NBA DEEP DIVE- April 17, 2017- Playoff Edition

 Indiana Pacers


The Pacers lost Game 1 of their first-round series to the Cavaliers 109-108.  They played a total of ten players, with eight of them seeing at least 15 minutes and six of them seeing more than 20 minutes.  Lavoy Allen and Aaron Brooks each saw less than ten minutes so, as expected, we can ignore them for this game.  Kevin Seraphin and C.J. Miles each played about 15 minutes.  Seraphin’s minutes were slightly increased as a result of Myles Turner foul trouble in the second quarter as well.  Seraphin is firmly out of play.

Miles is someone who we thought could be a contributor for the Pacers in this series, so he is worth keeping an eye on.  He finished the game with a -3 rating, which was better than Monta Ellis’s -9 and worse than Lance Stephenson’s team-leading +7.  He picked up 5 fouls in his 15 minutes, so it is likely that he would have seen more playing time had he not been in foul trouble.  He is $1,100 less expensive than Monta Ellis on DraftKings and, on a two-game slate, he makes sense in tournaments as someone who has upside if his shot is falling early and people will overlook him because he only played 15 minutes.  Ellis played 27.6 minutes and made four of eight field goal attempts.  He finished the game with a team worst -9 rating, so it is possible that he loses minutes to C.J. Miles and/or Lance Stephenson in this game.  He is a viable option because it is a two-game slate, but he is a good place to fade in tournaments because he is not a high-upside play and he will likely be highly owned because of the minutes that he played.  Lance Stephenson is the most intriguing of the trio.  Stephenson played 26.8 minutes and finished with the best plus/minus rating on the team.  He played the entire fourth quarter, closing alongside Teague, George, Young and Turner.  He also attempted 13 field goals in his 26 minutes of play, making 8 of them.  He is only $4,000 on DraftKings, which is criminally underpriced.  He is $4,700 on FanDuel, which still makes him a viable option on this small slate.

Paul George played 41.2 minutes and was 9-of-19 from the field.  We can expect George to play north of 40 minutes throughout the series, as he needs to carry this team on his back if they are going to have any chance at winning- much like he did to get them into the playoffs.  George is averaging 1.22 DraftKings points per minute against James this season, which is pretty much in line with what he produced in game 1.  He is overpriced, but he still has a high floor and ceiling in terms of raw points.  Thaddeus Young played 33.3 minutes and attempted four field goals, which is not surprising because he is not a major part of their half-court offense.  He provides upside in this matchup, however, because he can do damage in transition and the Cavaliers finished the regular season allowing the fifth most transition points per game.  He is now averaging 0.82 points per game this season against Cleveland.  Myles Turner saw 32.5 minutes and lost about three minutes to foul trouble, which would have put him at the 35 minutes that we projected him to play before game 1.  He does not have a great matchup against the Cavaliers, but he is a viable GPP option because he does have some upside.  Jeff Teague played 35.4 minutes and was three-of-ten shooting.  Surprisingly, he had only four assists and did not contribute much in the way of peripherals to go along with his 15 points.  One possible explanation for this is that the Cavaliers altered their defensive scheme and did a better job trapping Teague and getting the ball out of his hands.  It remains to be seen if this continues or changes on a game-to-game basis, but it makes Teague a riskier option than his 1.18 DraftKings point per minute average against the Cavaliers this season suggests.

Core:  Paul George, Lance Stephenson

Secondary: Thaddeus Young, Jeff Teague

GPP: Myles Turner, C.J. Miles

Cleveland Cavaliers


The Cavaliers used nine players in game 1, with just five of them seeing more than 20 minutes (and they all saw more than 30).  Deron Williams played just 10.5 minutes off the bench and saw only 1:22 at shooting guard alongside Kyrie.  He can be ignored until we see him start to play alongside Irving more because his minutes are extremely limited if he is a pure back-up to Irving.  Channing Frye played 16.1 minutes, including 7:30 in the fourth quarter.  The fourth quarter minutes are interesting, and would give us a reason to take a flier on him in GPPs, except for the fact that his minutes alongside the starters coincided with the Pacers going on a run to tie the game and led to Tristan Thompson being re-inserted into the game.  The results of the fourth quarter do not inspire confidence that he is going to eat into Thompson’s minutes tonight.  Richard Jefferson played 18.3 minutes, but is not a strong fantasy producer so he can be ignored.  Kyle Korver played just 14.8 minutes and had just one field goal attempt as J.R. Smith saw the bulk of the playing time at shooting guard.

This leaves us with the Cleveland starters.  Kyrie Irving played 38.6 minutes and attempted 27 field goals.  He averaged about 1.17 DraftKings points per minute against Teague in the regular season and that is close to the production that he gave us in game 1.  His price increased $200 on DraftKings and decreased $300 on FanDuel, but he is still a better option on DraftKings (although he is viable on both sites on a slate this small).  J.R. Smith played 36.6 minutes, like we expected, but only managed four field goal attempts in that time.  He is not a consistent producer, but he is capable of having huge games because, if he gets hot from three early, LeBron is likely to keep feeding him the ball.  He is in play in GPPs because of his upside, although he is not as strong an option as Lance Stephenson.  LeBron James played 42.8 minutes and produced a monster line, scoring 32 points to go along with 13 assists and 6 rebounds.  LeBron started out relatively slow, trying to get others involved.  He attempted just two field goals in the first quarter and four field goals in the second quarter.  He was more aggressive in the second half, however, attempting seven field goals in each of the final two quarters.  He is the top play of the slate as he is likely to play the most minutes on the slate and produce the most points per minute.  Kevin Love played just 31.4 minutes and attempted just nine field goals.  It is certainly possible that we get a bounce-back game here, however.  He is a risky play because he depends on LeBron and Kyrie not shooting every time they touch the ball, but we have seen LeBron make a point of getting Love involved in games.  He makes sense in GPPs.  Tristan Thompson is still criminally underpriced across the industry.  He played 30.7 minutes in game 1 and it is possible that we see more minutes in game 2 as the Channing Frye fourth quarter experiment did not go particularly well.  Thompson is an extremely safe play at his price and he has some upside if a couple of extra offensive rebounds bounce his way.

