Heading into the NBA Conference Finals, Collin Hulbert provides his expert DFS picks and analysis as you prepare to set your lineups.
Following an exciting pair of Game sevens, the Conference Finals are now set. The defending champion Warriors will host the Blazers Tuesday. Milwaukee will then host the Raptors on Wednesday, who capped a dramatic series against the 76ers with an equally dramatic game-winning shot from Kawhi Leonard.
It’s Conference Finals time
With both matchups set, the first thing we should examine is the health situations of all four teams. Jusef Nurkic was a major key to the balance of the Blazers throughout the season, but a season-ending injury has tilted the balance of power in their offense almost fully to the guards. The Warriors will be without Cousins and Durant for at least Game 1, so it’s going to be critical the Blazers steal one early to snag home-court from the Warriors while the Dubs aren’t at full strength.
Milwaukee and Toronto have both been relatively healthy this season and carry no major injuries heading into this series. Malcolm Brogdon returned late last series to the Bucks rotation and should play a valuable role coming off the bench. There is going to be a lot of experimenting from the coaches on both sides early in this series as both teams will surely be forced to attempt multiple strategies to slow each other’s superstar down.
For the opening games, I’m avoiding Giannis and Kawhi until I see how they adjust after a couple of games in this series. Considering their prices, it may be a wise play.
Steph Curry (DK-$8,700)
Welcome to Curry Bowl 2019. The narrative will be Steph versus Seth, but the funny part is, they’ll likely only match up with one another for a couple of minutes each game, given their respective roles and minutes. Regardless, Steph realizes just how critical this Game 1 will be and will come out and set the tone. Since Durant will be gone, expect Steph, Klay and Draymond to exploit the Blazers and some good matchups. With an increased volume projection in Game 1, Curry is a no-brainer here.
CJ McCollum (DK-$7,400)
CJ McCollum went bananas in Denver to close out the Nuggets in what will be remembered as a relatively putrid game. Aside from CJ, both teams couldn’t seem to make shots, as the Nuggets ended the game missing their last 18 three-point attempts.
If CJ carries the hot hand into Game 1, the Blazers could escape the Bay with at least a split. Regardless of the difficulty of the matchups (likely drawing Klay Thompson), CJ will undoubtedly be drawing a strong defense in Game 1. On Sunday, it didn’t seem to matter how good the defense was on him, he still made nearly everything he put up. Given the circumstances, it will take another herculean effort to put the Blazers in the saddle in this series.
Khris Middleton (DK-$6,800)
Middleton carries the distinction of “Guy I trust most outside of Giannis” going into this series. Though we are uncertain about who he will draw defensively, the thought is that Giannis and Middleton will counterbalance each other, so whoever draws Kawhi should benefit the other. Though Giannis is a size mismatch for Kawhi, Kawhi is the best defender on the Raptors and might be asked to slow Giannis for spells in this game. Expect Middleton to see his share of looks in this one. It’s likely he’s the third best player in the series.
Draymond Green (DK-$7,900)
Draymond might have been the most critical player in the Houston series, as Durant and Curry carried the offense, Green made the big plays in between. This series should reveal just how weak the Portland bigs are and remind us just how valuable Draymond is in the playoffs, in case you weren’t really paying that much attention. Enes Kanter and Zach Collins are going to have their hands full with Green. I expect Draymond to completely dismantle them in what should be a very fast-paced, schooling out of the gate.
Serge Ibaka (DK-$4,400)
Ibaka won’t have a lot of competition rebounding in this series as the positioning of Lopez on the other end should give Serge the edge. Anytime a player is set up for a definitive advantage in one aspect of the game, it’s a good reason to throw support behind him, especially at $4,400 on DraftKings.
Eric Bledsoe (DK-$5,900)
Bledsoe will be drawing a favorable matchup against an older, slower guard in Kyle Lowry. Though there isn’t a wide gap in their play and abilities, Lowry is the better facilitator, but Bledsoe’s athleticism should give him the advantage off the dribble. Bledsoe comes in at good value here. He’s a great value considering his status as a starter.
Pat Connaughton (DK-$4,200)
Connaughton is fresh off a series where he turned heads with some strong performances against the Celtics. He should get plenty of minutes in Game 1. If his price alone isn’t enough to sway you, consider he’s gotten over ten rebounds in the past two games, each. He’s a subtly strong contributor and could find himself open for some good looks in Game 1, with so much focus on Giannis and Middleton.
Nikola Mirotic (DK-$4,700)
Mirotic is the final piece in the puzzle for our roster this week. Though he moves very slowly for someone his age, this man can get buckets. Like Connaughton, he also tends to collect a decent amount of rebounds. As the winds of change come in the ever-developing in-game strategy for Game 1, Mirotic likely won’t be the priority or even second priority for Nick Nurse and the Raptors brain trust. Make him a priority for your lineup.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who will watch any sport and gamble with anyone willing. This is his second year writing for dailyfantasysports.codes.
Follow Collin on Twitter @CollinHulbert