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Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Sunday

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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 Sunday, March 5 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


What you need to know for Sunday’s games

There is a big slate of games on Sunday, closing out a key week down the stretch as the fantasy hoops playoffs approach. With 11 games on tap, there is still plenty of action and opportunity for fantasy squads to make that last surge to get the important W this week.

On the betting front, there is a nice mix of big marquee games (e.g. Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks at Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies at LA Clippers) and games between teams trending toward the lottery with little defense to be played by all (e.g. Spurs at Rockets, Jazz at Thunder) that could conspire to produce some big player props on the day.

All eyes will be on the first matchup between Kevin Durant’s Suns and Kyrie Irving’s Mavericks, in the former teammates’ first head-to-head as opponents. We’ll start our picks there, after Kyle breaks down some prevailing trends to watch across the league.

Game of the Night


Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks
1:00 p.m ET, American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

Records (Against the Spread)
Suns: 35-29 (34-28-2)
Mavericks: 33-31 (23-38-3)

Line: Mavericks (-1)
BPI Projection: Mavericks: 133.6-129.4
Money Line: Suns (100), Mavericks (-120)
BPI Projected winner: Mavericks (64.7%)
Total: 233.5 BPI Projected Total: 263

Injury Report:
Suns: Deandre Ayton, (GTD – Knee); Terrence Ross, (GTD – Toe); Landry Shamet, (OUT – Foot)
Mavericks: Davis Bertans, (GTD – Calf); Maxi Kleber, (GTD – Hamstring)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend: The Suns this season are a woeful 6-12-1 ATS over their past 19 games with a spread of three or fewer points, but those were all without this Kevin Durant guy rocking their colors. In theory, they brought him in to improve on a trend like that and with them being +20 in fourth quarters in the two games with KD active, the early returns are there. The Mavs are 8-18-2 ATS this season when unders hit, a note worth mentioning because unders are 9-2 in Dallas’ past 11 games with a small spread like this. I mentioned the fourth quarter success up to this point with Durant … the Mavs are -12 in the final quarter over the past week. — Kyle Soppe

Fantasy Streamer: Jock Landale (available in 99.7% of leagues) got some extra run on Friday with Deandre Ayton dealing with a knee issue that suppressed his production (7 points, 3 rebounds, 0 blocks in 27 minutes) and kept him from practicing on Saturday. Landale responded with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 21 minutes. Ayton is questionable to play on Sunday, and if he sits, Landale could be in line for starter minutes and production. — Andre Snellings

Fantasy Streamer: Josh Okogie (available in 92.6% of leagues) has maintained his spot in the Suns’ starting lineup next to Kevin Durant, with Torrey Craig going to the bench. Okogie’s production will likely be inconsistent in his new role because only Durant and Devin Booker are guaranteed to score, but he produced 25 points, 5 3-pointers and 4 rebounds on Friday, so he maintains streamable upside in any given game. — Snellings

Best Bet: Devin Booker over 31.5 total points + assists. One early trend in the Kevin Durant era is one that I predicted when the trade went through: defenses are already focused more on KD, which is allowing Devin Booker more space to rock. Another early trend is that the entire Suns’ squad is sharing the ball to the point that a high percentage of the team’s shots are assisted. For Booker, these trends have seen him average 36.0 PPG and 6.5 APG in the two games next to Durant, with at least 41 total PA in both games. — Snellings


Breaking down the rest of the slate

Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls
3:30 p.m ET, United Center, Chicago, IL

Records (Against the Spread)
Pacers: 28-36 (34-30-0)
Bulls: 29-35 (32-32-0)

Line: Bulls (-6)
BPI Projection: Bulls: 133.6-117.2
Money Line: Pacers (185), Bulls (-225)
BPI Projected winner: Bulls (76.4%)
Total: 224 BPI Projected Total: 242.1

Injury Report:
Pacers: Aaron Nesmith, (GTD – Hip); Tyrese Haliburton, (GTD – Calf); Kendall Brown, (OUT – Lower Leg)
Bulls: Javonte Green, (OUT – Knee); Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee); Goran Dragic, (GTD – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend: In eight of Chicago’s past 10 home games, the total has been set too high, a trend that could well work in their favor in this specific spot. The Bulls are 12-8 ATS at home this season when a game goes under while the Pacers are just 4-7 ATS in their past 11 games that have come in under the total. — Soppe

Fantasy Streamer: T.J. McConnell (available in 93.3% of leagues) could be worth a look if Tyrese Haliburton (calf) is unable to go for the second game in a row. McConnell has been strong in games that Haliburton has sat all season, and on Friday he scored 10 points with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in 31 minutes of action. — Snellings

