Friday night brings us a pair of Game 6s in the NBA as the Heat and Lakers try to close out the Knicks and Warriors, respectively, to move on to the Conference Finals. Miami and Los Angeles are at home looking to move on while the Knicks and Warriors will be trying to force a Game 7 back on their home floor like the Celtics were able to do on Thursday.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs tools and metrics.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly.
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NBA DFS Point Guard Picks
On Wednesday night, Jalen Brunson came up huge for the Knicks, playing all 48 minutes for coach Tom Thibodeau, who always plays his starters heavy minutes. Brunson finished with 38 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists for 61.25 DraftKings points and 58.3 FanDuel points.
Brunson comes at a discount of $1,200 on DraftKings and $900 on FanDuel compared to Stephen Curry (discussed below). Curry’s ceiling projection is slightly higher based on his outstanding pedigree, but Brunson has actually been much better relative to his salary during the playoffs. Brunson exceeded salary-based expectations in seven of his past nine games, including posting a Plus/Minus of +16 FanDuel points and +14 DraftKings points or higher in each of his two most recent games.
In his 10 postseason games, Brunson has averaged 45.1 DraftKings points and 44.3 FanDuel points per game at the rate of 1.14 DraftKings points and 1.11 FanDuel points per minute. He has a team-high 28.7% usage rate in the postseason and is projected for a similar 29% usage rate in 42.1 minutes.
Whether the Knicks can extend the series or not, I expect a hard-fought competitive game in Miami, and Brunson has been consistently outperforming expectations all postseason. I’ll take the discount and go with him as my stud PG on this slate since I plan on spending that salary at other spots.
With shorter rotations in the playoffs, there aren’t quite as many depth options who are regularly involved. The player who has proven to have good upside with the potential to go off is Austin Reaves, who is point guard/shooting guard eligible on DraftKings and shooting guard/small forward eligible on FanDuel.
Reaves has played 34 and 35 minutes in the last two games for the Lakers, with at least 15 points in each of those contests. He has scored double-digit points in all but one of the Lakers playoff games averaging 14.5 points, 29.1 DraftKings points 28.2 FanDuel points per game. He has played the third-most minutes per game of any member of the Lakers, behind only LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Reaves brings a high ceiling if his shot gets rolling and has proven he loves to be heavily involved in big games like this one.
He usually provides good non-scoring stats as well, making him a relatively low risk of having a total dud.
The obvious stud option is Stephen Curry, who had a gigantic game in Game 4 with 31 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds for a triple-double that netted him 75.5 DraftKings points and 71 FanDuel points. He didn’t have nearly as strong of a statistical performance in Game 5 but still had 27 points and eight assists as the Warriors won to extend the series to tonight’s contest.
In the playoffs, Chef Curry has cooked up 49.9 DraftKings points and 46.8 FanDuel points per game at the rate of 1.32 DraftKings points and 1.24 FanDuel points per minute. His salary has spiked $1,000 on DraftKings for this contest, though, and he has only exceeded salary-based expectations in three of his 12 games this postseason. He obviously has a very high ceiling, but his salary compared to the other plays in other positions means I’ll be fading him at my own risk on Friday night.
The top Projected Plus/Minus at point guard on both DraftKings and FanDuel belongs to D’Angelo Russell, but Russell has been struggling with only four points on a woeful 1-of-10 shooting in Game 4 and 15 points in Game 5. He does have the potential for a bounce-back game, but he doesn’t provide the non-scoring production of Reaves and has played fewer minutes than Reaves in four of the five games in this series.
Gabe Vincent always has a high ceiling since his points come in bunches, but they haven’t really been coming at all lately. After scoring 20 and 21 points in the first two games of the series, he has only managed a total of 14 points in three games since.
He has shot just 5-of-25 (25%) from the field in those games, and his minutes have trended down as well.
Be sure to check out who our PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy simulations like for tonight’s slate:
NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks
At shooting guard, Klay Thompson has the highest ceiling projection and the highest Projected Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Thompson’s Projected Plus/Minus is actually the highest of any player on the slate on FanDuel, where his price has dipped to just $6K.
