Thursday's four-game playoff slate should be interesting as the Wizards, Grizzlies and Knicks fight to stave off elimination. We'll also see another competitive outing in the Staples Center as the Clippers try to take control of their series against Dallas.
WAS @ PHI (-6) O/U: 230
ATL @ NYK (-1.5) O/U: 208
MEM @ UTA (-9.5) O/U: 225
DAL @ LAC (-7) O/U: 217
The biggest story looming over this slate is the doubtful tag on Joel Embiid (knee). It seems almost certain that he doesn't play, so Dwight Howard ($5,000) takes a massive jump in the center rankings as the likely starter at the five. As the Sixers fight to close the series out without Embiid, the Wizards smell an opportunity to take advantage with another inspired performance and upset win.
We will tackle this four-game slate by position and strive to offer a wide array of salary options in each slot.
Ja Morant, MEM ($8,200) @ UTA
There's no denying the obvious production of Westbrook, Doncic, Young and Simmons above him, but Morant's price is too cheap to pass up in a must-win game for the Grizzlies. There is a tier break after the potential 50-plus FDFP upside of Doncic and Westbrook, and their lofty salaries certainly merit these totals, but there's no reason that Morant can't match their numbers. He broke 50 FDFP in the play-in game against the Warriors, Game 2 of this series, and almost reached 50 FDFP in Game 4. $8,200 is a steal for what you're getting, and can save you quite a bit of cash at the point guard position.
Reggie Jackson, LAC ($5,000) vs. DAL
Jackson has been very consistent over the past three games of the series and has been able to scratch close to 5x value in every contest. He certainly isn't the most alluring pick at the position, but we predict his rostership to be below 10 percent, making him a desirable tournament option and a money-saver in every format.
Raul Neto, WAS ($3,800) @ PHI
With Davis Bertans out for the season, Neto is almost a clock to creep into the starting lineup. When players like Neto slide into spots that don't align with their position, there's always a potential for a different sort of output. That's a significant advantage for Neto, who will likely play more of a guard-forward hybrid as opposed to his FanDuel designation at PG. He's the most intriguing wild-card in this elimination contest and should see his highest minute total of the series in Game 5.
Also consider: Mike Conley, UTA ($7,800) vs. MEM
Bradley Beal, WAS ($9,300) @ PHI
Beal is priced well in this make-or-break game, and you can bet that the Sixers will be doing all they can to limit Russell Westbrook with double-teams and trap zones. That will be no easy task, but Beal will be there to respond off the ball with the catch-and-shoot, and he's shown time and time again that he'll put up at least 20 shot attempts with ease. There should also be some additional rebound advantage with Davis Bertans out of the lineup.
Donovan Mitchell, UTA ($8,300) vs. MEM
We've seen Mitchell's totals climb with every contest, and this could very well be the game where he tops 50 FP for the first time since his return from a lengthy absence. He came quite close to that number in Game 4 despite some severe struggles with his shot. If he can right the ship in that department, a genuinely prolific total could be in store for him tonight.
Tim Hardaway, DAL ($5,200) @ LAC
As we witnessed in Game 4, a lousy game for Hardaway doesn't bode well for Dallas' chances of success. The Mavs were blitzed, 106-81, and Hardaway mustered only four points. Many will run from THJ due to recency bias, and that should give him some serious value as a tournament option in Game 5. We've seen his upside at around 40 FP throughout the season, and the team will need his support if they hope to extend this series.
Kawhi Leonard, LAC ($10,700) vs. DAL
With four straight games of 50-plus FP performances, Kawhi is one of the steadiest players that you'll find on the slate tonight. Of the players with five-digit salaries, he's my favorite to match value relative to his price. Although he should reach a rostership percentage of at least 25 percent, I have difficulty looking away from him at the evening's slimmest position.
Rui Hachimura, WAS ($5,200) @ PHI
There should also be an opportunity for Hachimura due to Davis Bertans' absence, and the Wizards need all the frontcourt protection they can get. Joel Embiid's absence will open up some lanes for Washington's rag-tag group of big men, and the talented Gonzaga product has shown up as the team's third-best scorer numerous times this season.
De'Andre Hunter, ATL ($4,600) vs. NYK
The Hawks seem poised to advance, but they could use the big numbers from Hunter, who was a driving force on the squad before going down with a serious knee injury. He's had some impact in this series, but his numbers have been shaky at best. There might be motivation to rest Hunter if the Hawks go up early, but I doubt the Knicks will let their Cinderella story end tonight. If Hunter is feeling well enough to stay on the court, he could be a difference-maker and a contrarian option at small forward.
Also consider: Nicolas Batum, LAC ($5,000) vs. DAL
Tobias Harris, PHI ($8,200) vs. WAS
Whenever Embiid is out, you should consider Harris as a must-add. His playoff performances have been exemplary, with two double-doubles over four games and steady totals throughout. We should see healthy rebound totals once again amidst Embiid's absence, and he should post some decent ancillary numbers as well.
Kristaps Porzingis, DAL ($6,600) @ LAC
Porzingis is always popular on FanDuel as a center in PF clothing, and his salary is a bit too cheap to overlook. As we saw in Game 2 of this series, the Clippers can't always find an answer for the big man, and while their better defenders will have their hands full with Luka Doncic, Porzingis will use his height advantage over Marcus Morris and try to take control inside. He's far from my favorite, but the salary makes him very worthwhile at a position that's thinner than usual.
Daniel Gafford, WAS ($5,100) @ PHI
Although there are many ways to go at this price point, I will opt to go for the fastest-paced game and give the nod to Gafford, who has been very consistent this season. I don't recommend targeting Neto, Hachimura and Gafford together, although I feel that all three will see an uptick in Bertans' absence. Relative to his salary, Gafford may be the best way to go, but he'll also see a higher rostership percentage than the other two options.
Also consider: Jaren Jackson, MEM ($5,700) @ UTA
With Embiid out, there is no need to get cute at this position. We've already mentioned Dwight Howard's ($5,000), and at 5k, he may be my favorite option as a way to spend down in a fast-paced game. I think Rudy Gobert ($8,500), Clint Capela ($8,000) and Jonas Valanciunas ($7,700) are practically interchangeable at similar prices, but I would take JoVal as the cheapest member of the group in a must-win game. To guarantee a solid number at FanDuel's valuable center position, I would not recommend going lower than Howard.