NBA Playoffs: Round Two 5/5/17
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyle Lowry had some troubles in round 1 against the Bucks, but he gets a much friendlier matchup this round with Kyrie Irving and the Cavs. After struggling in his first game against Irving this season, Lowry went for 57.2 DraftKings points in 39.7 minutes and 44.2 DraftKings points in 40.3 minutes in his final two games against Kyrie. Lowry played 39.4 minutes in game 1, shooting 7-13 from the field and scoring 20 points to go along with 11 assists. He struggled in game 2, scoring just 28.75 DraftKings points in about 30 minutes and he is a game-time decision for tonight’s game with a sprained ankle. He is a risky option, assuming he suits up, but he certainly has upside at his price.
Like Lowry, DeMar DeRozan played heavy minutes in round 1 and had his share of struggles. Also like Lowry, he has a better matchup this round and has had plenty of success in it this season. In the three games against Cleveland that Kyrie Irving played, DeRozan averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute. He played 36.8 minutes per game in round 1. He underwhelmed in game 1, shooting just 16 times and scoring just 30.75 DraftKings points. He was even worse in game 2, shooting 2 of 11 from the field and finishing with just 13.25 DraftKings points. The minutes and opportunity will continue to be there, however, making him a viable tournament option as people are likely to be off him today. If Lowry actually misses the game, DeRozan would see a boost in production and ownership.
P.J. Tucker played very well in game 1, posting a double-double in 25.5 minutes of play. He played just 15.3 minutes in game 2, but he would have seen more if the game were not a blowout going into the fourth quarter. His playing time should increase in close games, as he is Toronto’s best chance at slowing down LeBron James at all. Tucker remains a strong value option.
Serge Ibaka played extremely well against the Bucks in a matchup that suited his game perfectly. He will have a tougher time dealing with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in this series, but is still in play as a GPP option. Ibaka averaged just 29.7 minutes per game in round 1, but did have a 22.4 percent usage rate. Ibaka struggled in game 1, which is something that will probably continue moving forward, but he played 32.3 minutes and got up 14 field goal attempts so he still has GPP upside despite the difficult matchup. He attempted 14 field goals in game two as well.
Core: Kyle Lowry
Secondary: Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan
Value: P.J. Tucker, Jonas Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson
As usual, we can expect the Cavaliers to be a three man show. Kyrie Irving has a nice matchup that we targeted in DFS all season long as a point guard against the Raptors. Irving had a 36.4 percent usage rate in round 1 against Indiana and we should see him continue to dominate offensively in this series. In three games against Kyle Lowry this season, Irving was not great- averaging just 1.04 DraftKings points per minute. Irving picked it up in game 1, scoring 24 points and dishing out 10 assists in 34.4 minutes. He posted a similar line in game 2 as well, finishing with 22 points and 11 assists. Irving remains a strong option, although his ceiling is always a bit limited because of LeBron James’ presence.
LeBron James played 43.8 minutes per game in round 1 with a usage rate of 32.2 percent and an assist rate of 36 percent. He will likely have to continue to completely carry the Cavaliers on his back, as they do not play defense and are facing a Toronto team that can definitely give them trouble. James will likely see a healthy amount of P.J. Tucker in this series but, with as much as he will have the ball in his hands, he remains a top option on any site regardless of format. James played 41 minutes in game 1, shooting 13-23 from the field and grabbing 10 rebounds to go with his 35 points. He only picked up 4 assists, as Irving uncharacteristically had 10, but we should see an increase in his assist numbers as well moving forward. James’ game 2 line was similar to game 1, with 39 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds but he added more defensive stats as he picked up 3 steals and 2 blocks. He is still one of the top options, if not the top option, on the slate as he is a good bet to play the most minutes and produce the most points per minute.
Kevin Love was a bit disappointing in round 1 as he had only one big game, but we should see him do better in this matchup. He averaged 33 minutes per game with a 20.5 percent usage rate in the first round. Ibaka was vulnerable against stretch fours throughout the regular season and Love should be able to take advantage. Love flirted with a double-double in game 1, finishing a rebound shy, but he did not get minutes at center as Tristan Thompson played 38.2 minutes. His upside will increase if he starts getting time at the five but, for now, he is a marginal option as he has upside but will not hit it very often because of LeBron and Irving dominating usage.
Tristan Thompson played 38.2 minutes in game 1, which is more than I was expecting. He remains cheap, which makes him a strong option because he should do very well against the Toronto frontcourt as long as he gets the minutes. Do not be discouraged by his 29.1 minutes in game 2, because he lost the fourth quarter to a blowout.