Best Bet: Zach LaVine over 25.5 points. LaVine has been in a zone of late, averaging 28.8 PPG in his past five outings with at least 27 points in four of those games. In addition, he’s facing a friendly Pacers’ defense against whom he’s scored at least 28 points in two of three meetings, including a 35-point explosion the last time he faced them last month. — Snellings


Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
3:30 p.m ET, Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA

Records (Against the Spread)
Warriors: 34-30 (31-32-1)
Lakers: 30-34 (29-33-2)

Line: Warriors (-5)
BPI Projection: Warriors: 128.9-124.3
Money Line: Warriors (-210), Lakers (175)
BPI Projected winner: Warriors (66.2%)
Total: 235.5 BPI Projected Total: 253.2

Injury Report:
Warriors: Andre Iguodala, (GTD – Hip); Patrick Baldwin Jr., (GTD – Ankle); Stephen Curry, (GTD – Lower Leg); Andrew Wiggins, (OUT – Personal); Gary Payton II, (OUT – Abdomen); Ryan Rollins, (OUT – Foot)
Lakers: Anthony Davis, (GTD – Foot); D’Angelo Russell, (OUT – Ankle); LeBron James, (OUT – Foot)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy Streamer: Austin Reeves (available in 96.7% of leagues) has overall stepped up his game since LeBron James went down, despite an off-shooting performance on Friday. Overall, in his past three outings, Reaves has averaged 14.0 PPG, 4.7 APG and 1.7 3PG in 24.3 MPG off the bench. These are workable streaming numbers, if he can replicate or better them on Sunday. — Snellings

Best Bet: Lakers +5.0. The Warriors have won five straight games and are expected to get Stephen Curry back on Sunday, and the Lakers are of-course without LeBron James (foot). Nevertheless, the dominating trend of the Warriors this season has to be considered: they are only 7-23 outright on the road this season, and have lost five straight away from home. This trend was holding even before Curry’s latest injury, when they had lost four of their past six on the road. The Lakers are still competitive with LeBron out, going 1-2 thus far with a -4.7 PPG scoring margin, and they should be able to make Sunday’s game competitive as well against the road Warriors. — Snellings


Charlotte Hornets at Brooklyn Nets
6:00 p.m ET, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

Records (Against the Spread)
Hornets: 20-45 (28-35-2)
Nets: 35-28 (33-30-0)

Line: Nets (-7)
BPI Projection: Nets: 128.9-118.3
Money Line: Hornets (240), Nets (-305)
BPI Projected winner: Nets (82.3%)
Total: 227 BPI Projected Total: 246.8

Injury Report:
Hornets: P.J. Washington, (GTD – Foot); Cody Martin, (OUT – Knee); LaMelo Ball, (OUT – Ankle)
Nets: Yuta Watanabe, (GTD – Back); Ben Simmons, (OUT – Knee); Edmond Sumner, (OUT – Personal)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play


Portland Trail Blazers at Orlando Magic
6:00 p.m ET, Amway Center, Orlando, FL

Records (Against the Spread)
Blazers: 29-34 (30-32-1)
Magic: 27-37 (35-27-2)

Line: Magic (-1.5)
BPI Projection: Magic: 131.7-128.6
Money Line: Blazers (105), Magic (-125)
BPI Projected winner: Magic (60.9%)
Total: 229 BPI Projected Total: 260.3

Injury Report:
Blazers: Anfernee Simons, (OUT – Ankle); Jusuf Nurkic, (OUT – Calf); Ryan Arcidiacono, (OUT – Back); Justise Winslow, (OUT – Ankle)
Magic: Franz Wagner, (GTD – Ankle); Gary Harris, (GTD – Hip); Jonathan Isaac, (OUT – Hamstring)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy Streamer: Cam Reddish (available in 94.4% of leagues) continues to get extra run and touches on the wing with Anfernee Simons out, and has been the most consistent producer among Trail Blazers wings since before the All-Star Break. In his last six games, Reddish has averaged 16.2 PPG, 2.7 3PG, 2.5 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.3 SPG in 30.8 MPG, including a big 25-point scoring effort on Friday against the Hawks. — Snellings

Best Bet: Damian Lillard over 34.5 points. We’re on watch for the next Dame-time game, as Lillard continues perhaps the best scoring stretch of his career. Lillard has averaged 37.9 PPG over his past 19 games, including three games of 40+ points in his last six road outings. In the shorter term, Lillard has averaged 41.0 PPG in his past seven outings, going over 34.5 in five of those seven games. — Snellings


San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets
7:00 p.m ET, Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Records (Against the Spread)
Spurs: 16-48 (26-38-0)
Rockets: 14-49 (23-37-3)

