If you love NBA DFS action, you’re rooting for the Rockets in Game 4. Because otherwise, the contests tipping off tonight are the final chance of the 14-15 NBA season to make money on your fantasy hoops skills. I hope you know your baseball too. You know the drill by now: but here are some reasons why you should start or not start the choices you’ll be faced with when building your lineup tonight. Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
Stephen Curry @ HOU ($10,500) – Curry is just on a whole ‘nother level level right now, as he demonstrated on his unwilling victims Saturday night in Houston. 40 points on 7-9 shooting from behind the arc, five rebounds, seven assists, a block and two steals. 64.25 fantasy points, if you’re counting. He only played 35 minutes, exiting a bit earlier in the fourth than he’s used to with the Warriors pulling away from Houston, so honestly, it could have been more. I will say, for my part, I have never seen shooting like this before. I have watched Larry Bird, and Reggie Miller, and Ray Allen, but I have never seen someone shoot like this off the dribble. It’s unguardable. Seven for Nine. Gimme a break.
Jeff Teague @ CLE ($7,500) – I have been trying to think of a word to describe Teague other than erratic, because that sounds worse than he is. How about unpredictable? Sorry – I know I am in the predicting business. But on on play he looks unstoppable, and then he disappears for stretches. Inconsistent I guess. But inconsistent within a single game, which is not normally how you think about that word for fantasy purposes. But he has been providing the offense for the Hawks since about halfway through round 2, in a way he never did in the regular season, including 30 points last night. Whatever else he is, that’s coming up clutch when his team needs it. You have to respect that.
Kyrie Irving vs. ATL ($6,800) – Just don’t start him. Especially with this game being on the second day of the contest – he’s probably not going to play, and if he does, you’ll find out too late. And with this few options, you can’t exactly just plug him in later and re-shuffle
Matthew Dellavedova vs. ATL ($3,500) – He might be the most valuable guy of the series, taking out Korver in Game 2, and getting Horford to throw an elbow in his direction and get ejected in Game 3, but I am not trying to give him a bad rap. LeBron wouldn’t like that. (In all honestly, they both looked like fluke plays). In all seriousness though, you can’t expect Irving to play, which means Dellavedova should be in line for almost 40 minutes again in Game 4.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
James Harden vs. GS ($10,500) – Despite the disparity between the dueling guards in Game 3, I am not surprised that Harden and Curry are priced the same for Game 4. And no, that doesn’t mean Harden is eliminated as a choice – if you have exactly $10,500 leftover, you still need to stop and think about it. Quite simply, that’s because Harden is not going out like that. I refuse to believe he’s going down quietly, although I do firmly believe he is going down. Golden State’s defense is going to be stretched to the limit by LeBron in the finals, but they do have the ability to clamp down just enough to win the close ones against a team like Houston. But for the first 45 minutes, expect Harden to do whatever it takes to make sure it’s “a close one.”
Klay Thompson @ HOU ($6,800) – His price has steadily been going down, not because his performances have been getting steadily worse, but because they have just steadily been slightly off his season averages (which is where the price at the beginning of the series originated). He’s been the perfect complement to Curry, playing solid D and shooting for average – basically, being very, very efficient without the volume to have truly elite upside for fantasy purposes.
J.R. Smith vs. ATL ($5,200) – Shumpert started and had more minutes, so there is another option at the SG spot if you’re looking for it, but Smith took more shots and more a higher percentage in only 5 fewer minutes on the floor, as well as getting more rebounds. Smith just is the better fantasy player, even if the Cleveland coaching staff has decided he’s most valuable as a spark off the bench than he is fighting for looks in the starting lineup.
Kent Bazemore @ CLE ($2,500) – He got the starting nod and 43 minutes in this one, and responded: 14-7-3 with three steals and a block. For $2,500, and an assumption he gets the same run, that’s unbelievable value cropping up halfway through a series when there were scarce fantasy options to be had already. Just be grateful.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
LeBron James vs. ATL ($11,400) – My recommendation: consider starting LeBron James. He’s pretty good. 38-18-13? I mean, are you kidding me? Maybe it took OT, but that’s just craziness. Oh, and he threw in three steals for good measure, as if the fantasy night hadn’t been enough already. He was fighting through cramps and a bad shooting night, but he still scored the five crucial points in the last minute of OT to secure the win. From an NBA point of view, he is single-handedly putting doubt in the hearts of the Warriors with games like this, and from a fantasy point of view, he just blew Curry’s 40-point, seven three-pointer performance the night before out of the water.
