When our National Basketball Association (NBA) experts have important information or updates on individual players, injuries, match-ups, positions, or other specific aspects of a sport, they share it in a Spotlight. These articles provide in-depth analysis on how to reveal hidden value in the world of daily fantasy sports. This is where you will find key advantages that can launch your lineups to the top of your contests.
It’s Game 2 of the playoffs which means it’s time to analyze what we learned in Game 1 while also bearing in mind the larger sample size that is the regular season meetings. This article is a breakdown of the three-stat contest on PlayLine Saturday night, including the million-dollar perfect line bonus. If you’re new to PlayLine, that means if you perfectly predict the stats of LeBron James, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook, PlayLine will give you a million dollars! You can click here to open PlayLine in a new tab and join these NBA contests.
We’ll start with James Harden, who receives a matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves. During the regular season, Harden averaged 30.4 points, 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. However, the key aspect to look into here is does the Jimmy Butler treatment affect Harden’s production? While the Rockets played the Timberwolves four times during the regular season, and Harden averaged 27.3 PPG, 10.3 APG and 3.5 RPG, this sample is not as accurate as we would like it to be since Jimmy Butler was inactive for one of these contests. Let’s breakdown Harden’s matchups with Butler:
January 18th: 3-15 shooting, 10 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds
February 13th: 10-20 shooting, 34 points, 13 assists, 6 rebounds
February 23rd: 8-25 shooting, 31 points, 9 assists, 2 rebounds
Now we’ll look into Game 1 between the Rockets and TimberWolves. James Harden went for 44 points, eight assists and four rebounds. When we compare these numbers to his season average against Butler, they are fairly similar other than him shooting 15-26 from the field as well as 7-12 from the three-point line.
So what can we make of this? We think it is safe to say that Harden is not afraid of any defender. As the season progressed, Harden took more and more shots even with Butler on him, and we just saw this take place in Game 1. With this being said, regression is expected as he cannot shoot 58% from the field every game with the way he plays. We safely project Harden for 28-32 points which would be just around his season average. With Minnesota’s best defender on Harden for the majority of the game, the passing lanes are more open as we can see by Harden’s increased assist rate above. Projecting Harden for 8-10 assists seems like our best bet here. Lastly, it may have to do with Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson patrolling the point, but Harden’s rebounding rate is way down against Minnesota. We recommend putting his projection right at four based on his history here.
Next we’ll dive into LeBron James. This is LeBron’s first season playing in all 82 games and he has been on another level, averaging 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game. The Cleveland Cavaliers will receive a matchup with Indiana Pacers who he has absolutely feasted on this season, with averages of 28.8 points, 10.3 assists, and 8.5 rebounds. Unfortunately for us, James and the new look Cavaliers did not play the Indiana Pacers after the trade deadline until Game 1 of the playoffs, so we do not have a good enough matchup sample to go off of. In Game 1 of the playoffs, LeBron went for 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. However, this game turned into a blowout which we do not expect to be the case in Game 2. As for LeBron’s points, he is much more consistent than someone like James Harden. With LeBron being less likely to have a 60 point night, we like projecting LeBron between 27-31 points which is right around his season average and his average against Indiana. For the assists category, LeBron has been averaging about eight assists per game his last three years in the playoffs. With his increased assist rate this season, we believe projecting 9-11 assists is what is best here. Lastly, we have the rebounding category which is something Indiana struggles with mightily. Indiana ranked 9th-worst on the glass, and for that reason, projecting Lebron for 9 or 10 rebounds seems optimal here, especially after we saw him grab 10 in Game 1.
Last, but certainly not least, is the triple-double machine Russell Westbrook. This season will mark Westbrook’s second-consecutive season averaging a triple double as he averaged 25.4 points, 10.3 assists, and 10.1 rebounds during the regular season. What’s really interesting here is that even with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, the only statistic that took a substantial drop was his points per game, dropping about six points. Westbrook and the Thunder receive a less-than-stellar matchup against the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. However, not even the team that ranks first overall in defensive efficiency could stop Russell Westbrook as he averaged 22.8 points, 10 assists, and 11.3 rebounds per game. What stands out even more is that when you throw out the outlier performance of 6 points, 9 assists and 13 rebounds that Westbrook had against the Jazz to begin the season, his averages jump to 28.3 points, 10.3 assists, and 10.7 rebounds. Essentially what we see here is that not even a defensively stout team can stop Westbrook from averaging a triple-double. What we do want to mention here is that Rudy Gobert only played in two of the four games these two teams met, but Westbrook still put up terrific performances against him.
