Welcome to the NBA Playoff Targets post. Here's a preview of each matchup and my thoughts on the top picks, other value picks to consider, and some players to avoid for tonight.
HOU @ DAL over/under 215.5, Mavericks -1
I expect Dallas to come out with a ton of fight in this game, now being down two starters and one of them it seemed like no one wanted around anyway. JJ Barea will likely slide into the starting point guard gig and makes for an elite value play that doesn’t come around often in the playoffs. Devin Harris is expected to play and will have to back up both guard positions as the Mavericks are now thin at both positions, so look for him to play as many minutes as his body can possibly handle, making him another solid point guard value. Monta Ellis has a nice price and can be targeted as an upside play for a decent price, but he doesn’t look healthy right now. He had a nice Game 2 and should have the ball in his hands quite a bit more with Rajon Rondo out of the picture and Barea providing better spacing. Dirk Nowitzki continues to be underpriced if he’s going to play this many minutes and is another guy who stands to see a rise in usage rate with Rondo gone. Tyson Chandler is a fine cash game play as the minutes basically have to be there for the Mavericks to compete with Dwight Howard inside. Al-Farouq Aminu predictably outplayed the aging Richard Jefferson and while I expect that to continue, it’s hard to trust him.
For the Rockets, James Harden has yet to have a breakout game in the playoffs, but it’s definitely coming. The price has dropped a bit and he’s been far from bad thus far, but with Dwight Howard looking good, the upside is going to be limited more often. He feels more like a GPP play tonight, but a great one at that. Speaking of Howard, he looked dominant in Game 2 and certainly is undervalued right now. If he’s going to play 30+ minutes, he’s the top center play on the board for as long as he can stay healthy around this price. The rest of the Rockets don’t excite me much, as Josh Smith and Terrance Jones compete too much for playing time, while Trevor Ariza’s role in the offense has been small in the playoffs thus far.
Avoid: Josh Smith, Terrance Jones
TOR @ WAS over/under 194, Wizards -4.5
Heading to Washington, down 2-0, the Raptors desperately need a win. Kyle Lowry is way less than 100% and sounded sick at his interview appearance today. He’s a must-avoid for me until further notice. I still can’t trust Greivis Vasquez off the bench as the upside just hasn’t been there. Both of those things make DeMar DeRozan a top play for me today, as he should be heavily involved in the offense and relentlessly aggressive against Brad Beal and Otto Porter. The rest of the Raptors simply don’t get me excited. There’s some upside with Amir Johnson when he’s playing well, as we saw in game one, but he’s not involved enough in the offense consistently and the big man rotation is crowded right now with Tyler Hansbrough playing pretty well also.
The Wizards got much better games from both John Wall and Brad Beal in Game 2. Wall should be an elite play attacking Lowry and Vasquez the rest of the series as they haven’t been able to stop anyone for months now. As long as he’s making some shots, he has 50 fantasy point upside nightly in this matchup. Beal is playing heavy minutes as well right now and is surprisingly pretty productive peripherally in this series. He’s a steal at his current price at shooting guard and I prefer him to Monta Ellis for around the same price. The Wizards continue to play small and use Paul Pierce at power forward, so it’s really removed any value from the overpriced Marcin Gortat, and while Nene has been productive in limited minutes, he’s been hard to count on. Peirce is a fine play, but has a low floor when Wall and Beal have it going offensively. My preferred small forward play is Otto Porter, who has easily topped 30 minutes in both games of this series and remains near the minimum price at a weak position.
LAC @ SAS over/under 203.5, Spurs -4.5
The Clippers really needed to pull out that overtime win at home, but couldn’t get the job done in the extra period. Blake Griffin struggled in the extra time, but did post a monster fantasy line for the second straight game, racking up a triple-double. He’s really evolved his game this season and when his shot is falling, there isn’t a higher upside player in this matchup. He’s a near must-play given the way he’s dismantled the Spurs so far in regulation. DeAndre Jordan will get every chance to rack up points at the free throw line in this series, so he’s a legitimate 20/20 threat nightly against a Spurs team that simply can’t match his size for much of the game. Chris Paul has been impressive through two games, but heading to San Antonio and likely seeing more and more of DPOY Kawhi Leonard as the series goes on doesn’t sound like kind of situation I want to get myself into with the value point guard options tonight. The rest of the Clippers roster is sketchy at best, with Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick both providing decent upside, but low floors.
For the Spurs, Tim Duncan turned in a massive 50 fantasy point game in 44 minutes last time out and if he’s going to play heavy minutes like that, he’s a steal at basically any price as he can rack up points in every category as well or better than Griffin can. Tony Parker is expected to play, but can be avoided until he shows something resembling his former self with this achilles issue. Kawhi Leonard is far and away the elite small forward play, as it’s the weakest position on the slate and he offers as good of a floor/ceiling combination as anyone at any position. Leonard should dismantle the Clippers weak wing defense at some point in this series and with Parker so clearly limited, they need someone to step up and create shots. Boris Diaw had an amazing Game 2 with over 40 fantasy points, but it sounds like they’ll keep adding minutes to Tiago Splitter if he can handle them.
Avoid: Tony Parker
Value: Boris Diaw