Two elimination games on tap for NBA DFS tonight. The first one features the Raptors going into Philly to try to close the series out in a game 6. They are favored by 2 in a game with a 212 total. The other matchup out west features the Portland Trail Blazers at home trying to stay alive in their own elimination game against the Denver Nuggets. The Blazers are a 4 point favorite to keep this series alive in a game with a 215 total. The early money and most of the bets are coming down on the Denver side of this one so far.
Both games project to stay close and feature about the same number of points. That means really both are in play based on the vegas expectations. On a two game slate, game stacking is a viable option as one game could blowout or be low scoring and having exposure to the other one becomes paramount for success. Of course both games could stay close and be higher scoring, so we will break them down individually so those playing the showdown slate have a roadmap and those playing the two game regular DFS style slate can use the same information.
- Blazers 109.5
- Raptors 107
- Nuggets 105.5
- 76ers 105
Season Average – Projection
- Nuggets (-5)
- Blazers (-5)
- Raptors (-6.5)
- 76ers (-9.5)
Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers
- Raptors -2, 212
The Raptors have a 3 games to 2 edge after winning at Toronto in decisive fashion. This series has been tough to figure. They split the first four games with each team going 1-1 at home. The game the 76ers won at home was the only decent Joel Embiid game of this series. It was also the worst game Kawhi has played. In the other four games Kawhi has been every bit of the superstar they thought they were getting and Joel Embiid has been nothing more than an average NBA player. This is the real key to me. What Joel Embiid are we going to get? When he plays like his dominant self, the 76ers are tough to beat. When he plays like a secondary piece, the Raptors have won 3 of the 4 contests he didn’t show out.
Kawhi Leonard has been a beast this entire series. His worst game was a 40 fantasy point outing where he didn’t do much in terms of rebounding and assists, but still shot well over 50% and scored 33 real life points. He has 45, 35, 33, and 39 points in the first four games. Last game the 76ers decided to try something new on defense and double Kawhi to make him give up the ball. He still finished with a respectable 21 points, but the real story of that blowout was that the other guys finally stepped up. The only other guy who has been consistent for the Raptors is Pascal Siakam. He had a subpar game 4, but has basically dropped 20+ points in the other games to go along with about 6 rebounds and 2 assists per night. Those two have virtually carried them this series on the offensive end. They did finally get some increased contributions from the guards last game with Kawhi being doubled. Both Danny Green and Kyle Lowry stepped up to answer the point production issue with Kawhi being less of an offensive centerpiece. You are getting MArc Gasol playing more minutes than Serge Ibaka, but really neither guy even at discounted prices is producing much. No one else is really seeing enough minutes to factor in here. Guys like Van Vleet and Powell are getting under 20 minutes a night as pure backups. BArring an injury or ejection, I don’t see that changing.
Top Plays: Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry
GPP Plays: Pascal Siakam
Top Value: Danny Green
Joel Embiid is not the center I’m focusing on tonight. Sure as a GPP play he could explode for a big game, but he’s done so just once this series as he battles injury and illness. The rest of the games he has massively underperformed expectations. Ben Simmons has not played well either, much of that attributed to being defended by Kawhi Leonard. Still even with his price discounted down on the sites, I would rather keep him as a secondary GPP play than a main piece of the core of my lineups tonight. The guy who has taken the massive step to be the leader of this team right now is Jimmy Butler. After a crappy game one, Butler has averaged nearly 50 DK points in the last four games of the series. Since game 1 he is averaging over 25 points with 9 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and a block per game. He’s the safest play, but his price has come up on just about every site and in every game type, so it’s not the deal it was in game 2 and game 3. Tobias HArris is playing near 40 minutes a game, but has not reached 40 fantasy points yet. Game one was his best and he’s been below average in the rest. Sometimes by a wide margin and other times just slightly, but still below average. JJ Redick is coming off his worst game, attempting just 6 shots and knocking down only one of them for just 3 points. He gives you very little outside of scoring and he’s not dirt cheap. He would need to have a 20+ point game to get you to 25-30 fantasy points and he has not done that yet. If you need salary relief, James Ennis is playing half the game lately and Mike Scott back from injury saw almost 20 minutes last time out too. Ennis as a cheap DFS regular lineup punt or either of them as a salary saver in a showdown is about as far as I would be willing to go. NEither has upside or safety, but on their best days they can get you 20 fantasy points and save you money to spend elsewhere.
