The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Tuesday features a two-game slate starting at 8 p.m ET.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors (-6.5) | O/U: 218
Raptors (110.5 implied points)
Kyle Lowry was remarkably consistent over the last five games of Round 1, scoring between 40 and 43 DraftKings points in each game. Lowry leads all point guards on the slate in floor projection, which uses as its basis a PECOTA-style sim score model to analyze how the 30 most comparable players have performed in the past. DeMar DeRozan, on the other hand, posted wildly inconsistent production in the first round, with DraftKings point totals ranging from 24.5 to 52.0. In two post-All-Star break meetings with the current iteration of the Cavs, DeRozan put up 31.75 and 34.75 DraftKings points. As you might expect, our floor/ceiling model projects DeRozan for a lower floor but higher ceiling than Lowry.
Jonas Valanciunas‘ stat lines against the Cavs this season: 15 points and 18 rebounds on Jan. 11th, 15 and 8 on Mar. 21st, and 17 and 10 on April 3rd. He topped 30 DraftKings points in each of those games, and like most centers, the 7-foot Lithuanian has been a better bet at home than on the road this season:
Toronto’s other starting big, Serge Ibaka, virtually disappeared from the box score over the last four games of Round 1 against Washington, averaging 5.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 27.0 minutes per game. That kind of floor is the risk you run into when rostering Ibaka, but his $5,000 DraftKings salary is on the low end for him, and our NBA Trends tool shows he’s been a solid buy-low proposition at similar price points:
At salaries of $5,400 and up, Ibaka drops to a -1.76 average Plus/Minus and 47.1% Consistency.
You can usually find value somewhere on Toronto’s stellar bench unit of Fred VanVleet–Delon Wright–C.J. Miles–Pascal Siakam–Jakob Poeltl, which finished that regular season with a monstrous +17.1 Net Rating, and our NBA Models rate VanVleet the highest among them. He averaged 15.7 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.7 steals in 25.3 minutes per game in three games against Cleveland this season, which equates to 1.25 DraftKings points per minute. At just $3,700 on DraftKings, he has a good deal of upside, especially if his minutes get back up into the 20s after he played 18:46 last game in his return from a shoulder injury. Wright has the highest projected floor among the rest of the bench unit.
Starting wing OG Anunoby was Toronto’s primary defender on LeBron James during the regular season, but that didn’t translate into fantasy value: In 63 minutes, Anunoby scored only 25.5 DraftKings points.
Cavaliers (104 implied points)
LeBron James averaged an absurd 64.0 DraftKings points per game in Round 1. He has the highest projected floor and ceiling on the slate, but a few data points suggest he’ll have to work harder than usual to reach that ceiling in Game 1. He is averaging a +0.62 Plus/Minus and 55% Consistency on the road (down from +3.92 and 68% at home) and is the only player on the slate with a negative Opponent Plus/Minus. In three meetings with Toronto during the regular season, LeBron averaged 52.8 DraftKings points in 36.3 minutes per game, or 1.45 per minute, which is slightly below his average of 1.58 over the past month and 1.54 over the past calendar year.
LeBron is going to need help from Kevin Love, who managed just 26.3 DraftKings points per game in the Pacers series. The good news is that Love topped 40 DraftKings points in both post-All-Star break meetings with Toronto and his $6,400 salary is the lowest it’s been since March 21. The bad news is his usage rate has decreased from the regular season to the playoffs for three straight seasons now, and he’s made only 27 of his 81 field goal attempts (33.3%) since the playoffs began.
Among the rest of the Cavs rotation, J.R. Smith is the only player who can lay claim to consistent minutes in the first round. Smith played 27 or more minutes in every game and averaged 32.8 for the series. He’s a low-upside play who averages 0.53 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, but he represents the cheapest way on the slate to lock in 30-plus minutes. George Hill has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points over the past month, but head coach Tyronn Lue stated that Hill will be on a minutes restriction, which caps his upside. Kyle Korver settled in between 22-25 minutes in the last two games of Round 1, but could play more if Lue goes back to smaller lineups. The same is true of Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood, who played a series-low 11 and 7 minutes, respectively, in Game 7.
If we knew for a fact Lue would stick with Tristan Thompson for close to 35 minutes like he did last game, Thompson would be a smash play even after his salary went from $3,000 to $4,600. If Thompson ends up more in line with his 23.7 minutes per game as a starter or 17.8 as a reserve during the regular season, the price hike overrides the value. Behind Thompson, Jeff Green played over 20 minutes in each of the last four games of Round 1 while Larry Nance played fewer than 20 in each of the last four.
New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors (-10.5) | O/U: 227
Warriors (118.75 implied points)
Stephen Curry is finally expected to make his return from a five-week absence due to an MCL sprain. Per our NBA On/Off tool, Curry being on the floor affects the production of Kevin Durant the most. With Curry off the floor, Durant averages 1.45 DraftKings points per minute, but that figure drops to 1.27 with Curry on the court. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson actually see slight upticks with Curry on the floor. JaVale McGee sees a more substantial increase with Curry on the floor, but McGee played only six minutes in Game 1.
