With the first round of the playoffs right near the half-way point, there are still lots of series that could go either way. But the story tonight, of course, will be how the Warriors look without their reigning MVP running point. Stephen Curry needs a few weeks to get healthy – time to see if the Warriors will make it until Steph returns.
Kemba Walker – CHA @ MIA – $8,300 – With Nic Batum likely to be at least limited, Walker has all the shots he wants. The Miami defense might be able to slow him down, but he has shown that he can adjust, coming through with 29 and 34 point games in the series.
Damian Lillard – POR vs. LAC – $8,200 – With Paul and Blake both missing this game, Lillard is the best player on the floor, and he will be smelling blood. He’s been on fire since the All-Star break, and you know he’s going to want to rebound from his 4-for-15 shooting performance in Game 4 in a big way.
Shaun Livingston – GS vs. HOU – $4,700 – Livingston has just been inserted as the starting point guard of the most efficient offense in the league. He played 30 minutes in Game 3 (when Steph sat the entire game), and 23 in Game 4, when Steph still played for 19 before exiting. He averaged 20 minutes a night all season long, so this is certainly a bump, but what was way more dramatic was the increase in attempts. He averaged just 5 shots attempts per game all season long, and had 13 in Game 3 and 8 in only 23 minutes in Game 4. With his ability to dish, grab a few boards and maybe even notch a steal or two, a 30-fantasy point outing is easily attainable.
Patrick Beverley – HOU @ GS – $4,800 – Beverley was limited in Game 4 but expects to play a full workload tonight, but you should monitor his status up until game time if you decide to go this route. If he does play, he is relatively consistent in his ability to get you 20+ fantasy points, but his upside is limited, to put it kindly.
James Harden – HOU @ GS – $11,100 – Harden does everything for the Rockets– so you know he’ll want to see what he can do against this Curry-less Warriors team. I would expect a monster effort from him tonight. He’ll play 40+ minutes, he’ll probably take 20+ shots, and he will probably score you 50+ fantasy points. The only thing holding back an automatic Harden selection is his massive price tag.
Klay Thompson – GS vs. HOU – $7,900 – Costing $3,200 less than James Harden, Thompson is the presumptive focal point of the game plan for the best offensive team in the league, playing against one of the league’s worst defenses. You could realistically put Klay on your squad, save the $3,200 over Harden, and reasonably expect Klay to outscore his Houston counterpart. He has put up 18 threes in the last two games, with Curry limited, and at home, in a big spot, I expect those shots to be falling. His floor is lower than Harden’s, coming somewhere in the 30’s instead of the 40’s, but the 60+ DK FP upside is there for both of them.
Jamal Crawford – LAC vs. POR – $5,100 – The next two targets are both Clippers. With Paul and Griffin both out, their entire lineup structure changes, and Crawford, Rivers, and Redick will likely spend time on the court all together. Of the three, Crawford can be the best scorer, at least in stretches. He has averaged 25.6 DKFP over their last two games, and I would only expect that number to go up with increased opportunities.
Austin Rivers – LAC vs. POR – $3,300 – They really don’t have another option to run point, so unless he is just absolutely terrible, the minutes are there for the taking. He could be in the high 30’s if he just plays with a little bit of self-control and can throw alley-oops to Jordan effectively. There is a lot of room here for value that is just completely missing from the price that makes Rivers hard to turn down.
Luol Deng – MIA vs. CHA – $6,500 – As the most expensive option at the position tonight, Deng might get a lot more consideration than he does on most nights, and it could serve fantasy owners well. Putting aside his 31-point outlier of a game in Game 1, he is averaging 17 points and 7 boards over the last three, and doing it consistently, with between 27-32 DKFP in each of those three games. To me, that indicates the exact kind of player you like to target in cash games: consistent, with upside.
Al-Farouq Aminu – POR @ LAC – $5,600 – Aminu falls into the same category as Deng, as someone with an outlier game you sort of have to dismiss when thinking realistically about what is going to happen tonight. The chances of him repeating his 30-point outburst of the other night are slim. However, he has put up double-digit rebounds in three of the four games so far in this series, and now is facing a Clipper’s frontcourt without Blake Griffin. A double-double and 30+ fantasy points is realistic upside.
