NBA First Look: Friday, February 27th

Get ready for one of the biggest NBA slates of the season.

Indiana (23-34) Cleveland (36-22) CLE -4 199.5 7:00 pm EST
Philadelphia (12-45) Washington (33-25) WAS -8.5 194.5 7:00 pm EST
Atlanta (45-12) Orlando (19-40) ATL -11 199.0 7:30 pm EST
Boston (22-33) Charlotte (23-32) BOS -2 198.0 7:30 pm EST
Detroit (23-34) New York (10-46) DET -13 194.5 7:30 pm EST
Toronto (37-20) Golden State (44-10) TOR -1 215.0 7:30 pm EST
New Orleans (30-27) Miami (25-31) MIA -1.5 195.0 8:00 pm EST
Chicago (36-22) Minnesota (13-43) CHI -6.5 195.5 8:00 pm EST
Houston (39-18) Brooklyn (23-32) TBD TBD 8:00 pm EST
Memphis (41-15) L.A. Clippers (37-21) MEM -5 199.0 8:00 pm EST
Denver (20-37) Utah (21-35) TBD TBD 9:00 pm EST
Sacramento (20-35) San Antonio (34-23) SAS -4.5 199.5 10:00 pm EST
L.A. Lakers (15-41) Milwaukee (32-25) MIL -5.5 195.5 10:30 pm EST
Portland (37-19) Oklahoma City (32-25) OKC -4.5 207.0 10:30 pm EST



Matchup Preview vs. Indiana:
Pace of Play: 95.6 (Rank: 20)
Points Allowed Per Game: 97.3 (Rank: 7)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 11
Rebounding Differential Rank: 6


Editor’s Note: LeBron James is out tonight.

LeBron James (FD: $10400, DK: $10300 / DvP: 5 / Usage Rate: 32.9) – James is coming off of a 65 fantasy point outing against the Warriors on Thursday night. Basically, if you faded LeBron, you probably had a tough time cashing in your leagues. James has a tougher matchup on Friday, but is about as matchup-proof as they come. The concern isn’t the matchup, it’s his minutes, as the Cavaliers have been blowing teams out left and right.


Matchup Preview vs. Cleveland:
Pace of Play: 94.9 (Rank: 24)
Points Allowed Per Game: 98.7 (Rank: 12)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 21
Rebounding Differential Rank: 8

Targets: None – There are 13 other games on Friday night’s schedule. Why waste one of your roster spots on a player from a team that is only projected to score 97 points? David West and George Hill would be fine secondary options on a small slate, but there are better matchups to exploit.


Matchup Preview vs. Philadelphia:
Pace of Play: 98.1 (Rank: 6)
Points Allowed Per Game: 101.1 (Rank: 23)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 14
Rebounding Differential Rank: 30


John Wall (FD: $9100, DK: $8600 / DvP: 23 / Usage Rate: 24.9) – Wall is more of a tournament play than a cash game play. The Sixers have struggled to remain competitive since the Michael Carter-Williams trade and this game has a great chance to be over by the end of the third quarter. The matchup is attractive though, as the Sixers are ranked 23rd against point guards.

Marcin Gortat (FD: $5500, DK: $5200 / DvP: 30 / Usage Rate: 18.1) – Gortat has finally found a rhythm, averaging 34 fantasy points per game over his last three outings. He draws another favorable matchup on Friday, as the Sixers are ranked dead last against centers and dead last in rebounding differential.


Matchup Preview vs. Washington:
Pace of Play: 96 (Rank: 16)
Points Allowed Per Game: 98.3 (Rank: 10)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 10
Rebounding Differential Rank: 4


Isaiah Canaan (FD: $4400, DK: $3700 / DvP: 12 / Usage Rate: 20.1) – Canaan has been a serviceable value play since taking over as the Sixers’ starting point guard. Over his last three games, he has averaged just under 19 fantasy points in 31 minutes per contest. There are better value plays on the board, but Canaan is the preferred play if you are looking for some exposure to the Sixers.


