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Hello, everyone! bathrobeDFS here with your daily basketball article. I will go over tonight’s slate as someone that plays on Draftkings. If you have any additional questions or want to see guaranteed updates in regards to breaking news- I provide additional updates, information, and stats on my twitter @bathrobeDFS. Feel free to throw me a follow cause it’s much easier and more timely to provide updates over that medium. I also have a Venmo and Patreon for those that wanna help Operation: Get Me A Laptop.
It also should go without saying, this is just a preliminary analysis of the slate: everything can change throughout the day, so make sure you are staying on top of any and all injury news and change your lineups accordingly! Let’s get started with the Review!
The Daily Slate:
As I have told you all before, I am disabled due to a work injury I experienced a little more than 4 years ago. I can’t stand or walk for very long and, worst of all, I am in constant, horrific pain. I have had a bunch of injections and other procedures but, at best, they are still guessing where all of the pain is coming from.
A couple of weeks ago, I developed some weird new symptoms that brought me back to my doctor. After I described what was going on to her, I could only describe her facial expression as one of immense confusion and concern. Not something you want to see from your doctor. She sat and thought and looked some stuff up while I sat there, trying to deal with that expression.
She developed a theory. It kind of tied everything together. The new symptoms and the old. It would explain the pain and the consistent weakening in my back/hip/leg. It would explain why I started out hurt and have kept getting worse.
She thinks I have an issue with the cluster of nerves at the end of my spinal cord called the Cauda Equina, or Horse’s Tail, so called because it’s a giant bundle of nerves that resembles... something. I forgot what. If it is injured, it leads to progressive weakening, constant pain, and, eventually, full paralysis. Those aren’t even the worst of the symptoms. If someone is determined to have this, it requires immediate surgery.
Tomorrow morning at 10am, I will be getting an MRI to determine if this is what I have, or if the mystery of my injury will continue. There’s one problem though - the pain and the disability. I’ve had to get MRIs before due to this issue. It’s pretty horrific for a few reasons- I can’t lay down. I haven’t been able to sleep in my bed for 4 years now. I have to sleep on the couch so I can keep my leg on the top so I can open up my hip. I have to recline when I’m sitting down because I need to keep my leg and hip in a certain position or the pain becomes unbearable after a few minutes. During an MRI I have to lay on my back, keep my hip closed with my feet pointing up, and not move. I can’t do ANY of those things for more than a few seconds without the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Trying to do them all together is a recipe for disaster.
The last time I got an MRI, it took about 45 minutes. They kept reminding me that, even though I have spasms that cause me to move involuntarily, and even though the pain may get really awful from staying still in a position that makes my pain significantly worse, if I move even a little, I will probably have to come back and do all of this again. So I laid there, not moving, for 45 minutes. When they pulled me out, I couldn’t move. Literally. It was like I was already paralyzed. I cried harder than I’ve ever cried in my life. The pain was so incredible and unreal, it still sends a shiver down my spine whenever I think about it. After about 5 minutes, the MRI nurse had to call 2 large gentlemen in to pick me up off the table and carry me to a nearby bench.
Now I get to do that all again tomorrow.
And I don’t know what I should hope for or expect. If they find something this time, I am going to need serious, expensive, life-changing spinal surgery. It could help the symptoms, or it could already be too late. It could go wrong and make me paralyzed or, god forbid, kill me. There’s a chance that this works, and the pain goes away and I can start trying to rehab myself. There’s a chance we can reverse this disability and I could live a somewhat normal life again. There’s a chance I come out worse.
Of course, there’s a chance that it’s not what they think and I’m developing weird symptoms that they can’t explain and I will continue the eventual decline into paralysis.
I just don’t know.
I honestly don’t even know why I’m typing all this right now. I guess part of me needs to get it off my chest, and part of me wants you to know that, if I can’t do any articles tomorrow, or I don’t respond to anyone all day, that I’m just dealing with another test and more blinding pain.
That’s what my day will have in store for me tomorrow. I hope the day goes better for you.
