Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
FanDuel NBA Picks and DraftKings NBA picks for 4/7/18
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Welcome to craziness
It's that time of year, my friends! We've got more than half the league playing for nothing at all, a few teams putting it all on the line, and another group of teams whose motivations we won't really be able to discern. Instead of going position by position today, I'm going to instead highlight which situations you should be mindful of here, and hopefully highlight some great plays along the way. Let's dive right in.
The team playing for a ton
The Miami Heat
With Josh Richardson sidelined for a while, the Heat are both very motivated and very shorthanded. They're coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Timberwolves that saw them score 40 points in the second half against a team with nothing to play for. Today they'll play another team with nothing to play for in the Toronto Raptors. Canada's favorite team has fully nothing to play for, and it's very hard to imagine they go all out here. So where does that leave us?
Winslow is coming off playing 37 minutes, and he'll be the cornerstone of the wing position for them here. Dragic is something close to their only ball handler, and his time of possession has been through the roof. Both of these guys should be incredibly high floor options here.
I really think you can play a number of Heat, here. I like both Dion Waiters and Dwyane Wade, and James Johnson played a lot of minutes with everything on the line last game. And by the way - throw out DvP stats in this one, since Toronto will be playing with no motivation.
The Detroit Pistons vs. the Charlotte Hornets
Detroit is not officially in, and the Hornets are not officially out (at least I think they aren't. This is actually pretty hard to determine with the tools I have available to me).
The Pistons have lost 4 of their last 5, but the good news is that Blake Griffin seems to have finally awoken after his 63 fantasy point opus against the Thunder. I just love him here against a banged up Hornets front court. As is usually the case with the Pistons, though, I'm really only looking at playing Andre Drummond to go alongside him, and honestly I was a little spooked to see Drummond lose run against the Thunder.
On the Hornets side of things, we should definitely have some DFS value. Kemba Walker has been as steady as a rock recently, and I see no reason for that to stop here. Marvin Williams missed last game, which opened up space for a big night for Frank Kaminsky off the bench even though Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got the start. Dwayne Bacon and Miles Bridges should also be in line for big minutes, and should be considered high floor options as well.
The Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets
These two teams are in a very similar position today. Both are fighting for their very playoff lives. Both are small underdogs against other Eastern Conference playoff teams. Both are up against tough defenses in Boston and Indiana. And both are not great fantasy teams for the most part.
I wrote up the Nets for Saturday's picks, and things went pretty much as expected. They spread minutes around a lot, and really only gave significant run to D'Angelo Russell and Joe Harris. Neither was very good compared to their current price tags, and I'm expecting more of the same here in what should be in an even tougher match-up with a team that's actually playing for something.
The Magic are fresh off of handing beat downs to back to back inferior opponents, but will be tested a great deal more against the Celtics. Still, I like Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon as high floor options given the amount of minutes they've been playing in close games.
The teams playing for something that seem motivated
Okay, I'm going to rank them in the order of how motivated they seem to me, and how likely they are to stay motivated.
Tier one: the Contenders
Golden State and Denver. The Warriors just played their big boys 36 minutes in a game where they were up by 15 on Cleveland going into the fourth quarter an effort to lock down the one seed, so I'm feeling pretty good about running them against a banged up Clippers team. There is serious blowout risk here, of course, but with a magic number of two I think they stick with it. I especially like Stephen Curry as a payoff option.
EDIT: After I did a whole writeup about how the Nuggets seemed motivated, they went ahead and ruled out Jokic, Murray, and Millsap for tomorrow. You can go ahead and put them in the "crazy" category for the rest of the season. Enjoy!
Tier two: The guys who don't want to play the contenders
I'm looking at OKC, the Clippers, and San Antonio here. Each of these teams is behaving as you'd expect when facing the prospect of potentially playing against the Warriors. I'd argue that Denver would likely destroy these teams as well, but I can understand why they feel a glimmer of hope there. I can't say I'm especially interested in playing any Spurs guys, here. The minutes have been solid in close games, but they've also been fairly quick to pull their starters when things get out of hand. It's a great match-up with the Cavs, though, and you'd have to think guys like LaMarcus Aldridge have solid floors at the very least.
