NBA DEEP DIVE- April 18, 2017- Playoff Edition

 

Milwaukee Bucks

 

Milwaukee played six players at least 24 minutes in game one against the Raptors, with Middleton, Antetokounmpo, Brogdon and Dellavedova playing at least 30 minutes each.  Giannis, as expected, led the team in field goal attempts with 18.  He posted a decent stat line, totaling 48 DraftKings points in his 38.3 minutes of play.  This is not an ideal matchup for him and he has been average in it this season (by his standards), averaging 1.35 DraftKings points per minute.  Malcolm Brogdon played 34.1 minutes and attempted 13 field goals, making 6 of them.  Toronto has been susceptible to point guards all season long and Brogdon should continue to have success.  He is a strong play in any format as long as his price stays in the low $5,000 range.  Khris Middleton led the team in minutes with 40.5 and was second in field goal attempts with 15.  He did not shoot well, going just 4 of 15 from the field, but it was a good sign that he played huge minutes and was able to get up a ton of shots.  He managed 28 DraftKings points in game one, but he has the upside for much, much more as he is an integral part of the Milwaukee offense and will need to play well if the Bucks are going to win this series.  Greg Monroe played 25.8 minutes.  On one hand, we were hoping for more.  On the other hand, 25 minutes of Greg Monroe is still very nice as he is averaging 1.17 DraftKings points per minute this season and has a nice matchup against Jonas Valanciunas who, at times, can be soft inside.  The 25 minutes is a nice baseline to expect moving forward, although there is certainly the potential for more minutes as Spencer Hawes played 7 minutes over Monroe to close the first half and Monroe finished the game with a very healthy +15 rating.  Matthew Dellavedova played 31.3 minutes, which is good.  The bad news is that he did pretty much nothing in those minutes, recording no assists or defensive stats and grabbing one rebound.  He did attempt 9 field goals, so there is a little bit of upside possible at his $2,800 price tag on DraftKings- especially because he is shooting guard eligible- but relying on a scoring dependent player who is, at best, the fourth or fifth option on his team is never fun.  Tony Snell falls into basically the same category as Dellavedova, except that he played even less minutes.  Snell did attempt more shots in his 24 minutes than Dellavedova did in his 31, however, so there is merit to rostering Snell over Dellevadova where they are similarly priced.

 

Core:  Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe

Secondary: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon

Value: Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell

 

Toronto Raptors

 

The Raptors were embarrassed at home in game one and we should expect them to come out with something to prove tonight in game two.  It is not an ideal matchup for point guards, but Kyle Lowry is criminally underpriced at just $7,900 on DraftKings.  He played only 33.9 minutes in game one, but that seems like it is likely to increase as he averaged over 40 minutes per game in the first-round last season and limiting his minutes obviously did not result in a win.  Lowry is more of a cash play than a GPP play as he is unlikely to greatly exceed his salary in this matchup, but he does have a very high floor.  DeMar DeRozan has a tough matchup as well, as he is not a spot-up shooter and needs the ball in his hands.  Ball-handlers tend to struggle against this Milwaukee team, and that has held true for DeRozan this season as he averaged just under a fantasy point per minute against them during the regular season.  That said, there is certainly GPP upside for DeRozan as he attempted 21 shots in 38.5 minutes in game one and also got to the line 14 times.  When you factor in that shooting guard is a pretty weak position, rostering DeRozan in any format makes a lot of sense.  P.J. Tucker played nearly 30 minutes, as predicted by Fast Eddie Fear, as the Raptors need his defense in this series.  He was not productive in those minutes, and only attempted 7 field goals, but minutes are minutes and they make him a viable short slate play if you need to punt small forward (or power forward on DraftKings).  Serge Ibaka is questionable for tonight’s game, but he went through shootaround this morning and seems to be on the more probable side of questionable.  Ibaka matches up incredibly well with this Milwaukee team and it has shown in his production against them throughout the season.  Milwaukee is most vulnerable to spot-up shooters and Ibaka leads the Raptors in catch-and-shoot attempts this season.  In five games against Milwaukee this season (including the playoffs), three with Orlando and two with Toronto, Ibaka has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute.  In game one, he played 33.5 minutes and recorded 44 DraftKings points on 8-of-14 shooting.  He also managed to grab 14 rebounds and closed the game at center over Jonas Valanciunas.  There is a lot to like about Ibaka tonight as long as he suits up.  Jonas Valanciunas played just 23.6 minutes in game one, which makes him a risky play tonight.  He has a lot of upside in this spot if he gets the minutes, as Milwaukee has been one of the worst teams in the league at keeping opposing centers off the glass since the All-Star break.  In theory, Valanciunas should be able to stay on the court in this matchup as Greg Monroe and Thon Maker are not stretch-fives that will force him off the floor.  Spencer Hawes could give him problems, but Hawes saw only 6.9 minutes in game one.  Valanciunas is a high-upside GPP option, but he comes with plenty of risk.

