The first-place Cavaliers visit the second-place Raptors tonight in the highlight of an eight-game NBA slate. Toronto has won nine straight at home and 17 of 20 overall — the best stretch in franchise history — to close within three games of the conference leaders.
Assuming both teams turn up the defensive intensity, it may be more interesting in reality than daily fantasy. Obviously LeBron James $9500 and Kevin Love $7400 are much better than whoever plays SF and PF for the home team. Kyle Lowry $8400 vs. Kyrie Irving $8000 is a terrific matchup and DeMar DeRozan $7500 will need to be at his very best. Jonas Valanciunas $5800 is bigger than Tristan Thompson $5400 and quicker than Timofey Mozgov $3700. If it becomes a small-ball affair, Cory Joseph $4300 and Terrence Ross $3800 are possible bargains.
In another East clash with playoff implications, the Bulls hobble into Atlanta. Derrick Rose $7300 (hamstring) and Pau Gasol (flu) $8600 are both listed as questionable, yet Chicago won its third straight on Wednesday as E’Twaun Moore $5600 and Taj Gibson $5100 led the way. Mike Dunleavy $3600, Tony Snell $3600 and Doug McDermott $4000 were all pleasant surprises. Meanwhile, the Hawks have dropped three in a row at home. Paul Millsap $7800 and Al Horford $7100 are strong plays, with Dennis Schroder $5500 more effective lately than Jeff Teague $6000, making it hard to choose either.
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Lakers opponents are always worthwhile. Known for defense, Memphis scored 128 at home on Wednesday with Matt Barnes $5400 (25 points) and Mike Conley $7200 (24) leading the attack. We touted Zach Randolph $7100, but he played just 29 minutes as Brandan Wright $3700 is rounding into form and JaMychal Green $4200 is taking advantage of increased responsibility. Not much should change in the rematch. Jordan Clarkson $5900 and D’Angelo Russell $5200 led L.A. as Kobe Bryant $5600 has been held under 30 minutes in his last four.
The Clippers hoisted up 46 3-point attempts and missed 33 in a shocking loss to Denver on Wednesday. Only J.J. Redick $5100 (6-for-12) could find the range. Determined to atone in Sacramento tonight, Chris Paul $9600 must outplay Rajon Rondo $8500 and DeAndre Jordan $7900 will try to slow down DeMarcus Cousins $10600. No match for San Antonio last night, the Kings lost all three previous meetings with L.A. this season.
Dallas got blown out at home by the Thunder on Wednesday despite a season-high 33 from Dirk Nowitzki $6300. They should beat the Nuggets, though Deron Williams $6000 (finger) is not 100%. Wesley Matthews $4500 may be breaking out of a slump and Chandler Parsons $6200 can bounce back from an off-night.
It’s too bad for the Magic that they played so hard in that loss to Golden State last night. With home court and an extra day of rest, the Knicks’ chances improve. Carmelo Anthony $8300 and Kristaps Porzingis $6500 are the main men, though Jose Calderon $4100 responded to rumors of a demotion with a 20-point outing on Wednesday. Nikola Vucevic $7700, Aaron Gordon $6500 and Victor Oladipo $7000 are still playable if you ignore the fatigue factor.
Guess what? We have another mismatch in Philadelphia. The Wizards are desperate, three games out of a playoff spot. John Wall $9200 and Marcin Gortat $6700 are standouts, with Markieff Morris $5400 overdue for a breakout (8-for-30 since the trade) and Bradley Beal $6400 also dangerous. Use the Sixers at your own peril.
Charlotte at Indiana matters a lot to both teams and may not be high-scoring. Paul George $8500, Monta Ellis $6000 and Myles Turner $6000 are worth a long look, and Ian Mahinmi $5000 has been playing well, but the Hornets had won five straight before a tough loss in Cleveland and shocked the Pacers on February 9 behind Kemba Walker $7900 and a productive bench.
|PG||John Wall $9200||Mike Conley $7200||Jose Calderon $4100|
|SG||DeMar DeRozan $7500||J.J. Redick $5100||Wesley Matthews $4500|
|SF||LeBron James $9500||Paul George $8500||Matt Barnes $5400|
|PF||DeMarcus Cousins $10600||Paul Millsap $7800||Brandan Wright $3700|
|C||DeAndre Jordan $7900||Al Horford $7100||Ian Mahinmi $5000|
The Fantasy Spin features DFS advice every day of the NBA season. Follow Kent Williams @SheridanFantasy for updates.