Friday night features some fantastic NBA action, with Cleveland looking to take a commanding 3-0 lead, and the Rockets and Spurs playing a rubber match. These two games give you some elite fantasy options to choose from – here are the names that should be on your radar at every position.
Kyrie Irving @ TOR ($8,300) – Kyrie has 21 assists through two games in this series, which counts as pretty serious upside for a guy who averaged six per game over the course of the regular season. That might not continue as the series shifts to Toronto, but his penetration has caused serious problems for the Raptors’ perimeter defenders, so there should be no drop off in his opportunities, making him a good cash game option for me tonight.
Other Options – Kyle Lowry ($7,400) (check status)
Cory Joseph vs. CLE ($3,700) – This is somewhat contingent on the health of Lowry – which is to say, if Lowry were somehow to miss the game or extended time, Joseph would be someone you definitely want to own. He was already being incorporated into their offensive attack in Game 2, finishing with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting – and needless to say, anything approaching that tonight would make him a great value.
Patty Mills @ HOU ($4,400) – The obvious person to eat up the biggest chunk of Tony Parker’s minutes, he is someone with three-point range who could benefit from getting into an uptempo shooting match with the Rockets tonight, definitely possible on their home court.
Other Options – Patrick Beverley ($4,900)
James Harden vs. SA ($10,900) – For DFS purposes, Game 2 showed that maybe Harden is really only a play in GPP tournaments for the remainder of this series. With the potential for Kawhi to be on him every night, the downside is there. True, he missed some shots he normally makes, but he finished the night 0-for-5 with two turnovers on possessions where he was exclusively guarded by Kawhi. But he averaged five more fantasy points per game at home this season than on the road, and a big bounce-back game is certainly possible.
Other Options – DeMar DeRozan ($8,000)
Eric Gordon vs. SA ($5,000) – He continues to be the most consistently involved on offense of all the other Houston guards. He has averaged just under 11 shot attempts per game so far for the postseason, including more than seven attempts per night from three-point range. Someone with that volume who shot 38% from three for the season has the floor and the upside to consider in any contest.
Jonathon Simmons @ HOU ($2,700) – Another potential beneficiary of more minutes with Parker out, Simmons has demonstrated consistently all season that if nothing else, he can score while he is out there. So far, he is averaging 12.5 points in 20.5 minutes per game in this series, and I think you’d see an increase in points almost basically exactly in proportion to any increase in minutes he sees tonight.
Other Options – Danny Green ($4,000)
LeBron James @ TOR ($12,400) – LeBron saw his minutes dip under 40 for the first time in the playoffs in Game 2, all the way down to 37. If it weren’t for what Kawhi was doing in San Antonio, LeBron would have been having the most efficient game we’ve seen in years, and there is no reason to expect either his usage or his percentages to drop in Game 3.
Kawhi Leonard @ HOU ($10,800) – When you manage to go 13-for-16 from the field even when being told to basically create shots out of thin air, you’ve reached elite offensive status. And when you’re already arguably the best defensive player in the league, you’re doing things not many people have ever done before. There is a reason the last time someone had his Game 2 totals in points, rebounds and assists all while shooting 80% from the floor, that person’s name was Michael Jordan. He might not see quite that level of efficiency again tonight, but the Spurs are going to continue to need him to put up big numbers to compete with one of the highest powered offenses in the league.
Trevor Ariza vs. SA ($4,700) – There really are not many players to trust at this position any lower priced that Powell and Ariza, and of the two, I prefer Ariza. Powell has been the more steady of the two, with Ariza showing off single-digit downside on occasion, but he has the potential to get hot from distance, like everyone on the Rockets’ roster, and could help you out, especially in a bigger tournament.
Other Options – Norman Powell ($4,600)
Kevin Love @ TOR ($7,000) – Love’s best attributes in terms of what he brings to the table for the Cavs aren’t really needed in this series. As a result, I feel like his contributions are going to be very difficult to predict, with a lot depending on the ball just ending up with him through the course of their normal rotations. But he is rebounding enough in the playoffs to make any scoring he does gravy, so he is still someone to consider for a cash game lineup in particular.
Serge Ibaka vs. CLE ($6,000) – Ibaka has basically done what the Raptors hoped he would do in this Cavs series when they signed him, knocking down a few shots and creating space, averaging 5.5 rebounds and 15.5 points so far in 29 minutes a game. The benefit of Ibaka from a fantasy perspective is that his contribution can come at the same steady pace no matter what is going on around him, so even if Lowry and DeRozan can’t do enough to get the Raptors back into this series, Ibaka can remain a useful fantasy contributor.
Other Options – LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,200)
Ryan Anderson vs. SA ($4,800) – It’s a recurring theme with the Rockets, but their shooting gives them upside, period. And for Anderson, so far in this series, his rebounding has given him a nice floor as well, averaging seven per night, almost two more than his season average. He has actually shot almost 10% better on the road from three all season long, so I don’t know if you can count on 30+ fantasy points here, but he is still a strong buy in a cash game.
Other Options – Patrick Patterson ($3,200)
Pau Gasol @ HOU ($5,300) – The first two games in this series were the story of two Pau Gasols. In Game 1, he looked like he might not be a great fit for this series with his vulnerability on the pick and roll, but in Game 2, he showed why he is vital to the Spurs’ chances of advancing. His rebounding and interior defense allowed Kawhi to focus on shutting down shooters at every possible turn, and that was invaluable and should lead to another 25-30 minute night for the veteran big man.
Clint Capela vs. SA ($5,100) – His ability, as a center, simply to keep pace with the rest of his offense gives him a leg up on the competition from a fantasy point of view. He occasionally ends up with more shots than you’d think based on nothing but pure volume, and he has managed to turn that into an almost 27 fantasy point per game average so far this postseason.
Other Options – Tristan Thompson ($5,500)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.