Matchup Preview vs. Atlanta:
Pace of Play: 96.2 (Rank: 15)
Points Allowed Per Game: 96.6 (Rank: 3)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 6
Rebounding Differential Rank: 27

Targets: None – The Magic are double-digit underdogs against the Hawks, who own the best record in the Eastern Conference. Not only does this game have the potential to turn into a blowout, but it’s a tough matchup anyway. The Hawks are ranked third in points allowed per game.


Matchup Preview vs. Orlando:
Pace of Play: 95.8 (Rank: 18)
Points Allowed Per Game: 101.2 (Rank: 24)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 23
Rebounding Differential Rank: 26


Al Horford (FD: $8100, DK: $7400 / DvP: 23 / Usage Rate: 22.5) – This game does have the potential to turn into a blowout, but it also has the potential for a big game from the Hawks’ bigs. The Magic are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Horford is quietly having a terrific season and his price is depressed on DraftKings.


Matchup Preview vs. Boston:
Pace of Play: 98.8 (Rank: 4)
Points Allowed Per Game: 102.7 (Rank: 25)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 15
Rebounding Differential Rank: 16


Al Jefferson (FD: $8200, DK: $7500 / DvP: 27 / Usage Rate: 26.7) – Jefferson is coming off of a terrific ten-game stretch, averaging 35.5 fantasy points in 31 minutes per contest. His price on FanDuel has come up, but it’s still sitting at a very playable $7,500 on DraftKings. He should be able to dominate the short-handed frontcourt of the Celtics.

Mo Williams (FD: $5500, DK: $6100 / DvP: 17 / Usage Rate: 22.9) – Williams has fit in nicely with his new team. In his three starts with the Hornets, he has averaged 33.4 fantasy points. He draws a favorable matchup against the Celtics, who have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA this season.


Matchup Preview vs. Charlotte:
Pace of Play: 95.2 (Rank: 23)
Points Allowed Per Game: 96.8 (Rank: 5)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 7
Rebounding Differential Rank: 14


Brandon Bass (FD: $5400, DK: $5600 / DvP: 21 / Usage Rate: 20.8) – Kelly Olynyk could suit up on Friday, but even if he does, he’s not going to step right in and play 30 minutes. Bass should continue to see all of the minutes that he can handle. He’s coming off of a bad outing against the Knicks, but he should be able to bounce back on Friday night.

New York

Matchup Preview vs. Detroit:
Pace of Play: 95.7 (Rank: 19)
Points Allowed Per Game: 99.5 (Rank: 16)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 17
Rebounding Differential Rank: 8


Langston Galloway (FD: $5300, DK: $5200 / DvP: 4 / Usage Rate: 19.6) – Add Jose Calderon to the list of injured Knicks. With Calderon doubtful for Friday’s game, Galloway should draw the start at point guard and push for upwards of 40 minutes against the Pistons. He will also have a higher usage rate, as he will be the primary ball-handler in the offense.


Matchup Preview vs. New York:
Pace of Play: 93.1 (Rank: 28)
Points Allowed Per Game: 100.7 (Rank: 21)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 28
Rebounding Differential Rank: 28


Greg Monroe (FD: $7600, DK: $7900 / DvP: 6 / Usage Rate: 23.7) – Monroe hasn’t exactly been reliable lately, but his inconsistency has lowered his price point on both FanDuel and DraftKings. The Knicks are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA and Monroe will have a great chance of hitting value on Friday. The biggest concern here is a potential blowout.

Reggie Jackson (FD: $6100, DK: $6100 / DvP: 15 / Usage Rate: 22.9) – The sites have finally adjusted Jackson’s price, which means he’s not going to be 90% owned on Friday night. At his price point, he needs roughly 30 fantasy points to reach value. That’s a feat that he should be able to accomplish with ease.

Golden State

Matchup Preview vs. Toronto:
Pace of Play: 95.9 (Rank: 17)
Points Allowed Per Game: 100.3 (Rank: 19)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 16
Rebounding Differential Rank: 18


Stephen Curry (FD: $10300, DK: $9800 / DvP: 20 / Usage Rate: 28.3) – Curry and the Warriors will look to bounce back after losing to the Cavaliers on Thursday night. Curry has 50 fantasy point upside every time he takes the floor. He also draws a favorable matchup against the Raptors, who have allowed the 11th most fantasy points to opposing point guards.


