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NBA Team/Player Situational Spots (May 3rd-May 10th)
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown is out for tonight’s clash with the Chicago Bulls. Brown is reportedly 'probable to return on Sunday,' which would make perfect sense given the magnitude of his team's game with the Miami Heat and the impact it could have on the play-in situation in the Eastern Conference.
DFS Beneficiary: Evan Fournier has carved out a nice role for himself in Beantown and recently had 18 points, five rebounds and four assists on Wednesday against his former team, the Orlando Magic. He’ll be worth a look on Friday against the Bulls and could be a nice DFS value play when Brown returns as well, as the Celtics traded for him for a reason and need the veteran's confidence/scoring come playoff time.
The current price tag of $5,400 on DraftKings frankly doesn't acknowledge Fournier's recent two-game resurgence against Orlando and Portland where he's scored a combined 73.1 fantasy points in addition to 39 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and just one turnover while going 16-for-24 from the field, 7-for-12 from three and without a single free throw attempt to boot. Let's not be so quick to forget that Fournier was averaging 19.7 with Orlando this season and has now reeled off six straight seasons of averaging more than 15 points per game and seven straight years of averaging double figures.
His last two years have been career highs in scoring as well (18.5 ppg in 2019-20 and 19.7 in 2020-21). Despite the scoring dip in Boston, he's actually averaging a career high 1.5 steals per game with Brad Stevens' crew and has played at least 29 minutes in seven of 11 games with his Boston so far. Fournier is a mid-priced lock with 7x potential at this price and has less chance of minutes restrictions in potential blowouts as the C's look to build his confidence and get him as many minutes as possible for the playoffs.
The Miami Heat will look to avoid the play-in round of the Eastern Conference (currently tied with Boston record-wise but in the #7 seed due to tiebreakers) with big wins this weekend. They square off with the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Friday night, which will be a revenge spot of sports for former Wolf Jimmy Buckets. Butler's departures from teams haven’t been pretty, and the Timberwolves were no exception. We’d expect a player with Butler’s kind of competitive fire to bring a little more to the table on Friday night and justify his price in DFS, in addition to some player props when it comes to his scoring and points + rebounds + assists props. Miami actually lost its lone prior meeting with Minnesota back on April 16th (119-111), but it the L had nothing to do with Jimmy's play. Butler went off for 30-10-8, in addition to three steals, one block and 12-for-15 from the foul line. He's currently listed as questionable along with Tyler Herro (knee), but if Butler gets the green light on Friday night, then he'll be locked into our core cash game lineups at $9,500 on DraftKings. We'll mention his opponent a little later down below as well.
L.A. Clippers forward Marcus Morris goes up against the Knicks for the first time since New York shipped him cross-country at last year’s trade deadline. By all indications, Morris was happy with the Knicks and did not want to be traded. Regardless, he’ll be someone to target in both player props and DFS on Sunday afternoon with the added motivation of facing his old team and especially against Knicks star PF Julius Randle, who has emerged as the ultimate replacement option for Morris in New York. Morris had just 11 points and three boards in these teams' last meeting, but that was a different L.A. Clippers squad back then on January 31st, as Morris came off the bench for the now-injured Serge Ibaka and the team still had Lou Williams hoisting jumpers at will as a key reserve. Morris averaged season-highs across the board in April (16.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 48.1% 3PT, 50.6% FG and 29.9 minutes per game) compared to season lows across the board in January (11.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 44.6% 3PT, 42.7% FG, 23.6 minutes). All that goes to say is we can surrely expect a bounce-back game from the Clippers' clear cut third-leading scorer on Sunday against his former team. At a modest DFS price and player prop line, we will look to attack.
As the NBA regular season comes to a close, playoff/play-in seeding isn’t the only thing up for grabs. There are some battles going on for ping-pong balls, and the league's draft lottery odds will soon be locked in.
Minnesota’s game on Sunday against Orlando is one the Timberwolves are simply better off losing. The Wolves currently hold the league’s third-worst record, but if their first-round pick falls outside the top three, it gets sent to Golden State. Orlando, on the other hand, is part of a near three-way tie for the fourth-worst record with OKC and Cleveland. All three teams are just one game behind Minnesota in the lottery standings heading into Friday night. Minnesota has actually played well of late, going 6-4 in its last 10 and nearly upsetting both New Orleans Memphis over the past week. Here's a complete look at those ping-pong-fighting NBA franchises below with their current records (as of Friday morning, May 7th), chance to get a top four pick and chance to get the #1 overall pick, courtesy of Tankathon.com:
Below you'll also see brief snapshot of each team's remaining regular season schedule, strength of schedule (opponent win % average), total games left and toughest/weakest opponents broken down, as per Tankathon's 'Remaining Schedule Strength' page. Minnesota is actually the only team of the four below which has multiple games against non-playoff teams, with both Detroit and the aforementioned Orlando Magic still on the schedule. On the other hand it's quite possible that OKC, Cleveland and Orlando lose the rest of their games as these three teams don't have a single matchup against a team who's mathematically out of the play-in race (yes, Sacramento is still mathematically alive for the #10 seed):
DFS Beneficiaries: Understand that this is purely conjecture on our part and that Wolves head coach Chris Finch may opt to play a normal rotation. However we can’t help but think management is keeping him in the loop with the team’s draft pick situation. Juancho Hernangomez and rookie Naz Reid were both in double-figures off the bench for the Wolves on Wednesday night against Memphis, so strong play from at least two of the reserves might be just the excuse the team needs to not play its best players for their normal allotment of minutes in Karl Anthony-Towns, D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards. Therefore both Reid and Hernangomez would seem to profile as pretty decent DFS dart throw sleepers on Sunday