Happy Mother’s Day! Once again, we have two games to work with on FanDuel, Bulls/Cavs and Clippers/Rockets. The big news of the day is that Pau Gasol is in real danger of missing today’s game with a sore hamstring. He only played 21 minutes last game, and his absence would open up some big opportunities for players like Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic. I’m going to operate under the assumption that Gasol is going to miss today’s game, but I’ll make sure to let you know which players are only in play if he’s out. Good luck tonight!
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Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls, $8300 – With Chris Paul still not 100% and Kyrie Irving playing through a strained foot, Rose emerges as the clear top play at the point guard position. He’s been putting up big numbers all postseason, and that should continue tonight as the Bulls look to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Cavs. With Pau Gasol possibly missing today’s game, expect Rose to have to step up even more, and shoulder even more of the offensive responsibility. He’s still a bit underpriced here, and with the likelihood that he gets you at least 35 to 40 fantasy points, he’s a top play.
Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers, $4200 – Rivers was a letdown in Game Two, but he certainly came through in game three despite Chris Paul returning to the lineup. He dropped 37.2 fantasy points in just 23 minutes of court time. I certainly don’t expect that production to repeat itself, but it does illustrate that Rivers can still be a viable daily fantasy option even with Chris Paul in the lineup. It’s going to be difficult to pay up for Paul or Irving given their recent production, and their injuries, and Rivers makes for a solid, though risky, value play.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, $10,000 – Harden has settled in around the 40 fantasy part mark throughout much of the playoffs, and while that’s a solid return on your investment, when you pay up for Harden, you’re also looking for the possibility of a huge game. With Houston down 2-1 in what is essentially a must-win situation, expect Harden to step up his game and try to carry his team to a win. Harden has at least one huge game in him this postseason, and I think tonight is the night we see it. Pau Gasol’s injury potentially opens up a lot of value, and it should make rostering Harden fairly easy tonight.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers, $5300 – Crawford’s posted at least 30 fantasy points in all three games against Houston, and I’m banking on a fourth tonight. He’s the primary scoring option off the bench, and even though Chris Paul says he feels much better, you have to think the Clippers are going to be cautious with him once again tonight. This should lead to increased opportunities for Crawford. Also, considering how unreliable production is from the other shooting guard options (Shumpert, Smith, Redick), Crawford makes the most sense as the safest, and highest upside, play of the bunch.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, $11,300 – You can bet on a big game from LeBron. The Cavs cannot afford to go down 3-1, and with Kyrie Irving clearly playing at less than 100%, LeBron is going to carry this team. Jimmy Butler can slow him down on occasion, but he can’t stop him, and given that LeBron contributes in every possible way on the stat sheet, he simply cannot be faded tonight. With plenty of value at other positions, and small forward being a very thin position, you need to be putting LeBron in your lineups and working from there.
Mike Dunleavy, Chicago Bulls, $4300 – Dunleavy will likely play around 40 minutes if Pau Gasol is out tonight. Tom Thibodeau will keep a tight rotation, and the starters will be expected to step up in Gasol’s absence. Dunleavy should see some extra shots, and he may do a little more in the peripheral categories as well. He’s too cheap for a guy that’s going to play most of the game, and while he’s not a good per-minute fantasy producer, he’s the best option at the position not named LeBron James.
Additional Plays: Matt Barnes
Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls, $2000 – If Pau Gasol is out, Taj Gibson will likely step into the starting lineup, and Mirotic will see decent run off the bench. He’s a guy that’s capable of putting up big numbers in limited time, and at the absolute minim price of only $2000, he’s a must play. He played 22 minutes off the bench last game, and that was with Gasol playing 22 himself. If Pau doesn’t play at all, Mirotic could see 30 minutes, and is capable of 20-30 fantasy points, or more, in that amount of time. Plug him in as an easy value play today.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls, $4000 – If Pau is out, Gibson will step into the starting lineup. Some of you probably remember previous seasons where Taj would get a spot start and put up huge numbers nearly every time. Things are different now. Derrick Rose is playing at a high level, and Jimmy Butler has become an elite player. Taj’s number isn’t called much on offense, but he’s still a very good option at this price. He’ll easily play over 30 minutes and makes for another very solid value play at power forward.
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets, $9000 – Howard really is having a great postseason. Ignoring Game One against Dallas where he only played 17 minutes, he’s scored under 40 fantasy points just once this postseason. He’s been a very consistent high floor, high ceiling play, and he’s underpriced at only $9000. For me, he’s the only option at center, and I see no reason to believe his run of elite production is going to come to an end tonight.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls, $5500 – Noah has been a big disappointment from a fantasy perspective, but if Pau Gasol is out, he’s going to have to step up his game. He should see extra rebounds, and on the offensive end, that can turn into a couple of extra shots. I would also expect him to see more touches, which will hopefully result in better assist numbers given Noah is so good at passing the ball. He’s still capable of a big game given he can contribute in every category. I would reserve him for GPP use only, but he’s an interesting play that few players will be on.