NBA Playoffs: Round 2 DFS Preview

NBA Playoffs: Round 2 DFS Preview

This article is part of our Category Strategy series.

Bucks vs. Celtics

Regular-season series: MIL (2-1), +10 points

Bucks' Top Fantasy Performers

Round 1 vs. Pistons

Giannis Antetokounmpo (49.9 FP, 28.3 MIN)

Eric Bledsoe (37.7 FP, 27.7 MIN)

Khris Middleton (32.0 FP, 29.6 MIN)

Regular Season vs. Celtics

Giannis Antetokounmpo (55.3 FP, 31.0 MIN)

Khris Middleton (35.4 FP, 32.9 MIN)

Malcolm Brogdon (27.1 FP, 29.6 MIN)

Celtics' Top Fantasy Performers

Round 1 vs. Pacers

Kyrie Irving (43.0 FP, 37.0 MIN)

Al Horford (31.3 FP, 34.6 MIN)

Jayson Tatum (29.9 FP, 35.5 MIN)

Regular Season vs. Bucks

Al Horford (50.0 FP, 34.5 MIN)

Kyrie Irving (42.4 FP, 37.7 MIN)

Jaylen Brown (36.5 FP, 26.9 MIN)

Analysis

The Bucks completing one of the most lopsided sweeps in playoff history doesn't exactly make for meaningful analysis. Now, the Bucks have an opportunity to exact revenge on a Celtics team that bounced them out of Round 1 in seven games last season. One of the main stories from that series was Eric Bledsoe's disappearing act. He was being consistently outplayed by Terry Rozier, so how will he fare against Kyrie Irving this time around? Early indications are not good. Bledsoe cobbled together only 18.5 FP/game against the Celtics during the regular season, attempting just 9.0 shots per game and dishing 3.3 assists. Malcolm Brogdon was the one who was able to exploit Boston. Though he's expected to be back sometime during Round 2, it won't be during the first two games, and we can't expect him to be at full strength. Giannis and Khris Middleton played well against the Celtics this season and played up to par during Round 1, so they're the pair who should be targeted by DFS users.

The Celtics probably like their chances for an upset here. The regular-season series was decided by only 10 points across three games, and they appear to have figured out how to shut down one of the Bucks' top-3 offensive players. Plus, Al Horford has given Brook Lopez issues, making 35.3 percent of his threes on 8.5 attempts per game against Milwaukee, not to mention 11.0 boards, 6.5 assists and a combined 3.0 blocks/steals. He and Kyrie Irving figure to be the main targets for DFS users in this series, as they played well against the Bucks in the regular season and took care of business during Round 1. But which role players will step up? Jaylen Brown shot a scorching hot 60.9 percent from the field against Milwaukee this season en route to 36.5 FP/game, but he produced just 20.0 FP/game in the first round (though shot 58.6 percent). The safer bet is clearly Jayson Tatum, who posted 29.9 FP/game on 50.9 percent shooting in the first round and produced 32.6 FP/game on 43.2 percent shooting vs. the Bucks.

Raptors vs. 76ers

Regular-season series: TOR (3-1), +15 points

Raptors' Top Fantasy Performers

Round 1 vs. Magic

Kawhi Leonard (42.2 FP, 34.1 MIN)

Pascal Siakam (39.2 FP, 37.6 MIN)

Kyle Lowry (34.3 FP, 35.4 MIN)

Regular Season vs. 76ers

Kawhi Leonard (54.9 FP, 34.6 MIN)

Jonas Valanciunas (35.5 FP, 17.6 MIN)

Serge Ibaka (35.1 FP, 27.4 MIN)

Kyle Lowry (34.3 FP, 34.1 MIN)

76ers' Top Fantasy Performers

Round 1 vs. Nets

Joel Embiid (54.5 FP, 24.3 MIN)

Ben Simmons (40.7 FP, 33.3 MIN)

Tobias Harris (38.7 FP, 35.2 MIN)

Regular Season vs. Raptors

Joel Embiid (48.4 FP, 35.5 MIN)

Jimmy Butler (42.7 FP, 35.4 MIN)

Robert Covington (39.3 FP, 36.9 MIN)

Ben Simmons (38.0 FP, 36.6 MIN)

