Fantasy basketball tips and betting picks for Thursday

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 Thursday, March 9 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


What you need to know for Thursday’s games

Wednesday was yet another night in the NBA impacted by injuries. Kevin Durant rolled his ankle during pregame work minutes ahead of what was supposed to be his home debut with the Phoenix Suns. Luka Doncic and Brandon Ingram both left the floor early due to respective injuries in a contest between the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans.

Before turning to tonight’s slate, it’s worth mentioning there is concern from the Suns that Durant’s ankle injury could sideline him for several weeks, clouding his availability for the remainder of the regular season and the fantasy playoffs. Beyond Devin Booker surging as an elite scorer, it’s possible we see Terrence Ross (98% available) step up with increased shooting volume, but there’s clearly no way to fully replace Durant’s production.

While we wait for more clarity on these superstar injuries, Thursday’s six-game slate presents a number of meaningful values to consider. A season-ending injury to LaMelo Ball signals continued interest in Dennis Smith Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr for the Charlotte Hornets. On the other side of tonight’s matchup, Killian Hayes of the Detroit Pistons just tallied a strong line against the Hornets a few weeks back, while rookie Jaden Ivey is poised for another big line. The absence of Ja Morant for the Memphis Grizzlies means Tyus Jones and Desmond Bane are key building blocks in a major matchup with the Golden State Warriors.

The stretch run of the season always sees a series of stars sidelined, but this year feels particularly influenced by such outcomes. The only solution is to keep informed and active as news emerges.

— Jim McCormick


Breaking down Thursday’s slate

Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons
7 p.m. ET, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan

Records (Against the Spread)
Hornets: 21-46 (29-36-2)
Pistons: 15-51 (30-35-1)

Line: Hornets (-3.5)
BPI Projection: Hornets (127.3-122.3)
Money Line: Hornets (-165), Pistons (+140)
BPI Projected winner: Hornets (67.2%)
Total: 225 points BPI Projected Total: 249.6 points

Injury Report:
Hornets: Cody Martin, (OUT – Knee); LaMelo Ball, (OUT – Ankle)
Pistons: Jalen Duren, (GTD – Ankle); Killian Hayes, (GTD – Hand); Alec Burks, (OUT – Foot); Bojan Bogdanovic, (OUT – Achilles); Isaiah Stewart, (OUT – Hip); Cade Cunningham, (OUT – Lower Leg); Hamidou Diallo, (OUT – Ankle)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Kelly Oubre Jr. over 22.5 points. Oubre Jr. continues to accumulate a ton of points since moving into the starting lineup. In three of his last four games, he’s scored 23 or more points. LaMelo Ball’s fractured ankle means the Hornets need offense, and Oubre Jr. can help. — Eric Moody

Trend: In the first four games since the LaMelo Ball injury, the Hornets have seen their offensive efficiency dip by 9.8% and their pace decline by 5.6% from the 10 games prior to their star going down. If the Hornets are going to struggle to score, the Pistons are in a great spot to reward their backers: 15-7-1 ATS this season when allowing fewer than 11 5 points (13-27-3 ATS otherwise). Jaden Ivey has at least 17 points or 10 assists in six of seven games since turning 21 in mid-February and looks the part of the lottery pick he was this season.– Kyle Soppe


Houston Rockets at Indiana Pacers
7 p.m. ET, Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

Records (Against the Spread)
Rockets: 15-50 (24-38-3)
Pacers: 29-37 (36-30-0)

Line: Pacers (-9)
BPI Projection: Pacers (133.5-122.8)
Money Line: Rockets (+328), Pacers (-430)
BPI Projected winner: Pacers (82.9%)
Total: 236 points BPI Projected Total: 256.3 points

Injury Report:
Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr., (OUT – Thigh)
Pacers: Aaron Nesmith, (GTD – Hip); Kendall Brown, (OUT – Lower Leg)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Dennis Smith Jr. (rostered in 20.6%) is a solid streamer against a Pistons team that ranks 28th in points allowed per 100 possessions. He’s coming off of a dreadful 13 fantasy point performance against the Knicks on Tuesday, but Smith Jr. has scored 28 or more fantasy points in the three previous games. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Jalen Green over 26.5 points + rebounds. So far this season, the Pacers have given up the fourth most points and the seventh most rebounds to shooting guards. Green has surpassed 26.5 PR in two consecutive games. There is a strong chance the trend will continue on the road against the Pacers. — Eric Moody


Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic
7 p.m. ET, Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

Records (Against the Spread)
Jazz: 31-35 (35-31-0)
Magic: 27-39 (35-29-2)

Line: Magic (-3.5)
BPI Projection: Magic (133.5-124)
Money Line: Jazz (+140), Magic (-165)
BPI Projected winner: Magic (57.4%)
Total: 233 points BPI Projected Total: 250 points

Injury Report:
Jazz: Jordan Clarkson, (GTD – Finger); Walker Kessler, (GTD – Illness); Collin Sexton, (OUT – Hamstring)
Magic: Admiral Schofield, (GTD – Concussion); Wendell Carter Jr., (OUT – Hip); Jonathan Isaac, (OUT – Thigh)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Moritz Wagner (rostered in 4.5% of ESPN leagues) will have another opportunity to start with Wendell Carter Jr. already ruled out due to left hip pain. In two of his last three games, Wagner scored 30 or more fantasy points. — Moody

