Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/27/18

Merry (late) Christmas, everyone! I hope the other DFS players were as generous with you on the holiest of days as they were with us! We swept FanDuel and DraftKings across the NBA, and we're looking to keep the hot hand going! Today is a 5 game slate, and as I've been wont to do recently I'm feeling like a game by game breakdown for these smaller slates winds up painting a more complete picture. Let's get after it.

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The Boston Celtics at the Houston Rockets

There is no line on this game, as James Harden's status is as yet unknown
The title says it all. Talking about this game is going to be impossible until we know the status of James Harden. He's currently listed as questionable, and his absence (alongside Chris Paul's) would create a usage vacuum of incalculable proportions.

In case you were wondering, the Rockets have played exactly 63 minutes with James Harden, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony off the floor this season. In those games, Eric Gordon has a 36.1% usage. Gerald Green has a 31.2% usage rate. Heck, Danuel House has a 25% usage rate. Austin Rivers wasn't on the team for many of these minutes, but he played 31 minutes on Christmas and would be a big beneficiary as well. The looming specter of a blowout would be very threatening here, but the value just might be too good to pass up. Harden's availability is easily the most important thing about this slate.

Al HorfordAl Horford FD - $6300 DK - $5600
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 31.57 DK - 31.01
On the Boston side of the equation, things are looking a little grim. You have a lot of guys who are priced to their average production, and the looming possibility of a blowout. And then there's Horford. He played 30 minutes in his second game back, and while he was nothing special for these prices, the minutes are the most important thing here. It's not a terrific match-up with Capela, but Horford could be a $7,000 player in short order if he settles back into a 33 minute rotation. Keep an ear to the ground about any possible minutes limit, though, because that would kill his value immediately.

The New York Knicks at the Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are favored by 14.5 in a game with a 224 total
A Christmas day rematch! The Bucks beat the Knicks by 14 on Christmas day, and they are favored by 14.5 here. Aside from Giannis, the rest of the Bucks starters lost significant minutes and only Malcolm Brogdon paid value on his current prices. And that will be the story here. Giannis and the rest of the Bucks' starters could put up huge numbers if the game manages to stay close, but that's not what we're forecasting at this point.

Emmanuel MudiayEmmanuel Mudiay FD - $5800 DK - $6300
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 33.74 DK - 34.58
Kevin KnoxKevin Knox FD - $6000 DK - $5900
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 30.96 DK - 32.48
The Knicks side of things looks a little bit more interesting. Being down 16 going into the fourth quarter didn't dissuade them from playing four of their starters 33+ minutes each, and I think we can rightfully expect that we were looking at their floor. The Knicks are locked in on Mudiay at the moment, as they rightfully believe that he is their primary ball handler of the future. Getting him reps just makes sense in a lost season, and he's been good for 5x points per dollar even in slightly subpar game scripts. Knox, meanwhile, is looking as high floor as it gets on a $6k price tag. He has shot 15 or more times in 8 straight games, and got up 20 against the Bucks on Christmas. He is chipping in his steady 6 rebounds a game, and like Mudiay, he seems like one of the last guys to lose minutes even when the game is getting stretched.

Outside of these two, I also wouldn't cut Tim Hardaway or Noah Vonleh from my DFS basketball lineups. I think they will be a little more volatile minutes wise, but each possesses undeniable upside on low $6,000 price tags.

The Los Angeles Lakers at the Sacramento Kings

The Kings are favored by 3.5 in a game with a 229.5 total.
Here's a juicy one for you. LeBron will be sitting this game with a groin injury, and as you can imagine, this means wonderful things for the rest of the Lakers' crew. LeBron hasn't missed a game since the 2016-2017 season (you read that correctly), so naturally the Lakers are all priced fairly for when James is around. Well, shedding 35 minutes, 19 shots, and their highest time of possession player is going to have quite the rippling effect.

It frees up a lineup spot for Josh Hart or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, either of whom would be a great fantasy play on starters' minutes. Our lineup optimizer is already going to be tempted by guys like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma in a match-up with the Kings, who play the 2nd fastest PACE in the league - and redistributing LeBron's usage just sweetens the deal.

Another wrinkle on the Lakers' side is that Javale McGee is likely to miss another game here, and as crazy as it sounds, I'm still willing to play Ivica Zubac even if the price has almost doubled.

Over on the Sacramento side, the usual suspects will be highly owned once again. Buddy Hield was made for this match-up, and represents a great high floor option against the fast paced Lakers given how the Kings have come to rely upon his shooting. Nemanja Bjelica was a chalk option as a starter, and as of this writing has paid 7x points per dollar after three quarters against the Clippers. While the Lakers can be tough on opposing small forwards, they should be considerably less so with LeBron out of the picture.

Like I said: JUICY!

The Philadelphia 76ers at the Utah Jazz

The Jazz are favored by 5 in a game with a 218.5 total
When I first looked at this game I figured I would be as unexcited about it as I was excited about the Lakers/Kings game. It's not quite that simple.

Like we've written many times by now, this Utah team is not the same defensive unit that has stymied opposing offenses over the years. They are still not a good match-up, of course. It's hard to be a good match-up when you play the league's 5th best defense and the 18th slowest pace. But on a 5 game slate we can't immediately rule it out. Our system really likes how Jimmy Butler has looked recently. He's contributing across the board, playing tons of minutes, and even touching 20 shots again when the mood strikes him. He's too cheap in this game, and is a nice high floor option at shooting guard.

If the plan is to play Wilson Chandler 34 minutes in regulation (like he did on Christmas against Boston), then this $4,200 FanDuel price is a complete joke. He'll be an easy cash game play at a weak position.

Our system also thinks you can play JJ Redick and Joel Embiid as well, but I'm a little bearish on the latter thanks to Utah's tough interior defense.

On the Utah side? Our system is calling this one a full pass, with the possible exception of Donovan Mitchell for cash games.

The Portland Trailblazers at the Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are favored by 9 in a game with a 227 total
Another somewhat dreary game, surprisingly.

Portland is playing a bottom 10 pace this season, and the 9 point spread at least has to give you pause when the Dubs are involved. They are notorious for not only running up huge leads, but aggressively sitting their starters if things look like they might get out of hand. The Warriors won by 28 points in their last meeting this season, and while Durant and Klay were both solid in that game from a fantasy perspective, Steph wasn't even playing.

Our system will go to its figurative grave declaring that CJ McCollum is far too cheap at $6,300 on FanDuel, and I can't say I disagree. Even in something of an off year, CJ has averaged 5x points per dollar on these prices, and there is room for considerably more when games stay close and he plays his full run of minutes. The rest of the Trail Blazers, though, are looking a little sad here.


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