Defense To Avoid
Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics: With only two games on the slate, the Bulls get the call in this spot, considering they surrender the seventh-fewest points per game at 102.8. The Celtics are also on their third game in four nights and the second half of a back-to-back. Additionally, Chicago has held Boston to a modest 103.0 points per game over their two previous meetings this season, including 99 at United Center.
Offense To Use
Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers: The well-rested Wizards have only played twice in the six days prior to Thursday and have won 10 of their last 11, scoring between 112 and 135 points in eight of those contests. They’ve also scored 111 and 112 points in their last two games against the Pacers, respectively, both victories. Meanwhile, Indiana comes in on a five-game losing streak, playing their third game in four nights, and on the second half of a back-to-back after a tough road loss to the Cavs on Wednesday.
Teams on Back-to-Backs
First game: None
Second game: Celtics, Pacers
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
John Wall, WAS at IND ($10,700): Isaiah Thomas ($9,300) is the logical selection for those who can’t afford Wall, but the Wizards All-Star is worth the investment if you can squeeze him in. Wall has had his way with the Pacers this season, averaging an outstanding 54.50 fantasy points per game over three previous meetings. He’s also scored between 45.50 and 60.75 fantasy points in eight of the last 10 games, eclipsing the 50-mark in six of those contests. He’s sporting a 30.4 percent usage rate and averaging 1.33 fantasy points per minute over that 10-game period, and, as mentioned earlier, the Pacers will be on their third game in four nights, are on the back end of a back-to-back, and they have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game (59.5) to point guards over the last five games.
Marcus Smart, BOS at CHI ($5,700): Smart should be in for another healthy dose of minutes Thursday with both Avery Bradley (Achilles) and Jaylen Brown (hip) out. He has already played between 34 and 38 minutes in the last four, and he’s scored between 28.25 and Wednesday’s 46.5 fantasy points during that span, with the high end of the range coming on the strength of an outstanding 21-point, five-rebound, five-assist, eight-steal effort against the Sixers. Smart’s ability to contribute across the stat sheet provides him with a fairly high floor when he gets sufficient playing time, and his 21.0 percent usage rate and 1.08 fantasy points per minute over the last four contests enhances his appeal even further.
Monta Ellis, IND vs. WAS ($3,700): For those with a few hundred to spare, Rajon Rondo ($4,200) makes for a viable play against his former Celtics squad that he’s already averaged 30.6 fantasy points against over two previous games this season. However, Ellis also makes for a serviceable option at a $500 discount, and he checks in to Thursday having found his offensive groove in recent contests. The veteran sharpshooter has scored over 20 fantasy points in five straight games, which represents a superb return on his current price. Additionally, although the Wizards have been very tough on two-guards this season, they’re still yielding the fifth-highest field-goal percentage (44.4) to the position.
Jimmy Butler, CHI vs. BOS ($9,100): Butler, who’s been struggling with a heel injury, proved he was healthy enough in his return Tuesday against the Raptors, totaling 47.0 fantasy points over 38 minutes. He’s the clear-cut top option at forward on Tuesday's short slate against a Celtics squad that’s surrendering the eighth-most fantasy points per game (49.8) to small forwards in the last five games, along with bottom-10 figures in rebounds (8.1) and assists (3.8) to the position on the season. Butler also boasts a 33.7 percent usage rate and averages 1.38 fantasy points per minute this season with Dwyane Wade off the court, a scenario that could manifest itself again Thursday with the latter questionable due to soreness in both wrists.
Markieff Morris, WAS at CHI ($6,900): Morris has averaged a solid 28.9 fantasy points per game in three previous appearances against the Bulls this season. He’s also hit his stride offensively over the last three weeks, having scored between 32.25 and 48.0 fantasy points in eight contests over that span while boasting a 24.8 percent usage rate and averaging 1.05 fantasy points per minute. Chicago has also allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game (52.0) to the position in the last five games, along with the eighth-highest field-goal percentage (47.8) on the season.
C.J. Miles, IND vs. WAS ($3,700): Miles is your quintessential tournament play, as his returns fluctuate pretty drastically game to game. A look at his recent game logs reveals a typical sampling for the veteran, as he’s scored between 21.0 and 32.5 fantasy points in five contests, and under 15.0 fantasy points in five others. However, his highly affordable price and upside makes him worth the dart throw, particularly on a two-game slate. He draws a solid matchup against the Wizards as well, as Washington has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points per game (52.9) to small forwards over the last five games.
Marcin Gortat, WAS at IND ($6,000): Gortat has been excellent against the Pacers this season, averaging 39.6 fantasy points over three games against them. He’s also averaging 32.2 fantasy points per game on the road this season, and has scored between 35.5 and 48.0 fantasy points in eight of the last 10 games. He’s hit the double-double bonus in all eight of those contests and stands a solid chance of accomplishing the feat against a Pacers squad that surrenders the third-most rebounds per game (15.8) and a 54.4 percent success rate from the field to centers.
Kelly Olynyk, BOS at CHI ($4,500): Olynyk has four straight double-digit scoring efforts and is averaging a solid 20.7 fantasy points per game on the road this season. He’s been even better than that over the last 10 games, scoring between 20.75 and 40.75 fantasy points in nine of the last 10. Olynyk has a defined 20-minute-plus role in Brad Stevens’ rotation, and he is sporting a 21.3 percent usage rate and averaging 1.12 fantasy points per minute during the aforementioned stretch.
Jason Smith, WAS at IND ($3,000): Smith provides consistent, albeit unspectacular, production off the bench in typically fewer than 20 minutes, but if you must punt at minimum price somewhere on your roster Thursday, he serves as a reasonable choice. He’s tallied double-digit fantasy points in nine straight games, topping out at 27.5 against the Nets three games ago. He’s also scored between 17.25 and 19.00 fantasy points in three other games over the last 10 and draws a matchup against a Pacers team that gives up the eighth-most fantasy points (48.6), fourth-most rebounds (12.1) and fourth-most three-pointers (1.8) per game to power forwards.
For the latest news on injured players heading into the games, check out our Injury Updates page.