HomeBasketballFantasy basketball tips and betting picks for Wednesday

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

What you need to know for Wednesday’s games

This isn’t just another mid-week slate during the NBA marathon, as tonight marks the debut of Kevin Durant for the Phoenix Suns. For those deep into the minutia of fantasy hoops, it also signals another key stage for James Wiseman to shine for the Detroit Pistons and a starting opportunity for Dennis Smith Jr. with the Charlotte Hornets. Smith, Wiseman, and Durant, often thought of as a narrative trio.

Jokes aside, we’re witnessing some former lottery picks such as Wiseman and Smith earn meaningful minutes down the stretch of the season. Detroit is facing multiple frontcourt injuries, vaulting Wiseman, who has 27 rebounds across his last three games for Motown, into a major role tonight against the visiting Chicago Bulls.

Smith is set to start versus Durant’s Suns in place of an injured LaMelo Ball. “DSJ” presents some of the strongest DFS metrics in my model this evening with an expectation for at least six fantasy points per $1,000 spent on DraftKings.

Maintaining a few fluid roster spots on fantasy rosters at this time of year can prove more rewarding than waiting on injuries or underperforming players. Being nimble and adaptive to the pace of NBA news can be a differentiator over the competition.

— Jim McCormick

Game of the night

Phoenix Suns at Charlotte Hornets
7 p.m. ET, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

Records (Against the Spread)
Suns: 33-29 (32-28-2)
Hornets: 20-43 (28-33-2)

Line: Suns (-10)
BPI Projection: Suns (132.1-123.1)
Money Line: Suns (-550), Hornets (+400)
BPI Projected winner: Suns (78.6%)
Total: 229 points BPI Projected Total: 255.2 points

Injury Report:
Suns: Landry Shamet, (OUT – Foot)
Hornets: P.J. Washington, (GTD – Foot); Cody Martin, (OUT – Knee); LaMelo Ball, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Dennis Smith Jr. (rostered in 17.9% of ESPN leagues) Smith Jr. is the new starting point guard for the rest of the season in Charlotte and if he’s still available in your league, go pick him up. He has averaged 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.0 steals in 12 starts this season. While he’s not going to hit many 3-pointers, everything else should be on the table for DSJ the rest of the way. — Alexander

Fantasy streamer: Mark Williams (rostered in 18.8% of ESPN leagues) Williams has been balling for the Hornets for a while now and I feel like a broken record by writing about him week after week. I don’t know why he’s not rostered in more leagues, he’s double-doubled in three of his past four games, had 18 points and 20 rebounds on Saturday and has averaged 12.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks over his past seven games. With P.J. Washington (foot) not likely to play tonight, Williams should be fun against Deandre Ayton and the Suns. Williams’ over/under in rebounds is set at 9.5 tonight and I like the over there. — Alexander

Trend: This is an interesting spot: the expected debut of Kevin Durant (on a minute restriction) and the first day of the rest of the Hornets’ season without LaMelo Ball. During his first season with the Nets, KD was largely active for their first 28 games before missing 23. In the games with him, their pace was 4.8% faster than without. On the flip side, Ball missed 24 of Charlotte’s first 27 games this season and then was largely active. Without him, their offensive efficiency dropped 3.5% and their pace 3.1%. So the quick recap: Durant adds volume of possessions while removing Ball submarines the offensive flow for the Hornets. If the 10-11 points is too much for you to lay, maybe look at the Hornets team total under given their propensity to play slower and be less efficient without their star guard in a matchup against a top-10 defense. — Kyle Soppe

Breaking down Wednesday’s slate

Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons
7 p.m. ET, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan

Records (Against the Spread)
Bulls: 28-34 (32-30-0)
Pistons: 15-47 (28-33-1)

Line: Bulls (-6)
BPI Projection: Bulls (132.1-118.4)
Money Line: Bulls (-250), Pistons (+205)
BPI Projected winner: Bulls (80.8%)
Total: 222 points BPI Projected Total: 246.3 points

