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DraftKings NBA: Thursday Picks

DEN vs. POR (-5), O/U: 228

PHX vs. LAL (-2), O/U: 207.5

The status of Anthony Davis (groin) will have a significant impact on the slate, and it's likely we won't have confirmation before lock on whether or not he plays. I'd expect that he does, considering the Lakers are two-point favorites and facing elimination. The PHX-LAL matchup will be the less popular of the two games due to the big disparity in point totals, but there is still plenty of merit in targeting it. The salaries are cheaper, and the spread is closer, while the uncertainty surrounding Davis will likely lead to him being less popular than his upside warrants.

The DEN-POR matchup looks like the better target of the two. Even by his lofty standards, Damian Lillard was in rare form, as he put up a massive 92.5 DK points in Tuesday's double-overtime thriller. He and Nikola Jokic are the top spend-up options on the slate. Rostering them together was a winning strategy last time, and I'd expect it to be a popular construction again tonight. People quickly forget that both sides busted when Portland held the Nuggets to 95 points and blew them out in Game 4. As always on these smaller slates, my best advice is to make lineups that fit specific game scripts rather than mix and match the "best" plays. The popular plays have failed quite often this postseason.


Injuries to Monitor

Anthony Davis (groin): QUESTIONABLE

Davis will be a game-time decision tonight after sitting out Game 5 with a groin injury. The general thought is that he will play, and the Las Vegas odds seem to agree. If he were to miss, Markieff Morris could get another start while Kyle Kuzma would likely see an expanded role off the bench.



Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (knee): QUESTIONABLE

Caldwell-Pope will also be a game-time decision tonight for the Lakers. After sitting out Game 4, he lasted just 15 minutes in Game 5. If he doesn't play, Wesley Matthews will get another start at shooting guard.

Elite Players

Center:

Nikola Jokic ($10,700)

Jokic put up a 38/11/9 line that helped him score 77.25 DK points in Tuesday's double-overtime win. He's topped 55 fantasy points in four of five series games and tonight's matchup against Portland has a 20.5-point higher total than the PHX-LAL game. Keep in mind that the Trail Blazers won Game 4 by 20 and held Jokic to 28.25 fantasy points. The decision to roster him or not should come down to which scenario you're playing for.

Guard:

Damian Lillard ($10,300)

Lillard was incredible in Tuesday's loss, making 12 three-pointers and scoring 55 points on his way to a whopping 92.5 DK points. The Trail Blazers are back at home and facing elimination, so I'd expect Dame to be aggressive again tonight. He's recorded double-digit assists and put up 50+ fantasy points in four of five series games. You can make a credible argument that he's the top overall option based on Portland being five-point favorites and having the highest implied team total on the slate.

PG/SF:

LeBron James ($10,100)

James has reached 50 fantasy points in only one of five games against the Suns, and it happened in Game 4 when Anthony Davis left injured after 19 minutes. The Lakers need a win tonight to avoid an embarrassing end to the season, and we've seen LeBron have big games in these spots in the past, but if Davis returns, I'd rather spend salary on the DEN-POR matchup.

PF/C:

Anthony Davis ($9,400)

I'd rather take a chance on Davis than LeBron. If he ends up playing, I will assume he's healthy enough to replicate the 34/10/7 line that helped him score 67 DK points in Game 2. His salary has fallen to its lowest point in 10 games, making him even more appealing.

Expected Chalk

Chris Paul ($6,500)

First of all, there will be a lot of popular players tonight as the slate features only two games. Second, I don't expect anyone to end up super chalky like we've seen happen with players on every other slate this week. Chris Paul was chalky on Tuesday and failed because he only saw 23 minutes as the Suns won by 30. His salary has surprisingly fallen even lower, and tonight's matchup against the Lakers is expected to be more competitive. Recency bias will cause some people to stay away, but it seems like a good spot to go back to him, and the cheap salary should lead to him being relatively popular.

Value Picks

CJ McCollum ($7,600)

McCollum's recent numbers are underwhelming, as he's shot the ball poorly in four of five series games. The minutes and usage are still there, and the matchup against the Nuggets is more appealing than the PHX-LAL game. I don't expect him to be overly popular, but he still has considerable upside for an affordable salary.

Norman Powell ($5,800)

I expect people will cool on Powell after he only scored 18.5 DK points despite playing 51 minutes on Tuesday. However, the minutes and salary are still appealing. So are the Trail Blazers tonight in terms of teams to target. I prefer taking chances on riskier, shooting dependent players like him when they're not expected to be as popular.

Cameron Payne ($5,400)

Payne continues to see significant minutes even when Chris Paul is healthy. He's put up 35+ fantasy points in two of the last four games and was on his way to doing it again on Tuesday if it wasn't for the blowout.

Covington topped 25 DK points for the third consecutive game when he put up 19 points and 11 rebounds while playing 44 minutes in Tuesday's double-overtime loss. He's been touted as one of the safer value plays on all of these recent slates, but the salary increase has me leaning towards a fade tonight. I'd rather save some salary and gamble on Carmelo Anthony ($4,200) getting hot.

Monte Morris ($4,700)

Morris broke out for 43.25 DK points in 41 minutes on Tuesday. He attempted nine three-pointers and got to the line 11 times. Encouragingly, the Nuggets were relying on him late in the game and then in overtime. There isn't much for cheap value tonight, and Morris has more upside than others in this range.




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