CLE (-7) @ DET O/U: 208
BOS (-6.5) @ BKN OU: 214.5
CHI (-4.5) vs. ATL O/U: 235
MEM (-2.5) @ MIN O/U: 238.5
PHO (-9.5) @ OKC O/U: 215
DEN (-4.5) @ SAC O/U: 230.5
GSW (-9) @ POR O/U: 222.5
We can't mention every Chicago and Atlanta starter, but they are all in play in the evening's highest projected total. We didn't give many mentions to Memphis or Minnesota, but combing through starting lineups for both teams is a wise endeavor due to the superior game total projection.
CLE Darius Garland (back) - OUT
CLE Caris LeVert (foot) - OUT
BKN Kyrie Irving (home game) - OUT
ATL John Collins (foot) - DOUBTFUL
Danilo Gallinari ($4,600) will draw the start again for Collins, but all starters should be considered for slight boosts in Collins's absence.
PHO Chris Paul (thumb) - OUT
The team could go any number of ways to absorb Paul's output, but Aaron Holiday ($3,500) and his reasonable salary could be the big winner here long-term. I also can envision Phoenix going big on certain nights, using Cameron Johnson ($4,200) as a backcourt hybrid. This is especially true while Cameron Payne (wrist) is out.
OKC Luguentz Dort (shoulder ) - OUT
OKC Kenrich Williams (knee) - OUT
OKC Ty Jerome (hip) - OUT
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is back, and his presence nips a lot of Thunder value in the bud. Any pivot for OKC is a secondary concern.
POR Jusuf Nurkic (foot) - OUT
The loss of Nurkic stings. If he gets the start, Trendon Watford ($3,500) could emerge as one of the best value plays on the slate.
The slate is loaded with spend-up guards, but with the high projected total, I like Trae Young($9,800) best among Thursday's runners. I also think Ja Morant ($10,000) could be a less-popular play due to his elevated salary. Devin Booker ($8,800) is also becoming a nightly consideration at a reduced salary. The Suns will lean on him heavily during Chris Paul's extended absence.
Nikola Jokic ($11,400) is the top big man and quite expensive, but pitting him against foul-prone Domantas Sabonis seems like a wise play. Nikola Vucevic ($9,700) is in a massive pace-up spot and warrants a solid look.
Also consider: Stephen Curry, GSW ($9,300) @ POR
EXPECTED CHALK AND VALUE PLAYS
Zach LaVine, ATL ($7,900) vs. CHI
The Hawks and Bulls square off with the slate's highest projected total, and LaVine's return looks like an excellent vale spot, especially given the elevated salary for DeMar DeRozan.
Jaylen Brown, BOS ($7,900) @ BRO
I think most of the Celtics players are priced appropriately, but it's hard to fade Brown below $8K. Brown throttled the Nets with 40 FDFP in only 28 minutes a few weeks ago.
Klay Thompson, GSW ($6,200) @ POR
Even though Thompson's shot has evaded him at times since his return, his salary number is a solid bargain for GPP lineups. A hot hand could produce explosive results for Thomson, and he'll have plenty of opportunities versus Portland.
Mikal Bridges, PHO ($5,500) @ OKC
Bridges is precisely the kind of player who excels for the Suns in a blowout scenario, and hopefully, SGA's presence won't cause the type of blowout that breaks open the floodgates for every Phoenix backup. Bridges didn't do much in the two matchups against the Thunder earlier in the season, but both gamed before Bridges' scintillating January.
Kevin Love, CLE ($5,200) @ DET
Although we can employ the services of many Cleveland bug men, Love is an excellent point-per-minute producer and a huge bargain over Jarrett Allen and Even Mobley. I also believe Cedi Osman ($4,000) also has a shot at a nice number with Cleveland's slew of backcourt absences.
Also consider: Clint Capela, ATL ($6,100) @ CHI