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Fantasy basketball tips and betting picks for Wednesday

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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 Wednesday, March 8 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


What you need to know for Wednesday’s games

There is a uniquely productive player eligible at point guard, shooting guard, and power forward currently available in free agency in roughly 80% of ESPN leagues. This player has averaged just 7.1 points this season, but leads the NBA in steals per game and steal percentage (minimum 300 minutes).

Delon Wright of the Washington Wizards is one of those players who flies under the radar because his loudest skill is often buried in box scores. He’s also one of those players who can single-handedly win you the steals category in weekly category-driven competition or bolster a scarce statistic in roto formats.

Wright’s recent steal production reads like a rebounding column, as he’s swiped 16 steals in his past four games. Cementing his spot on the all-underrated team, Wright has also been a savvy distributor, averaging 7.3 dimes over the past week. Wright and his teammate Deni Avdija (92% available) face the Atlanta Hawks this evening in a contest that could see both defensive-minded players shine.

As we approach the fantasy playoffs, it’s important to acknowledge the value of specialists. Names like Utah’s rookie rim protector Walker Kessler (49%), or Matisse Thybulle (91%) of the Portland Trail Blazers and his wild steal and block numbers. Even Oklahoma City’s Isaiah Joe (98%) and his unique shooting prowess qualifies.

— Jim McCormick


Games of the night

Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Records (Against the Spread)
Mavericks: 34-32 (23-40-3)
Pelicans: 31-34 (29-35-1)

Line: Mavericks (-1.5)
BPI Projection: Mavericks (128.3-126.9)
Money Line: Mavericks (-120), Pelicans (+100)
BPI Projected winner: Mavericks (55.1%)
Total: 234 points BPI Projected Total: 255.2 points

Injury Report:
Mavericks: JaVale McGee, (GTD – Ankle); Reggie Bullock, (GTD – Quadriceps)
Pelicans: Zion Williamson, (OUT – Hamstring); Larry Nance Jr., (OUT – Ankle); Jose Alvarado, (OUT – Leg); E.J. Liddell, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Luka Doncic over 33.5 points. Doncic has torched the Pelicans for 37, 34 and 31 points this season, although that happened before Kyrie Irving arrived on the scene. But even though his scoring has been down a bit while sharing the load with Irving, Doncic has hit the 34-point mark in three of his past four games and scored 29 points against the Jazz last night. He hasn’t had a triple-double since Jan. 12 but does have one against the Pelicans this season. If you wanted to bet on a triple-double from him tonight it probably makes sense, but given his hot scoring stretch and his three 30-point games against New Orleans this season, 34 points isn’t asking too much from him tonight. –Alexander

Trend: The Pelicans are catching points at home and in those spots, betting on scoring has been profitable (overs are 7-3). If we continue to pull on the “over” thread, you’ll notice that Dallas is just 10-21-1 ATS when over tickets cash and that New Orleans is 22-8 ATS when scoring at least 115 points. The Mavs as a road favorite has also been a strong fade: 4-10 ATS in this season. — Kyle Soppe


Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers
10 p.m. ET, Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California

Records (Against the Spread)
Raptors: 32-34 (33-33-0)
Clippers: 34-33 (32-35-0)

Line: Clippers (-3)
BPI Projection: Clippers (135.1-118.1)
Money Line: Raptors (+130), Clippers (-155)
BPI Projected winner: Clippers (69%)
Total: 229 points BPI Projected Total: 241.4 points

Injury Report:
Raptors: Dalano Banton, (GTD – Thumb); Otto Porter Jr., (OUT – Foot)
Clippers: Norman Powell, (OUT – Shoulder)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Eric Gordon (rostered in 4.3% of ESPN leagues) has scored 17, 21 and 16 points in each of his past three games and knocked down eight 3-pointers. He’s not going to get you much else, but with Norman Powell out, Gordon should get plenty of shots up tonight.

Best bet: Pascal Siakam over 22.5 points. Siakam torched the Suns for 36 points on Dec. 27 and he’s due for a big game after failing to score more than 20 over his past four games. Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris Sr. both played in that December game so Siakam should be able to get his scoring back on track tonight against a Clippers team that has lost five of their last six games. Additionally, the Clippers gave up 24 points to Jaren Jackson Jr. on Sunday, and Domantas Sabonis scored 23 and Harrison Barnes scored 20 against them on Friday. — Alexander

Best bet: Raptors (+2.5). The Clippers just got their first win of the Russell Westbrook era in their last game against the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies. Before that, they had lost five straight games, and overall are 1-5 with a -5.8 point scoring margin in those last six games. The Raptors are trending the opposite direction, with nine wins in their last 13 games. Both teams are fighting for playoff positioning, and find themselves in the play-in seeds at the moment, so this should be a competitive game. In that circumstance, I’ll take the points and the team that has been playing better. — Snellings