Injury Report:
Bulls: Javonte Green, (OUT – Knee); Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee)
Pistons: Bojan Bogdanovic, (GTD – Achilles); Isaiah Livers, (GTD – Ankle); Isaiah Stewart, (OUT – Hip); Jalen Duren, (OUT – Ankle); Cade Cunningham, (OUT – Lower Leg)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Marvin Bagley III (rostered in 14.6% of ESPN leagues) has scored 21 points in two straight games for Detroit and had 12 rebounds in one of them and 18 boards in the other, despite coming off the bench. One of those games came against the defense-less Hornets but the other happened against the Raptors, which is saying something since the Raptors are the fifth-best team against opposing PFs in the league. The Bulls are the 12th-worst team in the league against them, which sets up well for another Bags explosion tonight. Do I trust him? Not at all. But the Pistons’ bigs are banged up and they’re letting Bagley play, so I’m going to roll with him. — Alexander

Fantasy streamer: James Wiseman (rostered in 13.8% of ESPN leagues) is alone on ‘center island’ in Detroit tonight with teammates Jalen Duren (foot) and Isaiah Stewart (hip) both not expected to play. Wiseman had 23 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting Monday and has scored in double figures in three of his four games with the Pistons, grabbing 10 rebounds in two. The Pistons are going to roll him out there and see what he can do the rest of the way and he should be added if you need a center. — Alexander

Best bet: Zach LaVine over 25.5 points. The Pistons are the fourth-worst team in the league against opposing shooting guards and LaVine scored 30 against them in their last meeting on Jan. 19. He also scored 43 against them on Dec. 30 meaning LaVine is averaging 36.5 points against the Pistons this year. And he should be coming in hungry after going for just 17 points against the Raptors on Tuesday. — Alexander

Best bet: Pistons under 107.5 points. Since the Bulls moved to their new starting lineup featuring defensive pests Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso at guard, they’ve held the Nets, Wizards and Raptors to an average of 91.0 PPG with none scoring over 104 points. The Pistons have the fourth-lowest scoring offense in the NBA, well below any of the three previous opponents, and their point guards are inexperienced and therefore susceptible to the Bulls’ pressure defense. — Snellings

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
7:30 p.m. ET, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Records (Against the Spread)
Cavaliers: 39-25 (33-29-2)
Celtics: 44-18 (33-28-1)

Line: Celtics (-5)
BPI Projection: Celtics (127.9-119.2)
Money Line: Cavaliers (+175), Celtics (-210)
BPI Projected winner: Celtics (62.8%)
Total: 219.5 points BPI Projected Total: 241.8 points

Injury Report:
Cavaliers: None reported
Celtics: Mike Muscala, (GTD – Knee); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Jaylen Brown over 24.5 points. The Celtics and Cavs have met twice this season, both games went to overtime and Brown scored at least 30 in both of them. Of course, both games took place near the start of the season and a lot has happened since then, but Brown should be back and well rested after his personal leave that caused him to miss Monday’s game against the Knicks, which Boston lost. Brown scored 26 on Saturday and had 30 and 35 points in his previous two games, so asking him for 25 tonight makes a ton of sense. Especially against the Cavs. — Alexander

Trend: Seeing the Cavaliers catch this money points felt too good to be true … and it turns out, it might just be. The Cavs are just 4-8 ATS as an underdog this season, so when sportsbooks have concerns, they often pan out. If you want to really get into the weeds, overs are 10-2 in Boston’s past 12 home covers while Cleveland has failed to cover nine of their past 12 on the road that have gone over the number.-– Soppe

Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat
7:30 p.m. ET, FTX Arena, Miami, Florida

Records (Against the Spread)
76ers: 39-21 (33-26-1)
Heat: 33-29 (22-37-3)

Line: 76ers (-2)
BPI Projection: 76ers (122.6-118.6)
Money Line: 76ers (-130), Heat (+110)
BPI Projected winner: 76ers (58.9%)
Total: 215.5 points BPI Projected Total: 239.5 points