Matchup Preview vs. Golden State:
Pace of Play: 101.1 (Rank: 1)
Points Allowed Per Game: 99.8 (Rank: 18)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 1
Rebounding Differential Rank: 15

Targets: None – The Raptors have one of the best benches in the entire NBA. They are also playing at home, where role players typically play better. It’s hard to justify paying for any of the Raptors’ players on a night with 13 other games on the schedule.


Matchup Preview vs. New Orleans:
Pace of Play: 94.1 (Rank: 27)
Points Allowed Per Game: 99.4 (Rank: 15)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 26
Rebounding Differential Rank: 5


Hassan Whiteside (FD: $7600, DK: $7800 / DvP: 7 / Usage Rate: 20.7) – Whiteside has scored at least 35 fantasy points in three of his last five games. He is also coming off of a game where he played 37 minutes. If he is going to see that type of playing time moving forward, his price is only going to go up from here. He has tremendous upside that should be targeted in tournaments and on sites that allow you to roster more than one center.

New Orleans

Matchup Preview vs. Miami:
Pace of Play: 92.3 (Rank: 30)
Points Allowed Per Game: 96.7 (Rank: 4)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 19
Rebounding Differential Rank: 22


Tyreke Evans (FD: $8400, DK: $7900 / DvP: 13 / Usage Rate: 25.7) – Evans is recovering from an illness, but he says that he is feeling much better. With Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson both out of the lineup, Evans will continue to carry the load offensively. He has triple-double type of upside. It’s unfortunate that FanDuel has him listed as a point guard again.


Matchup Preview vs. Chicago:
Pace of Play: 95.6 (Rank: 20)
Points Allowed Per Game: 98.7 (Rank: 12)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 12
Rebounding Differential Rank: 6


Andrew Wiggins (FD: $6700, DK: $6500 / DvP: 17 / Usage Rate: 21.6) – I wanted to recommend Ricky Rubio here, but as expected, his price is up across the industry. Wiggins, on the other hand, is still at a favorable price point. He should see close to 40 minutes once again and I don’t mind the matchup against Mike Dunleavy.

Nikola Pekovic (FD: $6500, DK: $6100 / DvP: 17 / Usage Rate: 22.9) – No one seems to have noticed, but Pekovic has averaged 33.6 fantasy points per game over his last six outings. He has really flourished since the Wolves traded Thaddeus Young and there is no reason not to target him at his price point.


Matchup Preview vs. Minnesota:
Pace of Play: 97.6 (Rank: 7)
Points Allowed Per Game: 105.8 (Rank: 29)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 30
Rebounding Differential Rank: 20


Jimmy Butler (FD: $8800, DK: $7900 / DvP: 27 / Usage Rate: 21.5) – With Derrick Rose out, Butler’s usage in the offense is going to go up. Butler had a decent game against the Hornets the other night, but that was a tough matchup. He draws an extremely favorable matchup against the Wolves, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing small forwards.

Aaron Brooks (FD: $4500, DK: $4500 / DvP: 29 / Usage Rate: 25.7) – Brooks’ price has come up a bit, but he’s still not priced as a starting point guard. He needs roughly 22 fantasy points to reach value on Friday night. He should reach that mark with ease against a Wolves’ team that has allowed the second most fantasy points to point guards this season. Don’t be afraid to use Brooks and Butler together.


Matchup Preview vs. Houston:
Pace of Play: 99.2 (Rank: 3)
Points Allowed Per Game: 99.7 (Rank: 17)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 3
Rebounding Differential Rank: 10


Deron Williams (FD: $6100, DK: $6400 / DvP: 2 / Usage Rate: 22.4) – Williams will be a decent option if, and only if, Patrick Beverley is ruled out. His fantasy appeal is also dependent on his place in the starting lineup. If Beverley is out and Jarrett Jack continues to come off the bench, Williams deserves consideration as a tournament play.


Matchup Preview vs. Brooklyn:
Pace of Play: 94.4 (Rank: 25)
Points Allowed Per Game: 99.3 (Rank: 14)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 21
Rebounding Differential Rank: 25


Terrence Jones (FD: $6300, DK: $6500 / DvP: 25 / Usage Rate: 18.6) – Jones will be in play regardless, but the availability of James Harden will change the appeal of the rest of the Rockets. If Harden is unable to suit up, the entire offense will see a huge boost, as they will have to make up for a TON of lost production.

