Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Wednesday

ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for November 16 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.

What you need to know for Wednesday’s games

Small Road Favorites: There are a few small road favorites on the board today and, at a glance, there’s no trend in either direction for these teams. But … if you parse the data by projected total, a story begins to form. This season, when a road team is favored by less than five points and the over/under doesn’t top 225 points, the favorite is 12-7-1 ATS. When the total is north of 225 in those spots, favorites are just 8-14 ATS. That’s not a huge sample, but the Heat (in Toronto) fall into the former bucket tonight and the Celtics into the ladder in Atlanta.

Early Action: Edges come in all forms and a pair of games tonight profile as ones that you can take advantage of early on. The Pelicans rank fourth in average first quarter point differential (+2.9) while the Bulls rank 24th (-1.9). If you want to get another 12 minutes of action under your belt … the Mavericks are the league’s best first half team (+6.6) while their state rival Rockets are the worst team in the first 24 minutes (-6.4).

Depleted in Denver: The Nuggets won’t have Nikola Jokic or Bones Hyland in the lineup against the visiting Knicks tonight due to health and safety protocols. The fantasy fallout points directly to Bruce Brown, who is a free agent in over 90% of ESPN leagues despite posting consecutive double-doubles to go with a dozen dimes over his last two games. The Nuggets need Brown’s playmaking on both sides of the ball, so we can project him for well over 30 minutes, aiding his value in DFS play ($5,100 on DraftKings). Teammate Aaron Gordon is a free agent in nearly 40% of leagues and could be a nice target for rebounding props given the absence of Jokic, who paces the team with 14.9 rebounding chances per game.

Love the Value: The Cavaliers won’t have All-Star center Jarrett Allen in the lineup against the Bucks due to a non-Covid illness. With forward Dean Wade listed as doubtful, Kevin Love (79% available in ESPN leagues) will have to play an important role on the glass and stretching the floor aside second-year forward Evan Mobley. Both are threats to hit on double-double props, while Caris LeVert (39%) should see more rebounding chances in smaller secondary lineups.

Poku Party: The Thunder are finally getting consistently good play from Aleksej Pokusevski (83% available). The third-year forward has 10 blocks and 31 boards while averaging nearly 15 points across his past four games. The sample is small, but the opportunity for big minutes is present for a player flashing rare defensive upside for an Oklahoma City team building an identity on that side of the ball. Expect “Poku” to top 30 minutes in a matchup against the Wizards on Wednesday.

Boucher Ballin’: Over the past three games, Toronto’s Chris Boucher has averaged 19.6 points, 7.3 boards, with six combined blocks and steals. He is a free agent in more than half of ESPN leagues and could help your rosters in any and all formats ahead of tonight’s game against Miami given a big role on both sides of the ball in the wake of injuries to Precious Achiuwa and Pascal Siakam.

Game of the night

Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
7 p.m. ET on ESPN, State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

Line: Celtics (-3)
Money line: Celtics (-145), Hawks (+122)
Total: 235.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 226.1 points
BPI Win%: Celtics (53.9%)

Questionable: Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring)
Ruled Out: Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: De’Andre Hunter (available in 82.9% of ESPN leagues) has picked up his scoring of late. He’s averaged 18.8 PPG (45.5 FG%, 91.3 FT%), 3.5 RPG and 1.0 3PG in his last four games, and has scored in double-digits in every game this season. — André Snellings

Best bet: Jayson Tatum over 30.5 points. Tatum has been a road warrior the past two seasons. After averaging 1.1 more PPG on the road vs home last season, he’s at 1.6 more PPG on the road this season. That translates to road averages of 32.7 PPG thus far. The Celtics recently rearranged the starting line-up to have Tatum start the game at small forward, but he started at power forward for a good chunk of the season and gets a lot of minutes at the four. This is relevant against the Hawks, who have allowed the second-most points to opposing power forwards among all NBA teams. — Snellings

Best bet: Over 235.5. The Celtics and Hawks have an abundance of talent between these two teams. Boston ranks first in points scored per 100 possessions while Atlanta ranks 14th. Furthermore, the Hawks rank sixth in pace and their run-and-gun approach makes opponents keep up. Both Atlanta and Boston have gone over the total in three of their last five games. — Eric Moody

Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns
10 p.m. ET on ESPN, Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Line: Suns (-1)
Money line: Suns (-115), Warriors (-105)
Total: 226.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 231.9 points
BPI Win%: Suns (53.1%)

Questionable: Chris Paul (heel)
Ruled Out: Landry Shamet (concussion)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet: Stephen Curry under 28.5 points. It’s hard to take the under on a Curry scoring line, particularly in a season where he’s scored more than 30 points in nine of 13 games. And, this pick is somewhat contingent on Chris Paul being healthy enough to play tonight. But, consider: while Curry torches the rest of the NBA, the Suns have done a great job of limiting his scoring during the CP3 era. Over the last three seasons, Curry has averaged 29 PPG overall, but only 22.3 PPG in six games against the Suns. He’s only gone over 28.5 points in one of those six games. This season, one of Curry’s four non-30-point efforts came against the Suns a few weeks ago, when he was limited to 21 points. — Snellings

Best bet: Devin Booker over 37.5 points + assists + rebounds. Booker may be forced to play without Chris Paul again, as his backcourt mate is questionable. Since Paul has been out the last three games, Booker has averaged 24.6 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, and 6.6 assists per game. He surpassed 37.5 PAR when the Suns played the Warriors back on October 25th. Golden State ranks 21st in points allowed per 100 possessions. — Moody