Green is coming off a 16-point, 15-rebound, 11-assist triple-double in Game 1, and he’s the highest-rated player on the team in our models. In five meetings with the Pelicans this season, Green has posted games of 64.75 and 53.25 DraftKings points, with a low of 30.75.
Durant has scored between 44.0 and 57.25 DraftKings points in every playoff game, and him hitting the lower range of those outcomes is still a reasonable expectation with Curry back. He’s a high-floor play whose ceiling could take a slight hit, and he’s an interesting tournament play on DraftKings at $2,200 less than LeBron and $1,000 less than Anthony Davis.
In the Warriors-Pelicans series preview over on The Action Network, I talked about how Jrue Holiday‘s defense hadn’t been as much of a factor against the Warriors backcourt in the regular season as it was against Damian Lillard in the first round, and that continued in Game 1 with Thompson scoring 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting. Holiday spent only 17 possessions on Thompson, and that isn’t likely to increase with Curry back. Thompson has topped 40 DraftKings points in three of five meetings with New Orleans this season and remains a solid mid-range play with upside.
Due to uncertainty about Curry’s playing time in his first game back, his DraftKings salary of $8,500 is the lowest it’s been since Jan. 4. He told ESPN Saturday that he would have played 20 minutes in Game 1 if it were up to him, and coach Steve Kerr spoke of trying to find the balance between being cautious and “letting him go a little bit.” The uncertainty and availability of cheaper point guards will likely drive down Curry’s ownership, making him perfect as a tournament play.
Kevon Looney has played 20-plus minutes in five of six playoff games, and he’s likely to remain in the rotation for his solid work on Davis, who shot only 2-of-9 in 37 possessions while defended by Looney in Game 1. At just $3,300 on DraftKings, Looney has a positive Projected Plus/Minus and is one of the top value options on the slate.
Andre Iguodala is averaging 0.81 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, but he put up only 0.68 per minute when Curry was on the floor with him during the regular season. David West and Shaun Livingston aren’t likely to top 20 minutes, making them nothing more than low-cost contrarian options for tournaments at $3,500 and $3,100, respectively.
Pelicans (108.25 implied points)
Anthony Davis still put up a double-double in Game 1 with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but it was the first time this season he’s been held below 30 points and 12 rebounds against Golden State. His ceiling remains intact, but his floor is lowered by Golden State’s defensive prowess and from being on the road, where he’s seen a big drop-off in fantasy value this season:
Like LeBron, Davis isn’t as much of a lock as usual on Tuesday, but he does lead the entire slate with 14 Pro Trends on DraftKings — one more than LeBron.
A recent BBALLBREAKDOWN video showed how the Warriors defense is far superior to what the Pelicans saw from the Trail Blazers in Round 1, making the case that guards Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo would struggle to shoot in this round because the Warriors wouldn’t be at a disadvantage when switching the pick-and-roll, and also because they possess the ability to rotate quickly and cut off middle penetration. That mostly played out in Game 1, as Holiday shot 4-of-14 from the field and Rondo shot 4-of-10. Holiday ended up with Durant on him for 37 possessions, and he got only 1-of-9 shots he took on Durant to fall. Holiday and Rondo both rank in the top five in frequency of plays run as a pick-and-roll ball-handler in the playoffs (min. 10 possessions), but they’ve run into a long, athletic defense that ranked second in the league during the regular season in field goal percentage allowed to pick-and-roll ball-handlers (38.7%). Both guys still have high ceilings, especially in a high-total game, but expectations have to be tempered compared to Round 1. Rondo is the safer bet of the two because his fantasy production is less reliant on scoring than Holiday’s.
Nikola Mirotic had a quiet Game 1, failing to hit double figures in scoring for the first time since April 1. As with all the Pelicans, the going will get tougher offensively for Mirotic in this series compared to the Trail Blazers series, and we’re probably in the midst of his double-digit average Plus/Minus from April coming back down to earth. However, he’s still grabbed at least eight rebounds in seven straight games and put up games of 44.5 and 50.5 DraftKings points against Golden State during the regular season, giving him nice tournament upside at $6,900 on DraftKings.
The Warriors were content to let E’Twaun Moore beat them on the wing instead of Holiday in Game 1, allowing Moore to post an uncharacteristically high 23.2% usage rate while Holiday’s was down at 20.2%. That’s likely to continue to be the aim for Golden State going forward, giving Moore some punt-play appeal at his DraftKings salary of $4,400, though he won’t always be able to shoot as well as his 7-of-11 effort in Game 1.
Pictured above: Stephen Curry and Rajon Rondo
Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle – USA TODAY Sports