<
>

Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Thursday

play
Alec Burks continues to surprise fantasy managers (0:44)

While Alec Burks might not win the Sixth Man of the Year, his increase in production has been rewarding to fantasy managers that have invested in him. (0:44)

ESPN's fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for January 19th are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


Win With Wolves: Taking a team on the back-end of a back-to-back isn't comfortable, but it very well could be the play tonight north of the border. The Raptors are just 5-8-1 ATS this season when playing a team on the second night of a back-to-back and they are 0-5-1 ATS in their past six games as a road favorite.

Slo Mo: The Timberwolves are still trying to optimize their roster after last summer's blockbuster deal, but one under-the-radar move that is already working is the signing of versatile forward Kyle Anderson. A free agent in 88% of ESPN leagues, Anderson produced a triple-double against Utah earlier this week and just finished two dimes shy of another one last night in Denver. Oh yeah, he also has seven steals across his last three games and is due for over 30 minutes against the Raptors this evening.

Slow And Steady: The 76ers have covered each of their past three games against a bottom-10 pace team and over tickets have cashed in all three of those instances. Tonight's opponent, the Trail Blazers, sit 23rd in pace entering the contest.

Suns Rise: The Suns have battled a series of significant injuries to their star backcourt and even to contributors deeper in the rotation, but the team is about to get some help in the form of Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson. Paul is listed as questionable to play the visiting Nets tonight, while Johnson is probable to play. This would mark Johnson's first action since early November. In the two games prior to getting injured, Johnson sank 12 3-pointers and lofted 32 total shots, evidence he can be a high-volume shooting specialist for fantasy purposes.

(Not) Road Warriors: A rematch of last summer's Finals is on tap in Boston on Thursday night. As you might know, Golden State has struggled on the road this season, claiming the league's fourth-worst net rating in such games while the Celtics have the league's third-best home net rating. While the Warriors are finally getting healthy, Boston is likely to have Jaylen Brown back in the lineup. Given the spread is hovering around six points on most books, the Celtics are in a good spot.

-- Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe


Game of the night

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics
7:30 p.m. ET, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Line: Celtics (-6)
Money line: Celitcs (-250), Warriors (+205)
Total: 239 points
BPI Projected Total: 231 points
BPI Win%: Celtics (70.3%)

Ruled Out: Jaylen Brown, James Wiseman, JaMychal Green, Jonathan Kuminga
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet: Stephen Curry over 38.5 points + assists + rebounds. Curry is well positioned for success because the Warriors will be missing a number of players in its rotation. Curry had 41 points, two assists and seven rebounds on Monday night against the Wizards. There is a strong chance he'll surpass 38.5 PAR Thursday night. -- Eric Moody

Best bet: Klay Thompson over 3.5 total 3pt field goals. Thompson has averaged 5.9 made 3PG in his past seven outings, making at least five 3-pointers in five of those games. When he's on the court, his shot is working at same level it was in his prime. -- Andre Snellings

Breaking down the rest of the slate

Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons
3 p.m. ET, Accor Arena, Paris, France

Line: Bulls (-7.5)
Money line: Bulls (-285), Pistons (+228)
Total: 236 points
BPI Projected Total: 228 points
BPI Win%: Bulls (71.7%)

Questionable: Hamidou Diallo, Cory Joseph, Nerlens Noel
Ruled Out: Jalen Duren, Marvin Bagley III
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Alec Burks (rostered in 5.1% of ESPN leagues) While Burks comes off the bench for the Pistons, he's certainly not shy about shooting the ball. Burks has averaged 13.8 PPG in 21.8 MPG., scoring 23.1 fantasy points per game. He's averaged 24.7 fantasy points per game over the past 30 days and faces a Bulls team that are certianly no defensive juggernaut. Burks scored 33 fantasy points against them a few weeks ago and should get enough shots to do that again Thursday. -- Eric Karabell