I am pretty interested in the big name OKC guys today. Russell Westbrook is a game removed from his 20/20/20 game, and he and Paul George combined for 44 shots in the following game against Detroit as well. It's a totally reasonable match-up with Minnesota, where he'll draw Tyus Jones on defense. I could also see playing Jerami Grant here.
As for the Clippers? Nah. They're 11.5 point dogs, and while there's upside in guys like SGA or Lou Williams if it stays close, I just don't see a need to take the risk here. It is worth noting that Danilo Gallinari has already been ruled out, and that Jamychal Green could see big minutes in his absence.
The home court battlers
Indiana and Boston
These two teams just got done playing an incredibly important game against one another, and the Celtics just straight up blew the Pacers out of the water. The C's are now comfortably in the driver's seat for home court in round one, and you have to think they'll bring their A game against the Magic. The Magic, as previously stated, are playing for their playoff lives, but they still represent a very solid DFS match-up. The Celtics have had some moving parts recently, particularly among their front court, so keep a close eye on news regarding Morris, Baynes, or Horford that could open up more opportunity. In spite of my guessing that they'll be motivated, I see the Boston guys as high floor and low ceiling options here.
The Pacers are coming fresh off of that blowout loss in which they were fairly quick to throw in the towel, and given that they aren't especially likely to catch Boston anyway I don't have as much confidence running them here. They're also against one of the teams playing for their playoff lives in Brooklyn. Still, I'll certainly be taking a hard look at Myles Turner in one of the best possible match-ups, and Cory Joseph will be one of the highest owned players on the slate if he pulls the start.
Utah and Portland
The Jazz and the Trail Blazers are nearly in a dead heat for home court advantage in round one of the playoffs. Both have been beleaguered by injuries, but the Jazz have responded, ripping off seven straight wins. Portland also seems very motivated here, with the current news being that they are going to bring back CJ McCollum and Seth Curry sooner than many thought. The problem, of course, is that they'll be squaring off with a motivated Denver team, and it could be awfully tough to return value there. Bringing back McCollum also hurts the value of guys like Lillard, but Enes Kanter is a phenomenal play if last game's 38 minutes are any indicator of the plan going forward.
Rubio has already been ruled out, which creates a must-play in Royce O'Neale. I could see an argument for running Rudy Gobert against a poor defensive front court for LA, but again, the Jazz are 10 point favorites here and it's hard to trust their more expensive guys.
Honestly it's sort of hard to know Houston's motivation here. They've won three straight games by 24+ points, and while it's plausible for them to move in the standings, it's not especially likely. They are also astounding 18.5 point favorites here, so I don't think you can call them safe.
The crazy teams and the teams that are locked into their playoff spots
Toronto, Cleveland, Minnesota, Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Phoenix, New York, Washington, New Orleans, Sacramento, The Lakers.
So this isn't to say you can't play guys from these teams, it's just that I can't really tell you right now whom you should play from these teams. Yeah, that's right. I said "whom."
We've seen lots of value spring forth from these teams recently - Mario Hezonja dropped a triple double as a starting point guard, for Christ's sake, but all of these teams should be viewed cautiously. Sometimes enough value will open up that you can get some security, but what you should really be keying in on here is cheap value plays. We've just seen too many examples like Bradley Beal randomly playing 20 minutes the other night, or Pascal Siakam randomly sitting without the team even telling the media, or any number of teams that send guys to the locker room never to return.
The teams I'm targeting for big tournaments in particular are Phoenix, Memphis, Dallas, and the Knicks - but honestly I wouldn't be shocked if we could get value from any number of these teams here.
As always, watch the news, hold your breath, and remember that playing DFS NBA this time of year is as much about fun as it is about profit.
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- Blake Griffin: (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)