L.A. Clippers

Matchup Preview vs. Memphis:
Pace of Play: 94.3 (Rank: 26)
Points Allowed Per Game: 95.6 (Rank: 1)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 5
Rebounding Differential Rank: 13


Chris Paul (FD: $10200, DK: $10100 / DvP: 5 / Usage Rate: 22.8) – On paper, the matchup against the Grizzlies is less than appealing. But Paul’s increased role in the offense with Blake Griffin out more than offsets that. Paul faced this same team last week and put up 54 fantasy points. Paul remains one of the top overall fantasy options.


Matchup Preview vs. L.A. Clippers:
Pace of Play: 96.8 (Rank: 10)
Points Allowed Per Game: 100.9 (Rank: 22)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 18
Rebounding Differential Rank: 16


Marc Gasol (FD: $7800, DK: $7300 / DvP: 13 / Usage Rate: 24.7) – Gasol has had a good track record against DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers. While Jordan is a very long and athletic defender, the Clippers are only ranked 13th against centers. Gasol’s price is down (especially on DraftKings) and he’s a safe target for cash games.


Matchup Preview vs. Denver:
Pace of Play: 98.5 (Rank: 5)
Points Allowed Per Game: 104.3 (Rank: 26)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 24
Rebounding Differential Rank: 18


Derrick Favors (FD: $7500, DK: $7400 / DvP: 29 / Usage Rate: 23.1) – Target bigs against the Nuggets! Now more than ever, we should exploit the favorable matchup that is the Nuggets’ frontcourt. Not only have they allowed the second-most fantasy points to both centers and power forwards, but they will be without both Jusuf Nurkic and Darrell Arthur.

Rudy Gobert (FD: $6400, DK: $6500 / DvP: 29 / Usage Rate: 13.5)GOBERT OR GO HOME… That’s all I have to say. Once again, Gobert is my top play at center when you factor in price.


Matchup Preview vs. Utah:
Pace of Play: 92.8 (Rank: 29)
Points Allowed Per Game: 97.5 (Rank: 8)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 24
Rebounding Differential Rank: 3


Danilo Gallinari (FD: $5100, DK: $5500 / DvP: 10 / Usage Rate: 20.6) – The Nuggets are losing players left and right. Gallinari has filled in nicely though and is really the only Nuggets’ player that is playing well right now. His price is a little higher than I’d like to pay for him, but he should have a huge role in the offense on Friday night.

J.J. Hickson (FD: $3700, DK: $3200 / DvP: 12 / Usage Rate: 20.3) – Jusuf Nurkic and Darrell Arthur are both expected to miss Friday night’s game, which means J.J. Hickson and Kenneth Faried should both see heavy minutes. Both are in play, but Hickson is the much safer pick of the two, as he is close to minimum salary.

San Antonio

Matchup Preview vs. Sacramento:
Pace of Play: 97.5 (Rank: 9)
Points Allowed Per Game: 104.3 (Rank: 26)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 27
Rebounding Differential Rank: 1


Kawhi Leonard (FD: $7100, DK: $6700 / DvP: 6 / Usage Rate: 22.5) – Do you ever go to the store and see something that is just so cheap, that you decide to buy it, even though you don’t need it? That’s how I feel about Leonard on Friday. His price is at it’s lowest point in months and he is coming off of a 35 fantasy point outing against the Blazers.


Matchup Preview vs. San Antonio:
Pace of Play: 95.5 (Rank: 22)
Points Allowed Per Game: 97.5 (Rank: 8)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 7
Rebounding Differential Rank: 10


Rudy Gay (FD: $7800, DK: $7300 / DvP: 1 / Usage Rate: 26.1) – DeMarcus Cousins is not expected to play and it sounds like Darren Collison may miss the rest of the season. The Kings’ offense is going to start and end with Gay. The matchup couldn’t be any worse (Spurs ranked first against small forwards), but he is certainly going to get his shots up.


