Ricky Sanders breaks down tonight’s 2-game NBA DFS playoff slate!!
Players are based on FanDuel (FD) pricing/positions. Plays noted with (DK) are notably good plays on DraftKings. Please read the entire article, as the rankings are explained in the bottom half (along with what news can radically shift these rankings).
Charlotte Hornets @ Indiana Pacers
The 10th place Hornets made the playoffs at just 33-39 and are listed as 3.0-point road underdogs versus a banged-up Pacers squad. Tonight, only Gordon Hayward and Cody Martin will be missing for the Hornets as zero other members of the team are listed on the injury report. Charlotte’s 111.75-point implied total is the lowest on the slate and that should lead to this team getting mostly overlooked. While this team is not a priority to stack or anything, there are still bits and pieces worth targeting.
Cody Zeller appears to be running away with the starting center role at the right time given he has played 30-plus minutes in back-to-back games heading into the play-in game. Bismack Biyombo provides the team with zero offense and Vernon Carey Jr. was only used as needed. Teams used a roll man in the pick-and-roll at the fifth highest frequency versus the Pacers and that led to the team allowing the fifth most points per game to the play type. This correlates extremely well with Zeller’s skill set as Zeller led the team in FG percentage as a roll man (64.3-percent) and ranked second on the team in roll man frequency behind only P.J. Washington. Rostering Zeller is putting faith in recent rotations and a risk I am willing to take.
If the salary is available, Terry Rozier is the top spend option on the Hornets after averaging a season-high 37.0 minutes per game (MPG) in May. In those contests, Rozier averaged 21-5.4-4.9 with a 24.8-percent usage rate and 39.1 DK fantasy points per game (FPPG) including a season-high 8.4 three-point attempts per game. Why does that matter? Well, the Pacers allowed the lowest frequency of three-point attempts against them, which means Rozier is going to have to adjust a bit. Still, $7,200 is too cheap for a team’s number one scorer, especially a team with an implied total over 111-points.
On FD, LaMelo Ball is priced identically to Rozier, and his game is more well-rounded than that of his guard counterpart. If looking to correlate the pick-and-roll game, Ball leads the team in both frequency of ball-handling in the pick-and-roll (32.5-percent) and points per game in the play type (4.5). In a faster-paced game environment, Ball will have an opportunity to fill the box score in terms of rebounds, assists and steals, and if Rozier is going to be more heavily-owned, then Ball is the most logical of pivots.
Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges and Jaden McDaniels constitute the final tier of playable Hornets as these three are quite inconsistent producers. It will be interesting to see if the Hornets rely heavily on three-guard lineups against a Pacers team missing their starting center (Myles Turner). They can likely play smaller against the Pacers and get away with it so Graham is a player I am projecting from 33-minutes. If the team commits even more heavily to small lineups, that number could prove to be low. Bridges is playing massive minutes recently but is fully-priced and will need to shoot lights-out to exceed a $7,000 price point. McDaniels has failed to reach 21 fantasy points in three of his last five and rarely eclipses a 16-percent usage rate so he is best left for tournaments.
Big news just emerged from the Pacers side of the game as Caris LeVert is now considered unlikely to play. Unsurprisingly, the Pacers team leaders in usage rate without LeVert (and Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb) off the floor are none other than Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon. Sabonis leads the way with 1.38 DK fantasy points per minute (FPPM) and that is before taking into consideration the Hornets allow shots at the rim at the fourth highest frequency. Obviously, this is a smash spot for Sabonis, and the absence of LeVert will only lead to him taking more shots than initially expected.
Brogdon is officially listed as questionable but, at this point, I would expect him to play given the importance of the contest. Assuming he is healthy, the team simply cannot hold back his minutes, even if he is not 100-percent, but he has only averaged 0.99 FPPM without LeVert/Turner/Lamb (and Victor Oladipo). Instead of prioritizing him as the second Pacer, Justin Holiday would be that guy for me, given he dropped 45 fantasy points the last time LeVert sat. Holiday would not miss in that game (9-14 from the field including 8-12 from behind the arc) but the Hornets allow the second highest frequency of three-point shot attempts. Consequently, Holiday should have plenty opportunities from beyond the arc, and he may not even have to run anywhere near as pure to post a tournament-winning performance (especially at just $4,500).
