Daily Fantasy NBA Playoff Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - Conference Finals 5/13/18
The Conference Finals are here with two primetime matchups coming Sunday and Monday. Both FanDuel and DraftKings are offering two-day slates for these games and Mother's Day kicks off with a showdown in the West.
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Golden State Warriors at the Houston Rockets
Vegas total: 224
Rockets favored by 1.5
Well, we finally got there. After watching the Warriors and Rockets curb stomp their way through the West, we finally have a series that should(?) be close. On a two-game slate, you are going to have to play players from both games, but it's, of course, worth noting that this game has a Vegas total that is 20 points higher than the Cavs/Celtics game. Naturally, this is going to draw the eye to trying to play as many players from this game as possible, but is it really that simple?
Our system actually says "no." The major issue here is price inflation. Both Houston and Golden State have some excellent players, but those excellent players have been phenomenal all season long and are drawing high price tags. Someone like James Harden (FD $11700 DK $10200) would normally be a great value here, as our system projects him to score more than 5 points per dollar on his FanDuel prices, but with so few real punt plays it might be beyond the scope of our cash game interests. It's also interesting for Harden - while basically the entire rest of the NBA has dramatically shortened their rotations and stretched out their stars, Harden has only touched 40 minutes in a single playoff game this season. Now it could just be that the Rockets were keeping him as fresh as possible for this series, but at the beginning of it I think it's prudent to assume he'll play less on average than some of your other big-ticket options today.
Trevor Ariza (FD $4600 DK $3700) is another guy our system is looking at simply because of the seriously low price and a potential increase in his role. Ariza's minutes have been all over the place recently, but he logged 35 and 37 minutes against the Dubs in the two games he played against them earlier this season. He's a heavy underdog to light the world on fire, but if the Rockets feel like they need his defense it could be a solid play.
After that, the rest of the Rockets just look overpriced when you can get better options from the other game.
On the Warriors side of things, I'm not sure things get a whole lot better. Most of the Dubs are priced like Stephen Curry (FD $9800 DK $8500) is playing reduced minutes, but the 37 minutes he logged against the Pelicans suggest that those days are over. This leaves guys like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green potentially looking overpriced. Andre Iguodala (FD $4800 DK $4200) has upside if you think he plays more minutes against the Rockets, but with Kevon Looney lurking at 23 minutes last game and Iggy playing just 25 I'm not sure it's a gamble worth taking for cash games.
All in all, it should be a fantastic series, but with some of the moving parts I'm not sure how much value we really see here.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
Vegas total: 205
Cavaliers favored by 1.5
After scuffling their way through the first round against the Pacers, the Cavaliers made quick work of the Raptors in the second round. They swept up Toronto and have now had a week off to rest and prepare for the Celtics. Cleveland has been so hard to get a handle on in these playoffs, but how quickly they went to work against the Raptors, of course, has us more bullish on their chances in this series. LeBron James (FD 13600 DK 12100) is where things start and (almost) stop with the Cavaliers. He's been transcendent in these playoffs, averaging 34 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists against the Raptors in Round 2. He's getting very expensive with a crazy tag on FanDuel. It's so tough fading him in these contests but without a lot of salary cap flex on a two-game slate, you have to make tough decisions. It stands to reason the Celtics will have a stout defensive scheme for him but this the King we are talking about. His DraftKings price is more palatable.
Kevin Love (FD 8300 DK 8800) got some of his groove back in the tail end of the Raptors' series. After struggling for much of the playoffs, he settled into an average of 25 points and 11 rebounds over the last three games. He's something of a defensive liability, but the Cavs will need his scoring to ease some of Lebron's burden and he's not a total mismatch with the Celtics' personnel.
I still think we are getting fine enough value on the rest of the Cleveland starters with George Hill (FD 4700 DK 4400), Kyle Korver (FD 4300 DK 4700) and J.R. Smith (FD 4500 DK 4100) represent as close to "punt" plays as we will find on this slate. Basically, all of them are dependent on getting hot from three. With Lebron controlling so much of the action and Love dominating on the glass, these guys need to score to hit value. Getting them all at minutes in the low-to-mid 30's makes them fine cash plays, but there's risk involved.
The Celtics are so banged up that they will once again (most likely) focus all of their minutes around their starters and 1-2 bench guys. With Shane Larkin out Terry Rozier (FD 8500 DK 8000) will once again push towards 40 minutes. The Cavaliers aren't great at defending the perimeter and the Celtics' guards could put up points in this series.
There are very few center options on this two-game slate (Warriors won't even play one I don't think) making Al Horford (FD 7600 DK 7500) and Aron Baynes (FD 4400 DK 3800) possibly just necessary plays. Horford's defensive flexibility will keep him on the court for close to 40 minutes and at his price points he makes for a higher-floor cash game play. It's a little weird to roster guys in the mid-tier, but again we have few options at the position on FanDuel. I don't think Baynes sees as many minutes in this series as he did against Philly when he was locked against Embiid. But even 20 minutes of run at his price point would have value.
The biggest fantasy beneficiary of this series could be Marcus Morris (FD 5500 DK 5000) who will be tasked with guarding Lebron for long stretches. The possible increase in minutes alone make him very much worth the look in cash games. I suppose there's some foul trouble concern if he's on this defensive assignment, but it's not enough to scare me off.