Trend: As long as this line stays above three, we have ourselves a nice betting angle in a game that is dripping with desperation. The Raptors are 8-3 ATS this season when catching more than three points while the Clippers have failed to cover five of their past six when giving more than three points. — Soppe


Breaking down the rest of Wednesday’s slate

Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards
7 p.m. ET, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Records (Against the Spread)
Hawks: 32-33 (29-34-2)
Wizards: 31-34 (30-33-2)

Line: Hawks (-3.5)
BPI Projection: Hawks (129.2-127.7)
Money Line: Hawks (-165), Wizards (+140)
BPI Projected winner: Hawks (55.3%)
Total: 236.5 points BPI Projected Total: 256.9 points

Injury Report:
Hawks: None reported
Wizards: Monte Morris, (GTD – Back)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Delon Wright (rostered in 20.9% of ESPN leagues) started for Monte Morris on Tuesday as Morris missed his second straight game with a back injury. Wright scored just three points, but also had three rebounds, six assists, five steals and a block in 32 minutes in a win over the Pistons. Just make sure Morris is out tonight before you deploy Wright. — Alexander

Best bet: Trae Young over 24.5 points. Ice Trae scored 31 points in a Feb. 28 loss to the Wizards and the Hawks will be looking for revenge tonight. Trae hasn’t exactly been scoring at will under new coach Quin Snyder, scoring 23, 8 and 25 points in each of his last three games, but should get back on track against a tired Wizards’ team tonight after they played on Tuesday. — Alexander

Best bet: Clint Capela over 10.5 rebounds. Capela had 15 rebounds against the Wizards on Feb. 28 and has now rattled off five straight double-digit rebound games. The Hawks should come into this game well rested while the Wizards played last night against the Pistons. — Alexander


Portland Trail Blazers at Boston Celtics
7:30 p.m. ET, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Records (Against the Spread)
Blazers: 31-34 (32-32-1)
Celtics: 45-21 (34-31-1)

Line: Celtics (-10)
BPI Projection: Celtics (133.7-124.7)
Money Line: Blazers (+360), Celtics (-480)
BPI Projected winner: Celtics (79.4%)
Total: 231.5 points BPI Projected Total: 258.4 points

Injury Report:
Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic, (GTD – Calf); Anfernee Simons, (OUT – Ankle); Justise Winslow, (OUT – Ankle); Ryan Arcidiacono, (OUT – Back)
Celtics: Payton Pritchard, (GTD – Ankle); Robert Williams III, (OUT – Hamstring); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Damian Lillard over 34.5 points. When I think of Boston a vision of Marcus Smart playing good defense usually pops into my head but they’ve been a sieve against opposing scorers of late. The Celtics are mired in a three-game losing streak and are looking to avoid their first four-game streak of the season against Damian Lillard’s Blazers. Not only has Lillard has scored 71, 25, 41, 33, 41 and 31 points in each of his last six games, but the Celtics have given up 40 points to Donovan Mitchell on Monday, Immanuel Quickley scored 38 and RJ Barrett had 29 against them on Sunday, and Mikal Bridges exploded for 38 points at Boston on Friday. Those guys, with the exception of IQ, are mostly shooting guards, but I don’t think it matters. Lillard is going to try to put on a show in Boston tonight and if Quickley and Bridges can get 38 against them, there’s no reason Lillard can’t bust them for at least 50. — Alexander

Fantasy streamer: Cam Reddish (available in 87.8% of leagues) Reddish has been a steady source of production in recent weeks as the primary wing for the Trail Blazers. Reddish has averaged 15.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.6 3PG, 3.1 APG and 1.5 SPG in his past eight outings, starting seven of them. Simons is still listed as out for the Trail Blazers, so Reddish should maintain his role on Wednesday. — Snellings

Fantasy streamer: Mike Muscala (rostered in 0.3% of ESPN leagues) Muscala flopped in Monday’s loss to the Cavs but started for Robert Williams III (hamstring) and gets to play against the worst team in the league against opposing centers tonight. It’s possible that Jusuf Nurkic returns from an extended absence with his calf injury, but it doesn’t matter. The last time Muscala started and played big minutes was against the Bucks on Feb. 14 when he went off for 18 points, eight rebounds, a steal and three 3-pointers in 44 minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get loose tonight. — Alexander

