NBA Grind Down: Saturday, January 31st - Page Two

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Cleveland at Minnesota – 8:00 PM EST

  • Vegas LineCleveland -10, 204.5 Over/Under
  • Cleveland Proj. StartersIrving-Smith-James-Love-Mozgov
  • Minnesota Proj. StartersLaVine-Wiggins-Young-Dieng-Pekovic
Cleveland Minnesota
Vegas Total 204 Vegas Total 204
Vegas Sprd -10.0 Vegas Sprd 10.0
Team Proj. 107.25 Team Proj. 97.25
Team Pace 94.66 Team Pace 97.74
Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters
Proj Starter Kyrie Irving J.R. Smith Lebron James Kevin Love Timofey Mozgov Proj Starter Zach LaVine Andrew Wiggins Thaddeus Young Gorgui Dieng Nikola Pekovic
Opp. Season 28 24 27 25 28 Opp. Season 9 22 30 17 16
Opp. Last 7 18 18 15 24 21 Opp. Last 7 15 1 28 14 19


Of course, the narrative of this game centers around Kevin Love’s return to Minnesota. It would have been an easy decision to plug him into lineups if LeBron James hadn’t decided to recover from his injuries for a few days, but he surprisingly did not miss last night’s game and is expected to play again tonight. The Timberwolves are in the bottom five at defending each position this season.

Elite Plays

Kevin Love — He is coming off of a 23 point, 10 rebound game in 29 minutes last night, so maybe this pick isn’t strictly storyline based. It sounds like Minnesota fans have decided that they are going to boo Love, though there has been some debate about it. His price makes him nowhere near a must-play, but the upside is among the highest of anyone going tonight.

Secondary Plays

Kyrie Irving / LeBron James — With many expected to follow the Love narrative, Irving and James are nice contrarian tournament options in incredible matchups. The Wolves are the worst defensive team in the NBA, and even though the Cavs are big favorites, blowout potential is much less likely when the expected winner is on the road.

J.R. Smith — He took advantage of a bad defense last night and gets just as good of an opportunity tonight. If this does turn into a blowout, Smith will still see 30+ minutes.


The Timberwolves are a league-worst 8-38 so far this season and give up the most points per game in the league. The Cavs have been up and down defensively at each position all season, but the way I prefer to attack them usually is with good frontcourt players. Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng have been playing well together since Pekovic returned from injury. Zach LaVine got injured last night and Mo Williams was already hurt, both are questionable to play tonight.

Elite Plays

Andrew Wiggins — In the first matchup between these two teams, you hardly heard anyone talk about the Wiggins revenge game, rather it was all about Love. Sure enough, Wiggins put up one of his best games to that point in the season and we’ve seen him make huge improvements in his game since then. Surprisingly, the Cavs rank 29th against small forwards this year and 23rd against shooting guards, so the matchup is good no matter who matches up with him.

Gorgui Dieng — He credits his success on the glass lately to Pekovic attracting most of the attention. He is averaging 40 DK points per game in his last three and is priced at $7,000 there. But he’s also one of the best center options on FanDuel ($7,100) and Fantasy Aces ($4,850).

Secondary Plays

Lorenzo Brown — Min-priced punt play that would be the only healthy point guard if both LaVine and Williams sit. You’ll just cross your fingers that he plays 30 minutes and gets 20 fantasy points if he’s starting.

Oklahoma City at Memphis – 8:00 PM EST

  • Vegas LineMemphis -7, 195.5 Over/Under
  • Oklahoma City Proj. StartersWestbrook-Roberson-Durant-Ibaka-Adams
  • Memphis Proj. StartersConley-Lee-Green-Randolph-Gasol
Oklahoma City Memphis
Vegas Total 195 Vegas Total 195
Vegas Sprd 7.00 Vegas Sprd -7.00
Team Proj. 94.25 Team Proj. 101.25
Team Pace 97.18 Team Pace 94.22
Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters
Proj Starter Russell Westbrook Andre Roberson Kevin Durant Serge Ibaka Steven Adams Proj Starter Mike Conley Courtney Lee Jeff Green Zach Randolph Marc Gasol
Opp. Season 3 17 19 5 1 Opp. Season 25 11 20 20 4
Opp. Last 7 11 7 16 1 2 Opp. Last 7 7 10 30 25 9

Oklahoma City

It seems unlikely that Kevin Durant will suit up for this one since he was unable to practice on Thursday, but they are going to need him to get right soon if they want a shot at sneaking into the playoffs. The Grizzlies are 20-5 at home this year and are ranked in the top five against three positions: point guards, power forwards and centers. I’ll be all over Durant in tournaments if he plays.

Elite Plays

Russell Westbrook — A good play if Durant sits, and a must-play if Conley sits. It does look like Conley will play and he is one of the best defenders at the position, but we can still expect a huge game from Westbrook based on usage alone.

