NBA Finals DFS Primer: Kevin Durant’s Injury And The Warriors’ Season Hang In The Balance In Game 5 Vs The Raptors
The Raptors stole Game 4 at Golden State to take a 3-1 series lead that may cut this year’s NBA DFS Finals slate short. Despite the returns of Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, it’s a tough but poetic deficit for the Warriors to need to overcome after previously blowing a 3-1 lead to Cleveland before they signed Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016. Though Thompson and Looney are likely to play again, Durant’s status currently hangs in the air with Durant officially ruled questionable and the Warriors and coach Steve Kerr reportedly “optimistic” he’ll play in this do-or-die game. Durant’s injury may not be fully healed or ready to go by game-time so it’s an injury to watch closely before building NBA DFS lineups for Finals Showdown slates on DraftKings and FanDuel. But my current assumption based on reports and preliminary post-practice reports is that he’ll attempt to give it a go and I’ll cover the relevant angles accordingly in today’s NBA DFS Finals Primer.
The Raptors are currently a two-point favorite for the NBA Finals Game 5 which will tip off at at 9PM Eastern and a lot of things will change on both sides of the ball with a potential Kevin Durant return. I’ll walk you through the data and what I’ve seen thus far this series for all of the players who seem to be relevant for this game with a ton of big tournament prizes across the NBA DFS industry (while I simultaneously hope that the Warriors somehow stay alive to give us at least a few more NBA Finals games to watch this season).
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Golden State Warriors (105.8 implied points, -12 on season average) at Toronto Raptors (107.8 implied points, -6.7 on season average)
–The Warriors are currently “optimistic” that Kevin Durant plays with his calf injury and I would think he gives it a shot after practicing, albeit with a limp walking in and out of the court, on Sunday. His injury seems like one where he should be even more limited than Klay Thompson was in his Game 4 return with reports that Durant didn’t look good in a Thursday dress rehearsal and that his conditioning is also unlikely to be there. Much like Klay, he can still score and that’s where you’d hope he derives value. I wouldn’t force him into lineups but matching the field assuming we get confirmation he’ll be available seems like something worthwhile.
–Klay Thompson also was in winning lineups in Game 4 despite a situation where he was clearly a bit hobbled in terms of his activity as we discussed here last time. The good news is his shot was mostly unaffected with 11-for-18 shooting including 6-for-10 from deep but his three boards were a series low and he contributed no steals and zero assists. The scoring from Klay can get him where he needs to from a fantasy perspective, particularly in lineups that assume underperformance from Steph Curry, but it’s a narrow margin of error that I would not want to load up on significantly above the field given how he should lose some usage and how unlikely he seems to be able to contribute much with other peripherals.
–Steph Curry had a tough Game 4 with him looking appreciably fatigued from his high exertion Game 3 and more defensive attention as a result of Toronto wanting to let Klay Thompson prove he could shoot. Curry was not in Game 4 optimal lineups with his 42.5 FP not enough of a differentiator from Klay’s 37.75. The rest for Curry should help but the potential of Kevin Durant back in the lineup makes it a bit of a different situation. Durant’s return would increase the defensive spacing Curry would see with him likely just to be hounded by Fred VanVleet rather than see multiple defenders. But whatever court time Durant sees would likely cut into Steph’s usage enough that I would be reluctant to trust him as a Captain and would be willing to go away from him more than the field too as a regular roster spot. In lineups without Durant, and obviously should Durant end up not able to go, Steph is more palatable all around.
–Draymond Green had 44.25 FP with 12 assists and nine rebounds as well as 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting in Game 4 but the potential return of Durant would make me a bit less interested in him at his current price. The Warriors will need less of Draymond to make plays happen at pace if Durant is in there theoretically able to do some sort of isolation scoring so I’d downgrade him a bit if we know Durant is a go. If he’s out, Draymond seems like a decent play if you can make the price work.
–DeMarcus Cousins was a total nonfactor in Game 4 with 14.5 FP in just 15 minutes and a Durant return would also cut into any usage he could have with just six and seven attempts in his last two games. It’s hard to imagine wanting much of him outside of maybe a few prayers for tournaments.
