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Today's Optimizers and Datasheets
(Note: Needs Excel Version 2010 or later)
QUICK HITTERS (5/25)
- Today's main slate features 3 games. Nobody is on a back to back.
- As of this writing, the game with the highest over/under is BOS v BKN at 227.5 points. The game with the lowest over/under is LAL v PHO at 210 points.
Welcome to our brand new section for the NBA Playoffs! This section will provide you with a full breakdown (or 'blueprint') of both players and strategies we like for tonight's games. Our goal is for this section to replace our usual 'Need to Know' and 'Core Plays' sections, as there is typically much less injury news in the playoffs and we want to focus in more on matchups and lineup construction!
Tonight's Lineup Construction:
This sub-section will briefly breakdown lineup construction strategies to consider for tonight's slate. Are there high tier must plays? Is there a ton of cheap value? Should you go Stars and Scrubs? Etc.
I think the low-tier is especially weak tonight, meaning a stars and scrubs strategy might not be as beneficial as normal. Contrary to yesterday’s games, I don’t expect the stars (top-tier guys) to have as much success. In the Suns and Lakers, I could see LAL throwing a double-team at Booker, and I could see the Suns limiting AD and maybe even Bron with some extended help-side defense like they did in game 1. In the LAC v DAL game, I expect the Clippers to once again aggressively double Luka, and I could see the same happening on the other side of the ball for Kawhi and PG. In the Nets and Celtics game, I could see the Nets being more aggressive on Tatum with a double; he’s the main offensive threat, and if he struggles, the Celtics struggle. On the other side of the ball, each of the Nets stars scares me, because it could be any one of them that goes for 35+, which would result in the other 2 having weaker games. So, to conclude, I would hunt the middle tier tonight.
Tier 1 ($8,000+)
Each of the following tiers will provide our top 2-3 value plays (depending on how many games there are) of the night from within the specified price range.
Note: We will be using DraftKings prices for the price-range classifications.
1. Kawhi Leonard ($8,300)
Kawhi was my number 1 top tier player a few nights back, and I’ll be going right back to him tonight. He went for 26-5-10 in a loss last game, so I think we see a full-blown playoff Kawhi tonight, in what I would call a must-win game, especially with two games in Dallas on the horizon. I still think Kawhi is far too cheap given what his production is like in the playoffs, and I don’t see DAL making any significant adjustment to him, because he didn’t even kill them that badly in game 1. Also, sending a double at Kawhi would be a death sentence with the number of playmakers and shooters that he has around him.
2. Lebron James ($10,100)
If you watched game 1, you saw Deandre Ayton absolutely bully AD on both ends, resulting in a tough loss for the Lakers. It’s clear that if the Lakers want a chance in this series, it’ll have to be Lebron that’s the main guy; AD is noticeably still hurt, and it’s limiting his game mightily. Another reason I like Lebron tonight is that he always comes out firing in game 2’s. He lost game 1 against POR last year (and followed it up with a big game 2, and an eventual championship), and he lost game 1 against the Suns, so I think he might have a huge game tonight as well. I expect him to come out with some urgency tonight, as going down 2-0 against this Suns team would not be an easy hole to climb out of.
3. Devin Booker ($8,100)
Even though it was the first playoff game of his career, Devin Booker BALLED out in game 1 against the Lakers. He put up 38-4-7 and looked at his best for essentially the whole game. I think CP3’s injury helps Booker a lot tonight, also. If you watched the 2nd half of game 1, you saw Paul struggling to shoot the basketball from virtually any distance. Unless he’s made a miraculous recovery in 2 days, I expect him to take on mainly a facilitator role tonight, which bodes well for Devin Booker doing the brunt of the scoring. Booker is just too cheap for me to pass up on tonight.
Tier 2 ($5,000-$7,900)
1. Tim Hardaway Jr ($5,500)
Tim Hardaway put up 21-1-4 in game 1, and I think he could have an even better game tonight. Towards the end of the first game, the Clippers started aggressively doubling Luka, both off of the pick and roll and just when he started to go to 1 on 1 at the top of the key. This resulted in lots of open threes for Luka’s teammates, which is clearly what the Clippers are willing to give up. I expect them to apply this same strategy tonight in game 2, as Luka was absolutely lethal when they let him go against 1 defender. I’m anticipating another big game from Luka’s supporting cast tonight.
