Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
FanDuel NBA Picks and DraftKings NBA Playoff Picks - Saturday 4/20/19
We've got a fat four game slate for you, but with how tightly the games are packed, we still might not be living the high life here. Will the Jazz, Nets, and Pistons get smoked again? Am I hallucinating, or are the Spurs kind of just a better version of the Nuggets all of a sudden? Let's get into it!
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76ers (-1.5) vs. Nets (+1.5)
Vegas Projected Score: Philadelphia 116.75 - Brooklyn 115.25
Philadelphia leads the series 2-1
Welp, someone seems to have woken up the Sixers, who dispatched the Nets by 16 points in game three without the benefit of having Joel Embiid. By now you know the drill - if Embiid is hurt, the rest of the Philly "big three" are firmly in play. Heck, they are probably in play even if Embiid is around.
Game three was interesting from the Philly side, though. We saw the Sixers press the issue with Tobias Harris, whose inside-outside game was just too much for the Nets to handle. Harris led the team with 19 shots, and was 6/6 from three while also netting 16 rebounds. He just looked like a man among boys out there, and looks like a pretty safe option on slate without many of them.
Simmons was excellent in game three as well, facilitating as well as ever and getting to the rack with refreshing efficiency, going 11-13 from the field and 9-11 from the line. He has taken a leap since game one, and it wouldn't shock me to see him turn into the $11,000 fantasy player we've dreamed about.
If Embiid is out, Greg Monroe is the most obvious play on the slate. He played 25 minutes in a blowout the last time around, and should be the heir to abusing the Nets interior defense if the Sixers don't want to commit to Boban for more than 20 minutes a game. I'm also down with a little JJ Redick, who was second on the team with 17 shots, even if he is pretty scoring dependent.
BrooklynThings were admittedly quite a bit shakier on the Brooklyn side, but on a four game slate I'm not sure we can just throw in the towel on them. The Nets looked competitive through three quarters before letting the game slip away in the fourth. What's more troubling, though, was their approach to minutes. If they are really in panic mode and getting away from what worked in game one, we're kind of in a pickle.
Still, if Vegas is to be believed and Philly really are just 2.5 point favorites here, I think we can still trust what we saw in the other close game this series. That means we'll get a healthy dose of D'Angelo Russell and DeMarre Carroll. Russell seems fully ready to go down swinging, as he's topped 25 shots in game one and game three.
I'm a little bit more concerned with running the back-up guards. Dinwiddie looked like the chosen son in game 1, but the Nets leaned more heavily on Levert in game three. At this point it might be wise to relegate these guys to big tournaments only.
Ed Davis has been ruled out of this contest, and Atkinson hinted that we could see some Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the Nets' small-ball lineups. For DFS purposes I wouldn't touch this unless I heard something definitive.
Nuggets (3.5) vs. Spurs (-3.5)
Vegas Projected Score: San Antonio 105.75- Denver 102.75
San Antonio leads the series: 2-1
I for one am a little floored by how this series is progressing. Not that the Spurs have done Spurs things and crept out to a 2-1 lead, but the way they've done it. The Spurs were supposed to be one of these solved teams - Aldridge and DeRozan take turns finding shots while everyone else chips in where they can. Well, in game three Pop and the Spurs busted out their apparent secret weapon: Derrick White.
Derrick White FD - $6500 DK - $5700
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 27.44 DK - 26.77
We're not ready to get fully carried away with White just yet, but I honestly couldn't believe my eyes in that game. White went 15-21 from the field, dismantling the Nuggets with a vintage hyper-efficient shoot-first Tony Parker impersonation. He went 14-17 on his two pointers! Seriously, how do the Spurs do this? White's 21 shots were four higher than his career high, a 17 shot game against the Thunder that went into double overtime.
While this might have been a curveball the Spurs were prepared to throw once, it's very hard to believe they won't just roll it back until the Nuggets prove they can stop it. This makes White a very interesting play for obvious reasons, but it does spook me off DeRozan and Aldridge to some degree.
White's big performance overshadowed significant contributions from Jakob Poeltl, who provided a perfectly reasonable 10/7/3 line over 30 minutes in this one. He looks like a solid cheap value option.
DenverI don't want to overreact to a 2-1 series lead, but what am I supposed to do with the Nuggets right now? They fall behind 9 points in the first quarter of a game three in a series tied 1-1 and all of a sudden they're totally changing the plan? I hated it for basketball reasons, and I hate it even more for my DFS purposes. Surely someone sat down with Mike Malone and reminded him that these starters produced the second best record in a very competitive Western conference? The man looked absolutely shook here. Yikes.
Let's go point by point here. I'm not touching Will Barton for the rest of this series. He's just the first man out when the going gets tough, and Beasley provided a solid spark off the bench. I've got similar concerns about Paul Millsap, whose single rebound in 29 game three minutes was an embarrassment.
