Paul George and Kawhi Leonard

Friday’s fantasy basketball Showdown contests feature a choice between three NBA games: Sacramento Kings at Brooklyn Nets (7:30 p.m. ET), Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks (8:30 p.m. ET) and Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET). This article will focus on the late game.

Kawhi Leonard (knee) is not listed on the Clippers’ injury report, so he appears set to play again after returning to action on Wednesday. Danuel House (shoulder) is questionable for the Rockets.

Editor’s Note: House has been ruled out for tonight’s game.

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, including Leonard’s playing status, download the DK Live app, as NBA news, injury reports and betting lines on DraftKings Sportsbook can change throughout the day. Value also unexpectedly can open up due to late lineup changes and late injury news, making it important to stay up-to-the-minute with the DK Live app until lineups lock. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.

BETTING TRENDS

— The Clippers have won nine of their last 10 home games.

— The Rockets have covered the spread in 10 of their last 12 games against Pacific Division opponents.

— James Harden has scored 39-plus points in five of the Rockets’ last seven games.

— Paul George has scored 27-plus points in each of his last seven appearances against Southwest Division opponents.

— Kawhi Leonard has scored 26-plus points in each of his last five appearances vs. Western Conference opponents.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Kawhi Leonard ($10,600) and Paul George ($9,200) shared the court for the first time in the Clippers’ most recent game on Wednesday after shoulder surgery kept George sidelined for Los Angeles’ first 11 games and a knee injury kept Leonard out of the lineup once George was ready to return. Both Leonard and George featured massive usage rates in games prior to Wednesday, with Leonard sitting at 36% and George at 37%. However, sharing the court together for the first time cut both of their usages down on Wednesday, which is not unexpected. Leonard’s usage rate sat at 28% on Wednesday, with George’s usage rate at 29%. Both numbers are still strong, but fantasy owners can expect a similar trend to continue while Leonard and George share the floor.

Both Leonard and George have an outstanding matchup against a Rockets team that plays fast and allows elevated points to opponents. Houston has played the third-most possessions per game, contributing to allowing the ninth most points to opponents and fifth-most assists to opponents. Houston has also been a tick below average on the glass on a shot adjusted basis, and their fast pace has them allowing the sixth-most rebounds to opponents. Other Clippers players who can benefit in this matchup include Lou Williams ($7,400), Montrezl Harrell ($6,800), Patrick Beverley ($6,000) and Ivica Zubac ($4,800). Since Houston has been prone to allowing points, assists and rebounds, Clippers players are in a good fantasy spot.

On the flip side, the Rockets have a difficult task against a Clippers team that looks nasty defensively when they are fully healthy. Leonard and George are two of the league’s best two-way wings, and Beverley is one of the toughest defensive point guards. The Clippers have been outstanding on the glass, ranking as the third-best rebounding team by the percentage of missed shots they rebound. The Clippers have also been strong at defending the interior, ranking in the top third of the league in both field goal percentage allowed within five feet of the basket and field goals allowed within five feet of the basket.

James Harden ($13,000) is a usage monster, leading all players with a massive 39% usage rate. He is scoring points at a historic clip, averaging 38 points per game, behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s numbers from the early 1960s. Harden’s scoring has been helped by the Rockets dramatically increasing their pace, averaging 105 possessions per game this season, third-most, a boost from just 98 possessions per game last season, fourth-fewest.

While Harden’s heavy volume gives him a safe floor and high ceiling, a matchup against a stingy Clippers defense is a difficult one, and Harden’s efficiency could see a dip on Friday. George saw substantial time guarding Harden last season, guarding Harden on roughly 86 possessions in four games. When George was the defender on Harden last season, Harden shot just 32% from the field and 27% from 3-point range. Harden also turned the ball over 10 times in 86 possessions when guarded by George. When the Rockets played the Clippers earlier this season, Harden dropped 71.5 DKFP, but George did not play in the game.

Russell Westbrook ($9,400) has also seen very heavy usage for the Rockets, posting a 30% usage rate, a slight boost from last season’s mark. However, his efficiency numbers are down, posting his lowest player efficiency rating since his second year in the league while shooting an ugly 23% from 3-point range. Westbrook’s assist volume is also down, creating five fewer potential assists per game than he did last season. Of note, Westbrook had success individually against Beverley last season, scoring 16 points on 66% shooting in three games, although Westbrook struggled vs. the Clippers earlier this season, scoring just 22.5 DKFP on 6-of-20 (30%) shooting.

With Danuel House’s ($5,200) status uncertain as he deals with a shoulder injury, Ben McLemore ($4,200) and Austin Rivers ($3,600) are candidates for expanded roles at cheaper salaries in the event House is unable to play. Other options on Houston include Clint Capela ($8,600) and P.J. Tucker ($4,400).

Editor’s Note: House has been ruled out for tonight’s game.

THE OUTCOME

Clippers players are the more appealing options as the Captain’s Pick given Houston’s elevated fantasy points allowed to opponents. Leonard ($15,900 CP) and George ($13,800 CP) are the top options with their plus volume, while Williams ($11,100 CP) and Harrell ($10,200) have appeal off the bench. For the Rockets, Harden ($19,500 CP) and Westbrook ($14,100 CP) are the top Captain’s Pick options, although a matchup vs. tough Clippers defenders could be difficult.

Neither team enjoys the rest advantage over the other, but the Clippers are continuing an extended homestand, playing their fourth home game in a row. Houston, meanwhile, played in Denver on Wednesday, which could be notable given the altitude’s effect on players. The Clippers have yet to play their best basketball given the injuries to George and Leonard and sit in a good position to get the win at home on Friday.

Final score: Clippers 120, Rockets 114


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.


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