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 night’s NBA slate
By Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe
King Kuminga: Jonathan Kuminga (available in over 92% of leagues) is asserting himself as an option down the stretch of the fantasy regular season. Kuminga has not only scored at least 16 points in three straight games, but also flashed a variety of skills. Tuesday night against the Clippers he had a career-high six assists and in his last three games he’s shot 20-of-31 from the field and 6-of-12 from 3-point land. He has a 3PM in all seven games post All-Star break and has made 23-of-28 free throws.
Waiver Warriors: Draymond Green and Gary Payton II have been ruled out for Golden State’s game against the Clippers. This signals a larger role for Jordan Poole (29% available), who has tallied at least four assists in three straight games and has lofted at least six 3-pointers in five straight games. Kevon Looney also sticks out as a solid DFS bargain given a viable path to 25 DraftKings points in Green’s absence.
Steal Artist: During a two-game slate, identifying some statistical specialists can give you an edge in head-to-head formats. With Danny Green ruled out for tonight’s marquee matchup with Brooklyn, defensive dynamo Matisse Thybulle will be busy as the team’s main point-of-attack defender. Thybulle (93% available) is pacing the league in steal percentage and finding more utility on offense thanks to James Harden. He can help those in roto and category formats in addition to having real value for defensive props.
Glue Guy: Bruce Brown (85% available) has been one of most-added players of the past week. While a lot of what Brown doesn’t result in fantasy fun, he’s become a more helpful statistical contributor in recent outings thanks to an uptick in steal rate and some strong passing production. Much like with Thybulle, Brown is an ideal plug-and-play during this limited Thursday slate.
Game of the Night
Line: 76ers (-4.5)
Moneyline: 76ers (-200), Nets (+170)
Total: 234.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 226 points
BPI Win%: 76ers (72.1%)
Notable: The Nets are 4-2 ATS against the 76ers during the Steve Nash era (they failed to cover seven of eight meetings before Nash took over).
Best bet: Sixers Team Total Over 119.5. The Sixers are 5-0 straight up with James Harden in the lineup, with the Sixers averaging 125.4 points in those five games. Sixers have hit over this team total number in all five games that Harden has played. On top of that, the Sixers offense is elite when Harden, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey on the floor together, with an offensive efficiency rating of 133.2 and a defensive efficiency rating of 103.3. I also like this pick specifically due to the Nets’ lack of defense. Brooklyn’s Defensive Rating (120.4) has risen in the three games since Durant’s return. The Nets are allowing opponents to shoot 37.4% from three and 49.6% from the floor, while allowing 51.3 points in the paint to opponents in the three games Durant has played post All-Star break. — Erin Dolan
Best bet: 76ers and Nuggets ML Parlay (+212). The 76ers are 5-0 with Harden and Embid on the court. They sport a top 3 offense that is averaging 120 PPG. The Nets will have both KD and Kyrie, but defensively are struggling — ranked 28th, allowing opponents to shoot 50% from the field, and 37% from downtown. I expect Harden to go off tonight in Philly against his former team, in which he couldn’t wait to ditch! Harden, Embid, and Maxey combined are a force – shooting 55% from the field, and 42% from 3. — Anita Marks
Fantasy Streamer: Georges Niang. Danny Green will miss a week with a finger laceration, putting Niang on the streaming radar tonight against the Nets. Niang (98.4% available) has averaged 16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per 40 minutes. In terms of minutes, Green has averaged 22.3 this season. — Eric Moody
Line: Warriors (-2.5)
Moneyline: Warriors (-139), Nuggets (+117)
Total: 220.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 226 points
BPI Win%: Warriors (57.9%)
Questionable: Will Barton (ankle)
Notable: The results haven’t been there much of late for the Warriors, but the point totals have been there. Overs are 9-2 in their past 11 games, a stretch that includes a 3-8 record both outright and ATS.
Fantasy Streamer: Austin Rivers (99.3% available) has started the last two games for the Nuggets with Will Barton out. In those two games, he’s averaged 10.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.5 RPG, 2.0 3PG and 1.5 SPG in 33.5 MPG and could be a quick, available (in fantasy), cheap (in DFS) source of production on a sparse night. — Snellings
Fantasy Streamer: Moses Moody (98.4% available). He has started the last two games, and is getting more run with Gary Payton II out. While he won’t get the volume he got on Monday when four starters rested and he scored 30 points, he’s averaged a solid 11.3 PPG,3.6 RPG and 2.4 3PG in 24.3 MPG in eight starts this season. — Snellings
Best bet: Nikola Jokic triple-double (+120). Denver is the better team at the moment, and have been unstoppable since the All-Star break, ranking in the top 7 both offensively and defensively. Jokic is still competing for the MVP award, and has a great opportunity to dominate in the paint against a Warriors defense that has no answer for him. Jokic has hit a triple-double in three of his last five games. — Marks
Best Bet: Warriors -2.5. Laying the 2 points with the Warriors. Denver is 5-7 straight up on a back-to-back this season with three straight wins on no rest over Toronto, Portland, and Golden State on Monday. But Denver’s 131-124 win on Monday did not feature Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins or Steph Curry and the Warriors still almost pulled off an upset. This is a tough back-to-back spot for the Nuggets, as they beat the Kings 106-100 on the road last night and must play in Golden State in less than 24 hours. The Warriors snapped a five-game losing streak with a win over the Clippers on Tuesday. With the stars back in the lineup and tired legs from Denver, Golden State will continue to roll tonight with a win and cover over Denver. — Dolan