The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
The first day of the NBA Playoffs features four games, with the first tipping off at 3 p.m. ET.
This is John Wall‘s first game against the Raptors this season. Wall has played only four games since the All-Star Break — but they were good games:
Wall averaged 20.3 points and 12.5 assists in 35.1 minutes during those four games. Because he missed time this season — and Kyle Lowry did the same last season — the two have faced each other only once in the past two seasons. Wall finished that game with 18 points, two assists and one rebound — all below average for him. Lowry finished eighth among point guards this season in defensive real plus/minus (+1.33). Like most of the highest-priced players on the slate, Wall is a better value on DraftKings with a Bargain Rating of 97%.
Damian Lillard will probably see more of Jrue Holiday than Rajon Rondo on defense. Holiday ranks fifth in defensive real plus/minus (+1.71) while Rondo ranks 72nd (-0.89), and Holiday was on Lillard for 127 of Portland’s possessions across four games this season, 52 more than any other Pelican. Drawing Holiday’s assignment didn’t exactly hurt Lillard’s DFS value, though:
Lillard has a 90% Bargain Rating on DraftKings, as does Ben Simmons (who is eligible only at power forward on FanDuel). Simmons averages a +2.55 Plus/Minus and 75% Consistency against Miami this season. His $9,400 salary is the lowest it’s been since March 30, and with the playoffs getting underway, Simmons’ minutes should be back in the mid-30s after he logged just 29.6 per game in April, which contributed to his salary decrease.
Even though his scoring average dropped by more than six points from last season to this one, Kyle Lowry averaged more FanDuel points per minute than every point guard on this slate besides Wall and Lillard. Lowry costs only $6,800 on FanDuel, which is the lowest his salary has been since Nov. 3, 2017, and he’s been a profitable play this season at that price point or within $500 of it. In 10 games with a salary of at least $6,800 but no higher than $7,300, Lowry averages a +2.59 Plus/Minus and 60% Consistency.
Dejounte Murray has been best defensive point guard in the league this season and will make life difficult for Quinn Cook. Murray was on Cook for 55 Golden State possessions this season and surrendered only two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Goran Dragic should be good to go and has a 93% Bargain Rating on FanDuel. His salary was as high as $7,200 two weeks ago but has come down as he’s failed to top 30 minutes since. With the playoffs starting, Dragic should be back at 30-plus minutes, and at $6,100 represents a great value since he averages 0.95 FanDuel points per minute on the season (0.89 in four games against Philly).
DeMar DeRozan played 37.3 minutes per game in the playoffs last season and has averaged 1.23 FanDuel points per minute against Washington in four games this season. Even if DeRozan produces at a rate closer to his season average of 1.1, he’d still be on pace for more than 40 fantasy points.
Jrue Holiday has crushed against Portland this season:
Holiday’s best game against the Blazers was his last, a game that saw him collect 56.75 DraftKings points by way of a 21-point, 11-assist, 11-rebound triple-double. The Pelicans didn’t have Rajon Rondo for that game, though, and Rondo’s presence may cap Holiday’s upside. Holiday’s usage rate goes down 1.5%, and his assist rate goes down 6.5% when Rondo is on the floor.
JJ Redick is up to $6,000 on FanDuel but clocks in at just $5,300 on DraftKings. Redick has been brilliant over his past 10 games, particularly his past eight:
Redick has averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute against Miami this season, so he could put up 30 or more DraftKings points with an average performance and minutes in the low- to mid-30s. Per the On/Off tool, Redick’s usage rate increases by 2.2% and his assist rate increases by 2.8% with Joel Embiid not on the floor.
Dwayne Wade is priced $4,900 on DraftKings but only $4,400 on FanDuel, giving him a Bargain Rating of 95% on the latter. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra tends to limit Wade to minutes in the mid-20s these days, but the old man can still fill it up when he’s in there. He’s averaged 1.06 FanDuel points per minute this season. He’s played Philly twice since the All-Star Break, and piled up a combined 62.9 FanDuel points, or 31.45 per game, in 24 minutes per contest. Those numbers exaggerate his upside, but there’s always a chance that Spo sticks with his veteran longer than usual now that it’s the postseason.
The mid-tier plays have had varying degrees of success against their Round 1 opponents: Bradley Beal has averaged a +7.06 Plus/Minus on DraftKings in four games against Toronto, Klay Thompson +1.11 in three against San Antonio and CJ McCollum -3.56 Plus/Minus in four against New Orleans. Beal continues to be a bargain on DraftKings with a 95% Bargain Rating. Thompson and McCollum are cheaper and are middling values on both sides, but McCollum’s game has an over/under more than 10 points higher than Thompson’s.
Kevin Durant has a 35.4% usage rate without Stephen Curry (knee) on the floor this season. In his last game against the Spurs, KD put 37 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks in the box score. That game saw Curry go down less than 3 minutes in, so it’s indicative of the kind of upside KD has even against a team that finished the regular season No. 3 in defensive rating (104.8).
Evan Turner played 32 and 38 minutes in the two games before the season finale. His average fantasy points per minute is in the mid-0.60s, but he’s one of the cheapest sources of minutes on the slate at $3,900 on DraftKings and $3,500 on FanDuel. On the flip side of the matchup, E’Twaun Moore is in a similar boat, but is a bit more expensive at $4,600 on DraftKings and $5,000 on FanDuel. Moore is a low-usage player but is expected to play minutes in the mid-30s and is still one of the better values on the slate at the position.
