Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Saturday

Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Saturday

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 Saturday, March 18 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.

What you need to know for Saturday’s games

  • The heroes of March hoops aren’t all from inspiring NCAA underdogs, they also come from random NBA rotations such as the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. Just last night, rising rookie Jabari Smith Jr. out of Auburn sank a game-winning bucket to give the Rockets a clutch win over the New Orleans Pelicans. While he’s off today, Smith (53% available in ESPN leagues) faces the Pelicans again tomorrow in a rubber match and merits more interest from fantasy managers given his ascent as a scorer and rebounder in recent weeks.

  • For the Grizzlies, former Duke standout Tyus Jones (69%) just delivered his first career triple-double on Friday and tonight hosts Stephen Curry and a Golden State team that continues to struggle away from the Chase Center.

  • We spent this space yesterday endorsing Kyle Anderson‘s rise as a playmaker for the Minnesota Timberwolves and he delivered a triple-double of his own in a loss to the Chicago Bulls. With Anthony Edwards now dealing with an ankle injury, Anderson (60% available) appears to have league-winning potential.

  • Speaking of triple-double skill sets, even shares of Utah’s Talen Horton-Tucker (87%) could prove rewarding given his team’s interest in empowering him as a playmaker ahead of tonight’s visit from the Boston Celtics. It would be madness to dismiss such surging talents for Saturday’s slate.

— Jim McCormick

Games of the Day

Denver Nuggets at New York Knicks
1:00 p.m ET, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NY

Records (Against the Spread)
Nuggets: 47-23 (37-32-1)
Knicks: 41-30 (40-30-1)

Line: Nuggets (-2.5)
BPI Projection: Knicks: 126.2-124
Money Line: Nuggets (-140), Knicks (118)
BPI Projected winner: Knicks (57.9%)
Total: 230 BPI Projected Total: 250.2

Injury Report:
Nuggets: Zeke Nnaji, (GTD – Shoulder)
Knicks: Jalen Brunson, (GTD – Foot); Duane Washington Jr., (OUT – Illness)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Immanuel Quickley (rostered in 34.4% of ESPN leagues) is still on the streaming radar in deeper formats whether Brunson, who is questionable due to left foot soreness, is active or not. In two of his last three games, Quickley has scored 48-plus fantasy points. This season, he has averaged 12.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 26.6 minutes per game with Brunson. — Eric Moody

Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies
8:00 p.m ET, FedExForum, Memphis, TN

Records (Against the Spread)
Warriors: 36-35 (33-37-1)
Grizzlies: 42-27 (32-34-3)

Line: Grizzlies (-4.5)
BPI Projection: Grizzlies: 128.9-128.5
Money Line: Warriors (158), Grizzlies (-190)
BPI Projected winner: Grizzlies (51.5%)
Total: 236.5 BPI Projected Total: 257.4

Injury Report:
Warriors: Ty Jerome, (OUT – Not Injury Related); Andrew Wiggins, (OUT – Personal); Gary Payton II, (OUT – Abdomen); Andre Iguodala, (OUT – Wrist); Ryan Rollins, (OUT – Foot)
Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, (OUT – Achilles); Vince Williams Jr., (GTD – Shoulder); Ja Morant, (OUT – Suspension); Steven Adams, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Tyus Jones (ranked in 31.1% of ESPN leagues) continues to perform well as a starter in place of Morant, who is expected to return next week. Jones has averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals over his last six games. — Moody

Trend: The Warriors’ road woes continued in Atlanta last night, while Memphis was able to pull off a franchise-record comeback against the Spurs. With Golden State tied with the Rockets for the most road losses in the league and sitting 5-14 against the spread as road underdogs, this somewhat sizable line makes more sense. — McCormick

Breaking down the rest of Saturday’s slate

Orlando Magic at LA Clippers
3:00 p.m ET, Arena, Los Angeles, CA

Records (Against the Spread)
Magic: 28-42 (37-31-2)
Clippers: 37-33 (35-35-0)

Line: Clippers (-7)
BPI Projection: Clippers: 128-119.1
Money Line: Magic (250), Clippers (-320)
BPI Projected winner: Clippers (79.4%)
Total: 227 BPI Projected Total: 247.1