Core:  LeBron James, Tristan Thompson

Secondary:  Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love

GPP: J.R. Smith

Memphis Grizzlies

There will be fewer words about this game because, well, it is the Grizzlies against the Spurs.  Memphis was blown out in the first game, so we can ignore a lot of the minute totals.  Seven players played at least 10 first half minutes, suggesting that they would have seen at least 20 minutes if the game stayed close and rotations were normal.  They were: James Ennis (about 10), Zach Randolph (11), JaMychal Green (12), Vince Carter (17.5), Wayne Selden (15.5), Marc Gasol (20) and Mike Conley (16).

There is no reason to have much interest in Ennis, so we will start with Zach Randolph.  There are two ways of looking at Randolph’s first game.  The optimistic view is that Randolph had a terrible game, but he was just 3-of-13 shooting and played 26.5 minutes so there is an opportunity for a rebound game tonight.  The pessimistic view, which is where I stand, is that he played roughly 11 minutes in the first half, and picked up extra minutes in the second half due to JaMychal Green foul trouble, so he is likely to only play around 22 minutes tonight.  Randolph finished the game with an incredible -39 plus/minus rating and the Spurs run in the second half that put the game out of reach coincided almost entirely with the 15 consecutive minutes that Randolph played after coming in for JaMychal Green at the 9-minute mark of the third quarter.  There is certainly upside for Randolph if things break his way, but I prefer JaMychal Green.  Green played just shy of 12 minutes in the first half and only played 3 minutes in the second half as he got in foul trouble and then never returned because it was a blowout.  Green was the only player on the Grizzlies, excluding Jarell Martin, to finish with a positive plus-minus (+8), which makes me think he gets plenty of run tonight compared to Randolph’s -39.  Green matches up well with the Spurs, as he is a capable shooter and defending stretch fours on the perimeter is a weak spot in the San Antonio defense.  There is certainly risk in rostering Green, but he makes for a great tournament play on this slate where it is going to be difficult to differentiate.  Vince Carter and Wayne Selden are in similar spots where they will likely see plenty of minutes, but they are unlikely to be productive.  Still, like in the case of J.R. Smith, the first part to having upside is actually getting minutes and both of these guys will.  They are viable options if you need salary relief, especially Selden at just $2,000 on DraftKings.  Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both had great games for the Grizzlies, despite the blowout.  Neither player tends to do well against San Antonio, however, which is somewhat concerning since the Spurs have a history of defending them well and they will clearly be at the top of the list of things that Popovich is trying to figure out between games.  Both players make for strong GPP plays as they clearly have upside and will have to play well for the Grizzlies to have a chance, just keep in mind that, over the last two regular seasons, Conley is averaging 1.02 DraftKings points per minute and Gasol is averaging 0.87 DraftKings points per minute against San Antonio.

Core: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol

Secondary:  Wayne Selden, Vince Carter

GPP: Zach Randolph, JaMychal Green

San Antonio Spurs


There are basically four-and-a-half viable options on San Antonio- with Danny Green being the half because you are forced to pick from a bunch of awful shooting guards on this slate and he is probably not going to be popular so he makes sense in tournaments.

Tony Parker played just over 14 minutes in the first half, and 22 minutes in the game with just 1:33 in the fourth quarter, which is a great sign for his playing time in close games.  Parker looked good, making 8 of his 13 field goal attempts and, if he is going to be allowed to play 26-30 minutes in close games like it appears he will, he is an excellent GPP option at $4,200 on DraftKings and $4,400 on FanDuel.  LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard will likely be the two most popular players from the Spurs, and rightfully so.  Aldridge matches up well with a Memphis frontcourt that struggles to defend stretch fours.  Aldridge has had plenty of success against Memphis this season, and carried that into game 1 when he scored 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting in 30 minutes.  Aldridge likely missed out on close to 9 minutes of playing time due to the blowout, so we can project him for 38-40 minutes if this game stays close.  Kawhi Leonard was phenomenal for the Spurs, scoring 32 actual points in 32.1 minutes of play.  This was a great sign for Leonard, as he has struggled against Memphis in the past except for the one game that he played against them this season without Tony Allen.  Without Allen on the floor, Memphis has nobody to contain Leonard and he should be able to score at will.  He is significantly less expensive than George or James and makes for a very strong play in a matchup that is not as bad as it appears.  Pau Gasol makes for an excellent GPP play.  He scored only 15 DraftKings points in game 1, but he played 24.9 minutes without seeing the court in the fourth quarter.  If his second half rotation mirrored his first half rotation, he would have played about 35 minutes in game 1.  Gasol finished the game time with David Lee for a team-high +22 rating, which should help to solidify his minutes tonight.  He is likely to go relatively overlooked (it is a two-game slate so he will still have ownership) since his game log is not pretty, but he has massive upside at his price with the role that he is likely to play in this game.

Core:  Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge

Secondary: Tony Parker

GPP: Pau Gasol