Analysis

The last time these squads played was Feb 5., which means Marc Gasol never matched up against the Sixers while in a Raptors uniform, and Tobias Harris never matched up against the Raptors while in a Sixers uniform. Gasol's presence, especially, brings a new dynamic to the series. After making Nikola Vucevic irrelevant in Round 1, Gasol will try his hand at Embiid. The big men have met in 5 games across their respective careers, and they've done a good job of shutting each other down. Here are the specifics:

Gasol played only 25.9 minutes per contest in Round 1, but I think he'll get all the run he can handle against Embiid for defensive purposes (more on Embiid's struggles in the next paragraph). It may not directly translate to offensive production, but I think for DFS purposes, we can turn to Gasol more than we did against Orlando, simply due to a minutes increase. Ibaka fared well against the Sixers during the regular season as well, racking up 1.3 FP/min. I expect Kawhi Leonard to keep doing his thing, as he coasted through Round 1 and wasn't bothered by Philly in the regular season.

Joel Embiid attempted just 18 shots in 108 possessions guarded by Marc Gasol this season, converting that into only 17 points. Plus, he committed three offensive fouls and seven turnovers to only five assists. Embiid also shot just 42.2 percent against Serge Ibaka on 33 shooting posessions this season. Those numbers, plus Embiid's questionable health, makes me want to avoid him during this series. Ben Simmons didn't look his best during the regular-season series, either, and he'll likely be checked by Kawhi Leonard -- a bad sign. As a result, I think the ball will end up running through Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler often. Butler floated around during the back half of the series against the Nets, which will probably drive down his DFS ownership rate. He could afford to float around during Round 1, but a repeat of that against one of the best teams in the league could result in a quick exit.

Warriors vs. Rockets

Regular-season series: Rockets (3-1), +26 points

Warriors' Top Fantasy Performers

Round 1 vs. Clippers

Kevin Durant (53.2 FP, 36.3 MIN)

Stephen Curry (42.1 FP, 33.5 MIN)

Draymond Green (39.0 FP, 35.5 MIN)

Regular Season vs. Rockets

DeMarcus Cousins (48.5 FP, 29.1 MIN)

Stephen Curry (44.4 FP, 37.1 MIN)

Kevin Durant (37.4 FP, 36.7 MIN)

Klay Thompson (37.2 FP, 36.5 MIN)

Rockets' Top Fantasy Performers

Round 1 vs. Jazz

James Harden (53.2 FP, 36.4 MIN)

Chris Paul (39.3 FP, 32.9 MIN)

Clint Capela (31.0 FP, 31.7 MIN)

Regular Season vs. Warriors

James Harden (58.4 FP, 37.8 MIN)

Chris Paul (42.6 FP, 32.4 MIN)

Clint Capela (39.3 FP, 35.9 MIN)

Analysis

After being taken to seven games in last year's Western Conference Finals, the Warriors succumbed to the Rockets during the 2018-19 regular season despite the addition of DeMarcus Cousins, who appeared in two of the four matchups. Notably, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry struggled from long distance. Curry shot just 37.1 percent on 11.7 attempts per contest -- obviously good in a vacuum, but he shot 43.7 percent from three this season as a whole -- while Durant made just 28.6 percent of his 4.7 attempts per game. Maybe even stranger, Draymond Green appeared in all four games, but he scored just 15 total points on 21 attempts. The Warriors have so many different points of attack that it's difficult to hone in on one player as a key to the series. That said, after the series Durant is coming off against the Clippers, it will be interesting to see how he fares against a Rockets team that gave him problems during the regular season. For DFS purposes, there's certainly an argument that you should avoid him at the beginning of the series while his price might be at its peak.

Somehow, James Harden shot 37.4 percent from the field during Round 1 and the Rockets needed only five games to send the Jazz home (or to Cancun). Interestingly, Harden shot just 39.7 percent against the Warriors this season and the Rockets also ended up winning that series. He got a lot of help from Chris Paul and Clint Capela, with both players posting better numbers against the Warriors than their respective season averages. Eric Gordon did the same, and he's a potential source for value in DFS considering he launched up 9.3 threes per game against Golden State in the regular season, connecting on 35.7 percent of them. And while P.J. Tucker struggled against the reigning champions, it's possible he'll be able to build upon an impressive series against the Jazz where he hit 2.8 threes per contest en route to 28.0 FP per game. On an individual level, the key to this series for the Rockets may be Harden's efficiency. Can he bounce back up to his regular-season numbers, or will we continue to see him falter in the postseason?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.
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