Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Friday

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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 Friday, March 24 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


What you need to know for Friday’s games

Kawhi Leonard confirmed last night that he is indeed still dominant. The LA Clippers got encouraging news on Paul George‘s recent knee injury, but it’s still likely he misses the rest of the regular season. Given the absence of his wing man, Leonard has league-winning statistical potential for a Clippers team that will want to maintain coveted seeding. Bones Hyland (90% available in ESPN leagues) surfaced off the bench on Thursday with strong scoring and creation results and a team-high plus-minus. The Clippers will need offense from somewhere, while Hyland just outplayed Eric Gordon and Terance Mann in last night’s win.

It’s safe to guess tonight’s matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Wizards isn’t the pinnacle of competition during a busy 10-game Friday schedule. Then again, there is a great deal of streaming potential given Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma have both been ruled out, which makes Deni Avdija and even Delon Wright intriguing interim additions. For the Spurs, Zach Collins qualifies as a top value if he’s active. Avdija, meanwhile, has one of the better DFS profiles of the slate.

The expected absences of Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson for the Utah Jazz tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks signals a big role for Talen Horton-Tucker. Utah’s versatile guard is one of several key names our roundtable panel endorsed ahead of the weekend, joining the likes of Austin Reaves and multiple Memphis frontcourt contributors as players to target.

— Jim McCormick


Breaking down Friday’s slate

Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics
7 p.m. ET, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Records (Against the Spread)
Pacers: 33-40 (39-34-0)
Celtics: 50-23 (38-34-1)

Line: Celtics (-12)
BPI Projection: Celtics 9133.2-121.8)
Money Line: Pacers (+550), Celtics (-800)
BPI Projected winner: Celtics (85.3%)
Total: 234.5 points BPI Projected Total: 255 points

Injury Report:
Pacers: Chris Duarte, (GTD – Ankle); Tyrese Haliburton, (GTD – Knee); Kendall Brown, (OUT – Lower Leg)
Celtics: Payton Pritchard, (GTD – Heel); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamers: T.J. McConnell (available in 84.4% of leagues) and Andrew Nembhard (available in 93.1% of leagues) are both viable streamers on Friday if Tyrese Haliburton misses his seventh straight game. Haliburton has been listed as questionable the last few games, so he’s probably not far away, and his status should be checked before making your roster decision. But McConnell has averaged 11.8 PPG, 9.0 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG and 0.5 3PG in 25.5 MPG off the bench in his last four outings, and Nembhard has scored at least 22 points in three of the last four games. — Snellings

Best bet: Marcus Smart over 5.5 assists. This is one prop bet at plus odds on Friday’s slate that I’m drawn to like a moth to the flame. This season, the Pacers have given up the seventh most assists per game to shooting guards. Smart has surpassed 5.5 assists in each of his last two games. It’s very likely that trend continues against the Pacers. — Moody

Trend:


San Antonio Spurs at Washington Wizards
7 p.m. ET, Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Records (Against the Spread)
Spurs: 19-54 (30-43-0)
Wizards: 32-41 (32-39-2)

Line: Wizards (-8)
BPI Projection: Wizards (136.3-125.3)
Money Line: Spurs (+250), Wizards (-320)
BPI Projected winner: Wizards (83.7%)
Total: 228 points BPI Projected Total: 261.6 points

Injury Report:
Spurs: Devin Vassell, (GTD – Knee); Devonte’ Graham, (GTD – Quadriceps); Doug McDermott, (GTD – Hip); Keldon Johnson, (GTD – Neck); Tre Jones, (GTD – Foot); Zach Collins, (GTD – Biceps); Jeremy Sochan, (OUT – Knee); Khem Birch, (OUT – Knee); Romeo Langford, (OUT – Thigh); Charles Bassey, (OUT – Kneecap)
Wizards: Bradley Beal, (OUT – Knee); Kyle Kuzma, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Deni Avdija (rostered in 7.3% of ESPN leagues) should see additional playing time with Bradley Beal already ruled out due to left knee soreness. Avdija has scored 33 or more fantasy points in two consecutive games and faces a Spurs defense that ranks 30th in points allowed per 100 possessions. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Kristaps Porzingis over 28.5 points. Porzingis is a bucket when he’s featured, and with both Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma out, Porzingis will be the primary option for the Wizards tonight. Plus, he’s facing a Spurs squad that allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing power forward on the season and is both lottery-bound and dealing with injury. Porzingis could put a big number on the board tonight. — Snellings


Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors
7:30 p.m. ET, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Records (Against the Spread)
Pistons: 16-57 (31-41-1)
Raptors: 35-38 (36-36-1)

Line: Raptors (-14.5)
BPI Projection: Raptors (136.3-115.3)
Money Line: Pistons (+700), Raptors (-1100)
BPI Projected winner: Raptors (94.9%)
Total: 224 points BPI Projected Total: 248 points

Injury Report:
Pistons: Isaiah Livers, (GTD – Hip); Alec Burks, (OUT – Foot); Bojan Bogdanovic, (OUT – Achilles); Rodney McGruder, (OUT – Foot); Isaiah Stewart, (OUT – Shoulder); Cade Cunningham, (OUT – Lower Leg); Hamidou Diallo, (OUT – Ankle)
Raptors: Gary Trent Jr., (GTD – Elbow); Joe Wieskamp, (GTD – Hamstring); Precious Achiuwa, (GTD – Hamstring); Scottie Barnes, (GTD – Wrist); Dalano Banton, (OUT – Thumb); Otto Porter Jr., (OUT – Foot)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Killian Hayes (rostered in 19.8% of ESPN leagues) remains one of the few bright spots for the Pistons this season. He has scored at least 27 fantasy points in six consecutive games, including three with at least 38. Hayes’ field goal percentage lowers his fantasy value, but he’s still a solid option if you need a fill in. — Moody

Fantasy Streamers: Marvin Bagley III (available in 84.4% of leagues) and James Wiseman (available in 77.5% of leagues) have been taking turns putting up dominant performances, and overall have both played streamable-caliber ball of late. Last game, Bagley popped for 31 points, 8 rebounds, 4 3-pointers, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 41 minutes; in his previous 10 outings he’s averaged 15.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 1.0 BPG with three 20-10 efforts in the mix. Meanwhile, Wiseman struggled with foul trouble last game, but in the seven games before had averaged 17.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 1.1 BPG in 29.3 MPG. — Snellings

Best bet: Fred VanVleet over 30.5 points + assists. Right now, the Raptors are dealing with a lot of injuries, so VanVleet should see a ton of usage. In four of his last five games, he has exceeded 30.5 points and assists. Detroit is one of the worst defensive teams in the league ranking 28th in points allowed per 100 possessions. — Moody


Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies
8 p.m. ET, FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee

Records (Against the Spread)
Rockets: 18-55 (29-41-3)
Grizzlies: 45-27 (33-36-3)

Line: Grizzlies (-13.5)
BPI Projection: Grizzlies: 137.3-122.5
Money Line: Rockets (+650), Grizzlies (-1000)
BPI Projected winner: Grizzlies (90.2%)
Total: 233.5 BPI Projected Total: 259.8

Injury Report:
Rockets: Jae’Sean Tate, (OUT – Knee)
Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, (OUT – Achilles); Vince Williams Jr., (OUT – Shoulder); Ziaire Williams, (OUT – Foot); Steven Adams, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Tari Eason (rostered in 7.4% of ESPN leagues) will see additional minutes with Jae’Sean Tate already ruled out due to left knee soreness. In the five games he’s played 30 minutes or more this season, Eason has averaged 16.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.8 steals. — Moody

Trend: We are squarely in the “need to consider motivation” portion of the NBA schedule, but even before you get to that part of the analysis, Memphis looks like a strong play here. Or, maybe more accurately, Houston a viable play. The Rockets are are 7-14-1 ATS this season when catching 10-plus points and are just 5-9 ATS in their past 14 games against top-10 defenses. Of note for total bettors is the fact that in six of those nine ATS losses against elite defenses, under tickets have cashed.– Kyle Soppe


Charlotte Hornets at Dallas Mavericks
8:30 p.m. ET, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Records (Against the Spread)
Hornets: 23-51 (32-40-2)
Mavericks: 36-37 (28-42-3)

Line: Mavericks (-14.5)
BPI Projection: Mavericks (137.3-121.6)
Money Line: Hornets (+700), Mavericks (-1100)
BPI Projected winner: Mavericks (90.6%)
Total: 227.5 points BPI Projected Total: 257.7 points

Injury Report:
Hornets: Terry Rozier, (GTD – Foot); Dennis Smith Jr., (GTD – Illness); Kelly Oubre Jr., (GTD – Shoulder); Mark Williams, (GTD – Thumb); Cody Martin, (OUT – Knee); LaMelo Ball, (OUT – Ankle)
Mavericks: Kyrie Irving, (GTD – Foot); Tim Hardaway Jr., (GTD – Illness)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Jaden Hardy (available in 97.7% of leagues) has put up some big numbers in recent games where Luka Doncic and/or Kyrie Irving were out. Doncic returned last game, but Irving sat and is listed as questionable on Friday. Hardy has scored 20 or more points in five of his last six games, including two straight efforts off the bench. If Irving sits again on Friday, Hardy could be in for another big game. — Snellings


