NBA Deep Dive- May 3, 2017

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers

Toronto Raptors

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 remains a strong option in any format in game 2.

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.  The minutes and opportunity will continue to be there, however, making him a viable option.

P.J. Tucker played very well in game 1, posting a double-double in 25.5 minutes of play.  His playing time should increase as he is a better defender than Demarre Carroll.  Tucker is a strong option, especially in cash games, as long as his price remains low across the industry.

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 as he should see time at center and he has power forward eligibility.  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.

Core:  Kyle Lowry

Secondary:  Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan

Value:  P.J. Tucker, Jonas Valanciunas


Cleveland Cavaliers

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.  Irving remains a strong option, although his ceiling is always a bit limited because of LeBron James’ presence cutting into his usage and his assists.

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.

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.

Core:  LeBron James

Secondary:  Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love

Value: Tristan Thompson


Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

Houston Rockets

James Harden dealt with an ankle injury in the first round against Oklahoma City but should be feeling better with the rest that he got between series.  He 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).  Look for Harden to remain productive moving forward.  He is a strong play in any format, especially 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 statline.  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 makes for a high-upside GPP option as long as he remains dirt cheap.  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.


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.

Tony Parker finally saw extended minutes in the Memphis series starting in game four and he did not disappoint.  Parker took at least 12 shots in each of the last four games and averaged 33.2 DraftKings points per game.  His price has quickly increased but he is still a strong option, although he comes with risk since we never really know what Pop is going to do with his minutes.  He averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute in his three games against the Rockets this season.  He played 22.8 minutes through three quarters in game 1, which is a good sign that the plan is for his minutes to remain in the 30s.

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 still has a high ceiling going forward.

David Lee moved into the lineup in game four as the starting center and played 33, 26 and 26 minutes in those games.  He remains very cheap across the industry and should easily pay off his price tag as long as he remains in the starting lineup.  Lee’s increased role makes Pau Gasol a very risky option that only makes sense in GPPs because it is a two-game slate and if, for some reason, Gasol’s minutes increase he should be productive in the matchup.

Core:  Kawhi Leonard, David Lee

Secondary: LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker

Value:  Danny Green, Pau Gasol