Let’s take a look at the 9 gamer for tonight.
Situations to take advantage of (in no particular order):
Vuc and Co. - Ok, The Pelicans have been the matchup cream of the crop lately. They are the fastest team. They give up the most DKPPG. They are the worst or 2nd worst in the NBA against Center, PF, SF, AND SG. That is absolutely insane. They are worst against C, though, so the first pick, and one of the plays of the day, is Vuc (9500), in a game the Magic have to win. He just put up a 20/20 with 63 DKP against a slower and better defensive team than the Pelicans last game (which is a crazy thing to say about the Hawks, but it’s true). He should get there again today without much problem. Like I often say, the only thing today that can stop Vuc is Vuc. If he comes out motivated, looking to control this game, no one will be able to stop him. If he sits around the 3 point line and doesn’t care enough to try, he’s going to be a mess and we are going to want to have other Magic.
The best pivot would be Gordon (7200), who would get matched up against the worst team against PF, and Randle, the worst defensive Center when it comes to DRPM. He has shown how he can get 50 DKP when Vuc goes cold, or quiet. I wouldn’t play them together, but I would almost assuredly have at least one in one of my lineups tonight
Everyone else on the Magic is a great GPP play, but not someone that you can trust. You and I both know that at least 2 or 3 of these Magic players are going to get 7x or more value tonight. The question: is it Vuc or Gordon? And then is it Augustin (5300), Fournier (5200), Isaac (5100), or Ross (5300). All of them are priced the same, and all of them have the same floor and ceiling. All of them are in spectacular matchups, except Augustin who is in merely a great matchup. I would prefer to go with Ross (5300), since he’s the only other Magic player in the top 50 in usage, so, if he keeps getting his shots, he could have another one of his 40+DKP days. Fournier (5200) is the riskiest of all these plays, since he is primarily scoring dependent. If he gets cold, he will disappear and nothing can save him. Augustin (5300) is the one that has the best chance at a 2x2, but he also could get cold and lose his time to Jerian Grant (3200), who is a fantastic punt in his own rite.
Celtics vs Sixers - This will be a playoff-type game, and both teams are going to come out firing as hard as they can. They are 10th and 12th in pace, and give up the 18 and 22nd most DKPPG, so we are looking at fast teams that also have decent enough Ds to limit the points that come with a fast pace. The Sixers are actually above average against every position, and the Celtics are slightly below average against SF and PF, and above average against everyone else. So who do we play? That one is easy. The dudes with the highest usage.
I don’t care how good Al Horford and Ben Simmons are on D (and both are good), Embiid (10000) and Kyrie (9100) are going to command a lion’s share of the usage for these teams, and the win or the loss are going to be determined by how successful both/either of these players are at doing what they do. That means we can expect the Process to shoot early and often. While Horford is a fine defender, Embiid should still be able to make his way to the hoop at will, with a decent amount of putbacks. It won’t hurt that Simmons and Butler will be feeding him the ball all game. While Kyrie will cede almost 14 inches to Simmons (exaggeration), he is the type of shoot-first PG that is the biggest weakness in the Sixers game (just look at Kemba’s 60 point game earlier in the season.) I expect both of these guys to shoot for 60-70 DKP tonight with a pretty high matchup specific floor.
If you want to go anywhere else, I would take a look at Butler (7300), who will continue to do some ballhandling, and continue to be staggered with the other players, helping his production and output since he is often either the big fish, or 2nd biggest fish, on the court. Plus, he will be needed for D all game, so he should get heavy, heavy run. My favorite place to attack the Celtics, though, is through Marcus Morris so, even though he hasn’t been too great lately, I would love to take a stab on Tobias (7100), though that is REALLY a MME GPP play. If I was doing a single lineup, or playing cash, I wouldn’t go anywhere near there.
Simmons and Redick will see the fantastic D of Kyrie and Smart all game, so my interest on them is a lot less. Though Simmons has the 2nd highest ceiling of any Sixer, and the only one with a legit shot at the 3x2 bonus.