Trend: For my football fans, Damian Lillard has some Justin Fields in him. That is, he is exciting and on the highlight shows, but rarely in the win column. His Blazers are just 3-13 ATS over their past 16 games as an underdog and are just 10-26-1 ATS when failing to score 115 points. The Celtics rarely cough up that many points (no more than 115 points allowed in 15 of their past 16 games that ended in regulation) and have no problem in putting up points at home (overs are 23-11 at TD Garden). — Soppe


Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat
7:30 p.m. ET, FTX Arena, Miami, Florida

Records (Against the Spread)
Cavaliers: 41-26 (35-30-2)
Heat: 35-31 (23-40-3)

Line: Cavaliers (-2.5)
BPI Projection: Cavaliers (133.7-117.4)
Money Line: Cavaliers (-135), Heat (+115)
BPI Projected winner: Cavaliers (61%)
Total: 215 points BPI Projected Total: 237.7 points

Injury Report:
Cavaliers: None reported
Heat: Kevin Love, (GTD – Ribs); Kyle Lowry, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Evan Mobley over 16.5 points. Mobley had 19 points against Miami on Jan. 31 and the Heat gave up 43 points to Julius Randle three games ago. They even gave up 17 points to John Collins on Monday after he scored a total of nine in his previous two games. Mobley also had 25 points against the Celtics on Monday and has scored at least 17 points in nine of his last 15 games. — Alexander


Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets
9 p.m. ET, Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado

Records (Against the Spread)
Bulls: 29-36 (32-33-0)
Nuggets: 46-19 (36-28-1)

Line: Nuggets (-8)
BPI Projection: Nuggets (128.3-119.5)
Money Line: Bulls (+270), Nuggets (-345)
BPI Projected winner: Nuggets (69.7%)
Total: 227 points BPI Projected Total: 244.5 points

Injury Report:
Bulls: Javonte Green, (OUT – Knee); Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee); Goran Dragic, (GTD – Knee)
Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr., (GTD – Illness); Vlatko Cancar, (GTD – Wrist); Zeke Nnaji, (OUT – Shoulder)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Michael Porter Jr. over 17.5 points. MPJ torched the Bulls for a season-high 31 points back in November and has scored 20, 26, 17 and 29 points in each of his past four games. In fact, Porter has scored at least 17 points in seven of his past eight games, the only hiccup being a five-point dud in 19 minutes on Feb. 25 when he was bothered by a heel injury. He’s listed as probable tonight and he has to be excited to try for another 30-burger. — Alexander

Best bet: Zach LaVine over 25.5 points. LaVine has settled in as the clear top scoring option for the Bulls, supplanting DeMar DeRozan. LaVine has averaged 29.6 PPG on 19.2 FGA and 7.4 FTA over his last 11 games. In that stretch, he’s gone over 25.5 points in eight of the 11 games, including five of the last six games. — Snellings

Trend: Sportsbooks are asking you to lay a big number with the Nuggets and it might well be savvy to do so. Denver is 14-4-1 ATS over their past 19 games at home while the Bulls are just 2-10 ATS over their past 12, including seven straight ATS losses when labeled a pre-game underdog. These are two teams trending in very opposite directions and given that Denver has scored 115-plus points in six of their past seven games, it’s not difficult to see them covering a big number.— Soppe


Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns
9 p.m. ET, Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Records (Against the Spread)
Thunder: 31-34 (40-24-1)
Suns: 36-29 (35-28-2)

Line: Suns (-13.5)
BPI Projection: Suns (135.1-123.9)
Money Line: Thunder (+650), Suns (-1000)
BPI Projected winner: Suns (84.2%)
Total: 233.5 points BPI Projected Total: 259 points

Injury Report:
Thunder: Jalen Williams, (OUT – Wrist); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, (OUT – Abdomen); Aleksej Pokusevski, (OUT – Lower Leg); Chet Holmgren, (OUT – Foot); Kenrich Williams, (OUT – Wrist)
Suns: Duane Washington Jr., (OUT – Back); Landry Shamet, (OUT – Foot)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Isaiah Joe (available in 97.8% of leagues) Joe is likely to get the start and carry a large scoring load for the Thunder on Wednesday, with both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams out. Joe has averaged 19.3 PPG, 4.3 3PG and 2.8 RPG in four starts over the past two weeks. — Snellings

Best bet: Devin Booker over 26.5 points, over 5.5 assists. Kevin Durant‘s presence has unlocked Booker, who has taken full advantage of the imbalanced defenses that are focused more on Durant. In three games with Durant, Booker has averaged 36.0 PPG and 7.7 APG, with at least 35 points and at least six assists in all three games. Meanwhile, the Thunder allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards, including the third-most assists. My main concern is if the game becomes a blowout and Booker doesn’t play his full minutes, but if he stays on the court he should continue to produce. — Snellings

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