Injury Report:
Magic: Jalen Suggs, (OUT – Concussion); Jonathan Isaac, (OUT – Thigh)
Clippers: Brandon Boston Jr., (OUT – Lower Body); Kawhi Leonard, (OUT – Knee); Norman Powell, (OUT – Shoulder)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Cole Anthony (rostered in 39.6% of ESPN leagues) is a solid streamer with Suggs already ruled out due to the league’s concussion protocol. Anthony has scored 26-plus fantasy points in three consecutive games. In games where Anthony has played at least 30 minutes this season, he has averaged 17.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. — Moody

Fantasy streamer: Eric Gordon (rostered in 3.8% of ESPN leagues) is a viable streamer for managers in deeper formats since Leonard has already been ruled out due to right knee injury management. Powell is also still out due to a left shoulder sublaxation. Gordon has scored 20-plus fantasy points in four of his last five games. Managers will get points and triples, but not much else from him. — Moody

Best bet: Markelle Fultz over 26.5 points+assists+rebounds. Over the last six games, Fultz has averaged 17.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 4.0 rebounds. Fultz should be able to surpass 26.5 PAR against the Clippers on Saturday, as point guards have done well against them this season. — Moody

Best bet: Magic +7.0. Without Leonard, the Clippers are a different team. On the road, the Magic should play well enough to keep this game close or win outright. They actually defeated this Clippers team with Leonard earlier this season. The Magic are 11-5 against the spread in their last 16 games on the road. — Moody

Trend: With Leonard likely to sit this one out due to rest and Orlando having covered 17-of-25 road matchups against teams that allow opponents to shoot above the league average from the floor (which includes the Clippers), the Magic have some value as sizable underdogs. — McCormick

Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers
7:00 p.m ET, Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Records (Against the Spread)
76ers: 47-22 (39-29-1)
Pacers: 32-38 (38-32-0)

Line: 76ers (-6)
BPI Projection: 76ers: 130-121.9
Money Line: 76ers (-250), Pacers (205)
BPI Projected winner: 76ers (77.2%)
Total: 234 BPI Projected Total: 251.9

Injury Report:
76ers: Jalen McDaniels, (GTD – Hip)
Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, (OUT – Ankle); Chris Duarte, (OUT – Ankle); Tyrese Haliburton, (OUT – Knee); Kendall Brown, (OUT – Lower Leg)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: T.J. McConnell (rostered in 8.6% of ESPN leagues) is a great streamer with both Duarte and Haliburton already ruled out due to their injuries. This season, McConnell has averaged 14.7 points, 8.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game without Haliburton. — Moody

Best bet: Over 233.0 points. The total has gone over in eight consecutive games for the 76ers against an opponent from the Central division. Philadelphia ranks third in points scored per 100 possessions and face a Pacers team that is horrendous on defense. Indiana ranks 26th in points allowed per 100 possessions. The total has gone over in five of the Pacers last six games. — Moody

Trend: The 76ers are riding a seven-game winning streak, having covered five of those contests as they enter Indianapolis as healthy favorites. The Pacers will be without All-Star creator Haliburton and top rookie Mathurin, validating the spread. The Sixers also have some momentum at their team total of 120.5, given Indiana has allowed 120.2 points per 100 possessions over the last 10 games, 29th during this sample. — McCormick

Minnesota Timberwolves at Toronto Raptors
7:00 p.m ET, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Records (Against the Spread)
Timberwolves: 35-36 (34-37-0)
Raptors: 34-36 (35-35-0)

Line: Raptors (-9)
BPI Projection: Raptors: 130-119.1
Money Line: Timberwolves (320), Raptors (-420)
BPI Projected winner: Raptors (76.7%)
Total: 227 BPI Projected Total: 246.1

Injury Report:
Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, (GTD – Ankle); Jaylen Nowell, (GTD – Knee); Karl-Anthony Towns, (OUT – Calf)
Raptors: Christian Koloko, (GTD – Nose); 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: Kyle Anderson (rostered in 36.3% of ESPN leagues) will help fill the void for the Timberwolves with Edwards expected to miss time due to a sprained ankle. Anderson has scored 40-plus fantasy points in five of his last six games, including two with 60 or more. Pick him up. — Moody

Best bet: Fred VanVleet over 32.5 points+assists+rebounds. This season, VanVleet’s play has been inconsistent. That said, he’s in a good spot against the Timberwolves, who have given up the fourth-most points per game and most rebounds per game to point guards this season. Minnesota will also miss Edwards on the defensive end. In this matchup, VanVleet should bounce back nicely. — Moody