 

Core: Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan

Secondary: Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas

Value: P.J. Tucker

 

Chicago Bulls

 

Rajon Rondo is facing his former team and is in a nice spot.  Rondo is someone who always seems to play better when he has a reason to get up for the game, and that is clearly the case.  He had a strong fantasy performance in game one, going for 36.5 DraftKings points in 27 minutes of play.  He did not play well from an actual basketball perspective though, tying Robin Lopez for the worst plus/minus on the team at -7 and playing just 1:31 in the fourth quarter as Jerian Grant, who recorded a +11 rating, played the rest of the fourth quarter.  Foul trouble was the cause of Rondo’s fourth quarter benching, but it is worth noting that Grant played well in his absence. Both point guards are in play in GPPs and are risky options in cash games.  If Rondo is playing well and the Bulls are winning, he will likely see more minutes down the stretch.  If Rondo is piling up stats while being a liability to the Bulls’ chances of winning, as he tends to do, then it is likely that Grant sees plenty of minutes again and makes for a very strong punt play.  Similar to the point guard situation, Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic make for high-upside GPP plays as one of them is likely to have a big game.  Mirotic burned about one-fourth of the field in game one, as he shot just 1-9 from the field and lost minutes to a red-hot Portis off the bench.  He is likely to be lower owned than he should be tonight due to recency bias, which makes him a very strong GPP play because, if those shots are falling, he will play more minutes.  Portis is likely to be over-owned because of his massive performance in game one, but that is not to say that we should stay away.  He has a ton of upside as he matches up well in this spot so, if Mirotic continues to struggle, he can easily be one of the top plays on the slate.  It is recommended to have exposure to both players, just not in the same lineup.  If I were making just one lineup and had to pick one, I would lean toward Mirotic anywhere that they are similarly priced as his ownership is likely to take a substantial hit because of last game.  Robin Lopez had a very good fantasy performance in game one, posting a double-double in 33.6 minutes of play.  He also closed the game despite his poor plus/minus, so it does not appear that he is at risk of losing minutes in game two.  He is a strong center option.  Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are the two most reliable players on the Bulls.  Wade played 33.8 minutes in game one and does not have a minute restriction in the postseason.  Butler played 40.5 minutes.  Boston has capable wing defenders in Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown lurking on the bench, so the matchup is not ideal for Butler or Wade.  Still, they make for strong plays tonight as the offense runs through them.  Butler attempted 20 field goals and got to the line 12 times in game one, while Wade got up 12 field goal attempts and can be a valuable play at a weak position.

 

Core: Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade

Secondary: Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez

Value: Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant

 

Boston Celtics

 

Isaiah Thomas somehow managed to play through his personal tragedy and play very well in Boston’s game one loss to the Bulls and he is expected to be active for game two.  He played 38 minutes, attempting 18 field goals and getting to the line 12 times.  Opposing point guards have had success against the Bulls all season long and Thomas should be able to continue his game one dominance tonight.  He is a top option in any format.  Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart are all decent tournament options.  Bradley played 35.4 minutes and attempted 13 field goals.  Crowder played just over 30 minutes, but would have played considerably more had he not been limited by foul trouble early in the second quarter.  He attempted 12 field goals in those 30 minutes, so there is upside there if he can knock down his shots.  Marcus Smart played just over 30 minutes and was on the floor over Amir Johnson to close the game.  He makes for a strong play where he is shooting guard eligible.  Al Horford saw 40.2 minutes and flirted with a triple-double as he grabbed 7 rebounds and picked up 8 assists to go with his 19 points.  He clearly has upside in this spot, although he is likely to go over-owned in GPPs today because of how well he played in game one.  It is worth noting that he was 8-of-13 from the field, so there is plenty of room for regression moving forward.  In three matchups against Chicago in the regular season, Horford averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute.

 

Core:  Isaiah Thomas

Secondary: Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Al Horford, Marcus Smart

Value: Kelly Olynyk

 

Los Angeles Clippers

 

Chris Paul is the top play on the Clippers.  He averaged 1.20 DraftKings points per minute against Utah in the regular season and exploded in game one for 57.75 DraftKings points in 37.1 minutes.  Rudy Gobert’s absence will weaken the Utah defense and open up even more for Paul.  DeAndre Jordan’s matchup is now much better as well, as Gobert is a great defender and rebounder.  Jordan will now likely be matched up with Derrick Favors and Jeff Withey.  Since Gobert was injured early in the first quarter, we can use game one as a guide to what to expect from Jordan.  In that game, he grabbed 15 rebounds and scored 10 points.  We should expect more of the same tonight and he is a very strong play for just $7,000 on DraftKings.  Blake Griffin is a secondary option as the Jazz, despite not losing Gobert’s defensive presence, are still a very slow paced team and Griffin just has not looked very good this season.  Since it is the postseason, there are very few minutes without Chris Paul on the floor and, when Paul is on the floor, it cuts into Griffin’s production.  He has tournament upside as he approached 40 DraftKings points in game one on just 9-of-21 shooting, but he is the third-best play on the Clippers behind Paul and Jordan.  Jamal Crawford is viable as a dart-throw GPP option as he played 29 minutes in game one and attempted 12 field goals as the primary scorer with the second unit.  The problem, other than the pace of the game and strong defenders on Utah, is that, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin playing close to 40 minutes a piece, there are very few times that Crawford is truly playing with the second unit.

 

Core:  Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan

Secondary:  Blake Griffin

Value:  Jamal Crawford

 

 

Utah Jazz

 

Utah lost Rudy Gobert early in game one against the Clippers but still managed to go on and win the game.  The primary beneficiary from the injury was Derrick Favors, who played 32.2 minutes at center.  Favors has played 73.4 minutes alongside Hill and Hayward without Gobert this season and has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute.  He should pay off his salary very nicely tonight.  Hayward and Hill are both secondary options, if that, as they have to face tough defenders in Chris Paul and Luc Mbah a Moute, and neither one benefits from Gobert’s absence since he is not a high usage player.  Joe Ingles drew the start at shooting guard in game one and played 32.5 minutes.  He only attempted 7 field goals, so he has a limited ceiling, but he is a viable punt at a weak position.  This is easily the most unappealing game on the slate, and there is not much to be excited about in this series on this Utah team from a fantasy perspective.

 

Core: Derrick Favors

Secondary: George Hill, Gordon Hayward

Value: Joe Ingles