Other GPP candidates include Doug McDermott, Aaron Holiday/T.J. McConnell (especially if Brogdon out or limited) and Oshae Brissett. On FD, McDermott provides a much-needed source of salary relief after averaging 26.5 MPG in the month of May (second highest of any month this season). In May, he averaged a season-best 16.6 points per game and shot 55-plus percent from the field for the third straight month (including a season-best 46.0-percent from the field). His recent hot play earned him 30-minutes of court time his last time out and, if he continues to shoot at a similar clip, he could easily exceed his price tag.
McConnell averages 1.14 DK FPPM with LeVert/Turner/Lamb off the floor but the presence of Malcolm Brogdon presumably would limit his upside a bit. If the team opts to go small to match the three guards of the Hornets, one of McDermott/J.Holiday/Brissett would lose playing time, so there is no reason to play McConnell and multiple Pacers forwards together.
As for Brissett, well, he is coming off a 31-10-3 double-double versus the Raptors and has emerged as an important member of the rotation down the stretch. However, he has not exactly been a model of consistency, especially in games that Sabonis has been healthy. The Hornets are small, which gives Brissett a chance to live on the boards again, but he has grabbed more than five rebounds just thrice in nine games with 20-plus minutes playing alongside Sabonis. If speculating that Brissett’s breakout was no fluke, do the speculating in tournaments (where aiming for first place is so much more important) as opposed to cash games.
Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics
In the battle versus the seventh and eighth place teams in the Eastern Conference, this game features an implied total 5.5-points higher than the other game on the slate. Of course, this is because the Wizards will be playing in this one and an average Wizards game ended with 235.1 points this season. Essentially, Vegas is expecting the Celtics will slow them down a bit, which makes sense given their pace has slowed down a tad sans Jaylen Brown.
Bradley Beal is dealing with a hamstring injury and says the issue is “something that – it won’t heal in a week.” A few days ago, Beal returned and played 35-minutes and finished with 25-points on 8-27 (29.6-percent) shooting. It is tough to accurately gauge exactly how healthy he may be which makes him tough to trust in cash games.
Therefore, Russell Westbrook is once again an intriguing spend up option, although sites have finally priced him relatively appropriately: $12,400 on DK and $13,000 on FD. In the month of May, Westbrook played six games alongside Beal, and in those games, he averaged 25.7 points per game (PPG), 15.7 rebounds per game (RPG), 15.3 assists per game (APG), 1.5 steals per game (SPG) and 75.1 DK FPPG. Thus far, Westbrook has faced the Celtics thrice, and has topped out at 47.25 DK fantasy points in those outings, but the last time he saw them was nearly two months ago. The current version of Westbrook is much more potent and, if comfortable with values elsewhere, spending for him in any format is still a viable strategy.
On FD, Rui Hachimura is priced at just $5,100 at a small forward (SF) position that is noticeably bare tonight. I am projecting Hachimura for minutes into the mid-30s and it is possible his allotment stretches into the 40s given the importance of the game. Over the course of the team’s last 10 games, Hachimura is one of just four Wizards sporting a 20-plus percent usage rate, and his 17.0 PPG ranks third on the team during that stretch. Meanwhile, the Celtics rank just 19th in defensive efficiency versus opposing frontcourts over the course of their last 10 games, so he easily ranks amongst the top per-dollar SFs on FD and PFs on DK.
Beyond those three, the rest of the team is a crap shoot, as the center position is a three-way split and Ish Smith’s recent minutes easily could be a mirage. Of the remaining Wizards, Smith’s price on DK is the most intriguing, given he has topped 21.5 fantasy points in five straight games and he is priced below $4,000.
Robin Lopez has garnered heavy usage in the month of May and he has scored 14-plus points in four of the last six games. Daniel Gafford has also scored 12-plus points in two of the last three and this team often plays the hot hand at the position. In tournaments, trying to guess the hot hand may end up being a winning strategy, but it could either one of these guys or it could be Alex Len (who also has two 27-plus fantasy point performances in his last five games). Good luck guessing this trio right but it would stand to reason that Lopez would be the best bet if the Wizards are playing from behind and Len would be the guy if playing from ahead (given their skill sets).