Core: LeBron James
Secondary: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love
Value: Tristan Thompson
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs
James Harden averaged 37.4 minutes per game in the first round with a 37.6 percent usage rate and 35 percent assist rate. He obviously has a tough matchup with the Spurs, but he had some success against them this season scoring no less than 56.5 DraftKings points in any of his four games against them and topping 60 fantasy points in three games. He never showed his 70-80 point upside, but it is good that we at least saw him consistently score in the low-60s. He played well in game 1, a very surprising Houston blowout, scoring 20 points with 14 assists in 31.2 minutes (he did not see the floor in the fourth quarter because of the score). Game 2 was a blowout in the other direction, as Harden shot just 3 of 17 from the field. He still managed 41.25 DraftKings points which, while obviously not good, is not terrible when you factor in his shooting performance. Look for Harden to remain productive moving forward, but keep your expectations in check. He is more valuable on dynamic pricing sites that have adjusted his price downward to account for the matchup.
Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Patrick Beverley will all need to step up as role players in this series to help out Harden. Ariza was steady against San Antonio in all four games this season, scoring at least 25 DraftKings points in each game with a high of 36. He was strong in game 1, posting 36.5 DraftKings points in 31.2 minutes. Sam Dekker’s eventual return could possible steal a few minutes but we will have to wait and see. He offers pretty solid production for a very fair price. Gordon saw at least 35 minutes in each of the last three games of the Oklahoma City series and he showed some upside against San Antonio in the regular season, scoring 42.8 DraftKings points behind 32 real points in a game in November. Other than that, he was mediocre as he scored between 21 and 25.5 in the other three games. He stayed in that range in game 1, scoring 23.75 DraftKings points in 23.4 minutes. He was pulled halfway through the fourth in the blowout so, if he had closed in a close game, he would have likely had a very nice stat line. Anderson has shot better on the road than at home all season long and, in theory, matches up relatively well with the Spurs defensive scheme that can be vulnerable to stretch fours. He had one big game against San Antonio this season (in San Antonio) and struggled in the other three. He came out firing in game 1, shooting 4-10 from three (4-12 overall) and scoring 34 DraftKings points. He will likely be popular in tournaments because he shot well in the first two games, but there is reason to back off now as he has been awful at home all season long. Lou Williams is also a high-risk/high-reward option coming off the bench.
Nene and Clint Capela are both in nice spots in this series, although it is likely that they will more-or-less split minutes and that will limit their respective upsides. They are significantly cheaper on DraftKings than they are on FanDuel for game 1, so that is the place to roster either of them. Capela saw 24.7 minutes to Nene’s 15.9 in game 1, but Nene did not get his fourth quarter minutes because of the blowout. It appears that a time share is still likely, but it is worth noting that Capela was extremely effective, with 20 points and 13 rebounds. The playing time was split similarly in game 2 but, again, there was a blowout so Nene likely would have seen more minutes than he did had the game remained close.
Core: James Harden
Secondary: Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams
Value: Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela, Nene
San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard played out of his mind in round one against the Grizzlies and now gets a pace-up matchup against the Rockets. Leonard averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute against the Rockets in the regular season, but showed upside with a 51.2 fantasy point game in November and a 61.5 fantasy point game in March. Leonard averaged 37.7 minutes per game against Memphis with a usage rate of 31.2 percent. Look for continued excellence from him in this round. Expect a boost for Leonard with Tony Parker sidelined, as he will now have to handle the ball more as well.
LaMarcus Aldridge was disappointing in the Memphis series, but he did play very heavy minutes throughout the series which bodes well for him moving forward as it is unlikely that he continues to disappoint throughout the entire playoffs. He should benefit from the fast pace that the Rockets play at. Aldridge averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute against the Rockets in the regular season, which will pay off his current price tag nicely if he continues to see the 37.3 minutes per game that he saw in the first round. He was atrocious in game 1 with a -36 net rating in 25.4 minutes, but that was just a weird game. He did not look good in game 2 either, but posted a much better line than in game 1. He remains a viable GPP option.
Patty Mills should see plenty of minutes in this one with Tony Parker injured. Mills averaged 27.1 minutes per game without Parker in the regular season, compared to 20.3 minutes per game with Parker playing. In 19 games without Parker, Mills averaged 24.9 DraftKings points per game compared to 17.1 DraftKings points per game with Parker.
Core: Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills
Secondary: LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol
Value: Danny Green, David Lee, Jonathon Simmons