Joe Johnson – MIA vs. CHA – $4,600 – The downside is obvious – Johnson didn’t even sniff 20 fantasy points in Games 2 or 3. But unless you want to trust Trevor Ariza, there are not a lot of choices here, and at least Johnson has upside. He showed it last time out with his 30 fantasy points, but it shined through a few times down the stretch in the regular season as well, as he averaged just over 25 fantasy points a game over the last two weeks of the season (with a high of 38.5).
Andre Iguodala – GS vs. HOU – $4,600 – Iggy is someone who can fill a lot of roles for this team, and he is bound to see an uptick in production with Curry out. His ability to score a little more than they usually ask of him, handle the ball a little bit more, and still contribute on defense and on the glass is what earned him a Finals MVP last season. He is not the best cash game consideration because this team is unpredictable and his floor is low, but he definitely has plenty of upside for the price.
Draymond Green – GS vs. HOU – $9,700 – Since Green is the only stud on the board, he is going to be owned in many lineups and the decision to roster him or not will go a long way in determining your fate. We’ve seen him put up 50 or 60 fantasy points by contributing in every possible way on the court.
Marvin Williams – CHA @ MIA – $5,000 – He has failed to score a single point twice already in this series, but he’s the only guy on this list with guaranteed minutes after Draymond. It’s a tough call, but for my money, if I am saving on PF tonight, I am saving big.
Donatas Motiejunas – HOU @ GS – $3,500 – The only guy left on the list with any real upside, he occasionally gets called on to play 30+ minutes, and he can rebound well enough to give himself a good base of fantasy points when that happens. He can also hit the occasional three, and if you combine those two things, you have a dark horse candidate at 30+ DK FP for dirt cheap. He’s already done it once in this series – whether you think that makes him more or less likely to do it again is the unknown, but he did have a stretch not long after getting acquired by Houston where he averaged just over 13 ppg over a six-game stretch, showing he can produce at a higher level when given the chance.
Luc Richard Mbah A Moute – LAC vs. POR – $2,100 – A total shot in the dark, but $2,100 is just SO cheap. With the Clippers unable to rely as much on tradational “small-ball” with Blake out because Chris Paul is also injured, Luc Richard could see himself getting onto the court for 25+ minutes. Could 25+ minutes translate into almost 20 fantasy points? Yes, it could. It’s an obvious risk, but at this price it doesn’t take much to have upside.
Hassan Whiteside – MIA vs. CHA – $8,100 – He opened this series with three straight 40+ fantasy point performances, even in limited minutes. Whenever he is on the court, the Hornets simply do not have an answer, so their only choice is to go after him on defense, creating mismatches of their own. He shot 17-for-19 from the field in the first two games – clearly he can make things happen. The only question is whether he is fully recovered from the thigh bruise that limited his effectiveness in Game 4.
DeAndre Jordan – LAC vs. POR – $8,000 – DeAndre Jordan has shown time and again that he can excel when Blake misses time. But he has never proved that he can do it when Paul is also out. He is not exactly the kind of guy who is a master of creating his own shot, so it will be interesting to see if he can get the ball in the right spots. But if he can, with so little competition for attempts, he could put up a tournament-winning type of performance in this one – an obvious choice to make it into at least some of your GPP lineups.
Dwight Howard – HOU @ GS – $6,800 – He is a lot cheaper than the two options in front of him, with the same upside. And he has been consistent – playing 30 or more minutes in every game of the series, he hasn’t scored fewer than 32 fantasy points. Golden State is #1 against opposing centers because they run them off the court and bring in Bogut when they need to, but Houston has no choice but to play Dwight, and the Warriors aren’t playing Bogut 30+ minutes in round 1. The opportunities are going to continue to be there.
Mason Plumlee – POR @ LAC – $6,200 – He doesn’t get a lot of shot opportunities, but as the only reliable big man the Blazers have, he is playing lots of minutes and has more than enough time out there to accumulate fantasy-relevant levels of rebounds and defensive stats. He has scored 40+ DK FP in three straight, despite totaling only 8 points in the last two games, mainly because of a 15 rebound per game average over the same stretch, accentuated by really uncanny assist numbers – 7, 9, and 10 in the last three games, respectively. They are running the offense through him on the high post in a lot of possessions, and three games makes a trend worth noting.