Thompson’s minutes have been trending up as the Warriors get more desperate, but he hasn’t had a signature performance. He feels a little overdue for one since he has been such a proven postseason performer in the past. He only scored nine and 10 points in the two most recent games in this series but did have 30 points in the Warriors’ Game 2 win. Since then, the OG splash brother has only totaled 34 points on 11-of-37 (30%) shooting across his last three contests while going a scary 8-of-24 (33%) from long range.
If the Warriors are going to extend the series, they’ll need a vintage “Game 6 Klay” performance. At this salary, he should be able to return good value relatively easily and also brings an extremely high ceiling that makes him too good to pass up without considering.
In Game 4, Lonnie Walker IV emerged from the wasteland of the Lakers bench and contributed a monster game with 15 points, 25.75 DraftKings points, and 26.6 FanDuel points while playing 27 minutes. He didn’t have the same success in Game 5, but he still logged 28 minutes and had four assists to go with his four points.
Walker seems to have played his way into a bigger role in the rotation and can contribute across the board in multiple categories when he’s on his game. He is under $4K on DraftKings, where he has an 88% Bargain Rating, and he can fit into many roster constructions on both DraftKings and FanDuel since he’s eligible at shooting guard and small forward on both sites.
Quentin Grimes played all 48 minutes of the Knicks’ win on Wednesday as well, but he scored all his points early, going 0-for-4 from the field after the first minutes of the second quarter. He still exceeded salary-based expectations and is another great value play if Immanuel Quickley (ankle, doubtful) is ruled out for a second straight game.
RJ Barrett is much more involved than Grimes on the offensive end, but he’s also much more expensive. He has been able to exceed salary-based expectations in seven of his past nine games and is a solid option to consider if you can make his salary work. He doesn’t have quite the ceiling of Game 6 Klay, though.
In Game 5, Duncan Robinson suddenly reappeared for the Heat with 17 points, but that seems more of an outlier than something we should count on moving forward. Max Strus is more likely to be involved and can also catch fire and pour in points.
For the Warriors, if Klay struggles again, Jordan Poole could be one potential answer. He has been having issues of his own, though, and has only scored a total of 22 points over his past four games.
NBA DFS Small Forward Picks
Two of the biggest stars in action on Friday are eligible at the two forward spots, and both LeBron James and Jimmy Butler have proven they can put up massive numbers in the postseason. Butler has the higher median, floor and ceiling projections on FanDuel, while James has better numbers in each of those categories on DraftKings. FanDuel rewards the defensive contributions that Butler usually brings while DraftKings gives out bonuses for double-doubles and triple-doubles while boosting three-point production a bit more, which is why things lean toward James a little bit on DK.
Both forwards have been fabulous, but if I had to pick between the two, I’d lean slightly toward Butler on this slate. He has been sensational in the playoffs, averaging 53.0 DraftKings points and 53.2 FanDuel points per game at the rate of 1.35 DraftKings points and 1.36 FanDuel points per minute. He seems to be fully over his sprained ankle that caused him to miss Game 2 and played 42 and 43 minutes in the two most recent games with 58 and 52.75 DraftKings points in those two contests.
He and the Heat will look to finish the Knicks at home, and Playoff Jimmy will look to extend his legacy and carry his team to the Conference Finals.
With Thompson and Poole struggling, Andrew Wiggins has been critical to the Warriors’ success so far in this series, and he brings the highest projected Plus/Minus at small forward on this slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Wiggins has scored at least 11 points in all 12 of the Warriors’ postseason games and had a playoff-high 25 points on Wednesday in Game 5. He easily exceeded salary-based expectations in that contest, as he has on DraftKings in seven of his past 10 games.
He has played the third-most minutes of any player for the Warriors in the playoffs, behind only Steph and Klay, so he’s a solid pick to produce a good supporting number again as Golden State tries to force Game 7.
On FanDuel, Grimes and Reaves can slide into this spot along with RJ Barrett–all discussed above.
Caleb Martin has been getting big minutes for Miami this postseason and has scored double-digit points in three of his past four games. He’s a cheap play who should get volume even though his ceiling isn’t extremely high.
Lonnie Walker and Max Strus have higher ceilings due to their scoring upside, but their roles are less established than Martin’s, making them boom-or-bust considerations.
NBA DFS Power Forward Picks
Even though I like Butler a little better, what LeBron James has been doing this postseason is absolutely incredible. The ageless wonder has averaged 36.9 minutes per game, the highest of any player on his team, while also leading the team with a 27.2% usage rate.
