We’ve got Game 2 of Cleveland-Toronto and Houston-San Antonio tonight, as the second round of the NBA playoffs rolls along. There are a few big choices to be made. Here are a few names from every position to get you started.
James Harden @ SA ($10,800) – The ability to get him for less than you need to pay for LeBron and only a few hundred more than Kawhi speaks to the diversity of options the Rockets have when it comes to actually shooting the ball, as well as to Kawhi’s defense. Harden put up 20 points and 14 assists in the Game 1 rout, and while Leonard can’t be on him every play, that ability to create open looks for his teammates in this offense is what will end up making this a very long series for San Antonio.
Kyle Lowry @ CLE ($7,900) – The Cavs have struggled containing penetration all season long, and Lowry is just the kind of guy to take advantage of a weakness like that. He had 20 points and 11 assists in 40 minutes in Game 1, consistently putting pressure on the defense when he had the ball in his hands. The final score of that game made it seem closer than it actually was, though, and in a tighter contest you might see him looking to create his own shot more often once he gets into the lane, which should mean a few more trips to the line and free fantasy points to be had, boosting his upside for Game 2.
Other Options – Kyrie Irving ($7,800), Tony Parker ($5,300)
DeMar DeRozan @ CLE ($8,200) – I fully expect at least one big offensive explosion from DeRozan – who spent the early part of the season leading the league in points. While that might be more likely to come at home, I think we see a better performance here than you did in Game 1 (30.75 fantasy points).
Eric Gordon @ SA ($4,900) – The fact that the Rockets have three potentially usable options at the SG slot tonight shows you how comfortable they are deploying these multiple-guard looks, and that speed and athleticism seemed to really be tough for San Antonio to handle in Game 1. Gordon is getting up a minimum of five 3-point attempts every night, and with his ability to contribute in multiple other categories as well, he has enough upside for me to consider using him in any format contest.
Other Options – Lou Williams ($5,500), Danny Green ($3,600)
LeBron James vs. TOR ($11,700) – He has played a minimum of 41 minutes in every playoff game so far, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. He is averaging more than 10 rebounds and 8 assists per game so far this postseason, so the floor is there – and if Toronto keeps this one close, the upside is there for LeBron in a big way as well.
Kawhi Leonard vs. HOU ($10,100) – The problem in Game 1 just seemed to be that the Spurs don’t have the firepower to hang with the Rockets’ offensive onslaught. Well, whatever firepower they do have lies in Kawhi. He only had 21 points on 14 field goal attempts in Game 1, and I expect to see both of those numbers spike a little here in Game 2 even as the Spurs rely on him more and more for his defense on the perimeter. It might not mean great things for San Antonio in the series, but it definitely makes Kawhi a consideration alongside LeBron and Harden fantasy-wise for tonight.
Jonathon Simmons vs. HOU ($2,300) – He’s clearly not the safest option, but he did log 21 minutes of action in Game 1, and I think there is a chance you see an uptick there going forward in this series as the Spurs try to match up better with Houston’s small-ball lineups. Simmons is someone who can put up some points while he is out there, enough to give him at least around 20-25 fantasy point upside, more than enough to justify owning him at this price.
Other Options – P.J. Tucker ($3,300)
Kevin Love vs. TOR ($7,400) – Love plays a pretty pivotal role in his ability to help Cleveland neutralize what could be Toronto’s advantage up front by stretching the floor on offense. He’s going to be out there, and with LeBron and Kyrie creating, he’s going to be getting open looks, making a repeat of something like his 18 points and nine rebounds from Game 1 definitely within reach.
Serge Ibaka @ CLE ($6,500) – Ibaka can defend a pick and roll and punish smaller defenders down low, as well as knock down the mid-range jumpers if his defender collapses on Lowry or DeRozan. In other words, even if his skill set isn’t enough to provide the Raptors with an advantage here, it is the perfect set of talents to be able to take the leftovers in a series like this and turn it into a useful fantasy contribution.
Other Options – LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,700)
Ryan Anderson @ SA ($4,200) – Trevor Ariza and Anderson are both options in this spot, each playing 30+ minutes a night as the Rockets rotate through their big men at the power forward and center spots. You’re not likely to see too many games like Game 1 where Anderson chips in with a block and two steals, but the 10 3-point attempts in 30+ minutes is certainly not out of the norm. If he can continue to play serviceably well on the defensive end against the Spurs bigs, I feel like his level of involvement will remain high in this series at least.
Other Options – Trevor Ariza ($5,100)
Tristan Thompson vs. TOR ($5,000) – Thompson is the big man the Cavs turn to as the direct response to the size of the Raptors’ front line. Love and a small-ball lineup might be the real answer to limiting the effectiveness of someone like Valanciunas, but Thompson gives Cleveland the physical presence they need at times to compete. While he is out there, he is an elite rebounding option, pulling down 14 boards in 32 minutes in Game 1. With no likely big dip in minutes, that gives him a solid enough floor to consider using him widely as a cash game option.
Clint Capela @ SA ($4,600) – Capela has had a knack all season long of taking the opportunities that come to him as an athletic big man in a fast-paced offense. The Rockets’ attack might be guard-centric, but for a center who can keep up, just by pure volume of possessions, the chances will be there to rack up some solid fantasy performances. In Game 1, he went for a big double-double with 20 points and 13 boards, and while we might not see a repeat of that, another game with 8+ rebounds and 60% shooting from the field is very likely in order.
Other Options – Jonas Valanciunas ($4,200), Dewayne Dedmon ($2,100)
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