Milwaukee Bucks at Utah Jazz
9 p.m ET, Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

Records (Against the Spread)
Bucks: 52-20 (39-27-6)
Jazz: 35-37 (40-32-0)

Line: Bucks (-9)
BPI Projection: Bucks (136.1-126.5)
Money Line: Bucks (-400), Jazz (+310)
BPI Projected winner: Bucks (73.3%)
Total: 236.5 points BPI Projected Total: 259.9 points

Injury Report:
Bucks: Jae Crowder, (OUT – Calf); Khris Middleton, (OUT – Knee); Meyers Leonard, (OUT – Calf)
Jazz: Collin Sexton, (OUT – Hamstring); Jordan Clarkson, (OUT – Finger); Lauri Markkanen, (OUT – Hand); Rudy Gay, (OUT – Back)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Pat Connaughton (rostered in 1.5% of ESPN leagues) is on the streaming radar with Khris Middleton already ruled out due to right knee injury management. In the 13 games he’s played 30 minutes or more this season, Connaughton has averaged 12.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals. He should have success against a Jazz rank 24th in points allowed per 100 possessions. — Moody

Fantasy streamers: Kelly Olynyk (available in 67.9% of leagues), Talen Horton-Tucker (available in 86.3% of leagues) and Ochai Agbaji (available in 97.2% of leagues) are all in play on Friday with Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Colin Sexton all out. Heck, you could throw Walker Kessler (available in 42.0% of leagues) and Kris Dunn (available in 86.1% of leagues) into the mix as well. The entire Jazz starting group for tonight is in play, and all except Kessler are available in the majority of leagues. An NBA team is going to score around 100 points with plenty of peripheral numbers each night, so with all the Jazz’s top producers out, there are going to be some numbers put up by those that do play. I’d guess that THT and Olynyk are most likely to put up the best lines tonight, but the others mentioned have all shown the ability to have a big game when given the opportunity. Jazz are in play tonight, for both season-long streaming and DFS purposes. — Snellings

Trend: I’m in the business of providing trends. Usually, that comes with a lean, but in this case, it’s making you aware that two amazing streaks are in play for this game. The Jazz are 10-0 ATS with nine outright wins as home underdogs this season and the Bucks are 12-0 ATS as road favorites since New Years. Picking a side here is difficult, but the total trends can walk you towards a side. Overs are 10-3 this season when Utah plays a top-10 defense and in Minnesota’s past three games against top-10 offenses, overs aren’t just 3-0, but they are cashing by an average of 23.5 points. — Soppe


Philadelphia 76ers at Golden State Warriors
10 p.m. ET, Chase Center, San Francisco, California

Records (Against the Spread)
76ers: 49-23 (41-30-1)
Warriors: 38-36 (34-39-1)

Line: Warriors (-5.5)
BPI Projection: 76ers (133.4-129)
Money Line: 76ers (+185), Warriors (-225)
BPI Projected winner: 76ers (53.9%)
Total: 234.5 points BPI Projected Total: 259.1 points

Injury Report:
76ers: Jalen McDaniels, (GTD – Hip); James Harden, (GTD – Achilles); Joel Embiid, (GTD – Calf)
Warriors: Andrew Wiggins, (OUT – Personal); Gary Payton II, (OUT – Abdomen); Ty Jerome, (OUT – Not Injury Related); Andre Iguodala, (OUT – Wrist); Ryan Rollins, (OUT – Foot)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: De’Anthony Melton (rostered in 35.4% of ESPN leagues) should prosper with James Harden questionable for Friday’s game due to his Achilles. Melton has performed well when provided minutes. He’s scored 50 or more fantasy points in three consecutive games. Melton’s in a great spot against the Warriors. — Moody

Best bet: Warriors -5.5. The Warriors are playing at home on Friday; at home, they have actually performed better this season (29-7, 80.6 win percentage) than they did in their championship-winning season last year (31-10, 75.6 win percentage). Both Joel Embiid and James Harden are questionable to play on Friday, and both sat some or all of Wednesday’s game with the issues. Obviously, if either/both are unable to go, or are attenuated, it would further weaken the 76ers in what should already be a tough game. — Snellings

