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DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

Alex Rikleen

Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living in Delaware.

The sixth night of the playoffs features three Game 3s. The 76ers-Heat are tied 1-1, and the Warriors take their 2-0 lead to San Antonio. Meanwhile, the higher-seeded Trail Blazers are down 2-0 as they hit the road in New Orleans.

TARGET

PHI at MIA: The 76ers are likely to still be without Joel Embiid (face; doubtful), their defensive anchor. These teams are averaging 112.3 points per team per game so far this series.

AVOID

GS at SA: The Warriors are the best per-possession defense so far during the playoffs, and this game has (by far) the lowest projected total score. Furthermore, when playing Fantasy, I prefer to avoid games where unique and intense non-basketball factors are likely to impact performances. Spursí coach Gregg Popovichís wife died Wednesday Ė they were married more than 40 years.

GUARDS

Damian Lillard, POR at NO ($8,900): Lillard has struggled so far this series, and Jrue Holidayís defense has been every bit as good as everyone on Twitter is saying it is. But if you are looking to spend up at guard, you only have two options. Itís hard to imagine that Lillard, who might be named to the All-NBA first team next month will continue to average just 31.7 percent from the field and 17.5 points per game Ė he averaged 43.9 and 26.9, respectively, during the regular season. The only other healthy guard that costs more than $8,000 is Ben Simmons ($10,200), whoís cost is concerningly high.

Josh Richardson, MIA vs. PHI ($5,500): Dwyane Wade caught the headlines after Game 2, but watching both games, Richardson has played like the Heatís best player. His Game 1 box score was ugly, but the same can be said about almost every Heat player in that 27-point loss. Through two games, Kelly Olynyk is the only Heat player to see more minutes than Richardson. Even in limited minutes and on a bad shooting night, Richardson still managed 18.5 DKFP in Game 1. Assuming he gets closer to his season-average 33.1 minutes, he can have a mediocre night and still break even at this salary.

Fade: Spurs point guards Ė this article usually just focuses on players to target, but I want to reiterate the danger of using a Spurs point guard Thursday. Dejounte Murray ($4,900) remains the starter, but he only played 23 minutes in Game 1, followed by 12 in Game 2. Meanwhile, Patty Mills ($4,300) has been playing more, but went from five shot attempts in Game 1 to 16 in Game 2. This volatility has some appeal for GPP contests, but should be completely avoided in cash games.

FORWARDS

LaMarcus Aldridge, SA vs. GS ($9,400): Aldridge gets the nod here, but almost by default. Only four forwards cost more than $7,500, and one of them is Anthony Davis, who is also recommended below. I donít love Simmons because the combination of Simmonsí salary being too high for his recent production and the Heatís defensive scheme. Kevin Durant could be a great play, but Iím worried about the potential for a huge blowout resulting in limited minutes. Aldridge is just the only man left standing. As Aldridge showed in Game 2, heís still capable of a 34-point, 54-DKFP explosion Ė and the Spurs may need that if they hope to avoid a sweep.

Dario Saric, PHI at MIA ($6,600): Saric did daily gamers a favor by going on a quick little mini-slump at the end of the regular season, lowering his salary. But heís looked like one of the best players on the floor in Games 1 and 2, averaging 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 33.5 minutes. The Heat have focused a lot of their defensive attention on Ben Simmons, which has opened up some extra opportunities for Saric. He averaged only 11.4 field goal attempts during the regular season, but has averaged 18.0 so far this series.

Justise Winslow, PHI at MIA ($4,600): While most of the Heatís rotation players had good nights Monday, Winslow was one of the few exceptions. But a large part of that was because he got in foul trouble early, playing only 21 minutes after playing 31 in Game 1. When he wasnít impacted by foul trouble, he filled up the box score and ended with 28.3 DKFP. That was his fifth-straight performance of at least 21 DKFP.

CENTERS

Anthony Davis, NO vs. POR ($10,900): Davis has been dominant in the playoffs Ė as he has been for months. After DeMarcus Cousins got hurt, Davis went off, averaging 30.2 points and 11.9 rebounds per game over the remainder of the season. While daily gamers donít typically expect consistency from defense, Davis has averaged 2.0 steals and 3.2 blocks in that time, enough for 10 DKFP per game. Heís kept that pace through the first two playoff games. Compared to the other high-priced options, Davis probably has not only the highest floor, but also the highest ceiling.

Kelly Olynyk, MIA vs. PHI ($6,100): Olynyk leads the Heat in minutes so far during the playoffs, and he also leads the team in fourth quarter minutes after playing all of the final quarter on Monday. He also leads the team in rebounds and threes. Itís pat to discuss shortened playoff rotations, but itís also clear that the Heatís play for this series involves a large dose of Olynyk.

Zach Collins, POR at NO ($3,600): Iíll be frank Ė I havenít found Collinsí play so far this series to be particularly compelling. That said, a lot of basketball people that I think very highly of were not only impressed by Collins, but thought the Trail Blazers played better when he was on the floor. With the Blazers down 2-0, theyíre almost certain to change some things, and giving more minutes to Collins is very plausible. As long as they donít cut down on Collins, heís an attractive play after averaging 19.9 DKFP over the first two games.

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.