DeMarre Carroll @ CLE ($6,700) – Carroll played 41 minutes and had 10 points, three rebounds and two assists. That’s just not him. And he was visibly struggling through his injury. Good for him for being a gamer, but I just hope his doctors have told him there is no risk of worsening the injury long-term.
Trevor Ariza vs. GS ($6,600) – All season, the argument for Ariza over Smith has been consistency. Smith has the upside, but he also has the downside. Well, the way Ariza is being used in this series, the downside is his – the Warriors simply don’t have the small forward threat that requires his defensive presence, and he is not, therefore, getting all the minutes and opportunities, and that is affecting his efficiency when he is out there on offense. Right now, the prices for Ariza and Smith are flat-out wrong.
Josh Smith vs. GS ($5,500) – Which means, if you’re starting one of these guys, just go with Smith. Both of them carry risk, for sure, but Smith at least carries the upside you need to justify that risk. He’s been over 30 fantasy points twice in this series (and, like Ariza, under 20 once). In fewer minutes, he’s getting more looks, and he’s hitting them, including from downtown. But on top of that, he’s averaging the five boards and a block that he needs to make him a useful fantasy option without having to be an elite scorer.
Andre Iguodala @ HOU ($4,400) – Harrison Barnes was in this spot last time around, which just further demonstrates the fact that small forward is a good place to look for cheap options – at least there are more than three or four usable options. But Iguodala saves you $500 compared to his teammate, and he is averaging 28 minutes and 22 fantasy points over the last two games, which is both more consistency and more upside than Barnes has shown in this matchup.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
Draymond Green @ HOU ($8,000) – You know someone is playing well when he leapfrogs the top spot on the player list at his position over the course of three games, when him and the other guys on the list are all facing off against the same opponents. He is averaging 15-11-7 with a block, good for more than 40 fantasy points a night so far on the series. Outside of Howard, the Rockets just don’t have the combination of size and athleticism to deal with a guy like Green. I hope he is already getting pumped up for his assignment next series because it’s going to look a little different. By that I mean, it’s going to look like LeBron.
Paul Millsap @ CLE ($7,800) – You just wish he would rebound more than he does. His 22-9 in Game 3 would look so much better for fantasy if it were 22-10, but you just can’t count on that. And without the high point totals, there are better options out West, or events better, cheaper options at his own position in his own series (see below). If the games are going to end up with 25-30 fewer points in the East than in the West, you need to look for fantasy value elsewhere.
Tristan Thompson vs. ATL ($6,300) – One place to find it is with rebounding and defensive stats. You don’t want guys who just play solid defense – you want guys who play flashy defense – steals, blocks, etc. Thompson had another two last night, in what was his weakest fantasy game of the series. But just because he only had 10-7 last night doesn’t mean there is no chance of him getting back to the form where he snagged sixteen in game 2.
Terrance Jones vs. GS ($4,800) – Don’t start Terrence Jones.
Dwight Howard vs. GS ($8,800) – Howard has been a monster in the series, and the fact that he’s done it after aggravating a knee injury in Game 1 honestly flies in the face of everything everyone has thought about Howard over his career. He has toughed it out like a real gamer, and played like the dominant center he can be, averaging a double-double easily, and playing solid defense in the middle, helping out his teammates and redirecting penetrating Warriors. It’s too bad they’re probably going to lose, because it”ll be forgotten and his rep will remain the same. But it shouldn’t, especially to fantasy owners, who might very well have just this one more chance to take advantage of his ability as the center of this particular team. He might be too pricey to fit him in alongside Harden or Curry or James and just risky enough for you to not want to build your team around him. But that being said, if you’re trying to go middle-of-the-road instead of superstar heavy, he’s a good place to start, playing like this.
Al Horford @ CLE ($7,700) – I might start Horford in game 4 even if you expect the Cavs to roll. He is bound to be fired up after getting ejected right before half-time for what was at least a questionable call, if not downright dubious. He had 14 points and 4 boards in only 19 minutes, further demonstration that he is entirely capable of being productive against this frontcourt no matter what else is going on around him in the game.
Andrew Bogut @ HOU ($5,000) – Thirty-five fantasy points per game over the last two is deceiving. He is just risky. Last time out he went for 12-12, which is great, but he did it in twenty minutes, which is fluky. It’s just hard to trust. The time before, he played over 30 minutes, but only had the eight rebounds – but he had five blocks to make up for it. Basically, with Bogut, the blocks are the one thing you can count on when he gets floor time, but who knows what is going to happen in Game 4. I don’t.
Timofey Mosgov vs. ATL ($4,900) – Small-ball is killing the Hawks. Mosgov had only 23 minutes last night, and six shot attempts. Take that to mean whatever you want.