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After decent sized slates to start the year, the NBA hits us with a two gamer on Thursday. You would think that would make our lives a little easier, but with just four teams in action it seems like we are waiting on just as much injury news.

I will do a breakdown of each game and share some of my thoughts on how I anticipate attacking tonight’s slate.

Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee Bucks (229 total, MIL -13)

Injuries

MIL – Middleton (O)

POR – Lillard, Nurkic, Collins (O), Simons, Whiteside (GTD)

Milwaukee Bucks

On the Bucks side of the ball it’s pretty simple. You are going to want to get to Giannis Antetokounmpo tonight. He comes in 13 projected points higher than any other player on the slate and with just two games, you are taking a huge risk on fading him.

My other pieces of interest are Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez as mid-priced guys. Milwaukee is on the back half of a back but each of these two only logged 25 and 24 minutes of action last night. Unless this game gets totally out of hand early there is no reason why they both can’t be around the 28 minute mark tonight.

I’m not really interested in much of the Bucks value as I think enough has or will open up with the other three teams. All the reserves hover around the 20 minute mark and even DJ Wilson played 18 minutes last night. Coach Bud has been known to do some weird things with his rotations on back-to-backs (DNP by Ersan Ilyasova last night) so you never know what is up his sleeve.

Portland Trail Blazers

We are really waiting on the Anfernee Simons and Hassan Whiteside news. If Simons is ruled out with an ankle injury, we get point CJ McCollum which means off of the usage. Regardless if Simons plays or not, CJ is a great play tonight.

As for Whiteside, the only other real person who can play the center position on the Trail Blazers roster would be Skal Labissiere. He would be one of my favorite value plays if Whiteside sits.

Simons, Rodney Hood and Kent Bazemore would be my favorite (gulp) values on Portland just for the fact they should each eclipse the 30 minute mark tonight. You could take a shot on guys like Carmelo Anthony (20-25 minutes) or Nassir Little (celling game last time out) but they do carry more risk.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Phoenix Suns (233.5 total, PHO -3)

Injuries

NOP – Favors, Hart, Williamson, Miller (O), Okafor (GTD)

PHO – Ayton, Baynes, Jerome (O), Kaminsky, Cam Johnson, Saric, Rubio (GTD)

I’d rather target this game more as a whole then the earlier one, however, we probably won’t get the injury news needed before lock.

New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram returned last game and picked up right where he left off. The price on DraftKings makes it extremely difficult to overlook him tonight. His returned did not really impact the usage of Jrue Holiday as he still managed 18 shots in 35 minutes. Both are viable plays tonight if you can fit them in.

If Jahilil Okafor suits up, he might be my favorite play on the Pelicans. With no Baynes on the other side, Phoenix really doesn’t have anyone to guard him. Same can be said for Jaxon Hays who looked great last game. I love Hays and parts of Kenrich Williams and Nicolo Melli if Okafor sits, but a slight bump down to all three if he does.

The return of Lonzo Ball, albeit off the bench, kills a lot of the upside for Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Frank Jackson and E’Twaun Moore.

Phoenix Suns

Yikes. Injuries galore. It’s not too different from their last game as every starter besides Devin Booker was listed as a game time decision. Same holds true for tonight.

Besides Giannis, Booker is my other favorite play of the slate. He is in a pace up spot in a huge game total. Could we get one of those Devin Booker magical nights tonight?

If Ricky Rubio is ruled out tonight, I would expect Jevon Carter to get the start again. I do prefer Tyler Johnson to him off the bench due to the fact that he will have greater scoring opportunities not playing alongside Booker most of the game.

Frank Kaminsky is a solid play at his price if he suits up tonight who I prefer over Dario Saric. Cameron Johnson rounds out my interests on the Suns if he can give it a go tonight.

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Travis Vander Loop
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