Trend: The Philadelphia injury report bears watching, but the opening line would suggest that they will be short-handed. The 76ers have covered five straight (and 12 of their past 16) on the road and the Warriors are just 3-7 ATS over their past 10, so there is certainly an argument to be made that it doesn’t matter who plays for Philly, that sportsbooks simply overrate the Warriors and underrate the 6ers on the road. If this spread tightens and goes off at less than five points, then it’s noteworthy the Philadelphia is 27-14 ATS this season in such situations.— Soppe


Chicago Bulls at Portland Trail Blazers
10 p.m. ET, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon

Records (Against the Spread)
Bulls: 34-38 (37-35-0)
Blazers: 32-40 (34-37-1)

Line: Bulls (-2.5)
BPI Projection: Bulls: 130.9-125.4
Money Line: Bulls (-140), Blazers (+118)
BPI Projected winner: Bulls (69.3%)
Total: 226.5 BPI Projected Total: 256.3

Injury Report:
Bulls: Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee); Alex Caruso, (GTD – Foot); DeMar DeRozan, (GTD – Quadriceps); Javonte Green, (GTD – Knee); Goran Dragic, (OUT – Knee)
Blazers: Damian Lillard, (GTD – Calf); Jusuf Nurkic, (GTD – Knee); Nassir Little, (GTD – Concussion); Anfernee Simons, (OUT – Foot); Jerami Grant, (OUT – Quadriceps); Justise Winslow, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Trendon Watford (rostered in 5.8% of ESPN leagues) is in a great spot with Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant already ruled out due to their respective injuries. Four of his last five games have seen him score 30 or more fantasy points, including two with 40. Over that period, Watford averaged 32.2 minutes per game. — Moody


Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. ET, Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

Records (Against the Spread)
Suns: 38-34 (36-34-2)
Kings: 43-29 (40-32-0)

Line: Kings (-3.5)
BPI Projection: Kings (138.5-132.9)
Money Line: Suns (+143), Kings (-170)
BPI Projected winner: Kings (68.8%)
Total: 239 points BPI Projected Total: 271.4 points

Injury Report:
Suns: Duane Washington Jr., (OUT – Hip); Deandre Ayton, (OUT – Hip); Kevin Durant, (OUT – Ankle)
Kings: Kevin Huerter, (GTD – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Devin Booker over 42.5 points + assists + rebounds. Since Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton are out, the Suns should continue to rely heavily on Booker. In three games against the Kings this season, he’s averaged 34.7 points, 4.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. There’s a good chance this will be a high scoring game. — Moody

Best bet: Domantas Sabonis over 41.5 points + assists + rebounds. Sabonis should have a monster game against the Suns since Deandre Ayton has already been ruled out due to a right hip contusion. Over the last 12 games, Sabonis has averaged 20.6 points, 8.9 assists, and 13.2 rebounds. In this Pacific Division matchup, he should deliver a masterful performance. — Moody

Trend: The Kings are 18-13 ATS this season when favored by more than three points and if you dig a little deeper, that trend provides even more optimism for #LightTheBeam. In those 31 games, overs are 21-9-1 and the Suns are just 3-8-1 ATS (five straight ATS losses) in games that go over the number since the beginning of February. — Soppe


Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers
10:30 p.m ET, Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California

Records (Against the Spread)
Thunder: 36-37 (45-27-1)
Lakers: 36-37 (34-37-2)

Line: Lakers (-5.5)
BPI Projection: Lakers (138.5-128.1)
Money Line: Thunder (+185), Lakers (-225)
BPI Projected winner: Lakers (58.7%)
Total: 232.5 points BPI Projected Total: 258.6 points

Injury Report:
Thunder: Chet Holmgren, (OUT – Foot); Kenrich Williams, (OUT – Wrist)
Lakers: Anthony Davis, (GTD – Foot); LeBron James, (OUT – Foot); Mo Bamba, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Austin Reaves (rostered in 27% of ESPN leagues) has been playing well lately. In three of his last four games, he has scored 40 or more fantasy points, including two with 50 or more. Reaves has also attempted 53 free throws over that time frame. That’s the most free throw attempts over a four-game span by a Lakers’ guard since Kobe Bryant in April 2013. The positive momentum should continue against the Thunder. — Moody

Trend: The Thunder are a scrappy team and they’ve proven it consistently on the road by posting a 12-4-1 ATS mark in their past 17 games away from home. On the other side of this game is a Lakers team that has seen 10 of their past 13 home games go under the total. Why does that matter? Oklahoma City has covered 11 of their past 13 (including five straight) games that have seen fewer points scored than expected. — Soppe

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