If I'm picking Nuggets to play, I still believe in the trio of Jokic, Murray, and Harris, but it's not like they're immune to losing minutes either. I still find it hard to believe that the Nuggets are going to let it slip away with their bench players on the floor though, and we're going to see more 37+ minute games out of these three. Let's hope that starts tonight.
Bucks (-9) vs. Pistons (+9)
Vegas Projected Score: Milwaukee 112.5 - Detroit 103.5
Milwaukee leads the series: 2-0
I physically threw my hands up in the air when I looked at Giannis' game log a moment ago. The Bucks followed up game one's 35 point beating with a 21 point victory encore, and this series just has all the trappings of being embarrassed for everyone involved. Like two mismatched boxers - the Pistons look absolutely confused and terrified and the Bucks seem to be looking around waiting for someone to call the series before someone gets killed.
To Detroit's credit, they had their first good quarter of the series in the second, but when the Bucks turned it up even slightly they outscored them by 33 across the other three quarters. I'm not sure how to look at this series other than an imminent 4-0 as the Bucks look forward to the second round.
Khris Middleton FD - $7600 DK - $6800
Opponent - DET
Proj Pts FD - 37.9 DK - 39.27
Brook Lopez FD - $5900 DK - $5400
Opponent - DET
Proj Pts FD - 31.84 DK - 30.61
While Giannis and Bledsoe stayed below thirty minutes, Middleton and Lopez were out there for something resembling their full run of minutes, and Middleton in particular returned excellent fantasy value here. If Embiid sits you aren't going to get the chance to run Lopez, but I like him quite a bit as a solid big tournament pivot.
Not touching the rest of the Bucks here.
Detroit ValueYou have to assume Blake will be out again here, but how much does that really change the Pistons DFS value? I'll give the Pistons credit for leaving their starters out there and giving it the old college try, but it doesn't seem to be amounting to a whole lot.
Wayne Ellington FD - $3800 DK - $4200
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 23.71 DK - 24.35
Luke Kennard FD - $5200 DK - $5200
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 24.69 DK - 25.71
The only Pistons I'd be enthusiastic about playing are the cheap guys. If Ellington and Kennard are going to play 35 minutes in blowouts, they should have as high a floor as anyone. The Pistons have nothing left to rest for, so I expect to see these guys out there for quite a bit of time once again.
Andre Drummond played 37 minutes (which is what kept Lopez out there) last game, but I'm not sure it really matters all that much for our DFS purposes.
Rockets (2.5) vs. Jazz (-2.5)
Vegas Projected Score: Utah 109 - Houston 106.5
Houston leads the series: 2-0
Vegas seems a lot more optimistic about the Jazz's chances than the rest of the world, and I'm honestly not totally sure how to handle this from the perspective of projecting minutes for this game. On one hand the Rockets have dominated the Jazz as hard as the Bucks have dominated the Pistons, but maybe there is a little run hot here. The Rockets shot 41% on 42 threes in game two, where the Jazz shot just 21% on 38 attempts. Part of that is how the teams are constructed, of course - with Harden shooting 6-13 from deep and both he and Paul creating space for Tucker and Gordon on the outside, the Houston plan is really coming to fruition. Mitchell and Ingles are nice players, but their 2-14 from three was tough to watch. So what do we do here?
HoustonI'd honestly rather not play many (any?) Houston guys here. The Jazz are a solid defense, and you're really hoping for high 30s minutes for guys like Harden and Paul to be worth it. I'm not saying you can't do it, but with how one-sided these games have been I think you need to understand the level of risk you're taking on.
P.J. Tucker FD - $5300 DK - $4500
Opponent - UTA
Proj Pts FD - 23.63 DK - 22.48
Tucker is my favorite Rocket for a few reasons. First, he fills a terrible position in PF. Secondly, he still played 34 minutes in a game where the Rockets were up by 28 going into the fourth quarter. I think his true rotation is around 40 minutes, and he's been an excellent outlet for Harden and Paul when they slash and kick. The Rockets need him against the Jazz's size, and he should chip in enough around the edges to pay value here.
UtahDonovan Mitchell FD - $8500 DK - $7700
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 42.61 DK - 43.92
Ricky Rubio FD - $7100 DK - $6000
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 32.4 DK - 33.17
Joe Ingles FD - $6300 DK - $5800
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 30.88 DK - 32.07
Like the Pistons, the Jazz have nothing left to rest for at this point. Unlike the Pistons, the Jazz really shouldn't be losing every game by 20 points. I see all three of these players as having an excellent floor given the minutes we saw out of them in a game where they were down 28 going into the fourth, and strongly believe there is a game on the horizon where all three are in big tourney winning lineups. I really like Rubio at point guard tonight, and Mitchell and Ingles were a little shooting luck from being good values as well.
On a four game slate with plenty of blowout risk elsewhere, I think you just grin and bear it and understand that blowouts in the playoffs are much different than those in the regular season.