NBA Thoughts 2/1/17

With a massive 12-game slate on tap in the National Basketball Association tonight, there is A LOT of news we need to wait for before we can accurately assess where the best value on the slate is and which cheaper plays are projected for the most minutes and production. With this many games, it is a bit foolish to spend this column trying to outline that value 5 hours before lock when so much can (and will) change in the upcoming hours. Instead, I’ll outline a couple of my favorite game stacks which should stand up through the news.

Cavaliers/Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio/Karl-Anthony Towns/Kyrie Irving/LeBron James

This is certainly an expensive stack and one that likely will not fly under the radar, but it is one of my favorites of the evening. The surging Timberwolves will take on the reeling Cavs who will once again be without Kevin Love, so right off the bat we know Kyrie and LeBron get a nice usage bump. Both of these teams had last night off, so their stars will be rested, and it is an important game for both teams as the frustrated Cavs search for a win and the Timberwolves continue to try and push hard for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. The Cavs side of the ball is fairly obvious here, but the Timberwolves side may go a bit overlooked given what look like overly expensive price tags for Rubio and Towns. But Rubio and Towns have been surging together over the last few weeks, running more pick and roll and finding a great deal of success. No team has struggled against pick and roll ball handlers quite like the Cavs have, and Rubio should be able to read the poor defense of Kyrie Irving well and set Towns up for a lot of open looks. Additionally, we should have a bit of a funnel situation here for the Rubio/Towns pick and roll. LeBron James will almost certainly be guarding Andrew Wiggins, and Iman Shumpert will be on Zach LaVine. The Wolves never funnel much offense through Gorgui Dieng who is simply a catch-and-shoot player for the Wolves. So we should see a ton of Rubio/Towns goodness and big minutes out of both. If this game stays close and is high scoring, we will likely see Rubio, Towns, Kyrie, and LeBron all have excellent performances.

Celtics/Raptors: Kyle Lowry/Norman Powell/Jonas Valanciunas/Isaiah Thomas/Jae Crowder/ Al Horford

With Demar DeRozan and Avery Bradley out, we can pinpoint very accurately where the minutes and production will come from when the Celtics and Raptors square off tonight in Boston. The game has important playoff implications for both teams and while the Raptors are on a back to back and went to overtime last night, I still expect them to compete hard and do their absolute best to try and win this game in Boston. You certainly do not need to play all six of these guys if game stacking here, but you can, and there is a decent chance that all six reach value if this game stays close throughout. The Celtics have been shredded by opposing point guards with Avery Bradley out, and given the offensive workload Kyle Lowry will have to shoulder, it seems unlikely he will be able to do much to slow down the slithery Isaiah Thomas. This should be a relatively overlooked game stack that could pay huge dividends in a GPP if things break right.

Good luck tonight, and make sure to tune into the Deeper Dive at 5:00 EST for more analysis from Loughy, Manny, and myself! #LetsGetIt