On the Celtics side, if you aren’t going with Kyrie, I would try to attack the Sixers through their weakest link, Tobias Harris. So, in that case, I am going with, I assume, Morris (5400), who should get the start at PF. I WILL ADD this is the kind of matchup where the Celtics can start Baynes at C and Horford at PF. If that happens, Horford would be one of my favorite plays anywhere.
Wizards vs Bulls - Another fantastic game with a TON of great plays we are going to be all over, this is one of the games of the slate - with a 233 O/U and a really close spread of WAS -2.5. This is also going to be a quicker game, with the fast Wizards pulling up the slower Bulls. Especially considering how poor both defenses are. Also, Otto Porter is DOUBTFUL, and LaVine is QUESTIONABLE. So there’s going to be a lot of points to go around. So, where is best to attack??
First, the Wizards are one of the worst teams in the NBA against Centers. If LaVine is out, RoLo (6300) is someone you can play tonight. I would like the extra usage he would pick up, and I would love the fact you could get a legit 7x piece from this game that no one else will be on. Portis is an abysmal defender. And RoLo is going to embarrass him all game long. Given how poor Markkanen has been lately, even in incredible matchups, I would have a hard time going there, though he should be able to exploit the same issues RoLo would.
If LaVine plays, I am going to lock him in. He’s only 7800. He will have all the usage with Porter out. He’s in a huge pace up spot. And Beal is a bad defender. If he misses, I will have to take a chance on Archy (3300) who would take his spot, and proved valuable last time. Dunn (5400) would also be a good play, but I imagine he would be incredibly chalky, and I would not like him as a chalk play.
You can also take a chance on Harrison (3200), Selden (3600), or TLC (3000), just realize those are really risky punts with a 3 DKP floor.
On the Wizards side, the team’s usage begins and ends with Beal (9400). He has shown that, in matchups like this, he could be priced over 10k and he would still be viable. LaVine is a horrible defender and if he’s out it doesn’t get much better. Beal is a 3x2 threat tonight, and, if the Wizards do actually win this, I would be shocked if it wasn’t cause Beal gave you 60+ DKP.
The Bulls are also incredibly bad against Centers. Unfortunately, the Wizards are impossible to predict there. I have been suggesting Bryant (3900) the last couple of games, but he has been a let down. Portis (5700) has seen his usage, his production, and his price plummet. Last game, the Wizards could afford to go small but, given the size of RoLo and Lauri, I don’t imagine they would be able to do that. Meaning I really love Bryant, and to a lesser extent, Portis again. I know it’s a GPP only play. But the matchup is just too good, again. Like every other time, you run the risk of Beal eating all the usage. But that’s why it’s a GPP play. If you care about the narrative thing, you can certainly prioritize Portis, but it doesn’t mean they let him play any more, or that Beal gives him any extra shots.
Jabari (6000) is someone who will be overowned cause of narrative street, and that sucks because this is going to be a fantastic matchup for him with the limited Ariza minutes lately, and the fact that Otto is out, and the backup SF he will have to face having no chance against him. Plus, he dominates the usage in the 2nd unit, and doesn’t do so bad for himself when he’s playing with the starters.
Lillard vs Doncic - So, you know who is awful against PG? Dallas. You know who is awesome and should be 10k normally? Lillard (8800). You know who has an approximately 97% usage when CJ is out? If you guessed Mike Trout, you are both very bad at contextual clues, as well as bad at sports knowledge. The answer is, of course, Lillard. He is going to be one of my favorite plays on the night. There is nothing they can do to stop him, and he is going to have a ton of usage that he is not nearly priced for. It’s like it’s a Harden without CP3 situation. He should be 10500, at least, without CJ against a team with such a bad D. If you want to go anywhere else, Seth Curry (3400) is going to get extra run and usage in the 2nd unit with Hood or whoever moving into the starting 5.
