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Today's Optimizers and Datasheets

 6/7 Excel Optimizer/Datasheet

(Note: Needs Excel Version 2010 or later)

 6/7 Google Sheets Optimizer/Datasheet


- Today's main slate features 2 games. Nobody is on a back to back.

- As of this writing, the game with the highest over/under is MIL v BKN at 233 points. The game with the lowest over/under is DEN v PHO at 219 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.

The low-tier is perhaps the strongest I’ve seen in these entire playoffs. There are a handful of guys in this tier that are essentially locked in for 25-30+ minutes, and that’s not something you’ll usually see in this tier. Furthermore, it’s not as if these guys play Matisse Thybulle-type roles, they’re guys like Griffin, Rivers, James, and Lopez, who all have important roles in their respective offenses. In addition to these low-tier guys, I think it’s too tough to look away from both Kyrie and KD tonight. They can (and probably will) both have huge games without Harden in the lineup, and I think it’s actually a solid play to get both of them into your lineup tonight. Given this information, the stars and scrubs strategy is clearly the way to go tonight, and I think you have to place an emphasis on looking at the value that’s created in BKN as a result of Harden’s injury.

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. Kyrie Irving ($9,200)

Without James Harden, you’re getting GREAT value for Kyrie at only 9.2k. He played a ridiculous 45 (!) minutes last game and had a productive 25-8-5 in those minutes. His mindset, though, should be even more aggressive tonight; he’s gonna go into the game knowing that he has to be a primary playmaker and scorer for his team, and that’s definitely a slightly different mindset than he came into last game with. I expect a big performance from Kyrie tonight, and I’ll likely lock him into all my lineups despite his presumably high ownership. 

2. Kevin Durant ($10,300)

Again, without James Harden in the lineup, KD will have more usage, scoring opportunities, and probably even rebounds than normal. He should probably be the highest priced player on this slate, and like Kyrie, you’re getting excellent value simply because his price hasn’t been adequately adjusted to Harden’s absence. KD should return to his primary scoring role, and I could see him having a ridiculous night tonight. Realistically, there’s probably a part of him that’s excited to dominate the ball tonight on the offensive end.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000)

Giannis had 34-4-11 in game 1, but he looked virtually unstoppable in the paint; just as I had expected, the Nets weren't able to effectively handle his size and athleticism due to their lack of rim protection and size. I expect the Bucks to try to exploit the same thing tonight, and I could even see Giannis getting a larger workload than he did in game 1. He only played 35 minutes, which in my opinion (and the opinion of lots of analysts), that just simply isn’t going to cut it during playoff time. I expect a rotation adjustment tonight from Budenholzer.

Tier 2 ($5,000-$7,900)

1. Chris Paul ($6,500)

Chris Paul’s price is clearly under the assumption that he still isn’t his normal self as a result of the shoulder injury he suffered in game 1 of their first round series. However, with more rest than he’s gotten throughout these playoffs, I could see him being close to 100%, especially given there was no structural damage in his shoulder. I think we could see CP3 return to his normal self which, if you forgot, is a pretty unstoppable pick and roll player.

2. Deandre Ayton ($7,300)

The key to this series will of course be how the Suns handle Jokic. There has been lots of talk about how Ayton is a good defender for the Joker, but I could see him excelling on the offensive end as well. As I’ve talked about extensively in the past, the best way to limit a player like Jokic is to go at him on the offensive end; get him in foul trouble, make him defend in the post, tire him out, etc. I expect Ayton and the Suns to put him in TONS of pick and rolls, and one way or another that should result in a solid Ayton night.

3. Joe Harris ($6,000)

Like KD and Kyrie, Harris should get a solid boost as a result of Harden’s absence. He should be more of a focal point of the offense, and he should see more minutes than normal. I could see the Nets running a lot of screen plays for Harris; even though Harden is out, he’s not going to have a dominant defender on him like Jrue, so he should be able to exploit whatever matchup he’s in. The Bucks allow tons of threes, and if the Nets are going to win this series, they’re going to have to do it in large part from the 3 point line.

Tier 3 ($3,000-$4,900)

1. Blake Griffin ($4,100)

I’m not chasing a good performance as much as I am a performance that I feel is sustainable. He’s going to continue to get open looks from the three point line as a result of the Bucks’ desire to aggressively limit anything in the paint, and his size mismatch with Lopez actually helps him out in that sense. Furthermore, Blake Griffin and the BKN Nets know that in order to be successful in this series, they’ll have to do a great job on the boards; BG is a big part of that, and we saw that in game 1 where he pulled down 14 rebounds. I think you’re getting unbelievable value for Griffin tonight, although he will definitely be very highly owned.

2. Austin Rivers ($4,000) 

To be completely honest, I’m not sure why Rivers is this cheap. He was towards the 5k range during the last series, and I saw nothing to make me believe he won’t continue to start and see minutes. He’s earned the trust of Malone, Jokic, and the rest of the team, and I expect him to see a similar role against the Suns as he did against the Blazers. If you look in this low-tier, Rivers is guaranteed to see more minutes than the vast majority of these guys, and it’s not like he’s unproductive in his minutes.

3. Mike James ($3,300)

Mike James can flat out hoop, and Steve Nash knows that damn well, that’s why he went to him when Harden got hurt. Even if James doesn’t start tonight (which he probably won’t), he should see solid minutes after his awesome game 1 performance in which he put up 12-3-7. He’s given the green light to make plays while he’s in there, and he can really get it going from deep, so I think the ceiling you’re getting with Mike James at only 3.3k is pretty great.


Nikola Jokic LESS than 31.5 Points

Not only has Deandre Ayton proven throughout his career that he’s an excellent matchup for Jokic, but I think the Suns in general are a good team to limit him. They play excellent help side defense and rotate super well off of drive and kick opportunities for the offense, so I think they employ some of those strategies tonight when defending the Joker. They’re not the type of team to say “we’ll let Jokic get his, but we’re going to shut down the other guys”. No, they’re going to try their best to stop the Joker from being comfortable at any point, which I think could result in a lower scoring game tonight for him.

Kevin Durant MORE than 33.5 Points

As I talked about during our playoff blueprint, I expect both Kyrie and KD to have huge games tonight. Without Harden, both of them know that they’ll have to assume larger scoring roles, something both of them are VERY comfortable with. KD should take tons of shots tonight, and as we know, he’s completely unstoppable so he’ll make a significant number of them. Even in a loss, I bet Durant goes for around 40.

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Each days newsletter will be posted no later than 2 hours before the main slate of games tips-off, see you tomorrow!