Best bet: Franz Wagner over 22.5 points + rebounds. Wagner has surpassed 22.5 PR in four of his last seven games. The Jazz rank 24th in points allowed per 100 possessions. This is a great matchup for Wagner against Utah and he should deliver another strong performance. — Moody


Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies
7:30 p.m. ET, FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee

Records (Against the Spread)
Warriors: 34-32 (31-34-1)
Grizzlies: 38-26 (30-31-3)

Line: Warriors (-2.5)
BPI Projection: Grizzlies (127.9-127.1)
Money Line: Warriors (-135), Grizzlies (+115)
BPI Projected winner: Grizzlies (52.7%)
Total: 235 points BPI Projected Total: 255 points

Injury Report:
Warriors: Andre Iguodala, (GTD – Hip); Jonathan Kuminga, (GTD – Hip); Kevon Looney, (GTD – Back); Andrew Wiggins, (OUT – Personal); Gary Payton II, (OUT – Abdomen); Ryan Rollins, (OUT – Foot)
Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, (OUT – Achilles); Jake LaRavia, (GTD – Back); Steven Adams, (OUT – Knee); Vince Williams Jr., (OUT – Shoulder); Ja Morant, (OUT – Suspension)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Xavier Tillman (rostered in 8% of ESPN leagues) continues to fill in ably for Steven Adams and now Brandon Clarke, as he has delivered double doubles in four of seven games, averaging 35 fantasy points in that span. Tillman also had four steals in the team’s last game. — Eric Karabell

Best bet: Tyus Jones over 23.5 points + assists. Ja Morant is expected to miss the Grizzlies’ next four games, so Jones continues to thrive. Jones scored 16 points and three assists against the Lakers on Tuesday and had 25 points and 12 assists against the Clippers on March 5. Jones is well positioned for success in a game against the Warriors with a point total of 235.5. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Draymond Green over 22.5 points + assists + rebounds. Green has averaged 8.3 PPG, 6.8 APG and 7.3 RPG this season. There is also beef between him and the Grizzlies, so expect him to be motivated tonight. Green has surpassed 22.5 PAR in three of his last four games. — Eric Moody

Trend: Finding a side to take on this game is difficult and that’s OK. The Grizzlies are just 4-9 ATS as an underdog this season while the Warriors are an ugly 3-11 ATS as a road favorite. Memphis tried to really ramp up the pace during their two-game Los Angeles swing (pace up 5.9% in those games from the five weeks prior) and assuming they continue to do that, the fact that overs are 10-4-1 in Stephen Curry‘s past 15 games is important. Memphis is obviously a different team without Ja Morant and if their band-aid idea is to increase the volume of possessions, the Curry led Warriors are happy to oblige and hang a big number.— Soppe


Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks
8 p.m. ET, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Records (Against the Spread)
Nets: 37-28 (35-30-0)
Bucks: 47-18 (36-24-5)

Line: Bucks (-12)
BPI Projection: Bucks: 133.2-121.4
Money Line: Nets (+550), Bucks (-800)
BPI Projected winner: Bucks (85.4%)
Total: 231.5 points BPI Projected Total: 254.6 points

Injury Report:
Nets: Ben Simmons, (OUT – Knee); Cameron Johnson, (OUT – Knee); Nic Claxton, (OUT – Achilles); Royce O’Neale, (OUT – Knee); Spencer Dinwiddie, (OUT – Rest)
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, (GTD – Illness); Jae Crowder, (GTD – Ankle); Jrue Holiday, (GTD – Neck); Wesley Matthews, (OUT – Calf)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Mikal Bridges over 25.5 points. Bridges is carrying the weight of the Brooklyn offense with more than 30 points in each of the past three contests, and he is averaging 26.5 PPG in his 10 games with the club. The Bucks likely realize this, but Bridges scored 31 points on them barely a week prior, keying instead on other players. Look for Bridges to get plenty of chances to score. — Eric Karabell


New York Knicks at Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. ET, Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

Records (Against the Spread)
Knicks: 39-28 (38-28-1)
Kings: 38-26 (35-29-0)

Line: Kings (-2.5)
BPI Projection: Kings (133.2-129)
Money Line: Knicks (+118), Kings (-140)
BPI Projected winner: Kings (51.7%)
Total: 238 points BPI Projected Total: 258.5 points

Injury Report:
Knicks: DaQuan Jeffries, (GTD – Calf); Jalen Brunson, (GTD – Foot)
Kings: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Domantas Sabonis to get a double double (-264). Sabonis boasts a double double for points and rebounds in 10 consecutive games, which is hardly surprising since he is averaging 18.9 PPG and 12.3 RPG for the season. Sabonis seems a safe bet to get there again. — Eric Karabell

Trend: Overs are 10-4 in Sacramento’s past 14 games and the Knicks have covered six-straight when their game goes over the number. That game script seems to be the most likely outcome in this one: the Knicks are 16-8-1 ATS when scoring at least 120 points and while the Kings are 10-5 outright since the beginning of February, they are allowing nearly 125 points per game over that stretch. Sure, that stretch includes the historic win over the Clippers, but the fact remains that they are finding team success without locking down on the defensive end. Look for more of the same in this one if Jalen Brunson (foot) returns to action. — Soppe

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