On the Mavs side, the only player we are going to want to consider is Doncic (8900). The Blazers are good and slow with a decent D. And this game has a low 217 total with a disconcerting spread of POR -10, but Doncic should be 10k and no one on this team will be able to stop him. He is a walking 3x2 and he looked completely healthy last game. People aren’t going to play him, and that will be their downfall. I will also add that Kleber (4900) is QUESTIONABLE. If he misses, I would have some interest in taking a punt chance on Dirk (3300), DFS (4000), or Justin Jackson (3000)
Situations to be careful of (in no particular order):
Pelicans - The Magic are one of the slowest teams in the NBA, with one of the best Ds, that give up the 2nd fewest DKPPG. On top of that, the entire team is priced high enough now that we can’t consider them locks. Elf is 8000. If it wasn’t for OT, he wouldn’t have even made value on this price last game. Randle is 8300 and someone who we could go to, since he will command most of the usage on this team. But Vuc and Gordon and Isaac are 3 tough, big defenders he is going to have a lot more trouble with. If he doesn’t get you 50 DKP, he isn’t going to help you on this slate. And I don’t think that’s the most likely outcome at all. If I am going anywhere, I am going with cheap GPP punt options - Diallo (3800) and Miller (3800).
Jazz vs Knicks - Fun fact, “home field advantage” when it comes to Vegas spreads amounts to about +3 for being the home team. So, when you see this game have a horrible 212 O/U, with an insane spread of UTA -12.5, you have to be amazed that this is a game in NY. That means that, if this was in Utah, the Jazz would be 18.5 point favorites. Do you really think that MSG is going to stop the Jazz from destroying the worst team in the NBA? On top of that, what are you going to do here- the only place to really attack the Jazz is with Centers, and who the hell knows how many minutes Jordan, Robinson, and whoever else they throw in there will get. DSJ is out, so you can take a risk on Mudiay or Allen, but this isn’t a 4 game slate. There’s no reason to take a Knick unless you are forced to.
On the Jazz side of the ball, given the blowout risk, I would take a risk on some of the cheaper dudes that would get blow out run. So a Jae (4800) or Neto (3100) would actually be 2 of my favorite mid priced/punt priced plays on the entire slate.
Grizzlies vs Rockets - I have said this before, but I am going to take stand here. The Grizzlies and the Rockets are slow, defensive teams. The total is only 216.5 with the Rockets 4 point road favorites. I mean, sure Harden (11300) or CP3 (6900) could dominate the game. It’s possible. More possible is they rest someone on a b2b and this game is completely different tomorrow. Also more likely if everyone plays- that they keep feeding House and letting the usage get split up as they cruise to the postseason. Gordon is going to rest, so if you DO go anywhere, I would go with House (3900), who they are going to run into the ground until the playoffs start. Cause why not?
On the Grizzlies side, if you go anywhere, I would go cheap. And I would go for someone only in the case that Bradley is out (he is currently Questionable). WIth Bradley out and CJ Miles missing the rest of the season, it leaves a ton of minutes and production for either Delon (4800), Holiday (4000), or Parsons (3300). I would never play more than one at a time, but any one of them could be that one with the 10x game.
Heat vs Spurs - A game with a 209 total, between 2 of the slowest teams in the NBA, who give up the 3rd and 4th least DKPPG over the last month. Neither have any real weaknesses defensively either. The Heat are best in the NBA against C, which does hurt LMA and his upside. The Spurs are 2nd best against PF, 3rd best against SF, and best against SG. Also, now they have Derrick White back, who is the 2nd best defensive PG in the NBA according to DRPM. I’m sorry. It’s a 9 game slate. The only place I would even think about going here is to Dragic (5300), due to his usage and the fact Justise is out. But, after his 10x last game, I expect him to be far too popular for his projection and for this matchup. Still, that being said, he should easily get you value here if given the minutes. And definitely has a ceiling, regardless of who is defending him.
