The first round of the playoffs is officially in the books and we get a look at two new second-round matchups tonight. The Clippers head to Houston to take on the Rockets, while the Bulls travel to Cleveland to battle the Cavaliers.
Before we get to the FanDuel picks, there are a few player updates that you need to know. Chris Paul is considered a game-time decision for the Clippers. Kevin Love and J.R. Smith are both out for the Cavaliers.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (Salary: $8800, FPPG: 34.4, MPG: 37, Usage Rate: 26.1)
With Kevin Love and J.R. Smith out tonight, Irving is going to shoulder a lot of the load offensively in Game 1 against the Bulls. Irving is coming off of a terrific Round 1 series against the Celtics, averaging 38 fantasy points in 41 minutes per game. He’ll look to improve on those numbers in this series against a Bulls defense that allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to the point guard position during the regular season.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (Salary: $7500, FPPG: 27.8, MPG: 31, Usage Rate: 30.9)
Rose wants to prove that he is still the best point guard in the NBA. He’ll have a great chance to prove that in this series, as he will go mano a mano with Kyrie Irving. Rose showed signs of brilliance against the Bucks in Round 1, but he also disappeared at times. Given the lack of options at point guard in this two-game slate, Rose is close to a must-play in cash games at his price point. He will look to get his team off to a quick 1-0 advantage.
James Harden, Houston Rockets (Salary: $10300, FPPG: 46, MPG: 37, Usage Rate: 31.3)
Harden has as much upside as any player in tonight’s two-game slate. He had a mediocre series against the Mavericks, but he will look to turn it up in Round 2 against the Clippers. Both of these teams love to push the pace and Harden should have plenty of opportunities to score in transition. The Clippers like to throw double-teams his way, but the Rockets will develop a game plan for just that. Look for Harden to have more isolation plays in this series.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers (Salary: $5100, FPPG: 22.7, MPG: 27, Usage Rate: 28.2)
Chris Paul is a game-time decision for Game 1. Even if he is able to play, he will be at less than 100%, which means Crawford is going to have to take over a large part of the creator role in the Clippers’ offense. Crawford is coming off of his best game of the postseason, as he had 16 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in Game 7 against the Spurs. He should have a much easier time scoring in Round 2 against the up-tempo Rockets.
Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers (Salary: $4700, FPPG: 19, MPG: 30, Usage Rate: 14.6)
LeBron James is a little too expensive for his matchup against the Bulls, which makes it a great night to punt the small forward position. Barnes is coming off of his best game of the postseason, scoring 32 fantasy points in 28 minutes of action. He’s still very affordable and he draws a favorable matchup against the Rockets, who were ranked 18th against small forwards during the regular season.
Corey Brewer, Houston Rockets (Salary: $4300, FPPG: 20.8, MPG: 26, Usage Rate: 20.9)
Brewer may be inconsistent, but he offers great upside at his price point of only $4,300. In Round 1 against the Mavericks, he scored at least 22 fantasy points in two of the five games in the series. He should see 25-30 minutes tonight against the Clippers, who struggle to defend shooting guards and small forwards. Brewer could play a pivotal role in this series, especially if he is tasked with defending Chris Paul late in games.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (Salary: $10900, FPPG: 39.6, MPG: 35, Usage Rate: 28.1)
Griffin had the best first round of any player in the postseason. In the seven games against the Spurs, he averaged 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists per contest. With Chris Paul dealing with a hamstring injury, Griffin is going to be the primary option offensively. In addition to his scoring, he has become one of the best passing big men in the NBA. He should have plenty of success in this series against the Rockets, who allowed the second-most fantasy points to the power forward position during the regular season.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers (Salary: $4900, FPPG: 20.1, MPG: 27, Usage Rate: 13.9)
With Kevin Love out, Thompson is expected to draw the start at power forward tonight against the Bulls. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he could realistically push for 35 minutes per game in this series. Obviously, foul trouble is a concern, but at his price point, that’s a risk that we should be willing to take. He averaged 20 fantasy points in 27 minutes per contest during the regular season. Now that he is expected to start, he immediately becomes one of the best value plays on the board.
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets (Salary: $8100, FPPG: 31.3, MPG: 30, Usage Rate: 23.3)
DeAndre Jordan, Joakim Noah and Timofey Mozgov are all fine fantasy options tonight, but Howard takes the cake as the premier play at center. He is coming off of a terrific series against the Mavericks, averaging 45 fantasy points per game in his last four contests. I fully expect Howard to outplay DeAndre Jordan in this series, and given the fact that he is cheaper than Jordan, he’s the best cash game play on the board.