–Andre Iguodala as well gets lets interesting with a Durant return after a 21.5 FP effort in Game 4 in 38 minutes. His price feels a bit too high for the changes that would bring but he’s more interesting as a mid-priced option if Durant can’t go.
–Andrew Bogut was down to 11 minutes in Game 4 while Kevon Looney returned to 20 minutes after a collarbone injury was feared to take him out for the rest of the season. Looney noticeably winced with the injury a few times but was still able to work through it and I’d be more comfortable playing Looney even though his price is obnoxiously high. Bogut is playable in lineups where his salary helps accomplish something as a pivot to Looney but is unlikely to be worth much exposure.
–Shaun Livingston was in optimal lineups yet again in Game 4 and he would be in consideration again if Durant were unavailable. With Durant in, I’m less inclined to go there with it seeming likely that at least a few of those minutes come from him.
-Despite a rising price Kawhi Leonard still seems like a near must-have in a regular roster spot or as a Captain. His 68 FP in Game 4 was a playoff high for him and his 22 shot attempts were the most of the series. He was defended by Kevin Durant in their one shared matchup earlier this season and if he sees a hobbled Durant much as he did a hobbled Klay, he should be able to take advantage. Though he shot only 1-for-5 against Klay, he was able to draw two shooting fouls due to Klay’s limited mobility and that can be problematic if Durant isn’t fully mobile.
–Pascal Siakam had 14 shot attempts in Game 4 and hit only six of them but he’s in the mix with his upside in scoring in rebounding in any of these games. But I think the return of Durant could help him in a couple ways: 1) Durant’s length could cause the offense to flow away from Kawhi a bit more than usual and that could mean more opportunities for Kawhi to attack. 2) The usage Durant takes away from everyone could make Siakam an interesting pivot to one of Draymond Green, Durant, Curry, or Klay at comparable price points. Siakam is the closest non-Kawhi salary pivot to all of them and to me that makes him an interesting tournament option, possibly even as a Captain.
–Kyle Lowry came back down to Earth in Game 4 with 3-for-12 shooting, largely fueled by 1-for-5 shooting with the returning Klay Thomson on him. Lowry’s price makes him a bit appealing but how he’s struggled with Klay defense doesn’t instill me with a ton of confidence.
–Marc Gasol’s 24.25 FP in 28 minutes made for a solid but unspectacular effort and that was enough combined with his price to get him into optimal NBA DFS Showdown lineups. His price has actually come down and he seems unlikely to see appreciably less minutes so I have no problem at all with him and may even be willing to have some of him at Captain.
–Serge Ibaka was in the optimal lineup for the second straight game with a strong 30.5 FP effort with a shockingly high 9-for-12 shooting day for 20 real life points. Ibaka still only saw 22 minutes, the same amount he’s had the last two games, so the margin for success for him is a bit more narrow with his price up and him needing to take minutes from Gasol or Siakam to appreciably increase his upside any more than we’ve seen.
–Danny Green still saw 30 minutes last game despite a 1-for-8 shooting day that including 1-for-7 from deep. He’s the most tournament-y play in the series with his Game 4 13.75 FP day following a 32.25 FP effort in less minutes with 6-for-10 shooting in Game 3. Green’s price is down and he makes an interesting pivot off of some likely to be higher Ibaka ownership but there’s just as good of a chance he bricks every shot as it is that he meaningfully hits value.
–Fred VanVleet remains in play despite his high price with 29 minutes played before a face injury knocked him out of the game after an elbow to the face. He theoretically could have played substantially more minutes given that the injury knocked him out in the beginning of the 4th quarter so it’s possible he sees a ton of court time as a defender who’s meaningfully made a different in the series with his defense of Steph Curry. Curry shot just 2-for-8 vs VanVleet last game, including 1-for-5 from deep, and his ability to make Steph earn it should continue to get him the minutes to capitalize on.
Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and good luck with what could be our last NBA DFS game of the season!