In Game 1 of the playoffs between these teams, Westbrook put up 29 points, 8 assists, and 13 rebounds. His rebounding and scoring rate went up from his season average but his assist rate went down, likely due to the increased usage of Paul George. Westbrook attempted a massive 25 shots while attempting nine free throws as well. While the sample may be small, it may be smarter to ignore his dip in statistics against the Jazz and use “Playoff Westbrook” for PlayLine contests. We like projecting Westbrook at 25-29 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Good luck and enjoy the games! Hopefully one of you wins the million dollar prize!
It’s time for the playoffs! PlayLine gives us the chance to project how the stars will do on Opening Night and we’re so pumped that we decided to publish this article a day early. This article is a breakdown of the three-stat contest on PlayLine Saturday night that includes the million dollar perfect line bonus. If you’re new to PlayLine, that means if you perfectly predict the stats of Ben Simmons, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis, PlayLine will give you a million dollars! You can click here to open PlayLine in a new tab and join these NBA contests. It’s game one, so we will have to dive into how well these players did in the regular season against the team they are facing in order to help you make money in your contests and maybe even win that million dollars.
To begin, we have MVP candidate, Anthony Davis. Davis has been absolutely dominating this season once again, especially since DeMarcus Cousins went down with his achilles injury. To end the season, Davis averaged just shy of 30 points per game to go along with 11 rebounds and 2 assists. AD is arguably the most dominant big men in the league, but he gets a tough matchup on opening night of the playoffs as he will face the 3-seed Portland Trail Blazers. Portland ranks sixth in the league in terms of defensive efficiency against centers, anchored by their stout defensive big, Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic has been solid in the paint all season long but has been foul prone at times against offensively minded centers. This will be an interesting matchup all series long to see who will prevail on each side of the court. Though we know Davis has the potential to put up games of 40/15/5, his recent play not having gone over 35 points in seven straight games and accumulating 15+ boards just once makes us want to give him projections somewhat close to his season average. Over the past two seasons against the Trail Blazers, AD has put up 26.3/10/2.7 while playing 32 minutes per game. These numbers look below average, but he has been seeing 36 minutes per game this season, so we may want to bump those numbers up. When we consider his recent stats and numbers, his track record against Portland over the past few years, and the matchup he will have to face, we will be looking to give him numbers not too low, but not too high. Looking at his points total, we want to project him to score between 26-30 points in a game that should be a pace-down matchup for the Pelicans. With Portland being stout on the defensive glass, his rebounds projection looks to be very solid between the 11-13 range considering he goes between that number quite often. His assist total almost always ranges between 1-4, so going with 2 or 3 assists seems like a viable projection for the big man. With that, let’s move on to the young Philly stud, Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons, potential (controversial) rookie of the year, will face off against the Miami Heat tonight. Both teams play just above league average in terms of pace, but with Miami running slower than the Sixers, this is a pace down spot for Simmons’ team. It’s tough to look at matchups when analyzing Ben Simmons because there is debate whether he is a point guard, small forward, or a power forward. Because of this, we will look at how Miami ranks defensively as a team. They rank top-10 in defensive efficiency against each individual position, and the three positions Ben could qualify at are the worst positions to exploit. Luckily, Simmons isn’t a pure scorer, so these numbers don’t affect him as much. With a very balanced season stat line of 15.8/8/8, we see that the rookie has a great all-around game. He has had three triple doubles in his last 11 games featuring a massive 27/15/13 game against Cleveland just one week ago. Simmons has massive upside when he’s scoring, but his projections look to be pretty leveled across the board. One injury we need to take into account for this matchup is the absence of Joel Embiid. Embiid has provided the Sixers with 23 points and 11 rebounds per game all season long, but he will miss game one due to a broken orbital bone. In his absence, Simmons has put up numbers of 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists per game (excluding their last game where he played just 22 minutes in a 35-point blowout). Looking at Simmons’ projections for the game against the Heat, he gets a slight hit in projections due to the matchup, but gets a great advantage without Embiid taking up usage and stats all night long. With Simmons not exactly being a prolific scorer, we want to project him for 13-16 points, while looking in the range of 9-11 rebounds and 10-12 assists. Ben could surely end up going for a triple double in his first postseason game so giving him double digit rebounds and assists is not out of the question. Moving forward, let’s take a look at the last player of the contest, Portland All-Star guard, Damian Lillard.
