Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 5/1/17

Alright! Most of the fake teams are gone, and the real teams are playing against each other. Three heavyweight teams square off today, and Toronto will be playing as well. I kid, Canadian contingent. All of these teams have pretty much shown what their plan is, but how will it come together against new opponents? Let's have a look.

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Toronto Raptors at the Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected total: 208.5
Cleveland favored by -6.5

The Raptors escaped something of a nail-biter against the Bucks, and LeBron went ahead and won his 21st straight 1st round game. Reputations aside, though, Vegas sees this as a relatively even series, with the Cavs being slightly favored after you account for home court advantage.

This series rates to be similarly paced to each of the team's last series, with the Cavs playing a bit faster than the Bucks, but the Raptors playing a bit slower than the Pacers. So how do these teams match up individually?

Let's start with the Cavs, since they are playing basically the same line-up that they have all season.

LeBron James has averaged a 28/10/8 in 4 games against the Raptors this season, and that's great and all, but he's now almost $13,000 on FanDuel. Like, what the heck? I'm not sure that's viable.

Love and Kyrie look a little bit better to me, though. Love averaged 22/12 in 3 games against the Raptors, but they'll be a little bit stiffer competition with Ibaka down there. Still, I think he's in a good spot. I'm also pretty interested in Kyrie here. He clocked a 25/4/6 in his 3 games with the Raptors, and with Kyle Lowry treating his back during games I'm feeling pretty optimistic about his prospects here.

I think you can consider Tristan Thompson based on round 1's minutes, but I'm not super excited. JR Smith is passable filler, but with his minutes in flux it's not something I'd feel great about.

Now let's talk Toronto. I don't think I like Lowry very much based on his round 1 performance and his questionable health, but I'm honestly not sure how much better some of the other options on Houston and San Antonio will be. It's a great match-up with Kyrie, but Lowry didn't exactly light the world on fire against the Cavs during the regular season. I'm going to have to wait and see how the other line-up pieces come together before deciding on him.

I am liking DeRozan a bit here, even though I suspect he'll see a fair amount of LeBron on him. He was the best Raptor by a mile in round 1, and with Lowry ailing to some degree the Raps are going to need to rely a lot on his scoring.

But what about Serge Ibaka? He's sort of an enigma to me. On one hand he's the perfect kind of guy to guard Kevin Love, but on the other hand, he had a lot of trouble staying on the court against the Bucks. He might be more of a wait and see guy for this series, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him return to the 35 minutes per game he was playing in the first 2 games of the Bucks series. I'd certainly prioritize Kevin Love from this game, but I wouldn't hate it if I wound up with Ibaka as well.

Like Cleveland, though, Toronto isn't boasting a lot of reliable depth thanks to their jerking around the minutes of their wings and other big men.

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Houston Rockets at the San Antonio Spurs

Projected total: 213
Spurs favored by -5.5

Now here's a game I can sink my teeth into. This game is rated to be both closer and higher scoring than the Raptors-Cavs game, but it's also one with a little bit less minutes certainly.

Let's start with the Spurs. The big headliner here is Kawhi Leonard, which should come as no surprise. San Antonio has a history of leaning more heavily on Leonard in the post season, and it was clear that the plan was for their star to play 40+ minutes in close games. I can't imagine that will be any different here, and that alone makes him an interesting play. He wasn't great against the Rockets on these prices in the regular season, but he shot nearly 50% from the field, making me think his lack of total fantasy points had more to do with game script than the match-up itself. I still think he's a premier player in this series.

It's hard to know what to make of LaMarcus Aldridge here. The Spurs clearly plan to play him 40 minutes a game or so in close games as well, but he was unable to pay 5x points per game in any of the 6 games against Memphis. But we should go ahead and compare apples to apples, here - the Rockets' front court defense is a far cry from what the Grizzlies bring to the table. I'm a big time buyer on Aldridge here, and suspect we see a big game from him right out of the gate.

The other Spur I'm interested in is Tony Parker, but I'm pretty darn interested. Yes, Beverley is a tough match-up for opposing point guards, but we need to do more than just extrapolate his regular season stats to evaluate what kind of play he makes. Aside from his one truly terrible game against Memphis, he looked like he was back to his old ones, shooting 12-19 times per game and causing havoc when he got into the lane. With so few point guard options on this slate, I think he makes a great option (particularly if your'e as spooked as I am about Lowry).

Some guys to at least keep on your radar - David Lee and Pau Gasol.

On the Houston side of the ball, we have quite a bit more sanity. Harden averaged nearly a triple double against San Antonio during the regular season, and it seems like an easy call to me to choose between him and LeBron on similar prices. He just has a better points per dollar pedigree and a faster match-up, and I think he makes a solid play.

The shooting guard crew for Houston looks terrific to me as well. Both Gordon and Williams got outsized opportunity in round 1, and I don't see any reason why Houston would go off that plan for round 2. The Spurs don't totally have the personnel to punish the Rockets for going smaller, and unless they play Gasol and Aldridge each a ton of minutes, both Gordon and Williams should see a lot of playing time.

I'm not very interested in any Rockets bigs (Capela, Anderson) until we see that they are a bigger part of the game plan. That might very well be the case, and one might make a good big tournament play, but I just can't say which at this point.

And then there's Trevor Ariza. He had exactly one good game against the Thunder, and generally no-showed the rest of the series. My guess is that he's just totally written out of the offensive playbook now that Williams and Gordon are seeing so much time, so I'll take a full pass on that one.




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