The NBA Finals haven’t gone according to the script most people were expecting, but they have been wildly entertaining. Game 5 on Monday could be the last chapter in the season and kick off a wild offseason, where rumors already are flying thick. If the Raptors do close out the series tonight and claim the first NBA Championship in franchise history, it also likely would signal the end of an era in Golden State since the Warriors are expected to have a very different look next season.
As if those stakes weren’t high enough drama, there is plenty of uncertainty about exactly who will be on the floor since Kevin Durant ($10,000) is questionable with a calf injury. Throughout the morning, different reports from different media members have him from almost a lock not to play to definitely playing. While Durant’s availability will be the major storyline to watch leading up to tipoff, there will be plenty of stories on the floor whether KD is out there or not. However Monday’s game plays out, it will be a defining moment for the season, both of these teams and their plans going forward.
It’s almost impossible to overstate how important this game is, but how will it play out? Check out some betting trends, possible game scripts and who I think will win below along with my favorite prop bet for the night.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
FIVE BETTING TRENDS
— The Warriors have covered the spread in 12 of their last 15 games as underdogs following a home loss.
— Five of the last six games between the Warriors and Raptors at Scotiabank Arena have gone OVER the total points line.
— The road team has won the third quarter in each of the last seven NBA Finals games.
— Draymond Green has recorded 10+ rebounds in 11 of his last 13 outings.
— Kyle Lowry has recorded seven or more assists in seven of his last eight appearances against the Warriors.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
The Raptors have outplayed the Warriors dramatically so far in the Finals. Except for a brief cold spell in Game 2, they legitimately could have swept the two-time defending champs. Toronto has been slept on long enough and has proven to be much more than just a worthy opponent for the Warriors; the Raptors have proven they can be the champions. They’ll get three chances to close the deal starting tonight in front of their home fans in what surely will be a raucous environment.
The unquestioned leader of the Raptors is Kawhi Leonard ($12,000), who has beaten the Warriors in just about every way possible. He has at least 30 points and 54 DKFP in each of the past three games, averaging 33.3 points, 4.0 assists and 11.0 rebounds in those three games. Leonard’s future in Toronto might be uncertain, but he has been everything Toronto could have hoped for when it acquired him from the Spurs. He’s one game away from his second NBA Finals MVP and will be able to write his own ticket to a max deal wherever he wants this offseason. Kawhi has been great all postseason, and the Warriors have no answers to slowing him down. Even if Durant returns, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be healthy enough to help shut Leonard down, so look for another huge game from The Klaw.
Toronto’s supporting cast have all had their moments this series, as well. Pascal Siakam ($9,600) was a beast in Game 1 with 32 points and 55.5 DKFP but hasn’t gone off since. Kyle Lowry ($7,600) shot extremely well in Game 3 and had 46.5 DKFP while producing less than 30 DKFP in each of the other three contests. Fred VanVleet ($6,400) has been critical to slowing down the Splash Brothers on the defensive end, averaging well over 30 minutes a game and 22.9 DKFP per contest. Even Serge Ibaka ($5,000) showed up with 20 points and 30.5 DKFP in Game 4. The Raptors’ ability to shift and adjust on offense has been a key to their success but makes them an unpredictable bunch from a fantasy basketball perspective.
Of the Raptors not named Kawhi, Lowry is probably the safest option since he contributes assists even when he’s not scoring. Siakam has the highest upside since he can go off when at his best and could approach a double-double if he has a strong game. VanVleet and Ibaka should get enough minutes to contribute but seem slightly overpriced since they sometimes aren’t as involved offensively.
My favorite bargain on the Raptors, though, is Danny Green ($4,400). Green had 18 points and hit six 3-pointers in Game 3 on his way to 32.25 DKFP. He struggled from long distance in Game 4 but is a proven shooter who can step up in big games. Green typically plays about 30 minutes and has a high ceiling for a player under $5K. If he gets rolling from deep, he could help his former Spurs teammate Kawhi Leonard claim the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the Raptors.
