As we get down to the final stretch of the season, this is the time where the cream rises to the top. That leads to numerous blowouts at this time of year and it's key to focus on teams motivations at this exhausting time of the season. Personally, I try to avoid most teams that are bottom-three in the league and especially avoid them when they are looking at a spread of 12 points or higher. Luckily, there's only one of those games tonight, but it's something to keep an eye on going forward.
Damian Lillard, POR vs. BRK ($9,200): Two weeks ago, Lillard said his team needed to “man up” and he's done just that since his statement. In fact, Lillard has at least 40 fantasy points in four-straight games, while averaging 48 fantasy points a game in that span. The tastiest part of this play is the matchup though, with Brooklyn ranking first in pace and allowing the most fantasy points in the NBA to point guards this season.
Nicolas Batum, CHA at DEN ($6,800): Batum is in a bad shooting slump right now, but this is the sort of matchup that could get him out of it. Not only does Denver rank dead-last in defensive efficiency, the Nuggets are also allowing shooting guards to score the second-most fantasy points this season. That should only benefit a player like Batum, who thrives off of stuffing the stat sheet at will. The price drop makes him an attractive option too, as Batum was an $8,000 player just a few weeks ago.
Cory Joseph, TOR at MIL ($5,000): Joseph has taken over starting point guard duties in Toronto in the absence of Kyle Lowry and his price hasn’t risen enough in his new role. Over his last five games, Joseph is averaging 22 fantasy points per game on well over 30 minutes of action. That role is what makes him so intriguing, as finding a point guard whose playing over 30 minutes is impossible to find at just $5,000.
Jimmy Butler, CHI vs. LAC ($9,100): Butler has turned into the de facto point guard in Chicago and his price is still too cheap to pass up on him. With at least 45 fantasy points in five of his last six games, Butler is turning into one of the best fantasy options in the league. It's his distribution that's most promising, as he's averaging nine assists a game in those five outings with at least 45 fantasy points. The Clippers also have a serious void at small forward, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing small forwards this season.
Serge Ibaka, TOR at MIL ($6,900): Ibaka has found a great home in Toronto and he should continue to be used heavily in this depleted offense. Since Lowry got injured, Ibaka has turned into the second option on this team and it's led to some great production. Ibaka is averaging 30 fantasy points a game with the Raptors and has yet to score less than 21 fantasy points in any game with his new team. This matchup is strong, too, as Milwaukee has turned into one of the worst defenses in the league over recent weeks, with very little frontcourt protection.
Khris Middleton, MIL at TOR ($5,300): Middleton is easily one of the values of the day, as this price is not representative of how good he can be. Because he missed the first three months, FanDuel had to lower his price to $5,300, but he's shown that it's simply undervaluing his production. In fact, Middleton has at least 36 fantasy points in three of his last five games, as he's regularly playing 30 minutes a game right now. That's the production that made him a $7,000 player in the past and his numbers should only go up in the absence of Jabari Parker. One concern here is the fact that this is a back-to-back and there's a possibility they could rest him. If they don't, feel free to deploy him as the value bet of the day.
Marc Gasol, MEM at HOU ($8,400): The elite centers are tough on this slate and Gasol makes for a safe pivot. Karl-Anthony Towns faces San Antonio, Hassan Whiteside plays Cleveland and DeAndre Jordan squares off with Chicago, so Gasol easily has the best matchup against Houston. He's been great lately too, scoring at least 35 fantasy points in five of his last seven games, while averaging 37 fantasy points per game for the season.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs. BRK ($6,400): Nurkic was begging to get traded at the trade deadline to a team who needed him and this situation couldn’t have worked out better with the Blazers. In his new starting role with Portland, Nurkic is averaging 14 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.8 blocks on 58 percent shooting. That's 37 fantasy points per game, which is incredible value for a player who is barely cracking $6,000. The best part about using him may be this matchup though, with Brooklyn allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to centers this season, while playing at the fastest pace.
Robin Lopez, CHI vs. LAC ($4,700): Lopez has quietly outperformed his price all season and it's a wonder why FanDuel is so low on him. For the season, he's averaging 22 fantasy points a game and rarely puts in a single-digit dud. While this matchup against Los Angeles looks tough on the surface, it does mean that he should be used heavily, as he's the only big on this roster who can match with DeAndre Jordan. That should make him a good bet for close to 30 minutes and he could record a double-double if given those minutes, while posting some defensive statistics.