When there are two Eastern Conference games and one from out West, it’s not usually too tough to figure out which game you would expect to feature the most points. And tonight is no exception. Today’s NBA targets breakdown looks at the three Game 2’s scheduled for Wednesday night, with an eye towards the studs, sleepers and mid-range players you want to have rotating in your lineups.
Chris Paul – LAC vs. POR – $9,600 – With Griffin and Jordan facing off against the Trail Blazers’ front court, double-digit assists should be a given in every game of this series for Paul. He put up 28 points and 11 assists in Game 1, a 115-95 win. Paul played 33 minutes and had 19 shot attempts in Game 1, as well, so Paul will continue to be involved plenty.
Kyrie Irving – CLE vs. DET – $7,800 – In Game 1, Love and Irving both stepped up in a big way. Irving just repeatedly beat the Pistons’ perimeter defenders in a way that didn’t suggest Detroit was about to turn a corner and start being able to stop him. He ended up shooting only 10-for-24 from the field, but that was evidence of his ability to get his shot whenever he wanted more. He hit five 3’s, a display of shooting that would make him a top option at the position if it happened more consistently.
Reggie Jackson – DET @ CLE – $6,500 – It’s no surprise, if there is a weakness in Cleveland’s defense, it is in the backcourt defense. They will still control the pace and limit any real upside from their opponents, but at $6,500 you don’t need 50+ points to get value. In Game 1, it was Caldwell-Pope with the bigger scoring game, but Jackson still got you to 31.5 DKFP on the strength of 17 points and 7 assists. He’ll have the ball in his hands the entire game, so he’ll have every opportunity to succeed. With Drummond and the rest of the Pistons’ big men stymied by the Cavs’ defense, he’s just a couple of made jump shots from being one of the most valuable players on your squad.
Goran Dragic – MIA vs. CHA – $6,400 – The Heat absolutely dominated Game 1, taking a 123-91 win at home – and even with all that scoring, Dragic had only 9 points. But I don’t necessarily expect to see Deng or Whiteside’s scoring outbursts to continue – what I do see continuing is the defense. Dragic’s contributions are useful even if the offense doesn’t go off: 9 points, 10 assists and a steal is his absolute floor. When they need it in this series, he can give them 15-10-5 with a steal mixed in, and you’d be happy to have it at this price.
Dwyane Wade – MIA vs. CHA – $7,000 – He was the third highest scorer for the Heat in Game 1, behind Deng and Whiteside, but the Heat aren’t going to sweep this series with four straight 30-point victories. The lopsidedness of this game is evidenced by the fact that Wade, who averaged almost six free throw attempts per game this season, had zero free throws in Game 1 – there was no need for him to assert himself, and so we saw a ho hum 16 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Different players have stepped up for Miami all year long, so Wade’s upside isn’t what it was a decade ago, but it’s important to remember that he might be the most expensive SG on the board, but he is still just $7,000 – and as a cash game option, you know he is going to be involved.
Nicolas Batum – CHA @ MIA – $6,600– There were two key takeaways from Game 1 of this series: the Heat can play some serious defense, and the Hornets are going to need to rely on their guards for any production they manage in this series. Batum and Walker combined for 43 points in this one, and while it wasn’t enough, it was all they had. These two teams have now met four times since the opening night of the season, and Batum has scored 19 or more points in three of them, and managed a triple-double in the fourth (10-11-11). He is going to be central to any success they have, and for this price, he seems like a bargain, no matter how good Miami’s defense just played.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – DET @ CLE – $4,900 – He led the Pistons in scoring in Game 1 with 21 points, but what is more important is how he did it. The 21 points came on 7-for-14 shooting, including 4-for-8 from three-point range. That kind of shooting is going to be the best way for the Pistons to try to combat the Cavs’ defense, and even though it wasn’t quite enough in their first try, they are going to have no choice but to keep turning to it for as long as this series lasts.
J.J. Redick – LAC vs. POR – $4,700 – There aren’t a lot of SG options for tonight, so you will probably consider them all, and I don’t blame you. And while Redick had a strong Game 1, if I were comparing him to someone like Caldwell-Pope, the big question for me would be which guy is more central to what his team is going to try to do in the series, at least offensively. While the Pistons have no choice but to turn to their shooting guard, the Clippers really need Redick out there for his defense more than anything else. On the offensive end, they have other options, starting with mismatches for days in the frontcourt.
LeBron James – CLE vs. DET – $10,500 – Even on a night where Kyrie went off for 31 and Love added 28, LeBron got his. The most no-brainer cash game option all season long, he stuffed the stat sheet where the Cavs needed him to – 22 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He was all over the place, and demonstrated once again that his role is rock at the center of this team – anything extra Irving and Love do is on top of, not in place of, what LeBron is going to contribute. And that idea is the only reason this team should still be considered at least something of a threat to the top Western Conference contenders.