Top Plays: Jimmy Butler
GPP Plays: Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris
Top Value: James Ennis
Denver Nuggets @ Portland Trail Blazers
- Blazers -4, 215
Denver took the opener, dropped the second game at home, lost the first game in Portland to go down 2-1, and then roared back with consecutive victories to grab a 3-2 series lead. Now we head back to Portland where the Nuggets are 1-1 this series and won one of the two games during the year. The second regular season game they sat all the starters, so I don;t count that one. It means Denver starters are 6-2 against the Blazers this year with the blowout last game being the only victory outside of 9 points in any of the other 7 matchups. That means these two teams are pretty evenly matched and this game and series could end up going either way. I like the Nuggets to win the series, but do think Portland has a chance to win this battle tonight. Nikola Jokic has carried the load and been insanely productive for the Nuggets. In just five games he has 132 points, 72 rebounds, 44 assists, 7 steals and 4 blocks. That’s a per game average in this series of 26/14/8/1/1 for an average of about 60 fantasy points per game. He’s been the story of the series. Damian Lillard is not having a bad series, but he has underperformed his expectations. Due to the overtime game he’s averaging over 40 minutes a night in this series, but barely over a fantasy point per minute. The only game he cracked 50 fantasy points was the 140-137 multiple OT game where he played 58 minutes in order to get 50+. I do not have a ton of faith in the rest of this inconsistent offense. CJ McCollum will do some work, but outside of the OT game he has not been great for value. Enes Kanter started hot, but has faded the last few games. The Blazers are getting minor contributions from a lot of players more than having a few guys carry them like we see with the teams in the eastern conference game. It does open up some value guys that are interesting on Portland, but I’m not sure it’s a recipe for success.
We already mentioned the sheer dominance and fantasy upside of a guy like Jokic. Even with his price being slightly higher than Embiid’s, I can’t justify not playing him today on a 2 game DFS slate. Jokic has triple doubled in two of the last three games. He double-doubled in every game of the series except for game one where he finished with only 9 rebounds to go along with his 37 points and 6 assists. In fact he has had no less than 9 rebounds and 6 assists in any of the five games of this series. The guy is just an absolute beast right now. Due to the Blazers going with a bigger frontline , Paul Millsap has found himself playing more in this series. He had good games all season against the Blazers, and has been a guy I have ridden successfully at low cost all series. He is no longer dirt cheap, but is still not expensive at barely over $6K on DK with recent 40+ point upside. They limited is minutes for the season to have him ready for this point and he’s rewarded them by averaging over 19 and 9 right now. Jamal Murray also seems to be stepping up when needed here. The game 2 loss was the only time he failed to put up 40+ DK points in this series. Like Millsap the price has risen, but not by too much that’s out of play. 40 points for under $7K is still an excellent value. Gary HArris has produced a step below those other teammates, but he’s had 25-31 fantasy points in four of the five games and he cost under $5K on DraftKings again today. That’s a solid value price for a guy playing 36+ minutes this series even if you don’t include the 50 he played in that OT game. For the extreme value, I prefer Will BArton over Torrey Craig. I know Craig is the starter, but the last few games have featured more of Barton, who has seen more than half the game in each. He lacks upside in this secondary bench help role, but he’s dirt cheap and that could be the low cost piece that unlocks something else you want or needed. For showdown slates, I like the BArton value, but you may be forced to using guys like Plumlee, Beasley, or Monte Morris if you need an absolute punt. I’ll go Plumlee if I had to choose. With BArton emerging and a log jam of perimeter guys like Craig, Beasley, and Morris to eat up whatever minutes are available, I just trust the 18-20 minutes of Plumlee backing up Millsap and Jokic more. Plus Plumlee rebounds and blocks shots as well as scores around the rim, so his production is higher and safer when on the floor.
Top Plays: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap
GPP Plays: See above
Top Value: Will Barton (Mason Plumlee a distant second, but also dirt cheap)
Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard has been good this series, but not great. 40-50 points is nice, but not the upside we need. He’s always capable of exploding, but he’s not the core guy I want to build around. Outside of him it gets a little dicey. Throw out the last game in terms of minutes and production as that was a blowout and nothing looked good. When you do that, you see CJ McCollum has been solid before the last stinker. He’s not cheap, but the guy has been productive. I don’t want to go nuts and put too much emphasis on that one monster game as he did play 60 minutes. He’s more likely to see 35ish on a normal night and has been flirting with a fantasy point per minute. He’s borderline attractive for me in some spots. Again, not a core play, but definitely worth looking into. Enes Kanter has had a big start to the series, but the last few games played less minutes and was less productive. Al Farouq Aminu lacks upside, but he did step up in game 4 with Kanter not playing well. Overall I prefer Kanter to Aminu, but Aminu is interesting when building lineups due to his price point. As far as the cheaper options go, you have quite a few who have played in this series. Moe HArkless, Evan Turner, Seth Curry, Zach Collins, and Rodney Hood all fall on this list. Hood has probably been the most consistent, but he also lacks upside. Still he’s seeing half a game and does get shots, so as a showtime salary saver, he makes some sense. Zach Collins is not getting big minutes, but he can score and will rebound. As Kanter has dropped off, he has stepped up. I want to caution people about chasing that last game though. Remember it turned into a blowout and the fourth quarter featured Collins and Meyers LEonard. Leonard played well too, but both guys had lacked even decent consistent minutes before that one. Collins is safer for his 15-20 minutes. Leonard likely doesn’t even get in the game if it stays close and fouls are not an issue.
Top Plays: None
GPP Plays: Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum (I wouldn’t play them together), Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter
Top Value: Rodney Hood, Zach Collins