Secondary Plays



The Grizzlies are riding a five-game winning streak and are 9-1 in their last ten games. They are matched up against OKC, a team that is in the bottom ten in offensive efficiency, but top ten in defensive efficiency. Over the past few weeks, the Thunder have been in the bottom three of the league at defending power forwards and the seventh-worst against small forwards.

Elite Plays

Zach Randolph — He seems to be a lock for a double-double every game, and he gets an incredible matchup here. The Thunder give up the second-most actual points to power forwards on the season despite Serge Ibaka being seen as a defensive stopper. He’s a guy to build around in your cash games since it’s really rare that he’ll kill you.

Secondary Plays

Tony Allen — It looks like Allen is going to get upwards of 20 minutes with Vince Carter out, so if you need a $3,000 punt on DK he could be worth a flier.

Portland at Milwaukee – 8:30 PM EST

  • Vegas LinePortland -2.5, 197 Over/Under
  • Portland Proj. StartersLillard-Matthews-Batum-Aldridge-Kaman
  • Milwaukee Proj. StartersKnight-Antetokounmpo-Middleton-Ilyasova-Pachulia
Portland Milwaukee
Vegas Total Vegas Total 197
Vegas Sprd Vegas Sprd 2.5
Team Proj. Team Proj. 97.25
Team Pace 96.67 Team Pace 96.41
Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters
Proj Starter Damian Lillard Wesley Matthews Nicolas Batum LaMarcus Aldridge Chris Kaman Proj Starter Brandon Knight Giannis Antetokounmpo Krhis Middleton Ersan Ilyasova Zaza Pachulia
Opp. Season 1 12 26 11 17 Opp. Season 27 9 14 2 7
Opp. Last 7 6 12 17 9 18 Opp. Last 7 30 4 14 12 7


Despite LaMarcus Aldridge putting off surgery in order to give his team a boost, the Blazers have lost their last two games and seven of their last ten. Tonight they face a Bucks team that is third in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency. The only position that the Bucks have a hard time defending is small forward, but they might be the best “help defense” team there is.

Elite Plays

LaMarcus Aldridge — You have to consider the guy after what he’s done the last two games: 38 points and 11 rebounds at Cleveland followed up by 37 and 11 at the defensive-minded Hawks last night. This is the Blazers’ third game in four days, but Aldridge remains a good option at a lower ownership percentage.

Secondary Plays



The Bucks have exceeded everyone’s expectations this year as they sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. They win ugly, and their goal is to hold every team under 100 points. Jason Kidd’s rotation philosophy is self-described as playing whoever gets hot. The fact that they prefer these low-scoring games with no minutes guaranteed to anyone is a reason I tend to avoid Bucks, and tonight is no exception.

Elite Plays


Secondary Plays

John Henson — He filled in nicely for Zaza Pachulia last game and would have nobody to threaten his playing time if Zaza sits again. He doesn’t need many minutes in order to produce, so he’d be the Buck of choice here.

Charlotte at Denver – 9:00 PM EST

  • Vegas LineDenver -6, 193 Over/Under
  • Charlotte Proj. StartersRoberts-Henderson-Kidd-Gilchrist-Zeller-Jefferson
  • Denver Proj. StartersLawson-Afflalo-Chandler-Faried-Nurkic
Charlotte Denver
Vegas Total 193 Vegas Total 193
Vegas Sprd 6.00 Vegas Sprd -6.00
Team Proj. 93.5 Team Proj. 99.5
Team Pace 95.01 Team Pace 98.23
Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters
Proj Starter Brian Roberts Gerald Henderson Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Cody Zeller Al Jefferson Proj Starter Ty Lawson Arron Afflalo Wilson Chandler Kenneth Faried Jusuf Nurkic
Opp. Season 15 25 23 27 24 Opp. Season 5 21 4 10 8
Opp. Last 7 19 11 22 26 12 Opp. Last 7 3 30 23 11 1


The Hornets are making the transition from not having Al Jefferson for a stretch and relying on Kemba Walker, to now the complete opposite. Jefferson finally made his return to the starting lineup last game after coming off the bench for a period while he recovered from his groin injury. We’ve seen his minutes increase each game over the last four, so he appears to be fully recovered.

Elite Plays

Al Jefferson — The Nuggets are the DFSer’s best friends when looking for a good matchup for centers. They are ranked 24th against the position on the season and have given up some of the biggest games out of anyone. Jusuf Nurkic has improved their defense some lately, but he doesn’t even play half of the game. Look for Jefferson’s usage rate to start to rise as he regains his health and Kemba misses time. He’s an absolute-must play that should be 80%+ owned in cash games on DraftKings at $7,100.