Matchup Preview vs. L.A. Lakers:
Pace of Play: 96.7 (Rank: 12)
Points Allowed Per Game: 106.3 (Rank: 30)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 29
Rebounding Differential Rank: 20


Giannis Antetokounmpo (FD: $6400, DK: $7300 / DvP: 21 / Usage Rate: 19.6) – Antetokounmpo looked like he was going to score 100 fantasy points the other night against the Sixers. I don’t know the exact total, but he had at least 20 fantasy points in the first quarter. He draws an equally juicy matchup on Friday night, as the Lakers own the worst defense in the entire NBA.

L.A. Lakers

Matchup Preview vs. Milwaukee:
Pace of Play: 96.4 (Rank: 13)
Points Allowed Per Game: 96.5 (Rank: 2)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 2
Rebounding Differential Rank: 23

Targets: None – The Lakers have a deep and inconsistent rotation, they are playing their worst basketball of the season, and they draw a tough matchup against a Bucks’ team that has allowed the second-fewest points per game this season.

Oklahoma City

Matchup Preview vs. Portland:
Pace of Play: 96.4 (Rank: 13)
Points Allowed Per Game: 97.2 (Rank: 6)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 4
Rebounding Differential Rank: 12


Russell Westbrook (FD: $11200, DK: $11200 / DvP: 15 / Usage Rate: 36.2) – As I’m typing this, Westbrook has 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists against the Suns and there is still six minutes left in the game. In case you haven’t heard, targeting Westbrook when Kevin Durant is out of the lineup is a wise decision. Fade him at your own risk.


Matchup Preview vs. Oklahoma City:
Pace of Play: 97.6 (Rank: 7)
Points Allowed Per Game: 98.5 (Rank: 11)
Defensive Efficiency Rank: 9
Rebounding Differential Rank: 2


Damian Lillard (FD: $8300, DK: $7800 / DvP: 24 / Usage Rate: 26.5) – This should be a terrific battle between two of the best young point guards in the Western Conference. Looking at the matchup alone, Lillard has a slight edge, as the Thunder are ranked 24th against point guards this season. Lillard has been quiet recently, but I could see a breakout performance from him on Friday night.

About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.


  • dracornelius

    Thanks Notorious for your input

  • Seeeeb

    This is so awesome to have for the night owls thanks

  • mikebrown3

    Can you explain the pace of play rankings?

  • bustedmustard

    Why would Lillard have an advantage over Westbrook? He is a horrible defender…

  • Ericpro777

    I think he just meant that Westbrook also isnt a very good defender

  • mgovas

    I faded lebron for a 336 point lu last night. Great job as always noto even though on wed i ask you crowdler or ingels and you picked ingles lol. Seriously if olynyk is out i think crowlder deserves some consideration.

  • abbey649

    Thanks Notorious. Your work much appreciated. I use this to start my research day.

  • DK_Ninjaaaaa

    Joakim Noah is going to get a triple double tonight

  • FearinLoathin

    Hey Mike, pace of play is the statistic of how many offensive possessions a team has per game. It is helpful in determining fantasy output because more possessions = more scoring opportunities. Where it gets tricky is when a slower paced team is matched up with a fast-paced team. Usually, the home team can more easily set the pace of the game to their liking, but this isn’t always the case. Matchups between two fast-paced teams (Suns and Warriors, for example) are usually the highest-scoring and provide the best fantasy opportunities. Hope this helps!

  • AndThisGuyPeedOnIt

    @DK_Ninjaaaaa said...

    Joakim Noah is going to get a triple double tonight

    I didn’t realize the NBA was counting “animated clapping” as a stat.

  • FearinLoathin

    Matchups between Westbrook and whomever is playing against him have been fantasy GOLD lately. RWB isn’t concerned with defense, and even more so now that he has to focus most of his energy on the offensive side of the ball. I love playing Westy and his opponent in the same lineup… Take a look at the last few games the Thunder have played, and look at the opponent’s starting PG stats. It’s amazing.

  • HeadlineTN

    AH F#4@ Fd MOVED Ty Evans to PG…

  • kkc1212

    Becausee Westbrook is going to be dead after last nights game

  • VChair23

    Westbrook after OT and the fall makes me lean toward Tourney only unless there’s further clarification before tip

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