(Targeted Games in BOLD, Faded Games in ITALIC - odds subject to change)
ORL vs. MIL (-14) O/U: 227
OKC vs. HOU (-3) O/U: 224.5
POR vs. LAL (-14) O/U: 222.5
The Rockets-Thunder matchup is where we are headed on this slate. Blowout concerns plague the other two contests, so much so that I'll be hard-pressed to spend up on them, although certain injury situations may dictate a move in that direction. Of course, the key to these small slates is contrarian selections, especially in GPPs, so playing the underdog and second-unit rotation in the other two games has to be a part of your build. POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN The center availability is so light that we may need to make a move we aren't happy with. Due to how I'm grading the elites, I'm likely headed for value in this spot and pushing the guard position for all it's worth. I'm aiming for backcourt at every position I can fit them into, including hybrid opportunities at forward.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR Damian Lillard, POR (knee) OUT This injury is the top news of the slate and is probably the final nail in the coffin for Portland. Lillard was already a bit compromised with his dislocated finger. His absence is the unofficial flag-waving moment for the team, but not if CJ McCollum ($8,100) has anything to say about it. DraftKings wasted no time in bumping up McCollum's price, and he's the obvious pivot here. If you look at usage differentials with Lillard off the court, nobody even comes close. In the bubble, McCollum shoots up almost 11 percent with Lillard on the bench. I'd expect to see bumps from whoever starts in Lillard's spot, although the point guard duties will go to McCollum. Anfernee Simons ($4,000) is the only viable true guard they have available, but McCollum's likely move to the point makes Gary Trent ($4,800) a candidate for the start at off-guard. For my money, Trent's the guy, but Simons could make for a decent GPP play. Aaron Gordon (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE If Orlando wants to extend this series, they could undoubtedly use Gordon's services. This designation has been around for the duration of the series so there's no reason to think this will change, but luckily Orlando is playing the first game on the slate. If Gordon sees action, we'll know before all of the games lock.
ELITE PLAYERS The reduced playing time for Anthony Davis ($10,500) and LeBron James ($10,800) took me a bit by surprise on Monday, and I'll be the first to admit that going in that direction was a serious error in judgment. Since I tend to play a lot of lineups, I was able to salvage the evening somewhat, but I was certainly under the field when it came to the other elites. So, here's the deal. It makes no sense to play James or Davis today. Without Lillard, this game could be well out of hand by halftime, and even though the Lakers could use a tune-up before they advance, I doubt they'll use this game to achieve that. The five-figure price tags are just too expensive in a game script that will probably only yield 40 DKFP for either player. James Harden($11,800) is the only low-risk elite, but I admit his price tag is hard to swallow. You need over 60 DKFP from him to justify the price and in this hotly-contested series, it's possible and even probable that he'll get there. Beyond Harden, the newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year deserves a look. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,300) will deliver two quarters of exceptional basketball, but if it's a blowout, you have to wonder if he's worth the cost. I'm sure the Magic will give it their all today, but it's more likely that this game gets out of hand early. With both Harden and Giannis over 11k, it's hard to find a profitable avenue where you can play both. I had an excellent night on Tuesday because there was enough value to take Doncic, Leonard and Murray on the same roster, but I don't see that path tonight. I was able to make one build that I could stomach with both of them, but due to the value risks, my exposure is super-low for that build. Exposing yourself to a dose of Nikola Vucevic ($9,200) in builds that limit your guard exposure is another way to go today. If you look at his numbers in the bubble, he's crushed value often enough to be worthwhile and there isn't another center on the slate who can match that production aside from AD, and he won't play long enough to come close to Vooch's numbers.
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS Chris Paul, OKC ($8,100) vs. HOU Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC ($7,400) vs. HOU I have no problem with stacking this duo if you can afford to do it. Aside from maybe Harden and Gordon, you won't find a better game stack, as they've been brilliant in this series. Their floors are reliable, and both guards exceeded value with 40-plus DKFP numbers in Game 4. If a stack isn't to your liking and you need one or the other, go with Paul in cash and SGA in GPPs. Eric Gordon, HOU ($6,100) vs. OKC Gordon has played exceptionally well in Russell Westbrook's place, even though the cracks in the armor are showing without their All-Star at the point. Still, Gordon is very capable of posting a number you can be happy with at this salary level. You will rarely see anything beyond the 30-35 DKFP range unless he heats up from 25 feet, but that's perfectly ok at $6,100. Also consider: Dennis Schroder, OKC ($6,400) vs. HOU
KEY VALUES Gary Trent and Anfernee Simons are excellent values that I've already mentioned, but here are the rest. Danuel House, HOU ($5,500) vs. OKC As we continue to focus on this contest, House is almost a lock at his salary. When he is on the court, he's the glue that holds this small-ball defense together. Because of the Thunder's weakness at the wing, House has extended his defensive talents to the backcourt as well. He's also shot an excellent 50 percent from the floor during this series, and drained four threes in Game 4. Markelle Fultz, ORL ($5,100) vs. MIL No matter how you feel about Fultz's game, Orlando is content with his play. Even though his shot could go off the rails at any moment, the Magic view him as part of their future backcourt and even if the game gets out of hand. They are going to afford him plenty of opportunities. He's averaged just under 30 minutes per game in this series, which is four minutes less than counterpart D.J. Augustin, and is the most likely backcourt player to close out the game. He played most of the fourth quarter in Game 4 only second behind the next player I'll mention from the Magic below. Terrence Ross, ORL ($5,000) vs. MIL Yep, Ross is who I'm talking about. He played all but a couple of minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 4 and most of the second quarter as well. His usually dependent three-point shot isn't popping in this series, but it's hard to see the talented sharpshooter doing worse than the 1-for-8 performance he displayed beyond the arc in Game 4. I think most Orlando players will lack the popularity of other games, and both Fultz and Ross are at a price that fits most lineup builds. JaVale McGee ($3,600) or Dwight Howard ($3,800), LAL vs. POR In order to afford guys like Harden, Paul and SGA, going low at center is probably the most sensible way to go. Both McGee and Dwight Howard ($3,800) are interchangeable at this price, and it really depends on how you want to view the flow of this game. While McGee is going to dominate the beginning of this game. Howard is part of an onslaught of guys that take over for the Lakers in the fourth quarter. I think Game 5 could be an even bigger blowout than Game 4, which makes me lean toward Howard a bit more than McGee. Alex Caruso, LAL ($3,400) vs. POR Would it surprise you to know that Caruso is one of only three Lakers that played all four quarters in the Game 4 blowout? It's true, Only Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris achieved that feat as well, and Caruso proved to be the most efficient with the time he was given, although the numbers Leave a bit to be desired. He only needs 17 DKFP to match 5x value here, and is one of the safer budget picks if you're fielding multiple elites. Also consider: Luguentz Dort, OKC ($4,200) vs, HOU Our picks page tool will help you solidify your lineups, so head back our way as games lock, and throughout the day we'll have confirmed lineups there as well