Lillard has been having yet another incredible season, posting regular season averages of 27 points per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game (all being less than half a point per game shy of career high marks). Throughout his whole career in Portland, he has been a focal point of the offense, and this season has been nothing but the same. Dame is in a phenomenal spot to produce big numbers all series long, as the Pelicans tend to struggle mightily against opposing guards. They have been the third worst team in the league guarding opposing guards and with Rondo and Holiday playing big minutes, we could see Lillard having a huge series. Dame has scored 25+ in five straight. One of the most exciting game logs we have seen from Lillard as of late was his last contest against the Pelicans where he went off and scored 41 points accompanied by 9 rebounds and 6 assists. This outing shows that Lillard can dominate this Pelicans backcourt and could be due for a huge game tonight. Since we don’t love projecting huge games, we won’t confidently say he will score 40 points again, but one thing we will do is project him above his season averages. Looking at points, we are going to want to surpass his season average of 26 and give him a projection between 27-32 points. Lillard has been putting up over 20 shots a game lately and is the main piece in the Blazers offense, so giving him big numbers is justified for us. When looking at peripherals, we want to give him between 4-6 rebounds and 6-8 assists. These numbers are just slightly above his season average, and unless he goes huge tonight for a near triple double, we believe these numbers will be very close to his final stat total.
That should do it for our PlayLine coverage for the first night of NBA Playoffs! Good luck tonight and enjoy the games. Hopefully one of you wins the million-dollar prize!
This article is a breakdown of the three-stat contest on PlayLine tonight that includes the million dollar perfect line bonus. If you’re new to PlayLine, that means if you perfectly predict the stats of Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook, PlayLine will give you a million dollars! You can click here to go to the contest. Now let’s dive into the projections you should make to potentially win that jackpot.
We’ll start with Anthony Davis who has become the focal point of the Pelicans’ offense now that Demarcus Cousins is out for the season with a torn achilles. Davis has been an absolute animal of late. In his last six games, he is averaging 41.5 PPG, 15 RPG, and 2 APG. Today he’ll receive a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs in what is a close projected spread of 4.5 points. So the big question here is, will Anthony Davis finally come back to Earth in a tough matchup? Well, today could be that day, but the matchup isn’t quite as bad as people think. Pau Gasol is doubtful which essentially leaves the trio of Davis Bertans, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Joffrey Lauvergne to try and slow down the big man. With Pau Gasol off the court, the San Antonio Spurs defensive rating drops from 100.9 to 103.3, which is much closer to league average. The only other player who affects the Spurs’ defense more than Gasol is DeJounte Murray. As we mentioned earlier, Anthony Davis has been averaging 41.5 PPG over his last six and he has been doing this by attempting 28 shots per game in this span. With a much weaker interior defense without Pau, and Davis seeing a usage rate of 40% in two of the past three games, we believe it is safe to assume the offense will still run through Anthony Davis. However, with this game being in San Antonio, the pace will likely slow down which will affect the upside of Davis. He has scored over 30 points once in his career against the Spurs and while he will be a usage monster, today may finally be the day where we can project him for closer to 29-33 points as we believe this game will be a low-scoring affair. As for his rebounds, a projection of 11-14 makes the most sense for us as he likely has a floor of 11 rebounds. And lastly, a projection of two assists is the safest way to go as he has been averaging two over his last seven games and it still allows us to get the bonus points if he gets one or three.
Next, we’ll move on to James Harden who has a juicy matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. One quick thing to take note of is that Eric Gordon will likely be back from sitting out with an illness which will cut into the scoring upside of James Harden. Many people may look at Harden’s earlier 51 point game against the Clippers this year and assume he will do something similar. However, both Clint Capela and Chris Paul were unavailable for this contest. Another interesting note about this game is that we have a slight narrative situation as Chris Paul returns to LA. While by no means does that guarantee him to have a career night, we can assume he’ll want to put on a show in a “revenge” game. Moving back to Harden, in his last four games against the Clippers, he averaged 30 PPG, 7 RPG, and 8 APG. Interestingly enough, while this sample is a bit skewed, these numbers are right along the lines of his seasons averages this year. Tonight we believe Harden will score between 30-34 points, and accrue 6-8 rebounds as well as 7-9 assists. The Clippers allow the 3rd most rebounds to opposing SGs and the 7th most assists. For those of you who want to take a bold risk, last game between these two teams nearly ended in an all-out brawl. Tempers may flare up easily tonight and if you are multi-entering, it may be worth a shot at projecting Harden lower than usual should the game get chippy and something wild occur like a fight that involves the beard. That’s highly unlikely though and for a three-entry contest it’s probably not worth using an entry on that narrative.