Situations to monitor:
Bucks/Cavs Injury Report - Well this is pretty ridiculous. As of right now, we can consider Giannis AND Ilyasova AND Donte AND Kevin Love AND Tristan AND Nance QUESTIONABLE. That’s ignoring Pau Gasol who sat out yesterday for rest, and Delly who has already been declared out. This is one of two games without a Vegas line or spread, and for good reason. Half of the teams’ rosters may be sitting out. I would imagine that If the same people miss tonight as missed yesterday, we will want to utilize the same folks for MIL. Namely, Bledsoe (6500), Middleton (6700), Lopez (5400), and Mirotic (4900). Bledsoe has the best matchup against Collin Sexton, the 2nd worst defender in the NBA. He would be my overwhelming favorite from this team, should Giannis miss. Middleton also gets an amazing matchup against whoever winds up at SF. If Love is in, it would be Cedi, who is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. If Love sits, I would imagine it’s a Nwaba, who is mediocre defensively. For Mirotic, the same thing matters - If Love is in, Miro gets Love, which is a bad matchup. If Love is out, Cedi moves over to PF with Chriss getting run at which point you have to lock in Miro again. I am currently watching the Bucks/Lakers game and Miro was just pulled out of this game with a thumb issue. If this causes him to miss, the Bucks will have to give DJ Wilson (3100) huge minutes. It would also shift the usage in a HUGE way to the other main starters. Lopez would get a nice matchup against Zizic. But, if Love is out, he could back into a 2x2, on top of the crazy number of 3s he’s going to hit for you tonight.
On the Cavs side, I don’t know where I’m gonna go at all. I will say that, if Love and Nance and Tristan are out, I will be all over Zizic and Chriss again. I also think Cedi gets a bunch of extra 3s, which the Bucks are weak against. If Love misses, even if Nance and Tristan play, I would expect them to be severely limited by the extent of their injury and the blow out that will happen. If you want to take a chance on anyone here, I would take a chance on the cheap folks like Knight (3600), Zizic (4300), Clarkson (4900), and Chriss (3500).
Raptors vs Thunder Injury Report - The other game without any Vegas information yet, we are waiting for news on the following: Kyle Lowry QUESTIONABLE, Kawhi PROBABLE, and Noel is QUESTIONABLE. We can start with the Thunder, cause that’s the easiest to break down- Russ (10300) and PG13 (9800) control the usage on this team. They are going to be the main producers and they can be played every day. PG13 will see the D of Kawhi, which is going to be tough. And Russ will see either Lowry or FVV, which will be tough either way. We all know that none of that matters when both teams are playoff teams looking for whatever edge they can get in the future. If Lowry misses, and FVV starts, it means the Lin gets a lot of backup minutes, which is the one condition that would make me interested in Schroder (5300). If Noel misses, I think Grant (4800) would continue to get the backup minutes, and he would become really interesting. Otherwise, no thanks here.
On the Raptors side, it’s a little tougher. First, Ibaka is back. Which means him and Gasol will be splitting the minutes again, something that makes it hard to take either, especially with Adams on the other side of the court. I will say that, if Noel is out, whoever gets the backup run for TOR would have a field day.
Lowry is Questionable. If he misses, I would love both FVV (4700) and Kawhi (8400), even in his tough matchup against PG13. Kawhi is someone I generally consider a cash play, since he’s incredibly consistent when it comes down to it but rarely gives you that 65 DKP you’d want to win a GPP. If Lowry is out he has a much better shot at that. If Lowry plays, I would have interest in Siakam (6800), who would get the best matchup for his talent.
I have to add that the Thunder are incredibly, incredibly bad against SG lately. Something I have been talking about and winning money off of. Unfortunately, for us, the Raptors SG is Danny Green (3700) who is not exactly an offensive power house. Still, that being said, if there was ever going to be a game Green got 10x, it would be this one. I am going to have too much Green for my comfort tonight. I don’t know if I can strongly recommend you come with me there, but OKC is SO BAD against SG. If Lowry is out, it is even better for him.
Alright, that’s everything. Depending on how bad the MRI is, I may have to take a break until Friday. Wish me luck. I’m freaking out.