There was just one NBA game to work with on Monday night, so it was the one-game contests at FanDuel or bust. That gave me a break from daily fantasy basketball analysis, but I’m back on Tuesday to help you piece together a winning tourney lineup.
This is not going to be an easy schedule to project, as the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Toronto Raptors and are +6.5 road underdogs. I tend to think this game will stay close, though, seeing as the Cavs have been great against the spread as road underdogs all year.
The other game has the New Orleans Pelicans going back to the Oracle Arena after getting housed in game one. They come in as huge +11.5 underdogs at Bovada and aren’t expected to keep it close with Stephen Curry possibly returning to the court.
While that game could lead to another blowout, it does offer the best NBA DFS environment with some of the top daily fantasy performers and a gaudy 227 Total. Still, this is a tiny slate and I think it makes sense to pick your spots in both games. Here’s my favorite studs and value picks for tonight:
PG: Stephen Curry – Golden State Warrior ($9k)
The NBA just doesn’t feel the same without Curry launching threes from crazy locations on the court. He is expected to be cleared for his return tonight and if so, he shouldn’t face any minutes cap. Assuming he’s at full strength, he is an elite value at this price.
There isn’t a ton to get excited about at the lead guard spot on this small slate, so I love the idea of a potentially under-owned Curry coming back and making up for lost time.
People will want to pay up for LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis on this slate, plus many will be taking a wait-and-see approach given Curry’s long layoff due to a knee injury. This is a GPP team, though, so I’m going to take the exact opposite strategy.
Not only will I go all-in here with Curry, but due to elite value elsewhere, I have no qualms fading both King James and The Brow. Maybe that’s a mistake, but I love the team I can get by doing that and if Curry is the old Curry and low-owned, he helps make up for it.
PG: Rajon Rondo – New Orleans Pelicans ($7.4k)
Rondo’s price feels inflated and he’s on the road against the Dubs. Kyle Lowry and Curry are both on this slate, too, so he’s another guy who perhaps could go under-owned. I’ll take my chances on his hiked price tag, seeing as he’s been pretty great in the playoffs this year.
Playoff Rondo is a thing, as Rajon has topped 35+ fantasy points in every playoff game this year. Curry isn’t a good defender and this game is going to be super fast, too, so I think he’s a lock for 35-40 fantasy points based just on peripherals. If his shot actually falls in this one, he could get you a 50-burger.
SG: Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans ($8.4k)
I don’t hate some of the value plays at SG. Klay Thompson has a good matchup and is a reasonable price, while cheap guys like Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith could both easily work out.
I am just going to pay up at both spots, though, seeing as Holiday and DMR are the best options available and at least one of them is bound to go low-owned with so many other studs on this tiny slate.
Holiday was not good in game one, but he’s too talented to be awful again in game two. He shredded the Blazers in round one and put up 38 fantasy points per game against Golden State on the year. I think he bounces back with a big game and I’m going to want him on my roster. I think a 50-burger is coming.
SG: DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors ($8.5k)
Again, I do like the value at shooting guard, but my daily fantasy basketball strategy is to fade the top two studs and just load up with as many strong plays as I can get my hands on. If LeBron James and The Brow both drop 70+ fantasy points, that’ll hurt, but if they don’t, I could be making a genius move.
DMR is part of that, as he’s at home in a huge game one clash with a shaky Cleveland defense. He’s the play between him and Kyle Lowry, as they’re the same price and he tends to offer more upside as a scorer.
DeRozan also performed slightly better again the Cavs during the regular season (32 fantasy points per game) and I think I like the combination of DMR/Rondo better than Lowry/Klay/Korver/Smith.
SF: Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors ($10.5k)
LeBron James is going to be at least 50% owned on this small slate, if not much more. I personally think he crushes and the Cavs keep game one close, but King James having a great game doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a must for my NBA DFS lineup.
The main reason being KD, who offers insane value as a pivot at almost $3k less in price.
Durant may not have the same upside if Curry is back, but he’s still got a floor of about 40 fantasy points can can get you 50-60 with a huge game either way. If he can just finish 10-15 fantasy points within LeBron, this should be a smart pivot. If he tops him, it could be a move the sends me up the ladder to a big payday.
SF: OG Anunoby – Toronto Raptors ($2.5k)
OG is a very solid two-way player and is going to get 20+ minutes per game in this series no matter what. I think the Raptors keep him on the floor much more than that to help slow down LeBron James. Whether or not he’s successful in doing so, he is just super cheap and obviously can get hot if he’s on the floor.
C.J. Miles has a little more upside, but he’s a full $1k more and is getting about the same run. If OG can push for 30 minutes he is a guy I can’t bypass on this slate.
PF: Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers ($6.3k)
I don’t know what has been up with Love, but he is way too cheap given his usual floor and upside. Love can get hot from outside and rack up rebounds regardless of his matchup and he put up 33 fantasy points per game on the year. If he can come close to sniffing that at this price, he’s worth using.
He’s over $2k cheaper than Draymond Green and over $1k cheaper than Nikola Mirotic. The Raptors aren’t an easy matchup, but Love was actually good against them (38 fantasy points per contest) across three meetings during the regular season. I know he’s been bad, but the price is too low and he’s bound to erupt eventually. If his play in the first round cuts down his ownership, all the better.
PF: Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors ($4.7k)
I get the feeling many will flock to Draymond Green after he dropped 62 fantasy points and a triple-double in game one. I won’t, as his price is now sky high and his playmaking and shooting may come down with Curry probable to suit up tonight.
Curry’s return could hurt Green, so his upside isn’t the same and his price ends up simply being way too high. I also won’t be paying for Mirotic, who just does not have an ideal matchup in front of him.
I like the value with Love and it could be even better with Ibaka, who should be needed to help slow Love down.
Toronto may need size out there if the Cavs start both Love and Tristan Thompson together, too, like they did in game seven. Ibaka can rack up blocked shots, rebounds and outside jumpers. If he’s cooking early, he could easily top 30+ fantasy points and return strong value.
C: Tristan Thompson – Cleveland Cavaliers ($2k)
I’ll be a little shocked if Anthony Davis doesn’t garner the most ownership of all the centers on FanDuel. He would normally feel like a must, but he wasn’t as good as he needed to be in game one and there’s no guarantee he lives up to his high price tag in game two, either.
Jonas Valanciunas is in play against the Cavs, but if Cleveland is smart, they’ll start TT again and hand him 30+ minutes. He can clog the lane up, but he helps on the glass, offers some interior defense and can get easy buckets. He may be needed to help slow JV down and if he’s playing well, he could hand back insane value at this super low price tag.
I’m not expecting that much here, but he came up big in game seven against the Pacers (31 fantasy points) and anything close to that would make this roll of the dice worth it.
The risk is real on this slate. Fading King James and The Brow feels like a bold move, but I think it gives way to a better overall roster. If you’re not down with that, just take note of the value plays I touched on and trust your gut the rest of the way.
No matter what you do, good luck in your FanDuel NBA DFS contests tonight!