, Devin Vassell and Jeremy Sochan all likely out for the Spurs. Branham scored 20 and 18 points in his previous two games before a seven-point dud against the Hawks on Sunday, but with the Spurs resting nearly everyone tonight, he should be able to get loose for a big game. Romeo Langford could also be a sneaky play tonight with the Spurs resting so many guys. — Alexander

Best bet: C.J. McCollum over 22.5 points. McCollum busted the Spurs for 40 points in their previous meeting and they give up a league-worst 25.26 points to opposing shooting guards this season. McCollum also had 26 points against the Rockets on Sunday and is coming in hot. — Alexander

Boston Celtics at Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. ET, Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

Records (Against the Spread)
Celtics: 49-23 (37-34-1)
Kings: 43-28 (40-31-0)

Line: Celtics (-5)
BPI Projection: Celtics: (134.3-130.2)
Money Line: Celtics (-205), Kings (+170)
BPI Projected winner: Celtics (64.2%)
Total: 239 points BPI Projected Total: 264.5 points

Injury Report:
Celtics: Payton Pritchard, (OUT – Heel); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Kings: Kevin Huerter, (GTD – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Malik Monk (rostered in 19% of ESPN leagues) should be filling in for Kevin Huerter (knee) tonight and has scored at least 15 points in five of his last seven games, many of which Huerter played in. He’s gotten up at least 10 shots in six of his last seven games and has hit 16 3-pointers over his last four games. He should be busy tonight with Huerter in street clothes. — Alexander

Best bet: Jayson Tatum over 36.5 points + rebounds. Over the last four games, Tatum has only averaged 23.3 points and 8.8 rebounds. In spite of this, he has averaged 30.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game this season and is in a great position to meet or exceed those per game averages against the Kings on Tuesday. In his last three games against Sacramento, Tatum averaged 32.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. — Moody

Best bet: Over 239. The Kings return to their home floor after a tougher than expected game on Monday on the road against the Jazz. Bettors can expect a high scoring game between Sacramento and Boston who are the two top teams in their respective conferences. The Celtics rank 5th in points scored per 100 possessions while the Kings rank first. The totals have gone over in six of the Kings last eight home games. While the totals have gone over in four of the Celtics last six road games. — Moody

Trend: The Kings ran out of gas in Utah last night after erasing an early 25-point hole and now they get a rested Celtics team. Not ideal. Or so it would seem. Sacramento is 7-5 ATS this season on the second night of back-to-backs (overs are 8-4 in those games). Boston, on the other hand, has covered just three of their past 10 as a road favorite and are 3-8-1 ATS as road favorites this season in games that go over the total. — Kyle Soppe

Oklahoma City Thunder at LA Clippers
10:30 p.m. ET, Arena, Los Angeles, California

Records (Against the Spread)
Thunder: 35-36 (44-26-1)
Clippers: 38-34 (36-36-0)

Line: Clippers (-7)
BPI Projection: Clippers (134.3-122.3)
Money Line: Thunder (+222), Clippers (-278)
BPI Projected winner: Clippers (80.2%)
Total: 238.5 points BPI Projected Total: 253.8 points

Injury Report:
Thunder: Chet Holmgren, (OUT – Foot); Kenrich Williams, (OUT – Wrist)
Clippers: Brandon Boston Jr., (GTD – Lower Body); Norman Powell, (OUT – Shoulder)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Kawhi Leonard over 35.5 points + rebounds. Over the last nine games, Leonard has averaged 30.1 points and 6.8 rebounds. Right now he’s playing great and should be well rested against the Thunder. In his last five games against Oklahoma City, Leonard has averaged 29.8 points and 8.2 rebounds. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Luguentz Dort over 20.5 points + assists + rebounds. Dort has surpassed 20.5 PAR in three consecutive games. Despite a difficult matchup, the Thunder need as many wins as possible to qualify for the playoffs. In this matchup, all hands will be on deck. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over 36.5 points + assists. SGA has scored at least 29 points in seven straight games and has scored at least 33 in six of those. He’s averaging 38.8 points + assists in March and is absolutely on fire right now. If he can get to 33 points again he’ll only need four assists to hit the over, which he’s done in six of his last seven games. The Clippers do play solid defense against opposing shooting guards but SGA is hot enough that I’m willing to bet they can’t stop him tonight. -Alexander

Trend: The Thunder have overachieved for more of the season and this is a decent spot to continue to do so. Oklahoma City is 11-4-1 ATS in their past 16 road games and are an impressive 16-7 in games with a projected total north of 233 points. The Clippers should have their guys for both of these upcoming games against the Thunder … and that might be a reason to not back them. This season, they are just 9-13 ATS when laying more than five points and this game probably closes in that range. — Soppe

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