Injury Report:
76ers: Dewayne Dedmon, (OUT – Hip)
Heat: Kevin Love, (GTD – Knee); Max Strus, (GTD – Ankle); Kyle Lowry, (OUT – Knee); Nikola Jovic, (OUT – Back); Omer Yurtseven, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Jimmy Butler over 33.5 points, rebounds and assists. Butler only played for the Sixers for one season but is apparently still motivated when he plays them, as evidenced by Monday’s 23 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals against them in Philly. They play again tonight in Miami and Butler and the Heat will be trying to make it two in a row against his former team. Jaylen Brown got the Sixers for 26-4-3 on Saturday and Desmond Bane had 25-8-2 against them on Thursday. The Sixers are trying to avoid their third three-game losing streak of the season in Miami tonight and Butler’s going to try to make sure it happens. — Alexander

Best bet: Jimmy Butler over 21.5 points. Butler has scored 22 or more points in five of his last six, and seven of his last nine games. Plus, he has a well-known antipathy toward the 76ers because they reportedly chose to keep Tobias Harris over Butler a few years back. Butler just torched the 76ers for 23 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals on Monday, and after the game he released a slow-motion video on social media of himself spinning through the 76ers to score with a Lil Uzi Vert song playing in the background. I believe he’ll surpass his season average of 21.9 PPG against those same 76ers on Wednesday. — Snellings

Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks
7:30 p.m. ET, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, New York

Records (Against the Spread)
Nets: 34-27 (32-29-0)
Knicks: 36-27 (35-27-1)

Line: Knicks (-7.5)
BPI Projection: Knicks (124.5-114.2)
Money Line: Nets (+250), Knicks (-320)
BPI Projected winner: Knicks (83.8%)
Total: 223 points BPI Projected Total: 238.7 points

Injury Report:
Nets: Edmond Sumner, (GTD – Personal); Yuta Watanabe, (GTD – Back); Ben Simmons, (OUT – Knee)
Knicks: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: RJ Barrett under 17.5 points. Mikal Bridges has been wreaking havoc on opposing small forwards since he arrived in Brooklyn and his list of victims is pretty impressive. Over his six games in Brooklyn here’s what opposing SFs have scored on him: Tobias Harris: 3, Barrett: 4, Jimmy Butler: 14, DeMar DeRozan: 17, De’Andre Hunter: 9 and Pat Connaughton: 7. Barrett hit 2-of-8 shots for four points in 24 minutes against him on Feb. 13 and as you can see, not a single SF has scored more than 17 points against Bridges since he got to Brooklyn. Add in the fact that RJB has scored more than 17 points in just one of his last five games and this looks like a lock. Bridges has been scoring a bunch of points for Brooklyn but had just seven against the Knicks in that Feb. 13 game, so I’m fading him tonight. — Alexander

Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets
8 p.m. ET, Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

Records (Against the Spread)
Grizzlies: 37-23 (28-29-3)
Rockets: 13-48 (22-36-3)

Line: Grizzlies (-10)
BPI Projection: Grizzlies (132.4-121.4)
Money Line: Grizzlies (-480), Rockets (+360)
BPI Projected winner: Grizzlies (83.1%)
Total: 230 points BPI Projected Total: 253.8 points

Injury Report:
Grizzlies: Jake LaRavia, (GTD – Back); Steven Adams, (OUT – Knee)
Rockets: Jae’Sean Tate, (GTD – Rest); Kevin Porter Jr., (GTD – Foot)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks
8 p.m. ET, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Records (Against the Spread)
Magic: 26-36 (34-26-2)
Bucks: 44-17 (34-23-4)

Line: Bucks (-7.5)
BPI Projection: Bucks (132.4-118.9)
Money Line: Magic (+250), Bucks (-320)
BPI Projected winner: Bucks (79.8%)
Total: 225.5 points BPI Projected Total: 247.2 points

