With one team having punched its ticket to the NBA Finals, the next few days will be all about the Hawks vs. Bucks series. And now these games will be chock full of mid-tier NBA DFS value given that both teams are dealing with injuries to their biggest stars. Here are the top NBA DFS picks today for the Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 on Thursday, July 1.
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Trae Young is questionable for tonight’s game after missing Atlanta’s last game. He reportedly tried to play in that game but was in too much pain and his movement was too limited, so he was unable to go. This points to him being truly questionable tonight. If he does play, there is significant risk because he could be playing at much less than 100%. Young has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute, a 35.8% usage rate and 45.5% assist rate in 37.9 minutes per game this postseason. If he is able to play, he has one of the highest ceilings on the slate — though he also is risky since he could be limited.
If Young misses the game, Lou Williams will likely start. Williams played 35 minutes in his start in the last game and left several minutes on the table since the game was not competitive at the end of the fourth quarter. In 118 total minutes alongside John Collins without Young on the floor, Williams has produced 1.16 DraftKings points per minute, a 25.8% usage rate and 28.6% assist rate. Williams is not a viable option if Young is active (outside of the largest-field tournaments if looking to make some lineups that hope Young leaves the game early), but he is one of the top options if Young is sidelined.
Khris Middleton will need to take on a bigger role for Milwaukee with Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined. Middleton averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute, a 30.2% usage rate and 25.5% assist rate in eight games played without Antetokounmpo and alongside Jrue Holiday this season. For comparison, Middleton averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute, a 24.1% usage rate and 22.8% assist rate in 50 games played with Antetokounmpo and Holiday active. Middleton played a total of 922 minutes without Antetokounmpo on the floor this season and produced 1.34 DraftKings points per minute, a 32.1% usage rate and 25.7% assist rate.
Jrue Holiday also will need to play a bigger role tonight. In the eight games that he played without Antetokounmpo and with Middleton this season, Holiday averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute, a 26.6% usage rate and 32.4% assist rate. In 50 games with Middleton and Antetokounmpo active, Holiday averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute.
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John Collins has averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute and 31.9 minutes per game in 16 games this postseason. His playing time is skewed a bit by blowouts and foul trouble, however. In the series against Milwaukee, Collins played 37 minutes in the only game that was competitive, and he wasn’t in foul trouble. Last game he was on pace for about 34 minutes had the game been close until the end. If Young and Clint Capela (also questionable) are both active, Collins projects as a reasonable mid-range option. He has averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute in 66 games with both players active. If one or both of Young and Capela sit, however, Collins is likely to be a primary beneficiary. Collins has a 24.7% usage rate without Young on the floor this season, compared to a 21.2% usage rate alongside Young. He also averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute in eight games played without Capela this season.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is another Atlanta player that projects as a viable option if Young is active and an even better option if Young is sidelined. Bogdanovic played 33.4 minutes last game and would have probably played about five more minutes had the game been competitive until the end. Bogdanovic averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute, a 22.7% usage rate and 19.6% assist rate in 639 minutes without Young on the floor this season, compared to 0.91 DraftKings points per minute, a 19.7% usage rate and 13.7% assist rate in 1,189 minutes alongside Young.
Clint Capela played 27.8 minutes last game and would have played about 31 minutes had the game come down to the wire. He played 27.5 minutes in the previous game as both teams closed with small lineups in the fourth quarter. Capela played about 25 minutes in a blowout in the second game of the series after playing 37.5 minutes in a competitive first game. The point of mentioning his playing time in each game is that his minutes are volatile. The inconsistent playing time has lowered his salary, however. He has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute in this series and 0.91 DraftKings points per minute overall this postseason. The absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo could help to stabilize Capela’s minutes as well. His absence makes it less likely that the Bucks will close without Brook Lopez since they are now missing a key piece of their normal rotation and those minutes will need to be filled by players like Pat Connaughton, who would be used in a small closing lineup in place of Lopez if Antetokounmpo were healthy.
If Capela misses tonight’s game, it is likely that Onyeka Okongwu will start in his place. Okongwu averaged 27.3 minutes per game and 1.10 DraftKings points per minute in four starts this season and would become the top value on the slate if he starts. Alternatively, the Hawks could start Collins at center and insert an extra wing into the starting lineup. If this happens, Collins becomes an even stronger option. Okongwu would still be viable at his cheap price tag, but he would come with more risk than if he starts.
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Bobby Portis started the last game that Antetokounmpo was sidelined against the Bulls on April 30. In six total starts without Antetokounmpo this season, Portis averaged 29.1 minutes per game and 1.30 DraftKings points per minute. If he starts, Portis is a top option on the slate. If he comes off the bench, he will still have tournament-winning upside, but he will be a much riskier option since there is a chance that he doesn’t soak up many of the available minutes and wings like Connaughton and Bryn Forbes play a lot more minutes instead. Portis averaged 23.1 minutes per game in the three games that he came off the bench without Antetokounmpo this season, compared to the 29.1 minutes per game that he averaged as a starter.
Pat Connaughton was the immediate substitute for Antetokounmpo when he was injured in the last game, and he is the most likely player to replace him in the starting lineup if Portis doesn’t get the start. Connaughton averaged 22 minutes per game in seven games off the bench without Antetokounmpo this season. He averaged 26.7 minutes per game in four starts with Antetokounmpo sidelined. Keep in mind, however, that Donte DiVincenzo is also out, so there are already more minutes available for Connaughton. He has averaged 25.1 minutes per game against Atlanta this postseason, and he should pick up more minutes tonight with Antetokounmpo sidelined.
Bryn Forbes has been stuck behind Connaughton in the Bucks’ rotation this series, but he is likely to get more playing time thanks to Antetokounmpo’s injury. Forbes played about eight second half minutes after Antetokounmpo’s injury last game, and it is reasonable to expect 16-plus minutes tonight. Forbes has averaged 0.73 DraftKings points per minute and 15.2 minutes per game overall this postseason. In the series against Atlanta he has averaged only 11.6 minutes per game, however, so he should play several more minutes tonight than his salary suggests he should. It is probably a good idea to set rules in tournaments so that only one of Forbes or Connaughton show up in lineups since they are relatively likely to steal minutes from each other based on whoever is playing better. Alternatively, one could use a rule to only roster a maximum two of Connaughton, Forbes and Portis.
[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”nba” date=”07/1/2021″ team=”bucks”]
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