Kyle Anderson guarded Durant on 105 Warriors offensive possessions this season, 80 more than any other Spur, and played 30-plus minutes in the last two games against Golden State in which KD was active. Anderson is difficult to trust in cash games because he relies on peripheral stats more than scoring, but he’s perfect for tournaments. In fact, he has averaged 35.0 DraftKings points and a ridiculous +13.07 Plus/Minus in four games against the Dubs this season with 36 or more in three of the four.
LaMarcus Aldridge‘s usage and scoring production have spiked since the All-Star Break, and his season series against the Dubs is a perfect example:
Aldridge’s minutes per game increased by only 1.2 from the regular season to the playoffs last season so he might not get as much of a minutes bump as some of the other high-priced players, but he’s capable of putting up 50-plus fantasy points even with minutes in the mid-30s.
Anthony Davis played 41.8 minutes per game in regulation in his only playoff series back in the 2014-15 season, though that was under former head coach Monty Williams, not Alvin Gentry. If Gentry takes after his predecessor and extends Brow above 40 minutes and Brow gets close to the 1.66 FanDuel points per minute he scored against Portland in two games this season, he could push for 70. That said, both of those games came with Brow at home, and he’s mostly been a fade on the road this season:
If you’re going to pay up for Brow, it’s a better move on DraftKings where his Bargain Rating is 99%.
Nikola Mirotic has been going nuts lately, averaging 25.8 points and 12.0 rebounds over his past five games. If he continues to put up that kind of production he’d be a steal even on FanDuel at $7,700, which equates to an implied total of 34.57 points that’s way below the 45-plus-point games Mirotic has been putting up. If you want a contrarian angle, though, consider that he’s shot 49-of-87 (56.3%) over that span — that howls “regression!” for a 41.9% career shooter.
At $7,000 on FanDuel, Draymond Green is $400 cheaper than he is on DraftKings. He has averaged 1.20 FanDuel points per minute against the Spurs this season and 34.9 minutes per game in last year’s playoffs, so a 40-point fantasy game is not out of the question even though he’s had just one in his last six.
Al-Farooq Aminu is the best defender Portland can throw at Davis and Mirotic, so head coach Terry Stotts is probably going to give Aminu as many minutes as he can handle. In his last two games against the Pelicans, Aminu played 35 minutes in each, racking up an impressive 77.25 DraftKIngs points, or 38.6 per game. At a cost below $5,000 on DraftKings (and FanDuel), Aminu has a shot to be one of the best dollar-for-dollar plays on the slate.
Dario Saric is a nice bargain on FanDuel at only $5,700. Saric is projected to play more than 30 minutes and has averaged 1.02 fantasy points per game against Miami this season.
Serge Ibaka is $5,100 on DraftKings and has a 95% Bargain Rating, but he’s struggled against Washington this season. He’s averaged just 0.74 fantasy points per minute against the Wizards, which is way below his 0.91 season average. On the other side, Markieff Morris is also down in Ibaka’s price range, but he too is below his season average fantasy points per minute (0.88) against his opponent (0.81).
Jusuf Nurkic grabbed only 6.5 rebounds per game against New Orleans in the regular season. It’s a small sample of only 38 team possessions, but Nurkic also attempted more than 40% fewer shots per team possession with Brow guarding him. There’s legitimate risk that Portland may be forced to go small at times, which would rob Nurkic of the usual minutes boost most players get in the playoffs. That said, no center is projected for more minutes than Nurkic, and he was just fine against the Pelicans in these teams’ last meeting on March 27, dropping in 21 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots. Nurkic is a far better play at $6,600 on DraftKings than at $8,000 on FanDuel, as the price tag on the latter makes his floor more of an issue.
Hassan Whiteside is only playing 25.3 minutes per game this season and hasn’t played 30 or more since late February. Joel Embiid (eye) is unlikely to play, but Amir Johnson played better D on Whiteside than Embiid this season, holding him to a 45.5% shooting percentage and attempts per possession 33% below his season average. Whiteside did score 40 or more FanDuel points three times with a high of 57.8 over that 12-game span. He’s also trending up against Philly:
Ultimately, Whiteside is a boom-or-bust play that makes a lot more sense in tournaments on FanDuel, where he’s $7,000 — $200 cheaper than he is on DraftKings despite its lower cap.
Marcin Gortat is one of only four center-eligible players on FanDuel projected for minutes in the mid-20s on Saturday. Gortat has had success against Toronto this season, averaging a +6.86 Plus/Minus and 75% Consistency. He has not looked good for most of this season, but has finally begun to show a little life with a +3.86 Plus/Minus and 86% Consistency over his past 10 games. He might come off the floor when the Raptors go small but will likely be out there when Jonas Valanciunas is and is a solid value option with some upside if he gets more minutes than anticipated.
Marcin Gortat has definitely won the battle between Valanciunas and him so far this season. In four games against Washington, Valanciunas averaged a -6.44 Plus/Minus and 25% Consistency on DraftKings. Our Matchups tool shows that Valanciunas faces a defender in Gortat who holds opponents to lower efficiency numbers than Valanciunas is accustomed to producing:
One thing working in Valanciunas’ favor is that he’s played better at home (+3.3 average Plus/Minus, 59% Consistency) than on the road (+2.1, 47%) this season. He also has a 93% Bargain Rating on DraftKings.
Pictured above: Anthony Davis
Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle — USA TODAY Sports