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Yahoo DFS Basketball: Thursday Picks

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.

Each conference’s top seed looks to extend their lead over their respective four seeds Thursday. The Celtics travel down I-95 to visit the nation’s capitol for Game 3, while the Warriors stay home for Game 2. The Warriors' defense has been the best per-possession this postseason, while the Wizards are the second-worst in that category among remaining teams.

GUARD

John Wall, WAS vs. BOS ($50):
This series is all about Wall and Isaiah Thomas, so it’s no surprise that both are solid fantasy options. Wall is the better play, despite costing $5 more, because his playoff floor is phenomenally high. His worst playoff performance was a 22-point double-double when he scored 42 fantasy points. His WORST! Since the scores needed to cash during these small-slate playoff contests are so low, a strong argument can be made that he profited every single game so far.

Joe Ingles, UTA at GS ($13): Ingles is a near-minimum salary starter, and that has value in and of itself. He’s scored at least 10.9 fantasy points in every playoff game, and before Game 1 on Tuesday, he’d played at least 29 minutes each night. Game 1 was a not-as-close-as-it-looks 11-point defeat, and every Jazz starter saw his minutes decrease. Despite playing only 23 minutes, Ingles still managed a respectable 11.9 fantasy points. If the Jazz are able to make Game 2 even a little competitive, Ingles’ minutes are likely to rise.

Trey Burke, WAS vs. BOS ($10): Burke has not played this postseason, and he only has two games of double-digit minutes since the All-Star break, so this may be a *terrible* suggestion. But if you want a gutsy play to make you stand out in a GPP, here it is. The Wizards need points off their bench, and their backup guards have been brutal this series, especially point guards. Burke is a good outside shooter, and Brandon Jennings is not getting the job done. Putting Burke in your lineup is a go-for-broke strategy, and he should not be used in cash games – this is a GPP move only.

Other suggestions: Marcus Smart, BOS at WAS ($16); Isaiah Thomas, BOS at WAS ($45)

Guard to Avoid

Stephen Curry, GS vs. UTA ($47):
The Warriors' four-pronged attack is always risky for daily games because it’s hard to know which star will lead on any given night. Curry has had a strong postseason, but he was limited in Game 1, in part because the Warriors had such firm control over the game. Additionally, he tweaked his ankle during the game, and the Warriors have no reason to push him any harder than absolutely necessary. There are a lot more scenarios when Curry plays fewer than than 30 minutes than more.

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FORWARD

Draymond Green, GS vs. UTA ($38):
Green has stepped up his play this postseason, scoring at least 40 fantasy points in every game after averaging 35.9 per game during the regular season. Due to his high-intensity drive, the added significance of the playoffs brings out the best in him, making his price – which he has carried over from the regular season – a big discount.

Otto Porter, WAS vs. BOS ($23): Porter got beat up in Game 2 on Tuesday, taking a hard (Celtics-assisted) fall on his wrist and suffering a bloody nose. The bumps and bruises didn’t get in the way of his box score though, as he had his second consecutive game with at least 32 fantasy points. Porter has been a key contributor keeping the Wizards in the game, and he played noticeably better at home this season.

Other suggestions: Kelly Oubre, WAS vs. BOS ($11)

Forward to Avoid

Kevin Durant, GS vs. UTA ($48):
Sure, he’s still one of the two or three best basketball players alive. He is clearly a better player than the other players in this price range (John Wall, Isaiah Thomas), and he’s $10 cheaper than LeBron James was on Wednesday. But the Warriors are still being cautious with Durant after his calf injury during Round 1. Game 1 of that series was the only time since the All-Star break that Durant, who has averaged just 26.1 fantasy points per game during this series, played more than 32 minutes. The Warriors shouldn’t need him to win this series, so they may continue to limit his minutes.

CENTER

Marcin Gortat, WAS vs. BOS ($20):
Gortat’s Game 2 line was limited, as he missed the end of the fourth quarter and all of overtime after a few fairly suspect foul calls forced him to the pine (and that assessment is coming from an avid Celtics fan). Despite the limitation, he still played 42 minutes, double-doubled and scored 34.5 fantasy points. The Celtics do not have a good answer for Gortat, and the Wizards’ bench does not have an adequate replacement for him, creating a perfect storm for fantasy purposes.

Other suggestions: Kelly Olynyk, BOS at WAS ($11); Al Horford, BOS at WAS ($29)

Center to Avoid

JaVale McGee, GS vs. UTA ($11):
Combine McGee’s low price with the lack of center options (only five players who cost more than the minimum) and McGee’s favorable postseason publicity, and a lot of managers may give strong consideration to the rat-tailed big man. McGee does have the potential for a big night, be he is also high risk. The Jazz center corps is very strong defensively, even when Rudy Gobert takes a seat. McGee can disappear for stretches, as he did Tuesday when he had just two points and one block in 10 minutes on his way to only 4.0 fantasy points. Kelly Olynyk has similar upside for effectively the same price and a much higher floor.
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.