Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON. Below is a breakdown of my line-up for tonight’s game.
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Point guard – Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs: $12.0 million
It is generally a good idea to pick players who you know are very likely to be on the court at the end of a close game situation. As the lead guard for the Spurs, Murray is that. Of course, the game has to be close for it to matter, and in that respect, the Spurs fell short in game one. Nevertheless, Murray returned 22.5 fantasy points, in keeping with the lower end of his production variance throughout the second half of the season. If the Spurs can keep the game a bit closer, Murray and his fantasy value stand only to gain, yet he has some here for us anyway.
Shooting guard – Marco Belinelli, Philadelphia 76ers: $9.5 million
In game one of the Sixers’ series versus the Miami Heat, the team made 18 three-pointers, 8 of which were by the shooting guard pairing of J.J. Redick and his not-coincidentally very similar backup, Belinelli. Shooting 9-15 from the field, 4-5 from three, and adding three steals, two assists and two rebounds for 39.4 fantasy points, raising hish six-game average to 30.9. He is a big part now of everything they are going to do.
Shooting guard – Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors: $8.5 million
In a surprise move, Steve Kerr put out Iguodala as the starting point guard for game one, something we can only assume will continue. With Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in toe, Iggy’s role needn’t be that of a more typical point guard, but instead was a largely defensive one. The move was designed to stem the tide of a Warriors defence that had become particularly leaky. And it worked. For his own numbers, Iguodala posted 19.4 fantasy points, good value on this price; while starting him at point guard is not a long-term solution to the Curry absence problem due to his vulnerability to speedsters, his strength, guile and ability to sag way off of the non-shooting Murray will suffice for this series, and thus should continue.
Small forward – Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: $22.7 million
There are few pricy players available at all on a two-game slate, let alone any that are of good fantasy value to us. Nevertheless, Durant – who is simultaneously playing the roles of leading scorer, point forward and primary rim protector – is one of them. Posting 46.1 fantasy points in game one, and with the same it-would-have-been-more-were-it-closer caveat as Murray above, Durant is rightfully the most expensive player on the slate.
Power forward – Ersan Ilyasova, Philadelphia 76ers: $11.4 million
As outlined with regards to Redick above, the Sixers laid out a three-pointers barrage on the Miami Heat, and Ilyasova was a part of that. Indeed, he did more than just put them up – not letting his feet slow him down any more than was unavoidable, Ilyasova cut to the rim, hustled on the glass and made his usual rotations on defence, on his way to 17 points, 14 rebounds and 37.8 fantasy points.
It would be fair to say that a lot of the reason for Ilyasova’s offensive success was match-ups. With Joel Embiid out, Miami nevertheless started interior rebounder and shotblocker Hassan Whiteside, despite him not really having anyone’s shot to block. Starting centre Amir Johnson attempts little offensively, and starting power forward Dario Saric is a face-up player. Seeing this, the Sixers ran a lot of sets designed to draw Whiteside to the perimeter. And Whiteside does not want to go to the perimeter, thus leaving open some outside shots, of which Ilyasova took advantage.
The Heat should counter and use more of Kelly Olynyk (below) and possibly rookie centre Bam Adebayo at their five spot instead. But should they not, the door will be open for Saric and Ilyasova again. When Joel Embiid returns, there will be an impact of both of their minutes too – the five-out lineups that worked so well in game one can be played with Embiid – yet Embiid has been ruled out for game two already, again opening the door for Ilyasova. And considering the shortening of rotations that invariably occurs during playoff basketball, Ilyasova, as the sixth man and hugely important piece since joining the team, will play a significant role regardless of Embiid’s status.
Power forward – LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs: $21.0 million
In game one of their series, Aldridge was largely ineffective. A resurgent Warriors defence was completely on top of all the paint and post actions the Spurs had planned to get Aldridge the ball in his favoured spots, and lacking the offensive talent and variety to counter this, the Spurs kept force-feeding him through a lack of alternatives. Force-feeding never really works, and Aldridge recorded only 21.9 fantasy points.
That said, the same lack of options that handicapped the Spurs in game one will be a factor as well in game two and indeed in how many other games are remaining in the series. The Spurs cannot anoint anyone else as the go-to guy on a moment’s notice because no-one has the ability to do so. As the one man who does, Aldridge will continue to draw a lot of offensive focus. And while the Spurs will have to do something to overcome the Warrior’s reads, doubles and traps, Aldridge will have to be the main one to do it. He will also need to start rebounding and stop relying on Murray.
Centre – Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat: $12.4 million
As described above with Ersan Ilyasova, the Heat may need to play more lineups featuring Olynyk at centre, whether Hassan Whiteside likes it or not. Continuing his excellent second half to the season, Olynyk recorded 26 points, 7 rebounds and 38.4 fantasy points in his half of game one, numbers very much in keeping with his recent play and thus no anomaly.
Even on a two-game slate, there are some players you should not pick. Here’s who you should steer clear of.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Stephen Curry, Pat McCaw (Golden State), Dion Waiters (Miami), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Joel Embiid (Philadelphia), Kawhi Leonard, Joffrey Lauvergne (San Antonio)
hat’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!