Armando Marsal breaks down tonight’s two-game NBA DFS playoff slate!
Welcome to post season basketball. Just like I did during the regular season, I’ll be using FanDuel positions as they are less flexible than they are on DraftKings, but you should have plenty of options at each position to build on DK as well given the roster flexibility and multi-position eligibility of many players on their site.
San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies finished as the ninth seed in the West and host the 10th seed Spurs in tonight’s play-in tournament. The winner of this contest will face the loser of the Warriors and Lakers matchup, the loser goes home. The Spurs finished the season ranked 20th in overall defense efficiency, while the Grizzlies ranked 16th. Memphis is favored by four points in tonight’s contest and this game has an over/under of 222.5 points.
As far as injuries are concerned, the Spurs have Trey Lyles listed as questionable, while the Grizzlies have Grayson Allen listed as questionable too. Outside of that, both teams are healthy and neither of those players should have a majoe impact on how we attack this matchup.
Dejounte Murray really stands out to me tonight as a strong play, especially on DK where he is just $6300. His ability to fill up the stat sheet on any given night, truly makes him a tough pass at that affordable price tag. The matchup is no slam dunk, but over the last 10 games of the season, Memphis ranked 15th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. Murray faced off against this Memphis team three times this year, averaging 27.7 minutes, 14 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. He scored as much as 45 DK points and as little as 18.8 DK points, turning in mixed results. For what it’s worth, that 18-point performance came in a blowout where he played just 24 minutes. This should be a competitive matchup between these two teams and Murray should play upwards of 30 minutes. Given his 1.14 fantasy points per minute, Murray is in a great position to pay off his affordable salary this evening.
DeMar DeRozan is in a great spot tonight and comes at an incredibly affordable price on both sites. The Grizzlies were one of the worst defensive teams when it came to opposing small forwards, as they ranked 23rd in efficiency. DeRozan had one of his best performances of the season against this Grizzlies team back in December when he scored 56.3 DK points (second highest of the season). Like Murray, DeRozan had mixed results against Memphis throughout the season, but that came hand-in-hand with his minutes in these games. We can expect DeRozan to play minutes in the mid-to-high 30’s, which would be more than enough for him to exceed expectations. His ceiling is immense and although his floor fluctuated throughout the regular season, this is the playoffs, and he will leave everything on the table in an elimination game.
Jakob Poeltl is the other Spurs player that stands out to me, especially on DK where he is mispriced at just $4900. Poeltl averaged 19.3 minutes, six points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, two blocks, and 0.3 steals per game against Memphis in three meetings this year. Despite the lack of big minutes in meetings against the Grizzlies this season, Poeltl averaged over a fantasy point per minute against them. He should play 30+ minutes tonight and given that the Grizzlies are yielding 1.2 fantasy points per minutes to opposing centers, and the fact that Poeltl averaged a fantasy point per minute on the season, he is in a great position to far exceed expectations in this matchup. Poeltl topped 30 DK points in four of his final six games in the regular season, which includes two 40+ DK performances. He is one of the most appealing point per dollar plays on the slate when taking everything into account (on DK specifically).
Outside of those three, the rest of the Spurs players are secondary options for me. The other players from this squad that can be considered tonight are Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, Patty Mills, and Rudy Gay (in order of preference). All are players that provide us with some salary relief.
On the Memphis side, it begins with Ja Morant, who displayed his upside multiple times in the final month and a half of the season. The matchup against the Spurs is one that favors Morant, given that they ranked 24th in defense efficiency against opposing point guards. It’s no surprise that he had some solid performances against San Antonio during the regular season, which includes a 44-point game, where he scored 66 DK points. Morant who generates over 50 percent of his scoring from inside the paint, should take full advantage of the fact that the Spurs surrendered the fifth most points in the paint per game this season. Morant is tough to consider in cash given his volatile floor, however, he is reasonably price on both sites, especially on FD, and his ceiling is undeniable. Morant is in a great position for a productive evening and makes for a strong GPP option.
Jonas Valanciunas is someone we have considered often throughout the season and tonight is no different. This is a favorable matchup against a San Antonio team that finished the season ranked 20th in defense efficiency against opposing centers. I mentioned above that the Spurs gave up the fifth most points in the paint per game, which bodes incredibly well for Valanciunas who generated 74.7 percent of his scoring from inside the paint this season. Moreover, the Spurs allowed the second most rebounds per game to opposing teams and 12th most blocks per game, two categories that Valanciunas excels in. He appeared in just one of the three meetings against the Spurs this season, but was dominant in that contest, scoring 15 points with 13 rebounds, one block, one steal, and two dimes in 30 minutes. He should be able to turn in a solid performance this evening and offers plenty of upside.
Jaren Jackson who missed most of the year, made his season debut on April 21st and has played in 11 games since, starting in his final four games of the season. In those 11 games, he averaged 23.5 minutes, 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 assists per game. As his minutes increase, so did his fantasy production. He scored 30+ DK points in four of his last five games and in six of his 11 contests this year. I am expecting Jackson in the starting lineup tonight and have him projected for 30-32 minutes. He has averaged well over a fantasy point per minutes in his 11 games and should have no trouble returning value in this matchup. Although it’s a small sample size, 44.3 percent of his scoring has come from inside the paint and by now you know how much San Antonio struggles in this part of the court.
