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Yahoo DFS Basketball: Wednesday-Saturday 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.

Wednesday begins a DFS slate that spans four days, since Game 3 of the Spurs/Warriors does not take place until Saturday. The lengthy delay between the contest's start before Wednesday’s Celtics/Cavaliers Game 1 and Saturday’s conclusion means players will have to carefully manage the Spurs’ injury situation. While the NBA Twittersphere doesn’t give the Celtics or Spurs much of a chance, Las Vegas disagrees — the Cavaliers are only favored by 3.5 points, and the Warriors by 6. Close games are better for starters.


Isaiah Thomas, BOS vs. CLE ($45):
Kyrie Irving is a bad defender, and the Celtics will need a lot out of Thomas if they are going to keep this series competitive. Thomas had a few bad games in the middle of the Wizards series, but he ended it back where he started, performing at a high level and earning a fantasy profit. The softer backcourt defense, plus the matchup between two fast-paced three-point-heavy teams arguably makes the Cavaliers Thomas’ most fantasy-friendly opponent this postseason.

Marcus Smart, BOS vs. CLE ($16): Smart has been a critical force in the Celtics’ rotation during these playoffs. Though his minutes have actually dropped slightly since the regular season, the difference is small, and he has still played at least 25 minutes in every playoff game. His defensive intensity will be needed against the Cavaliers, who have been the best per-possession offense this postseason, and were the third best during the regular season.

Other suggestions: Dejounte Murray, SA vs. GS ($10)

Guard to avoid

Patty Mills, SA vs. GS ($19):
There are basically three ways Game 3 can shake out, and neither are particularly good for Mills. If the Spurs are getting blown out again, then Mills will likely again surrender minutes to Murray. Additionally, if the Spurs are playing that poorly, it is probably in part because of Mills’ struggles running the offense with Tony Parker (quad) out. For the Spurs to keep it competitive, they either need a healthy Kawhi Leonard (ankle), or Mills has to have the best passing game of his life, as the Warriors are too potent for Mills to score the Spurs into contention. If Mills is focusing on finding the open shooters, he’ll have difficulty scoring enough points to cover his fantasy floor, since assists alone probably won’t be enough.

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LeBron James, CLE at BOS ($59):
James has scored at least 53 fantasy points in every single playoff game this season. He’s scored at least 32 points in all but one game, when he managed only a meager 25. He’s played at least 41 minutes in all but one game. And, speaking as a scarred Celtics fan, James has a history of strong performances in Boston in the playoffs.

Kelly Olynyk, BOS vs. CLE ($13): I hate chasing yesterday’s points. My recommendation of Olynyk is not point-chasing, but his ownership rate will probably be higher because of other points-chasers following his 26-point bonanza in Game 7 against the Wizards. This series is likely to feature several “first to 120 wins” scoring explosions, as it features the teams that attempted the second and fourth most threes during the regular season. The Celtics will need a lot of Olynyk’s outside shooting to keep pace.

Other suggestions: Jae Crowder, BOS vs. CLE ($23); Draymond Green, GS at SA ($38)

Forward to avoid

Jonathon Simmons, SA vs. GS ($13):
The Leonard injury situation is a problem since Saturday’s game is so far away that it is hard to know if he will play when you make your initial lineup. Leaving enough money to swap in Simmons later is a reasonable strategy, but temper your expectations. First, while Simmons has been good, it’s been overstated. As much as I enjoy the nickname, “LeBronathon” is not LeBron James, and Simmons’ “great” performances are more similar to Bojan Bogdanovic or James Johnson, statistically. Second, while it’s always disappointing to miss out on a good value, a ton of other players will use Simmons, decreasing the comparative advantage. Finally, If Leonard does play, Simmons’ value plummets, since he will lose so many minutes to Leonard. Simmons is a decent play, but he’s not the slam-dunk must-use that he was in Game 6 against the Rockets.


Al Horford, BOS vs. CLE ($29):
Horford has been consistent in the playoffs. With only two exceptions, he scores double-digit points, grabs heaps of rebounds and assists, plays at least 27 minutes, and scores at least 29 fantasy points. Assuming the trends from earlier series hold true, James will not spend much time guarding Horford, at least not in Game 1. James is the Cavs' only serious defensive threat, so Horford should be in position to continue his strong play.

Other suggestions: Tristan Thompson, CLE at BOS ($16)

Center to avoid

Anyone else. Pau Gasol has struggled. Even after Zaza Pachulia (heel) exited, JaVale McGee still didn’t see a full 10 minutes. Dewayne Dedmon only appears in some games. Horford is a good option, Thompson is a good-enough option, and everyone else is unappealing.

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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.