The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel are offering $100,000 first-place prizes in their largest one-game guaranteed prize pools for Wednesday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.
If you’re not familiar, DraftKings’ one-game contests feature six-man rosters, a $50,000 cap, and no scoring multipliers, while FanDuel’s feature five-man rosters with multipliers for whichever player you designate as the MVP (2x), Star (1.5x), and Pro (1.2x). FanDuel’s multipliers introduce more lineup combinations and should help to limit some of the all-too-common ties that occur in these contests, while DraftKings’ lack of multipliers increases the likelihood of ties and therefore provides extra incentive to go contrarian in other ways, such as by taking a player projected for low ownership or by leaving salary on the table.
Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets (-2) | O/U: 224.5
9 p.m. ET | TNT
Rockets (113.25 implied points)
The Rockets were a disappointment in Game 1 and now find themselves with their backs against the wall. They can’t afford to fall behind 0-2 with this series heading back to Golden State, which essentially makes this a must-win game.
No one can blame James Harden for the Rockets’ loss in Game 1. Harden scored 41 points and shot an efficient 58.3% from the field and 55.6% from 3-point range. The Rockets did everything possible to get him switched on to Stephen Curry on offense, and Harden was able to absolutely torch Curry, exceeding his per-100-possession scoring average by 19.5 points. Houston would be wise to employ a similar strategy tonight, and Harden has the potential for an even bigger game if he can get some help from his teammates. He handed out just seven assists, which represents a decrease of almost two assists from his regular-season average. Harden is the most logical choice for the MVP slot on FanDuel.
The big question is whether you can pair Harden with one of Kevin Durant or Curry. It’s definitely possible to do so on DraftKings, where there are a bunch of options priced at $4,000 or lower that project to see the court. It’s a little tougher on FanDuel, but it’s still something worth considering given the multipliers; if you have a player who goes off and is getting scored at 2x or 1.5x value, it’s going to be tough for others to keep pace even if you have a few low scorers in your lineup. Stars-and-scrubs seems like the way to go.
Chris Paul somewhat quietly provided a double-double in Game 1, scoring 23 points while ripping down 11 rebounds. Paul has the best individual matchup on the team, owning an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.65 on DraftKings. He’s at an interesting price point today — only $2,000 cheaper than Durant on FanDuel and $900 cheaper on DraftKings — which could cause him to be under-owned.
Eric Gordon is a prime buy-low option after a subpar Game 1. He continues to struggle from the field, shooting just 35.5% over his past three games, and he compounded the problem by adding four turnovers in Game 1, but he did play 34 minutes and will likely continue to see a heavy workload moving forward. Gordon has averaged 0.80 FanDuel points per minute on the season, which could make him a nice value at his current salary across the industry.
On paper, Clint Capela seems like he may be the odd man out in this series. The Warriors aren’t playing a traditional center, and Capela doesn’t provide any sort of floor spacing. That said, Capela posted the second-highest Net Rating on the team in Game 1 and has shown the unique ability for a big to defend quicker players on the perimeter. He should remain a big part of the Rockets’ rotation and seems like a good bet to improve upon his five rebounds from Game 1.
Trevor Ariza is another potential buy-low option after struggling with foul trouble in Game 1. Those struggles resulted in Ariza playing just 23.5 minutes, a mark that should be significantly higher going forward. He doesn’t have a ton of upside playing alongside two high-usage players in Harden and Paul, but he usually gets a bunch of open 3-point opportunities.
The Rockets round out their rotation with PJ Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Gerald Green. Tucker and Mbah a Moute are the safer bets for minutes, but both are severely offensively challenged at this point in their careers. That could make Green the most interesting option; if he can siphon a few minutes away from one of them, he has the upside to be a nice value at his current price tag.
Warriors (111.25 implied points)
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr made a slight change to his rotation for this series, choosing to scrap both traditional centers in JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia from the lineup in Game 1. Golden State scored 119 points in that game, and every single player who did see the court managed to post a positive Net Rating, so we can probably expect to see more of the same in Game 2.
Stephen Curry struggled a bit with his jump shot in Game 1, shooting just 1-of-5 from 3-point range. However, he still managed to post a Plus/Minus of +0.95 on FanDuel and will likely see some positive regression in his shooting numbers going forward, which makes him an intriguing target on Wednesday’s slate. Curry is priced similarly to both Harden and Durant, and should command lower ownership than either of them. Curry has a somewhat difficult individual matchup on paper against Paul, who ranked as the ninth-best point guard in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus during the regular season, but Curry actually saw more time against both Ariza and Harden in Game 1 and was able to exceed his per-100 scoring average against both players, so his matchup might not be as difficult as it appears.
Kevin Durant dominated offensively in Game 1, scoring 37 points on 14-of-27 shooting. Durant’s overall fantasy production was hurt by a lack of peripheral statistics, but it’s clear that the Rockets have no answer for him in terms of scoring the basketball. Tucker drew the assignment as Durant’s primary defender, and Durant torched him for 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Durant has the second-highest ceiling projection in our NBA Models (trailing only Harden) and will undoubtedly be a popular target.
Klay Thompson isn’t quite as expensive as his superstar teammates but was the best fantasy value among them in Game 1. Thompson attempted ridiculous 15 field goals from 3-point range in that game, making six en route to 42.5 DraftKings points. He’s one of the few Warriors who has found consistent fantasy success against the Rockets this season, posting an average Plus/Minus of +1.72 over four games.
Draymond Green put on a clinic in Game 1 on how to dominate a basketball game without scoring. Green was everywhere on the defensive end, challenging shots at the rim, closing out on shooters at the 3-point line, and pulling down defensive rebounds. He also handed out nine assists. Unfortunately, his all-around performance didn’t translate into fantasy success as he managed just 36.25 DraftKings points. That said, there is reason for optimism: Even including his clunker from Game 1, Green has torched the Rockets over the past two seasons, averaging 43.97 DraftKings points, a +7.89 Plus/Minus, and 75% Consistency, per our NBA Trends tool.
Andre Iguodala should remain in the starting lineup and is priced at an interesting point. Iguodala’s $6,500 salary is significantly cheaper than some of the high-priced studs on both teams, but it’s also significantly more expensive than some other role players. He has upside, but it might be tough to fit him into your lineups if you’re looking to roster two of the more expensive options on the slate.
Two players who could fit as punts for the Warriors are Nick Young and Kevon Looney. Young barely played towards the end of the Pelicans series, but he figures to be one of the main beneficiaries of the Warriors going small against the Rockets. He played 15 minutes and made 3-pointers in Game 1 and is priced at just $1,800 on DraftKings. Looney saw 24.5 minutes in Game 1 and has the ability to be a well-rounded contributor.
Pictured above(left to right): Trevor Ariza, Chris Paul, James Harden
Photo credit: Erik Williams – USA TODAY Sports