Trend: The Raptors are slowly emerging as playoff contenders. This rings especially true at home, where the team has won five straight games. The Timberwolves are on the second leg of a back-to-back and could be without Edwards, who suffered an ankle injury in Chicago last night. If Edwards sits, it’s worth noting that Mike Conley has produced a team-best 13.1 more DraftKings points per 36 minutes with his young teammate off the floor this season. — McCormick

Sacramento Kings at Washington Wizards
8:00 p.m ET, Capital One Arena, Washington, DC

Records (Against the Spread)
Kings: 42-27 (39-30-0)
Wizards: 32-38 (32-36-2)

Line: Kings (-3)
BPI Projection: Kings: 134-132.4
Money Line: Kings (-140), Wizards (118)
BPI Projected winner: Kings (55.6%)
Total: 236 BPI Projected Total: 266.4

Injury Report:
Kings: Kevin Huerter, (GTD – Knee); Richaun Holmes, (GTD – Illness); Trey Lyles, (GTD – Shoulder)
Wizards: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Domantas Sabonis over 40.5 points+assists+rebounds. Sabonis is in the midst of an epic season. He’s surpassed 40.5 PAR in three consecutive games. The Wizards rank 20th in points allowed per 100 possessions. Sabonis scored 20 points, dished out 10 assists, and collected 15 rebounds against Washington earlier this season. — Moody

Best bet: Kings -3.0. On Friday night, the Wizards played the Cavaliers. Now they face the Kings, who are having their best season in years. This season, Sacramento has the second-best record against the spread on the road. The Kings need every win to solidify their playoff position in the Western Conference. Sacramento is 5-1 against the spread in their last six games. — Moody

Trend: Even though “lighting the beam” is a fun home tradition, the Kings have been quietly stellar on the road this season, as well. They’ve covered six straight away from Sacramento, while the Wizards have covered just once in their last five games on the second leg of a back-to-back scenario. — McCormick

Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls
8:00 p.m ET, United Center, Chicago, IL

Records (Against the Spread)
Heat: 38-33 (25-43-3)
Bulls: 32-37 (35-34-0)

Line: Heat (-4)
BPI Projection: Bulls: 134-119.3
Money Line: Heat (-175), Bulls (148)
BPI Projected winner: Bulls (56.1%)
Total: 218 BPI Projected Total: 240.2

Injury Report:
Heat: Kyle Lowry, (GTD – Knee); Cody Zeller, (OUT – Nose)
Bulls: Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee); Javonte Green, (GTD – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Trend: A meeting of two top defenses drives down the total in this one as the Bulls sit fifth in defensive rating and the Heat eighth. Given the defensive tilt in this game, finding value in DFS shares beyond Jimmy Butler ($8,500 on DraftKings) in his return to Chicago could prove challenging. — McCormick

Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz
9:00 p.m ET, Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

Records (Against the Spread)
Celtics: 49-22 (37-33-1)
Jazz: 33-36 (38-31-0)

Line: Celtics (-6)
BPI Projection: Celtics: 128.9-124.5
Money Line: Celtics (-250), Jazz (205)
BPI Projected winner: Celtics (61.8%)
Total: 231.5 BPI Projected Total: 252.3

Injury Report:
Celtics: Malcolm Brogdon, (GTD – Achilles); Payton Pritchard, (GTD – Heel); Robert Williams III, (OUT – Hamstring); Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Jazz: Jordan Clarkson, (GTD – Finger); Collin Sexton, (OUT – Hamstring)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Walker Kessler (rostered in 54.2% of ESPN leagues) is in the midst of an excellent rookie season. Over the last 14 games, he has averaged 11.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. If you need a center, Kessler is a solid streamer. — Moody

Best bet: Jaylen Brown over points+rebounds. Over the last four games, Brown has averaged 28.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. He’s in a great spot against the Jazz who rank 24th in points allowed per 100 possessions. This season, Utah allows the third-most points per game and the third-most rebounds per game to shooting guards. — Moody

BPI top probability to win (straight up)

1. LA Clippers (79.4%)
2. Philadelphia 76ers (77.2%)
3. Toronto Raptors (76.7%)

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