Breaking down the rest of the slate

Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Hornets
7 p.m. ET, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

Line: Hornets (-2.5)
Money line: Hornets (-140), Pacers (+118)
Total: 233 points
BPI Projected Total: 235.9 points
BPI Win%: Hornets (64.9%)

Questionable: Tyrese Haliburton (ankle)
Ruled Out: Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle), Gordon Hayward (shoulder)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Bennedict Mathurin is still available in 42.1% of ESPN leagues, despite averaging 19.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.8 3PG and 2.3 APG through the first month of his NBA career. Tyrese Haliburton (ankle) is questionable to play tonight, and if he sits the Pacers will have a major production hole to fill. They would look toward Mathurin, who’s already a primary option and has scored 20-plus points in eight of his first 12 game. Also consider Andrew Nembhard (available in 99.5% of leagues) in deeper leagues. Nembhard has started three straight games at the two and averaged a respectable 10.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.0 RPG, 2.0 3PG and 1.3 SPG in 28.3 MPG. — Snellings

Best bet: Hornets -2.5. The Hornets and Pacers have struggled recently. Five of Indiana’s last seven games have been losses, while Charlotte has lost eight of its last nine games. In spite of this, I believe the Hornets will cover the spread and defeat the Pacers on their home court thanks to the return of LaMelo Ball. Charlotte is 4-0 against the spread when it scores more than 117.2 points and Indiana ranks 26th in points allowed per 100 possessions. — Moody

Minnesota Timberwolves at Orlando Magic
7 p.m. ET, Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

Line: Timberwolves (-6)
Money line: Timberwolves (-225), Magic (+185)
Total: 225 points
BPI Projected Total: 231.6 points
BPI Win%: Timberwolves (68.7%)

Questionable: Wendell Carter Jr. (foot), Paolo Banchero (ankle)
Ruled Out: Gary Harris (knee)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Bol Bol (available in 59.5% of ESPN leagues) has already been playing like a fantasy hoops impact player, averaging 12.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG and 1.3 3PG in 28.1 MPG over his past eight contests. He could get an even bigger opportunity on Wednesday, with both Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. questionable. — Snellings

Best bet: Rudy Gobert over 13.5 points. Gobert has been offensive-minded since returning to the starting lineup. He has averaged 18.3 PPG with at least 15 points scored in all three games. With injuries along the Magic’s frontcourt playing a factor Wednesday night, Gobert should be able to continue to have his way in the paint. — Snellings

Best bet: Karl-Anthony Towns double-double (+143). Towns has settled into his nightly double-double ways, after starting the season slowly while acclimating to playing with Rudy Gobert. Towns has double-doubles in two straight games, and in five of the last six games that he’s played next to Gobert. — Snellings

Oklahoma City Thunder at Washington Wizards
7 p.m. ET, Capital One Arena, Washington, Washington D.C.

Line: Wizards (-4.5)
Money line: Wizards (-195), Thunder (+162)
Total: 229 points
BPI Projected Total: 225.1 points
BPI Win%: Thunder (74.3%)

Ruled Out: Tre Mann (back), Darius Bazley (ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet: Kristaps Porzingis over 32.5 points + assists + rebounds. With Bradley Beal back on the court on Wednesday, Porzingis should continue to see significant usage. This season, the Thunder have allowed centers to average 23.9 PPG, 16.7 RPG, and 4.3 APG. In 31.1 minutes, Porzingis averaged 20.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 2.4 APG. — Moody

Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors
7:30 p.m. ET, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Line: Heat (-1.5)
Money line: Heat (-125), Raptors (+105)
Total: 215 points
BPI Projected Total: 219.8 points
BPI Win%: Raptors (53.9%)

Questionable: Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon (foot), Gary Trent Jr. (hip), Fred VanVleet (illness)
Ruled Out: Tyler Herro (ankle), Otto Porter Jr. (toe)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks
8 p.m. ET, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Line: Bucks (-4)
Money line: Bucks (-180), Cavaliers (+152)
Total: 220 points
BPI Projected Total: 229.4 points
BPI Win%: Bucks (55.8%)

Questionable: Donovan Mitchell (ankle), Jrue Holiday (ankle)
Ruled Out: Jarrett Allen (ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Chicago Bulls at New Orleans Pelicans
8 p.m. ET, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Line: Pelicans (-3)
Money line: Pelicans (-140), Bulls (+118)
Total: 225.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 228.7 points
BPI Win%: Pelicans (64.7%)

Ruled Out: Coby White (thigh)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks
8:30 p.m. ET, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Line: Mavericks (-9)
Money line: Mavericks (-420), Rockets (+320)
Total: 221 points
BPI Projected Total: 230.9 points
BPI Win%: Mavericks (85.2%)

Questionable: JaVale McGee, Maxi Kleber
Ruled Out: Davis Bertans
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets
10 p.m. ET, Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado

Line: Nuggets (-3.5)
Money line: Nuggets (-170), Knicks (+143)
Total: 227.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 223.8 points
BPI Win%: Nuggets (58.2%)

Questionable: Aaron Gordon (illness), Bones Hyland (health and safety protocols)
Ruled Out: Nikola Jokic (health and safety protocols), Mitchell Robinson (knee), Ish Smith (calf)
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Analytics edge

BPI highest projected totals

1. Dallas Mavericks (121.2)
2.Charlotte Hornets (120.1)
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (118.6)

BPI lowest projected totals

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (109)
2. Miami Heat (109.7)
3. Houston Rockets (109.7)

BPI top probability to win (straight up)

1. Dallas Mavericks (85.2%)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (74.3%)
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (68.7%)

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