Secondary Plays

Brian Roberts — He’s not a guy that I’m targeting with super high hopes, but if you do need some salary relief at point guard, Roberts is a fine option. He’ll get around three fantasy points for every four minutes that he plays, and he’ll play 30+ minutes. The upside is very limited generally, but he takes enough shots from deep occasionally to put up a random big number if he gets hot.


Denver has lost eight of their last nine games now and sit 8.5 games out of a playoff spot. The match up against a great defensive team that is top ten at defending every position except shooting guards. The scariest thing is the total that Vegas set for this game, which is one of the lowest (if not the lowest) of the season for a Nuggets game. If you want exposure to this game, favor the Hornets since they are the ones playing up in pace in the better matchup. Avoid having many (if any) Nuggets.

Elite Plays


Secondary Plays

Aaron Afflalo — Again, there are plenty of better teams to build your lineups from, but Afflalo is the best play on the Nuggest in terms of matchup and price. The Hornets are 21st on the season against shooting guards and 29th over the last few weeks. Afflalo is priced at $5,700 on both FanDuel and DraftKings, so you don’t need a huge game from him to pay off.

L.A. Clippers at San Antonio – 9:00 PM EST

  • Vegas LineSan Antonio -5.5, 202.5 Over/Under
  • L.A. Clippers Proj. StartersPaul-Redick-Barnes-Griffin-Jordan
  • San Antonio Proj. StartersParker-Green-Leonard-Duncan-Bonner
L.A. Clippers San Antonio
Vegas Total 202 Vegas Total 202
Vegas Sprd 5.5 Vegas Sprd -5.5
Team Proj. 98.5 Team Proj. 104.0
Team Pace 96.18 Team Pace 95.47
Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters Matchup – Opponent DvP Ranks and Projected Starters
Proj Starter Chris Paul J.J. Redick Matt Barnes Blake Griffin DeAndre Jordan Proj Starter Tony Parker Danny Green Kawhi Leonard Tim Duncan Matt Bonner
Opp. Season 8 1 1 21 19 Opp. Season 4 15 17 15 18
Opp. Last 7 10 17 2 10 26 Opp. Last 7 14 24 20 4 16

L.A. Clippers

The Clippers are small underdogs here in San Antonio on the back end of a back-to-back. They match up better against the Spurs than most teams do since the Spurs’ #1 rankings against shooting guards and small forwards don’t impact any of the Clippers’ trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. That said, it’s still a pretty tough matchup. The Spurs are very good at gameplanning against star players and making the role players beat you.

Elite Plays

Chris Paul — There are too many good power forwards for me to consider Griffin, I mentioned the Spurs defense against wings, and Jordan is averaging below his season numbers through two games against the Spurs so far this season. That leaves me with Paul, who is coming off a great game last night and gets a deceptively good matchup against Tony Parker tonight. With Parker playing more minutes, the Spurs’ defensive numbers against point guards will get worse.

Secondary Plays


San Antonio

The Spurs still play their game of resting players more than any other team does — and they have dealt with their share of actual injuries — but in no way are they even close to a lock for a playoff spot in the Western Conference this year. They have played great defense and are pretty deep, but they will need solid production from their core players moving forward as we reach the critical stretch run.

Elite Plays


Secondary Plays

Tim Duncan — He seems to win the matchup against Griffin often and he’s significantly cheaper. He posted double-doubles in his previous two games against much better defensive teams and averaged 30 minutes. It’s pretty safe to project him for around 40 fantasy points here tonight.

Kawhi Leonard — Looking at the position as a whole for upside based on price, Leonard is definitely in the discussion. After a couple rest days, you’d expect him to get more than 30 minutes and to be relied on heavily in this matchup if he’s over his ankle injury. Pay attention to any shootaround news, because he won’t reach value if he’s limited.

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About the Author

  • JeffElJefe (JeffElJefe)

  • Working in the Fantasy Sports industry since 2012, Jeff has witnessed Daily Fantasy Sports from every angle: business, content, and as a player. He’s been featured in the New York Times, the L.A. Times, numerous books including Dan Barbarisi’s “Dueling with Kings”, and numerous documentaries including Jason Baumgardner’s “Perfect Lineup”.

    On the business side he worked with several startup operators in direct competition with FanDuel and DraftKings. Jeff brought a player’s perspective to the product side of things and was innovative with new features that you see the bigger sites now implementing today.

    Content has always been a passion for him, so the opportunity to write for RotoGrinders early in his career was something to jump at. Jeff hosted popular shows for MLB, NBA, and NFL content and often focused on teaching a contrarian approach long before it was cool to do so.

    Jeff’s run as a player has been capped off by what many refer to as the best year in DFS tournament history. A baseball live final win (DK), a football Million dollar score, and 2 2nd place finishes in FD live finals.

    You can follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffKCollins


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