The two games on tap for Monday have entirely different vibes.
First we have the Cavaliers' return to action (finally) after a nine-day hiatus, with Cleveland taking on the Hawks in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals. That series ended exactly how Cleveland's first-round series ended this year, but we can't expect the same results, right? I'd like to think so, but with the Cavaliers well-rested and the Hawks coming out of a tough series, Game 1 may look a lot like the first contest between the next two teams on the slate. Buy heavily into Cleveland.
The big question for the late game between San Antonio and Oklahoma City is whether the Thunder can respond after Saturday's embarrassment. We saw very lackluster performances from superstars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, which certainly ruined a lot of lineups. It will be risky to deploy either player given their high salaries, but chances are at least one of them will post a stat line we're used to seeing. This might make the Thunder's supporting cast seem less attractive, but if the Spurs shutdown Westbrook and Durant again, expect more out of some of OKC's role players.
Kyrie Irving, CLE vs. ATL ($33) - There are only three realistic options at point guard for Monday. Russell Westbrook, who struggled in Game 1 against the Spurs and is going to cost you a pretty penny ($54). Jeff Teague, who was decent against Boston in the first round, but injured his ankle at the end of that series. And then there's Irving, who torched the Pistons for 16 three-pointers while averaging 40.8 fantasy points over four games. The Cavaliers floor general is conveniently priced and has had over a week to rest before the second round. Irving is definitely a chalk play and will be heavily owned, but it's hard to justify rolling with anyone else at PG.
Danny Green, SA vs. OKC ($13) - If you thought point guard was thin, just take a look at your options at shooting guard. J.R. Smith leads the way at $17 ,with Green right behind him as the second-priciest two-guard. Green dropped 18 points, hitting five three-point shots to the tune of 33.8 fantasy points in Game 1 against the Thunder -- and he’s shockingly one of the safer bets at his position. He struggled throughout the regular season and didn't shoot the lights out in the first round, but Green is known for stepping up in the postseason.
Guard to Avoid
Jeff Teague, ATL at CLE ($28) - I mentioned Teague's injury above and that's only a fraction of the reason why I'm avoiding him Monday against Cleveland. The Cavaliers haven't played a game since completing their sweep of the Pistons on April 24, so expect LeBron James and Co. to jump on the Hawks early. Teague only averaged 27.3 fantasy points over six games against the Celtics and totaled just 45.3 FPts in the final three games of that series. There's no reason not to pay up an extra $5 for Irving, unless you're considering Teague as a Hail Mary play for tournaments.
Kevin Love, CLE vs. ATL ($34) - Love, like his teammate Irving above, has had a lot of time to rest before squaring off with the Hawks. He also recorded double-digit rebounds in all four games against the Pistons in the first round while averaging 36.9 fantasy points. Sure, Paul Millsap and Al Horford will be tougher to handle than Detroit's frontcourt, but Love is still one of the best defensive rebounders in the league, and a double-double is all we're looking for here.
Serge Ibaka, OKC at SA ($23) - Out of everyone on the Thunder's roster, Ibaka was the one who showed up when the Spurs blew them out in Game 1. Ibaka didn't do much on the glass Saturday (just two rebounds), but he did drain three shots from beyond the arc, continuing a trend from the opening round. I can't imagine the Thunder come out as flat as they were in Game 1, so expect a more competitive ball game Monday, which should translate into a more balanced stat line from Ibaka.
Forward to Avoid
Paul Millsap, ATL at CLE ($42) - There's no denying that Millsap was an absolute stud during the regular season, and his gigantic 45-point performance in Game 4 against the Celtics makes this a tough one, but a rested Cavaliers squad is a totally different animal. The only time Millsap scored a point-per-dollar was in that Game 4 in Boston; he averaged 28.9 fantasy points in the other five games against the Celtics. I imagine there will be times when LeBron guards Millsap, which also doesn't bode well for the bruiser’s prospects. Until I see how the Hawks look against the Cavaliers, I'm staying away from the underdogs.
Steven Adams, OKC at SA ($11) - Much like the barren pool of shooting guards, center doesn't offer too many options. Al Horford comes in at $31 and the drop off after that is significant, so expect a lot of lineups to be on the Hawks’ five. This gives you a few choices in the bargain bin, and Adams is by far the most appealing. He averaged 7.6 rebounds over five games against the Mavericks and even posted double-digit scoring efforts in two of those five. Adams also did a nice job on the glass in Game 1 against San Antonio and figures to get a fair amount of minutes.
Center to Avoid
Tim Duncan, SA vs. OKC ($14) - Duncan has gone four straight playoff games without reaching double-digit scoring or rebounding, something he's not used to seeing throughout his decorated career. Age has taken its toll and Duncan can no longer log big minutes, which has granted veterans Boris Diaw and David West additional playing time, particularly in blowout wins. Essentially you want Duncan to hit double his salary in points, and it's just too hard banking on him to reach around 30 fantasy points.