Lastly, we will move on to Russell Westbrook who receives a matchup with the tanking (per Mark Cuban) Dallas Mavericks. Westbrook is having his usual dominant season with averages of 24.8 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 10.8 APG. In three games against Dallas this season, Westbrook has absolutely crushed with 31 PPG, 11 RPG, and 8.3 APG. However, what sticks out to us is that Westbrook’s best performance against them was a 116-113 win where he went for 38 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists. In the other two games, he failed to record a triple double. The Mavericks have shown that they want to give their young guys extra minutes to close out games which limits the probability that this one stays a close game. Vegas does have this game projected at a 5 point spread which is likely due to the porous 14-17 record the Thunder have on the road. On the other hand, we do believe that Oklahoma City has a good shot to pull away late in the game given the circumstances. With that being said, we want to project Westbrook slightly lower than his season average against Dallas in points and put him at 23-27. As it pertains to rebounds and assists, we want to safely project him for 9-11 in each category. In the only game against the Mavericks where Westbrook did not record at least eight assists or rebounds, both Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony did not play so Westbrook took on even more of a scoring role than usual.
Good luck tonight and enjoy the games! Hopefully one of you wins the million dollar prize!
This article is a breakdown of the three-stat contest on PlayLine tonight that includes the million dollar perfect line bonus. If you’re new to PlayLine, that means if you perfectly predict the stats of Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, and Joel Embiid, PlayLine will give you a million dollars. You can click here to go to the contest. Now let’s dive into the projections you should make to potentially win that jackpot.
We’ll start with Anthony Davis who has become the focal point of the Pelicans’ offense now that Demarcus Cousins is out for the season with a torn achilles. In the two games that Cousins has missed, Davis has taken 16 and 17 shot attempts as well as attempting 10 and 12 free throws. While Davis has been hitting above 75% of his free throws, he has been shooting under 50% from the field which has caused him to only score 23 and 25 points in these two games. Tonight, Davis faces off against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that just had their hearts broken by a buzzer-beater three from Gary Harris last night. It is likely that Anthony Davis will draw the defense of Steven Adams in this one, and Davis has absolutely dominated this matchup in the past. In 11 games against him, he averages an astounding 30.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 2.4 APG. Out of 31 eligible centers on this slate, Adams ranks 3rd worst at defending the paint which should increase the upside of Anthony Davis as well. Due to his terrific matchup and likelihood of positive regression coming, research suggests Davis should score between 26-31 points in this matchup. As it pertains to rebounds, Davis has collected 13 and 17 in the two games without Cousins and while the Thunder rank third best in rebounding rate, we still like Davis to get 13-16 rebounds in this one as it will be fast paced with a lot of rebounding opportunities. Lastly, Anthony Davis has seen a recent surge in the assist column as he is averaging 5 per game over his last five games. Since his usage has increased without Cousins and the ball is in his hands more often, we believe pegging Davis for 4 or 5 assists today is the best way to attack it.
Next, we’ll move on to Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. Green is averaging a healthy 11.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 7.3 APG this season. Tonight, he gets a matchup with the Sacramento Kings in a game with a massive 13.5 spread. The Warriors were just blown out against the Utah Jazz, so we expect a fiery Warriors team to come in with a purpose tonight and put a hurting on this grueling Kings team. With that said, we don’t want to overproject the stats of Draymond Green as he may not see his usual 32.5 minutes per games. Over the last two seasons, Draymond has played against the Kings five times and averages 12.8 PPG, 5 RPG, and 7 APG in 32.6 minutes per game. As you may have noticed, these averages are right among his season averages as the Warriors have not needed Draymond to play extra minutes in these games since three of them were double-digit victories. We believe we can safely project Draymond for 10-15 points, 5-7 rebounds, and 6-8 assists as we want to make sure we stay right around his season averages. It should also be noted that Sacramento may get Willie Cauley-Stein back in their lineup tonight and he will likely draw the assignment of Draymond Green. Cauley-Stein has Sacramento’s best DRPM which is another reason we don’t want to overproject Draymond tonight. Draymond is a player that is pretty easy to get some points from as he’s not a big scorer, so even if he only scores a few points you’ll get some of the bonus if you project his stats in the range we are recommending.
