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DraftKings NBA: Thursday-Friday 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.

Thursday night DraftKings is offering another two-day two-game Late Swap contest featuring Game 5 in the Western Conference Finals and Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Rockets host the Warriors in what has become a best-of-3 series on Thursday, and then the Cavaliers try to stave off elimination on their home court Friday.

An important reminder: since this is a Late Swap contest, make sure to put any Warriors or Rockets into the more restrictive positions – i.e. play Chris Paul in the PG slot, and not in the more flexible guard or utility slot. That way you can preserve maximum flexibility if you want to modify your lineup before Friday’s game.

TARGET

GS at HOU: The faster-paced matchup is also averaging an extra 16.6 points per game. (The Western Conference Finals are also averaging more combined rebounds per game, but only barely, 85.6 to 85.2). Furthermore, as the Warriors are dealing with a few injuries, this matchup is likely to have a few more underpriced bargains.

AVOID

BOS at CLE: Things can be harder to predict in a potential elimination game, as the added emotional factors take on increased significance. Furthermore, lineups and rotations may change in unexpected ways as the Cavaliers try to fix what went wrong in Game 5, and the Celtics then react to those adjustments.

GUARDS

James Harden, HOU vs. GS (TBD): One of the perks of rostering Harden on Thursday is that his ownership is likely to be driven down by a false narrative. Many persist in believing that Harden falters in crucial moments, and will therefore avoid him in this pivotal Game 5. But other than the 2017 elimination game against the Spurs (when he was almost certainly concussed), there really isn’t much evidence to support those Harden haters. He’s averaging 28.8 points in the playoffs, and has 50.1 DKFP during this series. Give me the best player on the home team on a fair salary.

George Hill, CLE vs. BOS (TBD): Let’s call this a conditional recommendation – if you think the Cavaliers will win Game 6, then roster Hill. If you think they will lose, then you should just skip on down to the next name. Hill has been a disaster in the Cavs’ losses to the Celtics. Add up his lines from all three of those games and it’s barely one useful DFS play. But in wins, Hill has been a key contributor worthy of his distinguished career. He’s scored double-digits in each of the Cavs’ last five wins. In each of their last three wins, Hill has more than 22 DKFP. It’s unclear if it’s Hill’s poor play hurting the Cavaliers or the Cavaliers solid play lifting Hill, but as he has gone, so has the team.

Rodney Hood, CLE vs. BOS (TBD): Nah I’m just kidding don’t do this.

Eric Gordon, HOU vs. GS ($5,400), Marcus Smart, BOS at CLE (TBD): These two enigmatic sixth men should be listed together because, despite their differences, they serve similar roles. Both are best used as GPP options. Their floors are pretty low, but they have enormous upside. Both have one game in their series with more than 39 DKFP, and haven’t come within 10 of that in any of the other games. Their price-point is perfect for balancing out a roster. Both are assured crucial roles in their rotation. They are both risky, but well suited for GPP play.

FORWARDS

LeBron James, CLE vs. BOS (TBD): I don’t care what the price is and I don’t care if everyone else has him. The greatest basketball player on the planet is faced with the following choice – win, or the season is over. He averaged 58.3 DKFP in the first two games in Cleveland, and has topped 55 DKFP in eight of his last 10 games. Start your lineup with James and then figure the rest out around him.

P.J. Tucker, HOU vs. GS ($4,800): As The Crossover’s Rohan Nadkarni pointed out), P.J. Tucker has had a very positive influence on the Rockets’ performance. The so-called “Tuckwagon” lineup – Tucker, James Harden, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza – played 20 minutes in Game 4, recording a +16.1 net rating. Tucker’s minutes per game have increased in each round of the playoffs, to the point where he is now averaging 36.8 in the WCF. That’s a ton of minutes for this discount salary in the most attractive game on the slate.

Kevon Looney, GS at HOU ($3,900): With Andre Iguodala (knee) out in Game 4, Looney started and played 26 minutes. That was the most he’d played in any playoff game this offseason, and it likely would have been more had he not been struggling with foul trouble. Iguodala is a game-time decision for Game 5, and if he cannot play, Looney would likely be perhaps the cheapest big-minutes player on the slate.

CENTERS

Larry Nance Jr., CLE vs. BOS (TBD): Coach Ty Lue seems to finally be figuring out that Nance can provide crucial energy off the bench, and he’s good enough on both ends of the court to play against the Celtics’ bench (if not their starters). Even though Nance has only averaged 16.0 minutes over the last three games, he’s scored more than 18 DKFP in each. He’s averaging 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals during that stretch, evidence of his large defensive impact. If he gets the extra run that he deserves, he should be a solid Fantasy play

Aron Baynes, BOS at CLE (TBD): Baynes isn’t likely to be the reason your lineup wins, but he’s a solid high-floor play if you’re tight on salary and feel good about the rest of your lineup. He has been rock-steady for the Celtics throughout this series, and his consistent fantasy production reflects that – he’s scored between 18.5 and 23 DKFP in each game. He’s the closest thing the Celtics have to a traditional big man, and he’s banged around the paint to the tune of 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in the ECF.

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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.