This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Wednesday's slate kicks off at 6:30 p.m. EST with the ever-confounding Celtics in a potential elimination game for Toronto, followed by the Clippers, who will try to go 3-1 over the Nuggets in a pivotal Game 4.
BOS vs. TOR (+3), O/U: 209.5
DEN vs. LAC (-3.5), O/U: 220.5
As I said previously in other articles, the game outcome is crucial in a small slate and if you get it wrong, cashing is probably unlikely, even in single-entry contests. I had the most success firing up multiple lineups in a small GPP where I played both sides of the BOS/TOR game, but absolutely tanked it when I placed my faith in the Raptors. I could type up names and recommendations until I'm blue in the face, but the harsh reality is that you have to get the first game right, or you can fade the game altogether. Loading up on the second game may be the smart, safe option. I would typically post a past example of a winning lineup on this slate, but I can summarize and say that MOST of the top builds minimized their exposure to the BOS/TOR matchup.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
The most pertinent injury involves Serge Ibaka (ankle), who was last seen wearing a walking boot upon exiting the facility after Monday's game. It would present a potentially exploitable position if Ibaka ended up taking a seat tonight. On-off court data shows that during bubble play, Chris Boucher ($3,000) emerged as a prime beneficiary with a usage boost of 12.3 percent with Ibaka absent. Toronto would also need support from the usual cast, and conventional wisdom says you'd probably see more of Marc Gasol ($4,100), but the numbers don't reflect that logic. This spot requires a close look before lock, and you may need to dive a little deeper because, despite a disappointing bubble campaign, Gasol will draw the start once again.
I'll be taking a dose of my own best advice and stick to the second game when it comes to elite production. Nikola Jokic ($9,900) is the logical first option here despite the temptation to spend down at this position. Although he started out slow in this series, his numbers have tended up sharply, culminating in a 32-point, 12-rebound double-double in Game 3. His overall numbers have been exemplary in Orlando, and the most striking difference between his playoff and regular-season stats comes from his perimeter play. He's been launching his trademark rainbow-arch threes with abandon in the bubble, and he's nailed almost 49 percent of them in the playoffs. His assist numbers are slightly down, but 5.3 dimes per game is a great number for a center, and it helps him out a ton when he doesn't have luck off the glass.
Kawhi Leonard ($10,300) reached 5.2x value on Monday, and that's just above what we need from the All-Star. His salary hasn't changed, and he remains a safe option for us. The problem remains that we can't safely roster both Jokic and Leonard without making some big sacrifices elsewhere, but if the Ibaka news comes in with a scratch, we immediately free up some more cash due to a couple of potential punts from the Raptors. Otherwise? Enter Paul George ($8,500), who's finally found his shooting stroke and is his usual dependable self after a two-game run of value-beating performances. If you want to run the trifecta here, you still get $4,260 per player. I think that's totally doable, and we'll try to hug that number in the value section.
I'm less likely to expose myself to Jamal Murray ($8,600). His tenure against Utah was magical but he's lost some of his luster in this series. His numbers are fine but not great, as his 37.7 percent shooting percentage against the Clippers has compromised his usually lofty numbers.
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS
Jaylen Brown, BOS ($7,600) vs. TOR
With largely fading this game, is there anywhere that's truly safe to go here? Based on the potential upside, I favor Brown over all other Boston players. Like the rest of the starting lineup, his numbers are all over the place, but I'm inclined to slot him in a GPP lineup at this salary. His playoff numbers have a differential ranging from 24 to 50 DKFP, so it's a variance-filled option, but he has the two key ingredients we look for in a tournament candidate - upside and opportunity.
As much as it pains me to do, this is about all I can do above 6k today. I think Toronto will put up a valiant fight in this series, but this is a night where I'm going to take a pass on Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam. Of the three, I think Lowry ($8,200) has the best chance for a rebound game, and there is no doubt that I'll play a GPP that favors the Raptors, but I think cash success lies in a build centered around the second game.
Daniel Theis, BOS ($5,400) vs. TOR
Theis is the second and last consideration I'll make for Boston. He's a solid play if you want to have a center in the UTIL spot, and thanks to his PF eligibility, you can place him in three additional spots. His versatility is a big reason why he makes the list, even though he's beaten value in only four of nine playoff games. He probably doesn't make the cut if you go for the trifecta, but he'll be an easy fit if you opt-out of a Jokic build.
This paragraph will be tough to reconcile because I was forced to eat my words in Game 3 after a 40-DKFP outing from Porter. I still hold firm to the belief that Grant is the better option when they aren't playing side-by-side, but if I want to stay true to building my core around this game, I have to consider Porter's offensive potential. I'll wince while clicking him for many reasons, but I admit that the potential upside is alluring. Grant's floor is better than Porter's, and he's a better defensive option by a mile, but that isn't translating to fantasy numbers.
Gary Harris, DEN ($4,600) vs. LAC
Harris played 35 minutes in Game 3, and as expected, he's finally back to his winning ways for the Nuggets. He didn't do his typical damage from beyond the arc, however. His six assist and four steals provided the nexus of his fantasy output, so his play off the ball is very encouraging. If he can get back to creating his own shot in space as well, we could see an even bigger number from him in Game 4.
Norman Powell, TOR ($3,900) vs. BOS
If anyone can light a match under the Toronto offense, it's Powell. He has an attractive 22.7 percent usage rate with Ibaka off the floor, so I like him best if Ibaka doesn't play. Aside from Chris Boucher, Powell represents the best value play in this game, and if I opt for the triple play up top, he's practically a requirement.
JaMychal Green, LAC ($3,700) vs. DEN
As I delve into the abyss, keep in mind that I'm looking for playable options to complement my top-loaded stack. As we go on a hunt for value, Green is a risk. Doc Rivers keeps him on the floor when he starts out hot. Even though you might see more minutes for Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubac, Green could provide equal production at a discount.
Patrick Beverley, LAC ($3,600) vs. DEN
After some off games, the pendulum has finally swung Beverley's way. Reggie Jackson didn't register a point in Game 3 and Landry Shamet saw only 11 minutes, so PatBev currently has the firmest hold on duties at the point, at least for now. Lou Willams ($5,800) deserves mention because he's played well against the Nuggets but it's difficult to pay for him at this awkward salary point, which leaves us with Beverley, who can still put up good numbers if he stays out of foul trouble.
Also consider: Marcus Morris, LAC ($4,900) vs. DEN
We'll know more about Ibaka as we get closer to tip-off, so check back with us to find out about his status. His absence could result in some key swaps that could change your luck in today's slate!