Luol Deng – MIA vs. CHA – $5,800 – You can’t draft him expecting a replay of Game 1’s 31-point outburst, because that’s not likely to repeat, but there aren’t a ton of small forwards to choose from tonight, so if you’re not going with the “stud,” you have to start somewhere. And in the one game in the regular season these two teams played after Bosh was done for the year, Deng tallied 22 points. 20+ point scoring potential is real upside for under $6K, so even if he doesn’t turn in a repeat of his Game 1 performance, he could still prove useful.
Marcus Morris – DET @ CLE – $5,300 – Morris and Tobias Harris are both listed as small forwards for the Pistons and, for now anyway, Morris is actually the cheaper of the two. Both of them played 40 minutes in Game 1, a fact that is only possible because Morris is, in fact, actually playing the 4 for this team right now – typically a much better spot to be manning against this Cavs squad. And it showed in the first meeting – unlike Harris, who shot 4-for-11 from the floor, Morris actually saw some daylight around the basket and ended up with 14 shot attempts and 6 FT attempts, both team highs.
Al-Farouq Aminu – POR @ LAC – $5,000 – Lillard is the only guy on this team you can really, truly trust when it comes right down to it. But on a team lacking in size, a 6’10” wingman who can defend three positions like Aminu is a valuable asset, so you should expect to see him out there plenty for the duration of the series – his 26 minutes in Game 1 were the third most on the team. And while he only scored 10 points, I prefer to focus on the 12 rebounds (up from an average of 6 for the regular season) and the 12 shot attempts – if he can manage to shoot better than 25% from the floor going forward, you have a double-double candidate every night – who else is going to rebound against this Clippers frontcourt?
Blake Griffin – LAC vs. POR – $8,200 – He got five games under his belt to close out the regular season, following his return from injury and suspension. We have now seen Griffin play 30+ minutes since his return to action a grand total of two times, and in those two games he has averaged 18-11-6 with a block and a steal mixed in. He dominated the weak Portland frontcourt, shooting 5-for-10 from the field and adding another nine points on 9-for-12 free throw shooting. He adds a level of physicality to the Clippers that the Blazers just can’t match, and if he is performing well, this could be a very quick series.
Kevin Love – CLE vs. DET – $7,400 – If you’re a Cavs fan, there are reasons to believe that Love’s performance in Game 1 could actually be every bit as repeatable as Griffin’s. He finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds, the kinds of numbers we were all used to seeing from him in his PC (pre-Cleveland) days. PC Love was a dominant rebounder and versatile scorer, and that was the guy we saw on the court in Game 1. He hit four 3’s, but he did it from the top of the key, and the wings, not as a simple stretch-4 camped out in the corner. It must have been a welcome sight for Cleveland fans (and LeBron), who thought this was the guy they were getting all along.
Ed Davis – POR @ LAC – $4,100 – To me, here is on place to find a little bit more upside at the PF position. Sure, maybe it’s a tiny bit, but for $4,100 you really don’t need much production to make for a decent value. He has been a relatively consistent player for the Blazers over the past month or so, and as far as a $4,100 option goes, a consistent fantasy option as well. The issue is simple: he doesn’t score. He managed to garner a few votes for Sixth Man of the Year despite only 16 games all season long where he scored in the double-digits. But with his production on the glass and on defense, he is consistently in the vicinity of 20 DKFP with upside around 25 – not bad value at the bottom of your roster for the price.
Hassan Whiteside – MIA vs. CHA – $8,700 – Whiteside has had great success against Charlotte this year, and it continued into Game 1. He shot 9-for-11 from the field on his way to an awesomely efficient double-double: 21 points, 11 boards, 3 blocks and 2 steals, good for 45.75 DKFP. He had 17-7 last time they faced in the regular season, and back in February, he actually came off the bench to record a triple-double that featured him blocking a ridiculous 10 shots (to go along with 10 points and 10 boards).
DeAndre Jordan – LAC vs. POR – $7,500 – I don’t know if there is a player in the league who so clearly benefits from a fantasy perspective from a teammate having to miss time. There is simply no denying that he is more productive when Griffin isn’t playing: more minutes, more rebounds, and more points. But the Clippers are clearly making an effort to make a lineup featuring the two of them at the same time work – they are two of their three best players, and they will need all three of their top guys performing at a high level to have a real shot at upending any of the Western Conference elite. He got enough minutes to end up with 18 free throw attempts, and while the Clippers wish he would hit more than 8 of them, those 8 free points are a nice padding for a stat line from a fantasy perspective, and the attempts give him a great shot at a double-double every time he steps out on the court.
Mason Plumlee – POR @ LAC – $4,700 – Plumlee’s primary job responsibility in this series is going to be trying to keep a body on guys like Griffin and Jordan. He’s a player who could get you to double-digits in points or rebounds on any given night, as he averaged a steady nine points and eight rebounds a game for the year. With his focus on defense and the double-pronged challenge of rebounding over both of LA’s big men, it is easier to see him falling short of those averages than exceeding them. But, if you really want to spend your money on the perimeter positions, getting him on your roster is the kind of decision you might have to make.