Dillon Brooks and Kyle Anderson are the other two players that should play plenty of minutes for the Grizzlies this evening. Of the two, Anderson is my preferred option, simply because of the price discount you get on him. However, both are viable, especially in game stacks. Brooks relies heavily on his scoring and the Spurs surrendered over 20 real points per game to the position. Anderson does a little bit of everything but doesn’t quite offer an immense ceiling. I have both of them projected for 30+ minutes tonight.
Brandon Clarke, De’Anthony Melton, and Desmond Bane are all players who could play minutes in the low-to-mid teens, though neither are popping out as must plays even at their cheap prices.
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers dealt with injuries throughout the season which led them to fall to the seventh seed in the West, forcing them to play in this play-in tournament against the Warriors who finished as the eighth seed. The winner of this contest locks in a playoff spot and the loser faces off against the winner of the Spurs and Grizzlies matchup. The Lakers finished the season ranked fifth in defense efficiency, while the Warriors ranked 12th. Los Angeles is favored by 5.5 points, in a contest with a 218 implied total.
As far as news is concerned for this contest, the Lakers are back to fully healthy roster, while the Warriors will be without Kelly Oubre and Damion Lee.
LeBron James who was nursing an ankle injury was able to play in the final two games of the regular season. Although he didn’t play more than 28 minutes in either of those contests, that was enough for him to turn in two productive performances. Tonight, I fully expect James to play his regular allotment of minutes in a matchup against a Warriors team that he dominated against back in March. In that contest, he triple-doubled, scoring 53.5 DK points. In all three meetings against the Warriors this season, he has scored at least 19 real points and topped 40 DK points in two of them. He is capable of stuffing the stat sheet on any given night, but in a paced-up matchup like the one at hand, those odds increase due their being more possessions. It’s unlikely that the Warriors will have an answer for him. James offers arguably the safest floor on tonight’s slate, making him a strong cash game option.
Anthony Davis did a lot of the heavy lifting for the Lakers down the stretch with LeBron missing a ton of games. To no surprise, there were some big performances for Davis during that timeframe. Tonight, he draws a nice matchup against a Warriors team that ranked 21st in defense efficiency against the position. Davis should dominate the boards and inside the paint, given the lack of size for the Warriors. He played against them just once this season, but in that contest, Davis was dominant as he scored 17 points with 17 rebounds, seven dimes, three blocks, and two steals. Davis has a fairly good track record against Golden State. In his last 21 meetings against them, he has averaged 57 DK points per game and sports a 62 percent consistency rating. He makes for an incredible play tonight, especially in tournaments.
Andre Drummond is an interesting GPP option who could go slightly overlooked this evening. The matchup is a good one against a Warriors team that allowed well over a fantasy point per minute to opposing centers and ranked 16th in defense efficiency against the position. In addition, Golden State also surrendered the fourth most rebounds per game to opposing teams. Drummond doesn’t play a ton of minutes, however, he does average a healthy 1.4 fantasy points per minute. Of his 12 points per game this season, 3.5 of them were second chance points, and the Warriors allowed the fourth most second chance points per game. This specific matchup is one that he can dominate in and given that he might be lower owned than two other centers this evening, makes him incredibly appealing in GPP.
Other Lakers players to consider tonight are Dennis Schroeder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma. Of the three, I like really like KCP at his price tag over on DK, while Schroeder’s price on FD is too cheap. Now that the Lakers are back to full healthy, they these are just secondary pieces for me.
On the Golden State side, it all starts with Stephen Curry who led the NBA in points per game (32) and finished the season with a healthy 33.1 usage rate. We know that if the Warriors are going to have a chance at winning this game, it’ll be because Curry went bonkers. Despite being a good defensive unit this season, the Lakers ranked 17th in efficiency against point guards this season. They also surrendered the ninth highest three-point field goal percentage to the position, which bodes well for Curry who generated 50 percent of his scoring from beyond the arc. In three games against the Lakers this season, Curry averaged 30.3 minutes, 23 points, 5.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game. It is worth noting that he never scored more than 40 DK points in any of those contests. Curry is by far my favorite Warriors player tonight, though it is tough to justify paying up for him over LeBron and even AD. That said, in tournaments, you can expect him to be the lowest owned of the three, which makes for a good reason to pivot to him in larger field GPP’s.
Draymond Green’s ability to stuff the stat sheet on any given night gives him a pretty high ceiling. However, his floor is also extremely low, making him a GPP option only for me. Green closed out the season with some strong performances, averaging 35.3 minutes, 10.6 points, 10.9 assists, 9.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and one blocker per game in his final seven contests. He did not play particularly well against the Lakers this season, but there is no denying that he will give it his all tonight in a win or go home matchup.
Outside of Curry and Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kent Bazemore, Kevin Looney, Jordan Poole, and Juan Toscano-Anderson are all players who can be considered being that they should play decent minutes. That said, none pop out as must plays, nor do they grade out exceptionally well. Keep in mind, the Warriors have the lowest implied team total on the slate, and I fully expect most of that scoring to come from Curry.
DK: LeBron James, Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl, Jaren Jackson
FD: LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson