We have three games on tonight’s NBA playoff slate. The NBA odds totals are low, and the spreads are somewhat wide, so we’ll need to adjust our scoring expectations a bit. Tonight’s matchup between the Bulls and Celtics appears to offer the best opportunity to find strong fantasy plays, but with only three games and not much to choose from, we’re going to have to make some sacrifices and concessions at some positions in order to prioritize the day’s top FanDuel plays. In terms of injuries, we know that Rudy Gobert is going to miss tonight’s game. This should open some Utah value we can use for salary cap relief.
Let’s see what we can come up with today.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, $9,200 – The Clippers will look to even the series tonight, so expect Paul to play heavy minutes in a game they simply cannot afford to lose. Paul posted a massive 54.9 fantasy point line against this same Utah team in game one, so despite the Jazz offering one of the worst matchups in the league for nearly any player, Paul was still able to crush value. There’s not a lot to like outside of the top point guards today, so this is likely not a position where I’m going to look to save. My advice would be to spend up on Paul, who is a very affordable $9200.
Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics, $8,500 – Like Chris Paul, Thomas will look to lead his team to a series-evening win tonight. Boston blew a late lead to Chicago in game one, and despite Thomas dealing with a horrible tragedy, I expect him to step up and have a huge game tonight. He draws a great matchup with a Bulls team that does not defend point guards well at all. Rajon Rondo is a poor defender, and there’s simply no way Thomas and the Celtics are going to allow Chicago to take a 2-0 lead in this series. Again, the other options at point guard aren’t particularly attractive, so the best route is to take the top two options and look to save elsewhere.
Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls, $6,600 – As expected, Wade faced no minutes restriction in game one, logging 34 minutes en route to a solid 31 fantasy point showing. I’m expecting something similar tonight, and with the shooting guard position offering absolutely no value worth mentioning, I’m more than happy to spend a modest $6600 on Wade, expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4x to 5x return. On a short slate with low game totals, that sort of return is more than acceptable.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors, $8,300 – The home teams didn’t fare well in game one as the Raptors were easily handled by Milwaukee. Expect a bounce back performance from Toronto led by DeRozan. As I mentioned above, there are no cheap options worth considering at the shooting guard position, so paying up is the best option. With Giannis Antetokounmpo being a bit overpriced and unlikely to fit in any sort of balanced lineup, the pairing of Wade and DeRozan is what I recommend.
Joe Johnson, Utah Jazz, $4,600 – The Jazz will have to shift their rotation around with Rudy Gobert out, and the end result should be another 30+ minute workload for the veteran. He came up big in game one, scoring 21 points and posting a 36.3 fantasy point line. While I’m not expecting something quite that impressive, I do think a finish above 20 fantasy points should be expected. He makes for a strong value play tonight, and I certainly prefer him to the slightly cheaper Joe Ingles, though Ingles is worth getting exposure to as well.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz, $7,300 – With Jimmy Butler’s $10,000 price tag offering little flexibility in terms of roster construction, I much prefer the significantly cheaper Hayward. I expect another close game between the Jazz and Clippers tonight, meaning we should see Hayward log another 40 minutes. These aren’t going to be high-scoring games, but Hayward contributes across the board, and with a heavy workload, it’s very unlikely he finishes below the 30 fantasy point mark. Going cheaper at small forward is both unnecessary and exposes us to too much risk, so Hayward is my favorite option in terms of floor and ceiling.
Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz, $5,200 – Favors will be extremely popular today given he’ll draw the start at center for the injured Rudy Gobert. The Clippers don’t offer a great matchup, but it’s a three game slate and we’re dealing with a very thin power forward position. Favors should play over 30 minutes, just as he did in game one, and a finish in the 25 fantasy point range seems likely. He’s a safe play with some upside given his ability to block shots.
Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls, $5,000 – Portis was one of the catalysts behind Chicago’s game one upset, logging 29 minutes and posting a big 38.3 fantasy point line with 19 points and nine rebounds. Nikola Mirotic is doing what he always does and fading away after a string of solid performances, so expect Portis to play a big role once again tonight. He has too much upside relative to his $5000 salary to consider fading tonight, and given no other position is offering this sort of potential return on your investment, Portis is a must play for me against a soft Boston interior.
Al Horford, Boston Celtics, $7,100 – It’s a toss-up between Horford and DeAndre Jordan for me, but Horford gets the nod simply because he’s $600 cheaper. Both should log heavy minutes, and while both are capable of disappointing, it sure seems unlikely that either finishes under 30 fantasy points given they’re going to see around 40 minutes of court time. Horford offers a bit of everything, so he should be able to grind his way to a serviceable score. There are some cheaper center options that are worth taking some shots on, but Horford offers a higher floor and gets the nod from me today.