We’ve got two games today and after yesterday’s early slate start in the Pacific time zone deeply affected my ability to write this column, I’m excited to jump into the two games we have today. There are still big tournaments across the industry and it’s going to take some real brain wracking to figure out how to build lineups that’ll take one down with the short slate.
But there is opportunity! The Philadelphia-Miami series has looked like a great chance at fantasy production despite both teams’ defensive competence all year. The Warriors blew out the Spurs but had a few big performances from their guys that could have been bigger if the Spurs kept it close. Bottom line: We’ve got players that will be useful or valuable and there are going to be different ways to build your teams today despite the limited options available.
Check back later for Awesemo’s rankings, ownership projections, and Slam Dunk picks as they come out. But for now, onto the slate.
Miami Heat (104.25 implied points, +0.3 on their last 10 games) at Philadelphia 76ers (111.25 implied points, -7.7 on their last 10 games)
Hassan Whiteside played like absolute dog crap versus the small-ball Sixers without Joel Embiid, picking up only 12 minutes. Erik Spoelstra said that Whiteside’s minutes were the result of matchups:
Spoelstra on Whiteside playing 12 minutes: "It's not about him." Spo said he had to make adjustments. "There's not a lot of time. It's not an indictment to his first four minutes [of the second half]. We all have to be collectively better on Monday."
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) April 15, 2018
Spoelstra also said about Whiteside, “All the power and muscle areas, [the Sixers] have to feel him. He has that ability.” The last time Whiteside was directly challenged by Spoelstra, he responded with a strong performance (more importantly, Spoelstra gave him a chance to prove his worth) and it’s safe to say it’s do or die for him in Miami this series. You cannot trust Whiteside fully at this time until you see him thrive versus the well-spaced Sixers small ball lineup but if he’s going to do anything in this round, this is his chance. Goran Dragic sucked last time but his usage was really solid and he can have a lot of upside if his shot falls. Kelly Olynyk is a fine pivot off of Whiteside and will see action if Hassan fails again. He played from 6:30 in the third through the end of the fourth quarter last time out and the Sixers will need his shooting and spacing if Whiteside can’t get going with the inside game. Justise Winslow has been a steady play lately with secure minutes and even though he may not get you much more than 5x, he may be able to help you create a more unique lineup tonight. Josh Richardson and James Johnson are not getting enough usage to be of use, though Richardson could be useful if his jumper is going better than last game.
Ben Simmons continued his stellar run without the injured Joel Embiid and he looks like the safest play on this side. Simmons is getting big usage and minutes and he can get you fantasy points in so many different ways. Ersan Ilyasova, JJ Redick, and Marco Belinelli also look good today with the amount of shot attempts they’re getting and how effective they’ve all been with the opportunity. This Philadelphia team has been so productive since their winning streak began and as long as they can keep the game flow similar to Game 1, they’ll all have an opportunity to smash value again today. Dario Saric looks like a fine play too. The only guy I’m not crazy about is Robert Covington, whose usage has completely cratered lately as Ilyasova and Belinelli’s roles have become more prominent. There are a lot of guys to like on this side, as long as Spoelstra doesn’t try to slow the game down to keep the Sixers’ gunners at bay.
San Antonio Spurs (98 implied points, -9 on their last 10 games) at Golden State Warriors (107.5 implied points, +3.4 on their last 10 games)
The Spurs got straight up embarrassed in Game 1, they’re likely to be without Kawhi Leonard all playoffs, and LaMarcus Aldridge saw the ghosts of girlfriends past and wet his pants playing Golden State last time out. His usage is there, though, and while Playoff Draymond and Javale McGee and whatever else the Warriors throw at Aldridge can be effective (as we just saw) there’s no reason LMA can’t get it going. He’s going to have to if the Spurs are going to have a chance. Dejounte Murray’s minutes were seriously blunted last time out and only propped up by Popovich giving him the full fourth quarter of run as the game got out of hand. It hurts me because I love Murray and his price and want to see him get a real shot at being effective but I do not trust how Pop is using him. Rudy Gay was the only guy who brought it last time out and he should get more run if the Spurs don’t get waxed again today. He may be one of my favorite guys in terms of upside at his price. Kyle Anderson is officially no longer a Kevin Durant stopper and his coach quickly realized that and pulled him. He’s not viable to me today. I want to like Manu Ginobili given how much usage he got last time in limited minutes but he strikes me as a little expensive for his low ceiling and meh floor on both sites. I would use him only in small doses. Bryn Forbes’ minutes look decent but they’re the result of half of the third quarter and entire fourth quarter of run. He wouldn’t see above 20 minutes if the game were close so he’s suboptimal.
Kevin Durant drove the Warriors’ offense last time out and had a solid fantasy performance given the blowout and his modest number of shot attempts. I see no problem with him tonight, particularly with extremely limited high priced options. Draymond Green had a really nice game last time out and there’s no reason he can’t do the same here. Draymond created a lot of offense with the Warriors moving Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup and one would presume those lineups will stay the same tonight. Iguodala can be a decent play with a moderate ceiling and he should see a few more minutes than he got last time between a leg injury that took him out before halftime and a blowout developing when he returned in the second half. Klay Thompson and Javale McGee were successful last time out but at really efficient scoring clips. I wouldn’t expect the same outcome tonight for either and the idea of paying almost $7,000 for Klay given that he got only 18% usage last time out seems like a fool’s errand.
There it is, a robust two game slate in the books. Follow me @ChrisSpags on Twitter, subscribe to the Awesemo YouTube to tune in to Josh Engleman and my live before lock show today at 6PM eastern, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow to overanalyze a limited amount of very important playoff games tomorrow!