Injury Report:
Magic: Jonathan Isaac, (GTD – Hamstring)
Bucks: Wesley Matthews, (GTD – Calf)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend: Betting against the Bucks can be scary, but the Magic are 22-12-2 ATS this season when getting more than five points. There is also some built in Giannis risk here: he looked great last night after missing time, but do they extend him in early March against the Magic on a back-to-back with another back-to-back coming up this weekend and a third in three weeks starting next Tuesday? In the 22 Orlando covers mentioned above, under tickets have cashed 14 times and unders are 5-1 in Milwaukee’s past six back-to-backs. — Soppe

Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder
8 p.m. ET, Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Records (Against the Spread)
Lakers: 29-33 (28-32-2)
Thunder: 28-33 (37-23-1)

Line: Thunder (-1)
BPI Projection: Thunder (128.6-126.1)
Money Line: Lakers (+100), Thunder (-120)
BPI Projected winner: Thunder (58.8%)
Total: 229.5 points BPI Projected Total: 254.7 points

Injury Report:
Lakers: D’Angelo Russell, (GTD – Ankle); LeBron James, (OUT – Foot)
Thunder: Aleksej Pokusevski, (GTD – Lower Leg); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, (OUT – Ankle); Chet Holmgren, (OUT – Foot)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Isaiah Joe (rostered in 2.8% of ESPN leagues) hit just 3-of-5 shots for eight points in Tuesday’s loss to the Kings but scored 24 and 28 points in his previous two games. He’s been starting and playing heavy minutes over his last three games and if he’s in the starting lineup he should be good for some scoring and 3-pointers tonight. Despite the eight-point dud last night, he’s averaging 20 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.0 3-pointers over his last three games. — Alexander

Best bet: Dennis Schroder over 7.5 assists. LeBron James (foot) is out and D’Angelo Russell (ankle) is doubtful meaning Schroder should be the primary ball handler all night long in this one. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (health protocols) is also out for OKC and it’s easy to see Schroder going off tonight. I like the assists bet but if you want to mess with his over of 22.5 points and assists it might make sense too. Schroder had 10 points and 10 assists on Tuesday against the Grizzlies, and 16 points and eight dimes against Dallas on Sunday. — Alexander

Trend: Both the Lakers and Thunder are on back-to-backs tonight and both will be without their All-World offensive centerpiece, but if the trends are telling us anything, it’s that we’ve routinely underestimated these teams on zero days rest. Over tickets have cashed in seven of nine Laker back-to-backs while they are a perfect 4-0 since New Years when the Thunder are in such a spot. The next logical question: which team performs better when the game goes over the total? The Thunder are 22-11-1 ATS this season in those spots while the Lakers are 16-14-1.– Soppe

New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers
10 p.m. ET, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon

Records (Against the Spread)
Pelicans: 30-32 (28-33-1)
Blazers: 29-32 (30-30-1)

Line: Blazers (-1.5)
BPI Projection: Blazers (130.1-129.9)
Money Line: Pelicans (-105), Blazers (-115)
BPI Projected winner: Blazers (50.7%)
Total: 233 points BPI Projected Total: 260 points

Injury Report:
Pelicans: Jonas Valanciunas, (GTD – Calf); Josh Richardson, (GTD – Quadriceps); Zion Williamson, (OUT – Hamstring); Larry Nance Jr., (OUT – Ankle); Jose Alvarado, (OUT – Leg); E.J. Liddell, (OUT – Knee)
Blazers: Ryan Arcidiacono, (GTD – Back); Anfernee Simons, (OUT – Ankle); Justise Winslow, (OUT – Ankle); Jusuf Nurkic, (OUT – Calf)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend: Did the Blazers get Warrior’d last night? Sure, it happens. They went to halftime up 17 and started the fourth quarter down five. As bad as that is, hang in there for tonight. The Pelicans have not been able to live up to expectations when facing a tired team (1-4 ATS this season) and the Blazers are 4-2 ATS on no days rest since December. Take it one step further and you’ll notice that New Orleans could be in an uncomfortable (or, at least, unsuccessful) game flow: they are 5-12-1 ATS against bottom-10 pace teams this season, a box Portland checks. — Soppe

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