This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Sunday's two-game playoff slate is highlighted by a significant injury development that spells bad news for Toronto. Pascal Siakam (calf) is currently listed as doubtful, and his likely absence will have a huge impact on this game. If he is in any shape to play, I'm sure he will make a go of it, but in my recommendations below, we will analyze the repercussions of his limited capacity and possible absence. The Siakam situation will open up opportunities for other Raptors and will also impact Philly's approach in today's game.
Let's first look at the elite players in today's games. Two centers top the salary list, and it's no surprise that we see Joel Embiid ($9,300) and Nikola Jokic ($10,400) leading the field. Jokic played 65 minutes in the 4 OT loss to the Blazers and contributed 65 DKFP in the process. For $1,100 less, I think Embiid will be in line for a boost in productivity if Siakam sits, so I'm more inclined to lean toward Embiid if news reveals a Siakam scratch as we approach lineup lock.
The guard duo of Damian Lillard ($9,200) and C.J. McCollum ($6,900) figure to be prominent options in today's slate, as well. McCollum simply could not miss in the second half of Game 3, and I'm surprised that his red-hot shooting night didn't result in a significant salary boost, so to see him below $7k makes him one of the chalkiest mid-price options on the slate.
Both Denver and Toronto will need to respond to adversity today, Let's take a look at options for all four teams by position.
Jamal Murray, DEN at POR ($6,300): As we look beyond the obvious Lillard/McCollum plays, the resurgent play of Jamal Murray in this series must be examined. He played 55 minutes on that sore thigh in Game 3 and showed no ill effects. The youngster faces the toughest test in his three-year career as the floor general against a Portland team that's hungry to close the door in this series. Look for another thriller in Rip City today, but we'll need to see decent assist and rebound totals from Murray if we hope to get the proper value.
Jimmy Butler, PHI vs. TOR ($7,500): Butler's averaging 43.7 DKFP in this series, which has him hovering at just over 5x value at this price. Siakam's potential absence is a massive blow to the Raptors. I think Embiid will see the biggest benefit, but Butler found himself tangling with Siakam on more than a few occasions in transition, a phase in which Toronto will be in big trouble without Siakam. I think Butler will give us somewhere in the neighborhood of his series average.
Rodney Hood, POR vs. DEN ($3,900): While almost every player saw inflated totals due to the overtime game, it's apparent that Hood's impact goes far beyond the numbers. To say that he was pivotal in Portland's Game 3 win would be an understatement – he's surged past Seth Curry as the best second-unit player off the bench for the Blazers. He's shooting well over 50 percent from beyond the arc in this series, converting 7-of-13 long-range balls, often in crucial moments. His intangibles don't translate into substantial fantasy numbers, but at this low price, Hood doesn't have to do much to be a worthwhile value candidate.
If we look at Toronto's data over the last month, Serge Ibaka ($3,600) saw a usage rate of 30.2 percent and a FPPM average of 1.2 points when Siakam was off the court. While Norman Powell's ($2,700) usage numbers lag behind that at 20 percent, he saw 89.2 minutes of play with Siakam off the court, which was good enough for second-best. He also logged a second-best total of 1.1 FPPM in a Siakam-less game script.
Ibaka hasn't been particularly impressive in the postseason and has likely torpedoed many a roster over the past couple of weeks, so I'm more inclined to go with Powell here, especially when you look at the steep discount. You also can't discount the slack that Kawhi Leonard ($9,100) will have to pick up, making him a priority elite grab if you can find a way to afford him.
On the other end of the ball, a Siakam absence could spell higher totals from Tobias Harris ($6,800), who's posted steady but unremarkable numbers throughout the postseason. He's more of a GPP play for me due to the uncertainty surrounding a significant boost, but the series against the Nets showed that Harris can dominate against a weaker frontcourt. Without Siakam, the Raptors certainly qualify in that category.
Will Barton, DEN at POR ($4,000): It's been challenging to deal with a demotion, but Barton has kept any potential displeasure to himself, instead letting his play do the talking on the court. Torrey Craig was unremarkable in Game 3, but Barton shined, logging more minutes and about three times the output than his counterpart. You can almost consider Game 3 to be a draw despite the narrow Portland win, and Denver looks like a more solid team with Barton on the court. I'm OK with using him today at a guard or forward position.
With Ibaka and Powell already mentioned, their dual eligibility could add to the obvious adds of Embiid and Jokic, and to be honest, I don't know that I can endorse much beyond these four tonight. Enes Kanter ($6,50) played a whopping 56 minutes with a separated shoulder in Game 3, and no amount of alternating heat, ice and painkillers can erase that kind of wear and tear. He's got a great price relative to this potential totals, but I don't know how much longer he can keep this up. I'm more comfortable going with Embiid, as I said previously.
If you are interested in getting fancy in a GPP or two, Marc Gasol ($4,800) might be worth a try, even though the usage numbers we crunched for Siakam above didn't yield a recommendation for the veteran center. There's no doubt that the Raptors will need some frontcourt assistance without Siakam, and Gasol will likely see a bit of a boost. The trade for Jonas Valanciunas benefitted the Grizzles, but Gasol hasn't had as much luck with worthy totals in Toronto. This may be the game where he can generate a strong stat line.