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.
BOS @ CLE over/under 205.5, Cavaliers -11
Despite a 13 point win in Game 1, the Cavaliers played both Kyrie Irving and LeBron James more than 40 minutes and I don’t see that changing until and if this series gets to 3-0. Both of these guys make great plays, but LeBron is the better option because of the position he plays, with very few other small forward looking like viable options in these playoffs. Irving is a fine play, but you can find better value at point guard unless he’s on fire with his jumper. Kevin Love’s bulk stats of 19 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists look great, but just 33 minutes and 5-of-14 from the field is not inspiring given the dream matchup. It looks like Iman Shumpert may be used more than JR Smith in this series for his defense on the Celtics plethora of guards. Isaiah Thomas is going to be the engine that keeps the Celtics going for as long as they are in the playoffs, attacking Kyrie Irving relentlessly. He racked up 22 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists in game one and if he’s going to play 30+ minutes a night in this series, he’s going to be far and away the best fantasy play on the Celtics.
Value: Iman Shumpert
WAS @ TOR over/under 192.5, Raptors -5
An overtime win by Washington revealed a lot about how these teams are going to approach each other in these playoffs. The Wizards went small with both Paul Pierce and Otto Porter well exceeding 30 minutes of playing time with 37 and 34 minutes respectively. Both John Wall and Brad Beal led the way offensively and in minutes for the Wizards, but both shot exceptionally poorly, combining to go just 11-for-41 on the night. They should get that turned around, but the volume should be there for both while the efficiency picks up. Marcin Gortat led the way for the Wizards big men in terms of minutes with 26, but Nene Hilario was wildly efficient as he usually is in the playoffs, racking up 12 points and 13 boards in just 21 minutes. He should be a nice value play at power forward for his low price. The Raptors didn’t get much from their stars either as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to go just 8-for-30 from the field as they competed with Wall and Beal for most combined bricks. They squandered a great game from Amir Johnson, who looked healthy, posting 18 points and 8 rebounds in 34 minutes, while they played with him and Patrick Patterson as their big man duo for long stretches to combat Paul Pierce at power forward. Jonas Valanciunas will have a big game in this series, but this is not an ideal matchup for him or his foul trouble issues.
Avoid: Jonas Valanciunas
DAL @ HOU over/under 215, Rockets -6.5
This matchup had a 213 total in Game 1 and went for 226 points in regulation, so this is the game you want to target tonight. The Mavericks aren’t getting what they need from Monta Ellis lately and I’m assuming it’s because he’s not healthy, so I”m going to avoid him until further notice, but the upside remains. Rajon Rondo looked strong in the first quarter, but disappeared after that and I’m losing faith in him. One guy who I have full confidence in for the playoffs is Dirk Nowitzki. He played 34 minutes and shot 10-of-14 against the Rockets weak power forward rotation, despite struggling with some foul trouble. He’s going to play extended minutes as the Mavericks need him right now and there will be games he approaches and exceeds 20 shot attempts, which makes him a steal at his low prices. It sounds like Chandler Parsons won’t play tonight and that likely means Richard Jefferson will start, making both Jefferson and Al-Farouq Aminu value options at small forward. Jefferson is the safer bet to play minutes, as was the pattern in the regular season, but Aminu is the better player and has more upside if he can get it going and stay on the floor. For the Rockets, James Harden had a nice first game with 24 points and 11 assists, but that’s not really what you’re looking for at his price with the cap being very tight due to limited games and value plays right now. He’ll get it going, but I’m not sure I want to pay over $11,000 for him to repeat his Game 1 performance. However, if Chandler Parsons sits, he’ll be able to hide on Richard Jefferson most of the game defensively, which could put him into heavy attack mode. Jason Terry commanded the point guard position nightly and makes for the best value play on the slate near the minimum. The two mid-range options you want to go after on the Rockets are Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones, who both played 34 or more minutes and posted nice lines. You won’t see 6 assists from them very often, but the near double-doubles are repeatable in those heavy minutes against a Mavericks team that’s struggled defending both forward positions this season, especially when Chandler Parsons is out. Corey Brewer remains a high upside value play if he gets the minutes.