2. Kemba Walker ($7,200)
Kemba Walker being only 7.2k seems like an absolute steal to me. He’s the number 2 option for the Celtics, and after a REALLY ROUGH first game, I could see the Celtics trying to get him going early. Tatum will be defended primarily by KD (an excellent defender), while Kemba will have solid matchups against Kyrie and Harden, 2 sub-par defenders. If the Celtics are going to have any success tonight, Kemba is going to have to score 20+, which will probably mean a solid fantasy night for Kemba, assuming he gets his normal number of assists and rebounds.
3. Deandre Ayton ($6,100)
Deandre Ayton put up 21 and 16 in game 1, and he did it all within himself; he doesn’t get many post touches or opportunities in general to make plays for himself, but he’s still able to have solid production by just rolling to the rim. Tonight, though, I could see him having an even larger role in the offense without the normal production of CP3. I expect CP3 to take on a significant facilitator role tonight (as opposed to a scoring role), given his inability to raise his shoulder above his head. This would result in more finishes at the rim for Ayton, and potentially even some opportunities for him to operate out of the mid-post, something he did during the regular season.
Tier 3 ($3,000-$4,900)
1. Rajon Rondo ($4,500)
I’m definitely liking playoff Rondo tonight. He put up 11-4-4 in game 1, and I only expect his minutes and usage to increase in what will be a must-win game 2. When the game is on the line and your team needs to win, it’s probably smart to have Rondo in the game, especially when he’s able to knock down the open three ball like he’s been doing as of late. He can be used as an on-ball PG, and he can also knock open the aforementioned open three, so he should definitely see some late-game minutes.
2. Nicolas Batum ($3,800)
After putting up 11-2-7 in 32 minutes in game 1, I think you have to love Batum at only $3,800. Like Rondo, Batum is a player that Ty Lue trusts down the stretch of a game; he’s a veteran, he can play good defense on a number of positions, and he can knock down the open three, as well as just being a solid ball mover. I expect Kawhi and PG to get going early, but the periphery shooters will definitely get some open looks tonight as a result of the attention that those 2 require.
3. Jeff Green ($3,800)
Even though Jeff Green had a rough game 1 (3-3-4), I expect him to bounce back in game 2. He logged 27 minutes in game 1, and he played a lot better than Blake Griffin, especially defensively, so I expect him to get even more minutes tonight at that small-ball 5 position. He should stick himself on the three point line and get a good number of threes off, he should have some success in transition, and he should definitely be solid on the boards. At only 3.8k, I think you have to strongly consider Jeff Green tonight.
NBA PLAYOFF MKF PLAYS OF THE DAY
Chris Paul MORE assists than Cameron Payne (+4.5 assists)
As I’ve discussed earlier in the newsletter, CP3’s shoulder injury appeared to be pretty serious, as it drastically impacted his shooting form and ball handling ability. I think he’ll be back closer to normal today, but I think he still takes on more of a facilitator role; he’ll likely take fewer side-step or step-back threes as a result of his lack of shoulder strength. Instead, I think he’ll operate out of the pick and roll and will get his teammates involved, resulting in a BIG assist night from Paul. Cam Payne, on the other hand, will get far fewer minutes than CP3 and it’ll be tough for him to get many assists for that reason.
Paul George MORE than 2.5 Made Threes
If the Mavs are going to make a defensive adjustment tonight, it’s going to be on their coverage of Kawhi, not their coverage of Paul George. Kawhi is clearly the primary guy on this LAC team, and that’ll be the guy that would be doubled (if a guy is doubled). So, that double would open up three pointers for Kawhi’s teammates, most notably PG. Even if Kawhi doesn’t get doubled, I would still like George’s chances of hitting 3+ threes simply as a result of his on-ball creation.
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