Now that’s a fun stat in the headline before we even get to the NBA DFS ramifications of tonight’s Game 4 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, but it is one that could result in a crippling reality for Toronto fans and Raptor aficionados (for the record the lone back-to-back losses for Milwaukee were on March 2nd and 4th on a West Coast swing through Utah and… Phoenix). Toronto is a three-point underdog and needs to win tonight to avoid returning to Milwaukee at a near insurmountable 3-1 deficit but after a double OT Game 3 where they left it all on the court, it may be a tough one for them and an even tougher one for us to unpack from an NBA DFS perspective tonight on DraftKings and FanDuel.
But first: I think our last two NBA DFS Showdown slates were informative in different ways so I want to touch on them up top as a way to discuss lineup construction for these types of tournaments. In terms of actual score for our last MIL-TOR Showdown, the one that took down most of the tournaments on DraftKings was one with Pascal Siakam at Captain but the best possible one would have been one with Gasol at Captain and the same grouping as the Siakam lineup. Because that lineup would have left $2,400 on the table many people may not have landed on it:
But on yesterday’s NBA DFS Showdown slate, despite one guy exceedingly outperforming projections from a value and a ceiling perspective in Meyers Leonard, it was still the high scoring Steph Curry who needed to be your captain to finish in first.
If Steph Curry underperformed or was just decent, as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard were in their Game 3 NBA DFS slate, it would have been possible that a Meyers Leonard captain lineup would’ve been the move at lower ownership. But because Steph still put up 25 more fantasy points than Meyers, he remained the right move at Captain because the difference between the two wasn’t close enough to justify the lineup construction of moving Steph out of Captain and subtracting the 34 point differential between Captain Meyers and Captain Steph.
I’m not sure there’s an exact number I’d look for when building lineups to account for that but my end takeaway is the penchant a lot of us may have to get cute at Captain and throw a guy like Alfonso McKinnie or even someone who’s shown a tangible ceiling like George Hill in that slot has a logic to it. But more often than not if you have a guy like Giannis who can put up 80 FP, you’re going to need him at Captain more than you’ll need to cram in a bunch of guys who can get decent value returns in your lineup. And that could be the difference between a profitable 20 entries or ones that immediately light 25-50% of them on fire from the jump.
But now onto tonight’s Game 4 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors, one where the Bucks are favored by three on the road after Toronto eked out that aforementioned double OT win in Game 3. So let’s get to what I see so far for tonight’s matchup in the latest Double P, the Awesemo.com NBA DFS Playoff Primer.
Milwaukee Bucks (110.3 implied points, -7.8 on season average) at Toronto Raptors (107.3 implied points, -7.2 on season average)
–Giannis Antetokounmpo shot an uncharacteristic 5-for-16 in Game 3 given his usual 58% FG rate on the year. His 58.75 FP were a season low despite the double OT and 23 rebounds while the eight turnovers he had matched a season high for him in that category. In summary: This is a Giannis bounceback spot, one in which I think he’ll understand the importance of going up 3-1 when the Warriors on the other side will now get nine days of rest before the Finals. Giannis saw 41 possessions defended by Kawhi Leonard after he’s primarily defended Khris Middleton this series so that is some cause for concern. But I believe the leg injury to Kawhi and the ebbs and flows of things make it likely Giannis figures it out. Giannis is my preferred Captain tonight and I’ll have him in just about every lineup in a Captain or regular slot.
–Khris Middleton stands to benefit some if Giannis sees more Kawhi defense today so I don’t mind including him in lineups. Middleton shot 3-for-4 vs. Danny Green though he did struggle vs. Pascal Siakam to the tune of 0-for-6 so whom he has on him is a key on how he may or may not succeed.
–Eric Bledsoe remained a disaster with 3-for-16 shooting in Game 3 but the attempts still make him worth having some exposure. His 27.5 FP performance was a high for the series and even though George Hill completely outplayed him yet again, Bledsoe will get opportunities.
–Malcom Brogdon’s price still feels way too high but his 32.25 FP and 17 shot attempts were highs for him this series (boosted by him playing the majority of both OTs). His price is now higher than both Middleton and Bledsoe but I would be open to him in lineups without those guys.
–Brook Lopez had 30.5 FP in 40 minutes of Game 3 and he has yet to come close to the usage he saw in Game 1. He’s a fine enough value to have in if his price works but I wouldn’t find him a must have.
–Nikola Mirotic’s minutes seem worrisome with him in the starting group the worst plus-minus unit in Game 3 for Milwaukee with a -14. He has a lot of guys clawing at his run with Brogdon and Ersan Ilyasova (who also came back down to Earth last game) so he’s interesting in tournaments as a cheaper option than all of these guys besides Ersan but remains pretty tough to bank on.
–George Hill still feels like a trick or trap but I’ll at least be with the field on him today. He hasn’t been as great of a per-minute player this series but he’s been reliable in a way Bledsoe hasn’t, something Mike Budenholzer leaned on with Hill taking minutes directly away from Bledsoe in the two OTs of Game 3. Hill’s unlikely to hit the 42.75 FP ceiling he showed in 37 minutes of extended action last game but he could score in the 20 FP range and work in a Showdown lineup.
-It’s a narrow margin of success for Pat Connaughton but as a decent value, I could see having some exposure to him in tournaments. His price is more of a vessel to open up the other roster spots much like Shaun Livingston was in those top NBA DFS lineups I discussed earlier.
–Kawhi Leonard’s leg issues worry me a little even though he gritted through them last game while playing 52 minutes. I’ll still be around the field’s expected 75% ownership on Kawhi because he’s going to shoot and be involved even if he is a little less explosive…unless his quad goes seriously south.
–Pascal Siakam had a resurgent Game 3 in which he had 18 shot attempts and hit 2-for-5 from deep. His abbreviated run in Game 2 was hopefully something of a wakeup call and I like him again today especially since he did most of his damage while defended by Giannis, a nice confidence boost for him.
–Kyle Lowry fouled out in regulation of Game 3 and was mostly ineffective besides that with 26.5 FP on 4-for-7 shooting. He seems like he should be capable of bouncing back today though Marc Gasol did seem to take some playmaking and scoring opportunity away from him last time.
–Danny Green directly lost minutes to Norman Powell last game and seemingly only played the double OT because Powell fouled out. Green’s 1-for-9 shooting last game was brutal but he could get hot and limit Powell’s minutes if he does, an interesting wrinkle to consider in tournaments if Powell becomes highly owned.
-Powell did feel like a gamechanger at stretches of Game 3 so I don’t mind going to him again with his price still fairly cheap. Green is a direct pivot to him work some exposure to but Powell’s athleticism make him compelling even if he’s unlikely to have another 7-for-13 and 3-for-5 from deep day.
–Serge Ibaka has been a surprising non-factor this series and it’s hard to imagine him suddenly thriving after Marc Gasol was a key Raptor last game. Serge is okay by me if the price works and could be an interesting pivot to a higher owned Norman Powell but I don’t know that I see a path to more minutes for Ibaka like there is for Powell. Ibaka being in most of the worst plus-minus groups this series also doesn’t help his case.
–Fred VanVleet played the entirety of the double OTs and still mostly stunk with 16.75 FP in 31 minutes on 1-for-11 shooting. He’s in the range of playable as a punt-priced guy who could earn more time if his shot fell but not worth much more consideration than that.
Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and since the West has been won, I’ll be back in a few days for a Game 5 breakdown as this series returns to Milwaukee for either an elimination game or a whooooole new world. Good luck guys!