There could be as few as three days of NBA DFS tournaments left this season, unless the Rockets manage to win at least one of the next two to force game 5. If you want more than four more days, you better keep your fingers crossed for a couple of serious momentum changes.
LeBron just went off on the Hawks, carrying the Cavs to an easy game 2 win, without Kyrie or Love, with a dominant 30-11-9 performance. Can you imagine what this year, and for that matter, the last three or four years would have felt like if he wasn’t in the Eastern Conference? Basically it’s all West all the time, and then there’s LeBron. He’s almost single-handedly given the East their only serious contender since KG and Pierce were busy getting in people’s heads.
I am not disparaging this year’s Hawks or Bulls specifically – it is just funny that this mindset of the East as the defensive conference and the West as the wide-open, high-flying conference has persisted now for going on three decades. It all started because the Celtics weren’t Showtime – the 1986 Celtics averaged 114 ppg, so it’s not as if they were grinding out slow-paced wins with defense, but they didn’t have Magic leading the break, so it just didn’t look as good. But then came the Bad Boy Pistons, who lived the stereotype. And, as much as no one talks about it now, even MJ’s Bulls played into it – Michael, Pippen and company defended like no other (never mind what the East threw back at them – the ugliness of the battles they had with the Knicks was epic – epic ugliness). Garnett and Pierce’s Celtics got it right.
But what all that means to the race to a title right now isn’t much – we’re watching the better teams win their first two games and look like they are bound to advance, and then we’ll see how the clash of styles plays out at the highest level. But what it means to fantasy could be all-important.
Through two games, the Cavs and Hawks are averaging 181 points scored. The Warriors and Rockets are averaging just over 205. Twenty-five points is a lot of points. It’s also a lot of fantasy points. You can’t build a fantasy lineup out of nothing but LeBron and players from out West, but it might be a worthwhile exercise to at least try. In the Cleveland series, you have LeBron doing everything, and his team dominating, and other than that you have to just make that one perfect call, like J.R. Smith in game 1 or Tristan Thompson and his 16 boards in game 2. Out West you have two guys just killing it, starting with the MVP, Steph Curry, playing like he deserved the award. He’s averaging just over 50 fantasy points per game – scoring, dishing, and playing good D.
And on the other side you have a guy playing like he thinks he should have been the MVP, attempting to carry his team on offense whenever it needs the boost and take down a certified offensive juggernaut by himself. Harden is averaging 33-10-9 through two games, on the road, against the best team in the league. He has historically played even better at home. Is that even possible?
But the more important take-away, J.R. Smith aside, is that when two teams play offense at this level, they create more opportunities for everyone. The series out west is averaging ten more shot attempts per game, meaning more points, sure, but also more assists, and even more rebounds to be had by whoever happens to be on the court. All other things being equal, in terms of minutes, talent, etc (in other words, in terms of price range, most of the time), I just don’t see how the tiebreaker isn’t always “he’s playing out West.”
Well, except for LeBron.