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NBA Switch And Hedge: Steph Curry And The Warriors Get A Possible NBA Finals Preview Versus Giannis And The Bucks

Chris Spags

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It’s a short slate tonight but one with some really competitive real-life matchups…and Boston versus Phoenix. We’ve got a missing Russell Westbrook again for the Thunder versus the reeling Rockets, a showdown in Portland between the Blazers and Clippers, and a game I’m really intrigued by from both NBA and fantasy NBA perspectives with the Bucks coming off a tough loss into a measuring stick game versus the Warriors at Oracle. You’re going to have to make some tough choices tonight and I’ll do my best to walk you through the underappreciated value you can find on this four game slate.

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Houston Rockets (109 implied points) at Oklahoma City Thunder (105 implied points)

-The Rockets get a 3.7 point boost from Vegas on their season averages while Oklahoma City is getting a 8.6 decrease on theirs on this game with an adjusted pace of 105

James Harden has looked close to his usual form since returning from injury from a usage perspective but the Rockets’ pace dropping to stem the bleeding from their porous defense has been his big issue. The Thunder have been a faster paced team and any slight boost to possessions would help Harden out. His $10,100 DraftKings price is the lowest he’s been in seasons, literally

Chris Paul has also been fairly quiet but his ownership projected at under 10% is interesting. It’s a little worrisome that you’re paying 2017 Chris Paul prices for this current disastrous Rockets season but seeing Dennis Schroder defense plays well into his hands

Clint Capela isn’t where I’d want to go with a matchup versus Steven Adams, though the Thunder’s faster paced offense could offer more rebounding opportunities if the Rockets actually get stopped

Eric Gordon is questionable to return from his groin injury and if he plays he might be a bit interesting. I’d personally rather he sits because Gary Clark would be a very nice value on this short slate but is likely unplayable if Gordon returns to take some minutes at the wing

PJ Tucker and James Ennis are viable punt-level plays here but the ceilings are likely to be pretty low for both. I’d favor Tucker despite the slightly higher price

Russell Westbrook is out again and that means it’s another fine night for a Dennis Schroder. Schroder versus this somewhat washed up Rockets defense after a night where he didn’t crush value versus the Cavs could give you better than average ownership (even if the Rockets’ slow pace is not a Schroder sweet spot)

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Steven Adams is currently projected for the most ownership on this side and he’s been solid in matchups versus Capela and co in the past. I don’t like him quite as much without Westbrook there to run the pick and rolls that play to Adams’ strengths but the play is fine enough

Paul George coming off of a relatively low effort dud where he conserved a bit of energy for this back to back might be the place to go here. His price is down a little despite Westbrook’s absence and with how poor the Rockets D is on the year, I don’t have any issue riding with him

Jerami Grant is worth pointing out just because he’s been a solid lower ceiling play and at his price he could be important on a short slate. His ceiling takes a hit with a slower paced game but he could be a beneficiary of the box out battle between Adams and Capela

 

Boston Celtics (111.8 implied points) at Phoenix Suns (102.8 implied points)

-The Celtics’ Vegas total represents a 7.6 point boost on their season average and the Phoenix total is a 2.2 boost on theirs in this matchup with a bottom of the slate 102 adjusted pace

-The Suns are a slow paced team but their bad defense is causing opponents to shoot faster than expected with opponents gunning at a fastest on the slate 13.6 seconds into the shot clock and, combined with their defensive efficiency issues, it can have the same effect as playing a faster paced team

Kyrie Irving looks like the best play on this side after some bad juju around how he handled Jamal Murray lighting his team up for 48 points and gunning for 50 the other day. He can be a low effort player in matchups that the Celtics expect to cruise in but he’s got nice upside if he pushes to get his shot

-This could also be a nice Jayson Tatum spot after he hasn’t picked up a ton of usage to start the year. He and Jaylen Brown have a fairly even split of shot attempts in recent outings and one of these two should take advantage of the Suns. Tatum’s likely matchup with Trevor Ariza isn’t the best but he’s good enough to overcome if Brown doesn’t get going first

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Gordon Hayward saw some extended run ahead of Marcus Morris last time out, including the fourth quarter. He has some value here even though his usage has been dismal. Marcus Smart wreaking some havoc versus the Suns’ iffy offense might be the safer lower priced play and the flirtation between the Suns and Terry Rozier may result in a bit of a showcase spot for him

-On the Suns’ side, DeAndre Ayton would be the guy I’d want here. The Celtics have been an atrocious rebounding team and while I worry about Al Horford fully handling Ayton with his experience, Ayton’s athleticism might be the difference maker here in an interesting contrarian spot

Devin Booker can get going in any matchup and has torched these Celtics for a 50.5 fantasy point game last season as well his famous 70 real life point game a couple seasons ago. I’d be more inclined to fade him than roster him with people likely to see those totals rather than the Celtics holding opponents to 42.2% from the floor and 29.6% from three but some exposure on a four game slate is logical

Mikal Bridges has been stealing minutes from Ryan Anderson and while his usage make him not super interesting, on a four-game slate he should be considered. Ditto Trevor Ariza, who should see some slacked defense with attentions focused on limiting Booker. Isaiah Canaan should benefit slightly too and he’s cheap enough to make sense here

 

LA Clippers (110.8 implied points) at Portland Trailblazers (115.8 implied points)

-The totals represent a 6.3 decrease on the Clippers’ season average and a 1.6 decrease on the Blazers’ in this game with an adjusted pace of 104

