Daily Fantasy NBA Preview – April 18th

Join our Daily Fantasy contests. Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors are all in action tonight

by Mark Deeks

Tonight’s slate of three games will be the second game of the first round for three of the six 2016/17 NBA Playoff teams. Featuring two games in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks play the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics host the Chicago Bulls, and the Utah Jazz take on the L.A. Clippers.
In all three of these series, the road team won game one, thereby wresting home court advantage away from the higher seed. It is therefore very much a must-win game for the higher seeds, who need big performances from their stars.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto Raptors (Bucks leads 1-0)

After rolling his ankle in game one, Serge Ibaka ($17.7m) is expected to play tonight’s game, meaning both teams should be at full strength. Toronto will be looking to avenge a 14-point game one loss in which their star scoring backcourt of Kyle Lowry ($22.7m) and DeMar Derozan ($21.7m), normally good for 50 points per night, managed only 31 (27 of which were by Derozan). Giannis Antetokounmpo ($23.3m) led a fairly balanced Bucks attack, with six players in double figures, highlighted by his 28 points and Greg Monroe’s 14 points and 15 rebounds. Monroe ($14.9m) has become a key part of the Bucks’s success in his sixth man role, so look for this to continue.

Sleeper picks

As he has been for a couple of months since winning the starting role, Malcolm Brogdon ($11m) is a sleeper pick at point guard. Brogdon lacks flash, explosion or the occasional giant game, yet he consistently churns out solid, steady production, as evidenced by his 16 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in game one. He is also a threat from outside, hitting four three pointers in the first game after shooting 40.2% in the regular season. Barring foul trouble, Brogdon will play more than 30 minutes, and will surely have another very solid stat-line at the end of it.

Kyle Lowry is due a big bounce-back game. Perhaps still not quite 100% recovered from his wrist injury, Lowry was nonetheless passive and timid in game one in a way anomalous to his usual playing style. He has vowed to bounce back and be more aggressive in game two, and he needs to – without his aggression going to the basket, all of Toronto’s shooters and spacing cannot be as effective.

Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics (Bulls lead 1-0)

Chicago won game one in the same way they won during the regular season – by attacking the glass and winning more possessions, having a good scoring game from Jimmy Butler ($22.3m), and finding at least one other player to score alongside him. This rather ugly style of play is limiting and speaks to their limitations, but it does figure to work well against a Boston side always prone to giving up the glass.
After the death of his sister the day before, Isaiah Thomas ($22.9m) played in game one, and played well, yet his status for game two is still listed as ‘uncertain’.

Sleeper picks

Bobby Portis ($6.6m) stood out in game one for Chicago by virtue of being spritely on offense and hitting his shots. On a team with very poor overall floor spacing, Portis’s in-season development as a shooter (33.3% on three pointers and a team-best 47% on long two point shots) has been steady but consistent, and thus his shooting performance in game one was no fluke. Although something of a coming-out party on the national stage, Portis’s game one performance was not out of nowhere – he averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 15 games in March, and has upped that to 10.3 points and 7.4 rebounds in April. With Nikola Mitotic offering nothing, head coach Fred Hoiberg turned to Portis’s and rode the hot hand to the end. On an offensively starved team such as the Bulls, and after his last performance, expect Portis to feature heavily off the bench tonight.

Also up front for the Bulls, Robin Lopez ($13.4m) dominated on the offensive glass. Chicago has been one of the best rebounding teams in the league all season, while Boston has been one of the worst, and while a +12 rebounding advantage is likely far too one sided to continue, Lopez should continue to be a nightly double-double threat against a Celtics front line that has not rebounded all season, and is not likely to start now.

For Boston, Marcus Smart ($15.5m)has been having the best month of his career, averaging 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds, and although the three three-point shots he hit in game one cannot yet be said to be him turning the corner on his perennial jump-shot struggles, he nonetheless will continue to receive big minutes as the third guard in a three-guard rotation, tasked with helping to slow Butler and Dwyane Wade and making things slightly easier on offense for Isaiah Thomas.

Utah Jazz @ L.A. Clippers (Jazz lead 1-0)

After getting injured on the first possession of game one, Rudy Gobert will not play in game two. Derrick Favors ($13.9m) will get the start at centre, while old man Iso Joe Johnson ($11.1m), fresh off of a game winner, will likely feature at power forward far more. The Clippers will be missing Austin Rivers both tonight and in game three through injury, yet their big three are as healthy and productive as ever. They now need others to step up offensively.

Sleeper picks

Jamal Crawford ($12.5m) and J.J. Redick ($14.8m) were largely ineffective against the Jazz in game one, scoring only 15 points between them in 56 combined minutes on 7-18 shooting. One of the two will need to step up to get the Clippers beyond the Jazz – look for it to be Crawford, a consistently inconsistent player who may be in the twilight of his career but who is still capable of big scoring nights, regardless of who defends him. In the absence of Rivers, he will certainly get plenty of minutes.

In Rudy Gobert’s absence, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw ($6.9m) will likely split the power forward minutes. Johnson was signed for precisely these moments, as evidenced by his 31 minutes of action in game one and being entrusted to take the last shot – with Gobert , his veteran savvy will be needed in a limited half-court offense, especially one now without its most efficient scorer. This in turn will open up some playing time on the wing, which may most benefit Rodney Hood ($15.8m), who could score well in a sixth man role.

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