The Raptors have shortened their bench and made all the right adjustments throughout the series. They’ve relied on a dominant Kawhi and gotten big games from role players when needed. If Leonard continues to dominate and gets enough help from Siakam and Lowry, Toronto could be celebrating the rest of this week while also trying to figure out how much of the band it’ll get back together to defend the title.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are facing the end of their NBA dynasty. There’s really no other way to look at it. They always have been able to rise above the turmoil and rely on their stars to carry them, but that hasn’t happened in this series due to injury and inefficiency.
Kevin Durant ($10,000) hasn’t played in more than a month since injuring his calf against the Rockets on May 8. He was able to go through practice Saturday but was extremely limited. Even those confident he will play aren’t sure how effective he can be given the long layoff and limited work. Durant could ride in on a white horse and save the Warriors, but I don’t think he’s ready physically to return at his usual high level. Even if he’s active, I’d stay away for fantasy purposes.
Whether Durant plays or not, the Warriors’ best hope of extending the series is to get a monster game from Stephen Curry ($11,600). Curry is a proven playoff performer and can carry the offense when he’s on. He did just that in Game 3, scoring 47 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists for 73 DKFP. The problem in that game was he didn’t get much support from the rest of the team and the Warriors gave up a series-high 123 points to the Raptors. With Klay Thompson ($8,800) back in Game 4, Golden State’s defense was dramatically better, but Curry shot 9-of-22 from the field and just 2-of-9 from deep. He has the potential to single-handedly win the Warriors a road game, but he’ll need to be more efficient than he has been aside from Game 3.
Thompson is a solid fantasy option himself after returning with 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting in Game 4. He had 42.25 DKFP in Game 2 and has been the Warriors’ most efficient option on offense. He’s a solid mid-range play and offers elite-level fantasy upside at a price under $9K.
While Draymond Green ($10,600) has been solid across the board for most of the series, he hasn’t had a monster game in any one category. Green should continue his steady performance and is a reliable option, but if you want upside and the potential for a game-changing performance, check out DeMarcus Cousins ($4,800) who virtually disappeared for the two games in Oakland after a strong Game 2. Cousins had 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and 37 DKFP in that contest but produced only 11.25 and 14.5 DKFP in the two games since.
The Warriors have gotten solid play from Andre Iguodala ($5,400) and Kevon Looney ($5,600) throughout the series. Both players can offer some salary relief as flex options, and Iguodala is a relatively safe play given the large number of minutes he has been logging. He has at least 21 DKFP in each of the four games in the series even though his scoring has been hit-or-miss.
While Durant’s return will get most of the attention, I think Cousins’ play is even more key to helping the Warriors extend their season. Durant is likely to be a little rusty while Cousins has had a few games to get into the flow. He had a good game the most recent time the Warriors played in Toronto, and they’ll need him to give them a similar performance to take Game 5.
It’s taken me a while to come around, I admit it, but the Raptors have convinced me this series they are ready to take the title from a beaten up and dysfunctional Warriors team that seems to be falling apart quickly. The champs might have one last gasp and pull out a win in Game 5, but I think it’s much more likely Kawhi and Co. finish their work at home.
If you build around Leonard ($18,000 CP) as your Captain’s Pick, you’ll need to find some savings at other spots, but I think it’s doable given the salaries of Iguodala, Danny Green, Cousins and other role players. If you want to go with a more balanced approach, I like Klay Thompson ($13,200 CP) as a more affordable option for cash games. For GPPs, Pascal Siakam ($14,400 CP) is a swing for the fences, and he could come up huge like he did in Game 1 or have a quieter game like he did in Game 2. I’ve been high on Siakam all season, so I think he’ll finish with a flourish.
Final Score: Toronto 115, Golden State 103
FAVORITE PROP BET
Kawhi Leonard over 2.5 3-pointers made (+135)
Leonard is expected to continue to carry the Raptors’ offense, so it’s hard to find favorable odds on him having a big game. His over 31.5 points (-109) is a solid pick, but I like the odds better on him making at least three 3-pointers. In the first four games of this series, he has averaged 7.5 3-point attempts per game. He hit three in Game 1 and a series-high five in Game 4, while hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the middle two games. The Warriors’ defense is trying to come up with answers, but Leonard took advantage with five triples including back-to-back 3-pointers to start the decisive third-quarter run in Game 4. Leonard has proven himself up to the task throughout the postseason, and his cold-blooded nature should result in some long-distance daggers in Game 5.
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