The ESPN Fantasy and Betting Cheat Sheet is your pre-game destination for our best information and data to help you make smart fantasy and betting decisions. NBA game odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy tips are based on ESPN 10-team leagues.
What you need to know for Thursday Night’s NBA slate
By Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe
Men’s bag: Jerami Grant and Hamidou Diallo are listed as absent in Orlando tonight. When Grant is off the floor, Marvin Bagley III (45% available) sees his usage jump to 26% and he’s produced an additional 13.3 DraftKings points every 36 minutes. For those looking for a DFS building block or a target for prop plays, Bagley faces an Orlando frontcourt that has yielded 48.3 DraftKings PPG to power forwards, the second-highest rate in the league. .
Seating Suggestions: Orlando won’t have rookie guard Jalen Suggs in the roster, so Markelle Fultz (83% available) should be a popular name to consider given her elite assist percentage. However, Fultz could also be limited to around 20 minutes even without Suggs as the Magic continue to use him conservatively following his ACL injury last season. An alternative could be RJ Hampton (99% available), who has shown solid play at times and is expected to approach or exceed 30 minutes of running time against Detroit.
Cade Watch: Cade Cunningham is listed as questionable for tonight’s game, so it’s safe to consider Cory Joseph (97% available) if the Cunningham sits. Joseph won’t deliver a monster line, but his utilization rate and fantastic production have both increased significantly when Cunningham left the field this season.
Trend Trend: The Trail Blazers are short of a young, unproven roster most nights. If you have room on your roster during this light one-game slate, acquire Trendon Watford (84% available) and/or Drew Eubanks (96%). Watford have become a fun source of overrunning power forward production, while Eubanks have averaged a double-double over the past week.
game of the night
Line: Magic (-4.5)
Money line: Magic (-177), Pistons (+143)
Total: 219 dots
BPI score projection: Magic Victory: 109-106
BPI gain %: Magic (60.9%)
Main players excluded: Jerami Grant, Hamidou Diallo, Jalen Suggs
Questionable: Cade Cunningham (illness), Wendell Carter Jr.
Notable: The Pistons are on a 12-game unbeaten streak against the spread and have seen six of their last seven games go under.
Best bet: Pistons 1H (+1.5). In a battle of two of the league’s worst teams with star or questionable players, this game is a draw. Suggs is ruled out and Carter Jr, Cunningham and others are listed as questionable. This game could be sloppy so I’m looking to support a trend here. Detroit is 10-0 ATS in the first half in its last 10 games overall and 8-2 in its last 10 away games. The Pistons are a coating machine. They covered that number in two of three games against Orlando and cashed in the previous game. I’d be more confident in this pick if Cunningham’s status wasn’t up in the air, but all things considered in a game that could go either way… riding the hot trends. –Erin Dolan
Best bet: Pistons +4.5. The Pistons have been making the money for weeks now as bettors don’t seem to have caught up in their play since the All-Star Break. The question is health, especially Cunningham’s. With Grant out, the Pistons will need Cunningham to compete. If he plays, they have the frontcourt depth to keep this game close even without Grant. — Andre Snellings
Best bet: Franz Wagner on 23.5 points + assists + rebounds. This season, Wagner has been one of the Magic’s few bright spots. In 69 games this season, the rookie has averaged 15.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.9 APG. Wagner faces a Pistons team that has allowed small forwards to average 23.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG and 4.0 APG. –Eric Moody
Fantastic Streamer: Markelle Fultz (84.5% available). Fultz was quiet in Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Nets but was one of the best players on the court in his two previous outings despite being limited on minutes. With Suggs out, Fultz should have the ability to produce well within minutes on Thursday. –Snellings
Fantastic Streamer: Isaiah Livers (98.4% available). Livers is an intriguing streamer for those using deeper formats and those looking for DFS value. Livers has missed a lot of time with a foot injury, but is now healthy and earning minutes with the Pistons. Bad defensive team, the Magic ranks 22nd in points allowed per 100 possessions. — In a bad mood