Last, but certainly not least (I would never speak bad about you Joel) we have Joel Embiid. Embiid has been an absolute monster in the games he has played for the Sixers this year as he has averaged 23.8 PPG, 11 RPG, and 3.3 APG as well as being selected as an All-Star starter. Embiid draws a tough matchup with the Miami Heat tonight in what projects to be an ugly game. The Heat rank 26th in offensive efficiency, 5th in defensive efficiency, and 27th in overall pace. In the only game that Embiid has faced off against Hassan Whiteside, he put up a line of 22/5/0 in 23 minutes of play. However, with Embiid’s minutes restriction being lifted, he has averaged over 30 minutes of play in his last nine games which increases his opportunity for production. While it pains us not to project Embiid for a stellar game, we will use the Spurs as a point of reference as they play at about the same pace as the Heat. Against the Spurs this season, Embiid has averaged 19.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 3.5 APG in 32.5 minutes of play. A slow paced game is never attractive for projecting statistics, as we believe Embiid gets just under his season average of points as we are projecting him for 19-23. When it comes to rebounds, the Heat are allowing the fifth fewest to opposing centers with a healthy Whiteside in the lineup, so we also want to be cautious with this projection. Anywhere from 9-11 should put you in a good spot. Miami ranks 2nd best in assists per game to the center, so we are projecting Embiid for exactly 2 tonight so we can still get those bonuses no matter what he does on the low end. It seems highly unlikely that he wouldn’t record at least one.
Good luck tonight and enjoy the games! Hopefully one of you wins the million dollar prize!
This article is a breakdown of the three-stat contest on PlayLine tonight that includes the million dollar perfect line bonus. If you’re new to PlayLine, that means if you perfectly predict the stats of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Lebron James, PlayLine will give you a million dollars. You can click here to go to the contest. Now let’s dive into the projections you should make to potentially win that jackpot.
We’ll start with James Harden, who is averaging 30.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 9 APG. Since James Harden has returned from injury, he has taken between 15 and 26 shots in those six games. Four of these games have included him taking either 15 or 16, but last game, Agent James had his minutes restriction lifted and he dropped a line of 27/10/8 on 21 shot attempts. Tonight James Harden gets a matchup with the Orlando Magic who rank fourth worst in defensive efficiency and ninth in overall pace. The Rockets are favored by 12.5 even without Trevor Ariza and with Chris Paul questionable.Trevor Ariza’s unavailability hurts Harden’s assist rate as he only averages 8 per game when he doesn’t play. However, he averages about 33 points and 6 rebounds, so his other stats get a boost. If Chris Paul were to sit out alongside Ariza, Harden averages about 34 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists per contest. Since these averages are so close to each other, we believe we can safely predict Harden for 29-35 points, 6 rebounds, and 8-9 assists. Note that while he may not get exactly 6 rebounds, that is the optimal projection you can make to give yourself the best chance of scoring bonus points off of rebounds.
Next, we will move on to the small forward for the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant. On the season, Kevin Durant averages 25.8 PPG, 7 RPG, and 5.6 APG. However, Durant receives a brutal matchup with the Utah Jazz as they rank sixth best in defensive efficiency while playing at the league’s fifth slowest pace. In four games against the Jazz as a member of the Warriors, Durant’s numbers have definitely suffered as he averages 20/8/4. This is something we need to take seriously as every statistical category drops for him other than rebounds, which is likely coincidental. Due to his brutal matchup, we want to predict Durant under his season average of points and slot him for around 19-23. When it comes to rebounds, even though he has averaged 8 against them, Rudy Gobert is healthy for this contest and should clog up the paint, therefore we don’t want to overproject his rebounds. Anywhere from 6-8 rebounds should be a solid projection for Durant. Lastly, with a healthy Warriors team around him and Curry controlling the ball for the most part, we can predict Durant to get 4 or 5 assists which is about what he averages against the Jazz.
Last but definitely not least, we have Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers who is averaging 26.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 8.8 APG. Lebron and his Cavaliers travel to Detroit to face a Pistons team that will be without Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, and Boban Marjanovic as they have been traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in a blockbuster trade for Blake Griffin. Not only will these players be unavailable for the Pistons, but Blake Griffin will also be unable to suit up for this game. This leaves us with a projected lineup for the Pistons of Ish Smith, Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock, Anthony Tolliver, and Andre Drummond. In other words, this one could turn into a blowout quickly, so we do not want to overproject Lebron’s stats. It is also important to note that Dwyane Wade will most likely be returning for this contest which will eat into some of Lebron’s minutes. While Lebron is averaging a massive 37 minutes this season, we feel we can safely project him for low 30s in minutes due to the potential blowout. Because of this, projecting Lebron a little under or right around his season averages is the best strategy here. Anywhere between 24-27 points, 6-8 rebounds, and 6-9 assists is where we comfortably slot Lebron James.
Good luck tonight and enjoy the games! Hopefully one of you wins the million dollar prize!