Fantasy streamer: Killian Hayes (available in 65.7% of leagues) Hayes is staple in this space since he became the starting point guard and started producing fantasy starter numbers. In his last seven games since returning from suspension, Hayes has averaged 14.6 PPG, 8.0 APG, 2.4 RPG, 2.3 SPG and 1.9 3PG in 32.7 MPG. -- Snellings

Best bet: Nikola Vucevic over 11.5 rebounds. Vucevic is in a great spot for Thursday's game in Paris. He has 11 or more rebounds in eight of his past nine games and faces a Pistons team that has allowed the third most rebounds per game to centers this season. -- Moody

Best bet: Jaden Ivey over 4.5 assists. Ivey has surpassed 4.5 assists in six of his past seven games and faces a Bulls team that ranks 15th in points allowed per 100 possessions and allows opponents an effective field goal percentage of 55.8%. -- Moody

Toronto Raptors at Minnesota Timberwolves
8 p.m. ET, Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Line: Raptors (-5)
Money line: Raptors (-190), Timberwolves (+158)
Total: 231.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 231.3 points
BPI Win%: Raptors (56.1%)

Questionable: Austin Rivers, Rudy Gobert
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Kyle Anderson (rostered in 16% of ESPN leagues) Anderson has been a great streamer with Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns dealing with respective injuries. Anderson has scored 50 or more fantasy points and has played 30 or more minutes in consecutive games. Pick him up if you need a streamer. -- Moody

Fantasy streamer: Naz Reid (available in 94.9% of leagues) Reid the spot start for Gobert on Wednesday, and turned in 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 assists. With the Timberwolves on the second half of a back-to-back, it's possible that Gobert may not play on Thursday. Reid has averaged 19.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.8 3PG, 1.4 SPG, 1.2 BPG amd 29.0 MPG in five starts this season. -- Snellings

Best bet: Fred VanVleet over 19.5 points. VanVleet has been on fire lately, scoring 72 points over his past two games. He faces D'Angelo Russell and the Timberwolves, who are also on the second half of a back-to-back. If VanVleet stays as aggressive as he's been of late, he could have another big game. -- Snellings

Best bet: Scottie Barnes over 15.5 points. Barnes had a disappointing start to the season, but he's really picked it up as a scorer lately. He has averaged 18.4 PPG in his past nine outings, with 19 or more points scored in six of them. Barnes plays an aggressive style for a wing/forward, and he faces a Timberwolves team on the second half of a back-to-back that may be without rim protector Rudy Gobert. -- Snellings

Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns
10 p.m. ET, Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Line: Nets (-1.5)
Money line: Nets (-125), Suns (+105)
Total: 220.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 224.6 points
BPI Win%: Nets (50.2%)

Probable: Kyrie Irving
Ruled Out: Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, Josh Okogie, Cameron Payne, Devin Booker
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers
10 p.m. ET, Moda Center, Portland, Oregon

Line: 76ers (-2)
Money line: 76ers (-135), Blazers (+155)
Total: 233.4 points
BPI Projected Total: 231.8 points
BPI Win%: 76ers (60.2%)

Questionable: Gary Payton II, Jusuf Nurkic
Ruled Out: Justise Winslow
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet: Joel Embiid over 46.5 points + assists + rebounds. Embiid has averaged 34.4 points, 2.4 assists, and 9.6 rebounds over the past five games. He faces a Trail Blazers team that has surrendered some massive performances to centers. Embiid has averaged 36.0 points, 2.0 assists, and 7.0 rebounds in his past two games against Portland. -- Moody

Best bet: James Harden over 10.5 assists. Harden and Embiid have a really good thing going, ranking as the top team in the NBA in this season. While Harden had a rough game Tuesday against the Clippers with only nine assists, he reached 11 or more assists in six consecutive games prior to that. Harden figures to rely on Embiid again in Portland, and he should reach 11 assists easily. -- Karabell

Best bet: Josh Hart under 9.5 points. Betting the under on points is often risky, but Hart has only scored in double digits three times over the past nine games, attempting five or fewer field goals in six of those games. Hart does other things to help the Blazers, but he's just not shooting enough to make a difference. -- Karabell