Boban Marjanovic hasn’t smashed value thus far and his price is way up but this matchup versus Jusuf Nurkic seems like right where you’d want Boban to be. I like him tonight and his 11% ownership projection is super reasonable for a short slate

Tobias Harris has been the most bankable guy on this side and both he and Danilo Gallinari should generally be in play at their prices in a game that should stay competitive. Gallo seems to have lost some rebounding upside with Boban in the starting lineup but Tobias will be needed in a variety of ways

Lou Williams continues to post fat usage rates and he’ll see defense from Nik Stauskas and Seth Curry here. Big yes on Lou for me in this spot and his ownership is currently projected to be way low for a guy who still has a ton of upside despite the bench role

-I’m not as into Patrick Beverley if he’s going to be a chalky play, though he did get to shoot more with Avery Bradley sidelined (as he will be again today). Beverley is playable and should get some more defensive usage in the matchup with Damian Lillard, just less interesting as a popular guy

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should start again with Bradley out and he’s certainly getting enough minutes to be useful, though the usage is pretty worthless currently

Montrezl Harrell seems like a nice matchup versus the Portland second unit and he’s always in the mix to close games for the Clips, an added bonus to his prospects

CJ McCollum is coming off of a big game versus Milwaukee and this matchup does seem like one where he might be the beneficiary again of some tough defense at the other positions. The assists and rebounding he put up in that game were the encouraging thing to me with him not serving as a primary ball handler at all in the early part of the year. Gilgeous-Alexander defense could be a big win for CJ

Damian Lillard is priced down a bit for this matchup and while I fear the Beverley defense, I don’t mind giving him a shot. There’ll be other high priced guys I like more but this game could end up having enough pace to be a good one for him

Jusuf Nurkic is the projected highest owned guy on this side and it is a nice matchup for him with the Clippers committed to giving Boban 18+ minutes of run a game

Al-Farouq Aminu had games of 30.75, 42.5, 30, and 39 versus the Clippers last year and while this is a different team, those are pretty noteworthy outputs. I’m interested in Aminu at that price

 

Milwaukee Bucks (116.8 implied points) at Golden State Warriors (122.8 implied points)

-The Bucks’ total represents a 3.5 point decrease on their season average while Golden State’s represents a minor 0.8 drop on theirs in this game with the projected fasted pace on the slate of 106

Giannis Antetokuonmpo let a lot of folks down in a short slate last time out with his price at an all-time high and while the Warriors should dedicate a lot of attention to stopping him, I don’t see a path for them to that without Draymond Green on the floor. I like Giannis a lot tonight especially if people don’t find him worth his price

Khris Middleton has struggled versus Golden State in the past but this is a new team designed to get him open looks from deep that the Warriors can give up. I’m really curious to see how Middleton and Eric Bledsoe acquit themselves here (and it’s worth noting the latter has exceeded value versus Golden State in four out of his last five matchups with them)

Brook Lopez could also be a key cog here with the Bucks needing scoring from every piece to keep it close. I tend to think the Bucks can do that so I’m willing to bet on these guys tonight if people are going to doubt them in this spot

-If I’m a believer in the Bucks, then I’d want some exposure to the Warriors as well. The Bucks are allowing opponents to shoot threes at a slate-high rate, 40.7 per game, and even though they hold teams to a slate-best 41.4% from the floor, they give up a reasonable 33.1% rate from three. Steph Curry is throwing up 11 threes per game and even with some throwback bulldog Bledsoe defense at his expense a possibility, Curry looks great here

Kevin Durant may find the one guy whose length is a struggle for him in Giannis but my belief this game stays close makes Durant a viable play. Durant is currently projected for more ownership than Curry so it’d be a difficult choice on whom to roll with. I think I’d favor Curry for the ownership discount but Durant in a tight game is generally a great play and Draymond’s absence offers him a little more in rebounding and playmaking

-I’m okay pivoting from Klay Thompson if his ownership retains at the 24% it currently has, highest amongst the warriors. The three point boost could be a help and his price makes sense but it’s worth noting this season Klay has been way worse without Green on the floor, averaging just 0.69 FPPM this season and 0.78 FPPM dating back to last February

Jonas Jerebko could see a boost with Draymond off the court but Jordan Bell has historically benefitted from his absence in terms of time on the floor. Kevon Looney has been a direct sub for Damian Jones but he could see additional action without Draymond and might be most equipped to make the most of it

Andre Iguodala has also seen a boost in the past without Draymond and him picking up the start wouldn’t be shocking here. If Looney starts, play him. If Jerebko starts, play him. If Iguodala starts, he’s an okay punt with a limited ceiling

 

Four more games in the books, we did it fam. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and I’ll see you guys tomorrow for more NBA breakdowns.

Chris Spags is the senior director of editorial strategy at Awesemo.com and contributes to the site's NBA, NFL, and MLB coverage as a writer and host of video content. Chris's content background from sites like Guyism, Uproxx, and Barstool Sports allows him to bring a unique spin to the world of daily fantasy sports analysis. Chris writes regular columns with NBA and NFL analysis as well as his inimitable style and his 'Four Corners' videos for basketball, baseball, and football DFS are the primary short form content offering on Awesemo's YouTube channel. You can find him on almost any given night providing analysis right up to slate lock on Awesemo's flagship Live Before Lock livestreams or on Twitter @ChrisSpags. You can contact Chris by emailing [email protected].

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