The veteran is doing it all, averaging 22.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 5.0 assists for 47.3 DraftKings points and 46.1 FanDuel points per game. He is truly defying the aging process and remains the critical piece on a team one win away from the Western Conference Finals.
However, he has fallen short of salary-based expectations in each of his past seven games on DraftKings. His FanDuel salary has dipped low enough that he actually represents more value on that site, where he has slightly exceeded expectations in each of his past three games.
Like Steph, fading LeBron is an extremely risky strategy since he has such a high ceiling. He’s still my top power forward pick due to that ceiling, but Butler feels like the better play if you only go with one superstar forward.
The top Projected Plus/Minus at power forward on both DraftKings and FanDuel belongs to Draymond Green, who actually has the highest projected Plus/Minus on the whole slate on DraftKings, where he edges out his teammate Klay Thompson.
Green had 20 points and 10 boards in a huge Game 5 performance, resulting in 44 DraftKings points and 42 FanDuel points. He has rarely scored that many points, though, so it’s most likely he won’t do it in back-to-back games. He has been great on the glass all series, though, and his excellent non-scoring numbers usually make him a relatively safe value play. If he stays more aggressive on the offensive end in a “must-win” game, Green will be one of the best values on the slate.
There is risk rolling with the volatile Draymond, but there’s also undeniable upside.
For the Knicks, Julius Randle has been solid but not spectacular in this series. He has scored at least 20 points in three of the four games he has played but isn’t adding enough non-scoring numbers to justify his salary unless he totally goes off.
You could go cheap at the spot and roll with Rui Hachimura, Kevin Love, or Isaiah Hartenstein, who all get minutes and do have the potential for big nights. Hachimura has been mostly quiet since 21 points in Game 2, but still brings a good ceiling for a cheap play.
Hartenstein could get more work if the Heat decide to lean even more into fouling Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks opt to give more minutes to Hartenstein, who had a critical putback in Game 6’s crunch time.
NBA DFS Center Picks
Despite leaving with a head injury on Wednesday, Anthony Davis is probable for Friday night, with only his ever-present foot injury landing him on the injury report. Davis has dominated when he’s at full strength and was on his way to another big game with 23 points and nine rebounds before leaving in a wheelchair after 32 minutes following an elbow to the head from Kevon Looney.
Davis has produced an impressive 1.41 DraftKings points and 1.45 FanDuel points per minute in the playoffs and had out-produced salary-based expectations in six of his 11 games before Wednesday’s abbreviated outing. When he’s aggressive and scoring in bunches, the Lakers are a better team than the Warriors, and if Davis brings his A game Friday, Los Angeles has a great chance to close out the series.
While AD doesn’t do it all like Butler and LeBron or rain three’s like Steph, he does put up big points and rebounds. As a result, Davis is actually the player with the highest ceiling projection on the slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel, and it makes a lot of sense to add him as your anchor as long as he’s 100% healthy and ready to roll. I’d go with the Brow over both Butler and Bron if you’re only playing one of those stars.
Another big reason Davis is a stud to build around is that there aren’t many other options at this position. Draymond Green has the highest Projected Plus/Minus at the position, and Bam Adebayo is really the only other option that gets involved from the middle on offense.
You could go with Mitchell Robinson as well, although his offense is questionable. He finished with eight points and 11 boards on Wednesday in Game 5 for one of his best games of the series. The other reason I like Robinson as the best value big man is that he has flashed a much higher ceiling than other similarly-priced centers.
He finished the Cavs series with back-to-back double-doubles that were ceiling games for him with a high point of 48 DraftKings points and 50.1 FanDuel points in the Knicks close-out win in that round. He’s risky but brings a high ceiling.
Bam also has a high ceiling but comes at a much higher price as well. He played well in Game 4 at home with 23 points and 13 boards and is the next best thing to Davis if you have the salary to spend. He is pricey, though, especially with Butler doing so much of the work.
Hartenstein and Love are cheap punt plays that could also make sense at this spot, and Obi Toppin gave the Knicks a good jolt of energy in Game 5. Thibs leans so heavily on his starters, though, that it’s hard to trust anyone on the Knicks’ bench.