Lastly, Davis Bertans has made two straight starts, and has averaged nearly 30 MPG in those two games, but he is completely reliant on his three-point shot. The Celtics allowed the 11th highest three-point FG percentage but Bertans will have to shoot 45-plus percent from behind the arc to post a GPP-influencing sort of performance.
As for the Celtics, no Jaylen Brown is obviously a gigantic loss for them, and Jayson Tatum, Evan Fournier and the gang will need to step up their offense in his absence. After the All-Star Break, Brown missed a total of 11-games and Kemba Walker actually led the team in scoring during that span (28.6-points), barely edging out Tatum (28.4). Newcomer Evan Fournier was next up at 15.0 PPG and Marcus Smart (11.8 PPG) ranked fourth. Playing against a team that ranked first in pace, this matchup should speed up the Celtics, which is nice for them considering they averaged fewer than 110 PPG without Brown this year.
On DK, Walker is mispriced, sitting at just $7,300 despite his boosted role in the offense. Additionally, only six teams ranked below the Wizards in PG efficiency defense this year and no team allowed more points per-48 minutes (so this matchup is elite).
Tatum’s matchup is not such a knockout as the Wizards actually held their own against PFs this season (16th in defensive efficiency) and Tatum is fully-priced on each site: $9,800 on DK and $10,000 on FD. Still, Tatum led the team in shot attempts and usage rate without Brown, and averaged a team-best 50.0 DK FPPG in 10 games without Brown after the All-Star Break.
Marcus Smart will almost assuredly be asked to play big minutes against an elite offensive guard duo since Smart is the team’s defensive specialist. Normally, Smart’s offense is a big question mark, but the faster-paced nature of the game enhances his stock opportunities (and creates additional offensive possessions for the Celtics). Even so, I still prefer the next guy in tournaments…
Evan Fournier at least possesses the ability to light up the scoreboard and he has done so on multiple occasions already as a member of the Celtics. In fact, Fournier has scored 15-plus points in each of his last seven games and has averaged 19.9 PPG and 37.2 DK FPPG during that stretch. For a wing, Fournier ranks in the 81th percentile of mid-range shot frequency, which means only 19th percent of wings attempt mid-range shots at a higher frequency. Luckily for him, the Wizards allow mid-range jump shots at the highest frequency of any defense, so Fournier should be able to live in the mid-range tonight. If his shot is on, my assumption is he easily eclipses 20 real points yet again.
Robert Williams’ price on FD jumps off the page especially as the scoring system prioritizes stocks (steals/blocks) and names like Sabonis/Hachimura do not qualify at center over there. Even with the three-man center rotation for the Wizards, they still rank 28th in defensive efficiency versus the position over the course of their last 10 games, and centers averaged 2.5 blocks per-48 minutes (sixth most of any team in the sample). However, Williams’ minutes were capped down the stretch, and he topped out at 24:03 in May. If that plan continues, his upside is capped a bit in most scenarios, although facing the Wizards obviously helps his cause.
If he splits minutes evenly with Tristan Thompson then a $4,400 Thompson is viable as a punt on FD as well. Thompson is heavily-reliant on rebounds and putbacks for his fantasy value and Washington allowed the seventh most rebounds per-48 minutes to the center position this season.
DK Cash Core 4: Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Rui Hachimura, Cody Zeller
FD Cash Core 4: Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Rui Hachimura, Cody Zeller
DK GPP Core 4: Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Cody Zeller, Justin Holiday
FD GPP Core 4: Russell Westbrook, Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott, Cody Zeller
Note: if making multiple lineups, my preference would be to fade Russell Westbrook in some for the likes of Domantas Sabonis and split that exposure
- Cody Zeller ov 10.5 PTS
- Kemba Walker ov 24.5 PTS
- Justin Holiday ov 2.5 3PM
- Marcus Smart un 14.5 PTS
- CHA +1.5
- WAS +2, ML +108