Line: Rockets (-2.5)
BPI Projection: Rockets: 131.7-126.8
Money Line: Spurs (118), Rockets (-140)
BPI Projected winner: Rockets (58.6%)
Total: 230.5 BPI Projected Total: 256.1

Injury Report:
Spurs: Devin Vassell, (GTD – Knee); Doug McDermott, (GTD – Thumb); Keldon Johnson, (GTD – Foot); Malaki Branham, (GTD – Back); Khem Birch, (OUT – Knee)
Rockets: Jae’Sean Tate, (GTD – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play


Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder
7:00 p.m ET, Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Records (Against the Spread)
Jazz: 31-33 (34-30-0)
Thunder: 29-34 (38-24-1)

Line: Thunder (-6)
BPI Projection: Thunder: 130.6-123.2
Money Line: Jazz (185), Thunder (-225)
BPI Projected winner: Thunder (75%)
Total: 236.5 BPI Projected Total: 253.8

Injury Report:
Jazz: Lauri Markkanen, (OUT – Back); Collin Sexton, (OUT – Hamstring)
Thunder: Aleksej Pokusevski, (OUT – Lower Leg); Chet Holmgren, (OUT – Foot); Kenrich Williams, (OUT – Wrist)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy Streamer: Kelly Olynyk (available in 70.3% of leagues) has averaged 15.0 PPG (54.5 FG%, 81.6 FT%), 8.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.8 3PG, 0.8 BPG and 0.7 SPG in 29.8 MPG in his past six outings. He should have an even bigger role than usual on Sunday, with Lauri Markkanen out (back). — Snellings


New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
7:30 p.m ET, TD Garden, Boston, MA

Records (Against the Spread)
Knicks: 38-27 (37-27-1)
Celtics: 45-19 (33-30-1)

Line: Celtics (-5.5)
BPI Projection: Celtics: 130.6-120.9
Money Line: Knicks (185), Celtics (-225)
BPI Projected winner: Celtics (52.9%)
Total: 228 BPI Projected Total: 242.6

Injury Report:
Knicks: DaQuan Jeffries, (OUT – Calf); Trevor Keels, (OUT – Back)
Celtics: Malcolm Brogdon, (GTD – Ankle); Robert Williams III, (GTD – Hamstring); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend:The Knicks have been rolling with eight straight covers and in 58.3% of their covers for the season, under tickets have cashed. Under bettors will find additional comfort in the fact that 53.3% of Celtic failures to cover have seen unders hit. Can the Knicks keep cruising? They are 19-8-1 ATS over their past 28 road games with the majority of those covers coming by at least 11 points. That’ll more than work against a Boston team that is an underwhelming 9-12 ATS at home since the beginning of December. — Soppe


Milwaukee Bucks at Washington Wizards
7:30 p.m ET, Capital One Arena, Washington, DC

Records (Against the Spread)
Bucks: 45-18 (35-24-4)
Wizards: 30-33 (30-32-1)

Line: Bucks (-5)
BPI Projection: Bucks: 131.5-125.5
Money Line: Bucks (-195), Wizards (162)
BPI Projected winner: Bucks (70.4%)
Total: 227.5 BPI Projected Total: 257

Injury Report:
Bucks: Wesley Matthews, (GTD – Calf)
Wizards: Kyle Kuzma, (GTD – Knee); Deni Avdija, (GTD – Illness); Monte Morris, (OUT – Back)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play


Memphis Grizzlies at LA Clippers
10:00 p.m ET, Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA

Records (Against the Spread)
Grizzlies: 38-24 (29-30-3)
Clippers: 33-33 (32-34-0)

Line: Clippers (-7)
BPI Projection: Clippers: 131.5-119.8
Money Line: Grizzlies (210), Clippers (-260)
BPI Projected winner: Clippers (81.1%)
Total: 228 BPI Projected Total: 249.4

Injury Report:
Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, (OUT – Lower Leg); Dillon Brooks, (OUT – Suspension); Ja Morant, (OUT – Suspension); Steven Adams, (OUT – Knee)
Clippers: Ivica Zubac, (GTD – Calf); Norman Powell, (OUT – Shoulder)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend: How sportsbooks (and the public) will react to the Grizzlies being without Ja Morant is TBD, but all trends are pointing to an under bet. This season, unders are 11-7 when the Clippers play a top-10 defense (4-1 in their past five) and they are just 4-8 ATS in their past 12 games against such opponents. On the flip side, unders are 15-3 in Memphis’ past 18 games and while the absence of Morant will change the calculus a bit, but sportsbooks have underestimated the clamp down potential of this defense and that may not change. — Soppe

Best Bet: Desmond Bane over 24.5 points. With Ja Morant out, Bane becomes the top scoring option on the team. -Snellings

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