Welcome to the Silly Season, where LeBron James and Kyrie Irving sit out a must-win game after giving up a ridiculous loss to the Hawks on Sunday, where Kawhi Leonard plays just 20 minutes, where Jerian Grant becomes an All-Star and where picking who to play in FanDuel becomes incredibly difficult.
Teams with nothing to play for on Tuesday night: Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Sacramento
Teams with something to play for on Tuesday night: Atlanta
Unless you simply love gambling, tonight might be the one to skip in DFS, as only the Hawks have anything to play for. And if they screw up tonight, they’ll get another shot at the No. 5 seed on Wednesday.
Teams With Something To Play For Tuesday & Wednesday
Boston Celtics & Cleveland Cavaliers – If the Bucks beat the Celtics and the Cavaliers beat the Raptors (both games on Wednesday), the teams would finish deadlocked with 52-30 records, but the Cavaliers would clinch the No. 1 seed in the East due to owning a better head-to-head record this season. It would make sense for Kyrie Irving, who rested on Monday night in an overtime loss to the Heat, to be going full bore tomorrow night against the Raptors. Then again, given that the Cavs appear to be having a complete meltdown at this point, anything is possible, and the Cavs have already said LeBron won’t play on Wednesday, which I just don’t understand. If he sits and the Celtics win home court, they might regret that decision in a Game 7 Eastern Finals scenario. After pulling off the biggest win of the season last Wednesday at Boston, they lost at home to Atlanta on Friday, and then gave up the now famous 26-point fourth-quarter lead to the Hawks in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. And while they put up a good fight in last night’s OT loss to the Heat, they’ve now lost three straight must-win games. Despite the meltdown, my money is still on the Cavaliers to ride Kyrie and Kevin Love hard tomorrow in hopes of the Celtics dropping one to the Bucks in the finale. If it happens and the Cavs win, Cleveland would still clinch home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Finals.
As for the Celtics, they’ve won two big games in a row and you can rest assured they’ll try to make it three against the Bucks tomorrow in Boston. If the Celtics win that game, they’re automatically the No. 1 seed in the East with home-court advantage until the NBA Finals. Isaiah Thomas looks like nearly a must-play in all formats on Wednesday, while Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford should also do very well.
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Raptors, Bucks & Hawks
The Raptors are locked into the No. 3 seed at this point, which is good news for the Cavs. However, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Raptors try to play spoilers, although I’d be reluctant to flirt with waking a sleeping giant on Wednesday night if I were Toronto. We’ll have to wait until Wednesday afternoon to find out who’s playing for the Raptors before setting a DFS lineup, but like I said, it might be tempting for Toronto to unleash its studs in hopes of hurting the Cavs. Then again, it will be just as tempting to give DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry some rest before the playoffs start.
As for the Bucks, Atlanta holds the tiebreaker over them, while Milwaukee holds the tiebreaker over the Pacers. So if Atlanta wins one of its two remaining games, the Bucks are locked into the No. 6 seed. But, if the Hawks somehow lose on Tuesday to the Hornets and on Wednesday at the Pacers, and Milwaukee wins at Boston tomorrow, the Bucks jump up to No. 5 in the East. It’s a long shot, but given that there’s still a chance for them to move up a spot, as well as play spoilers against the Celtics, it makes sense that Giannis and Khris Middleton play normal minutes on Wednesday at Boston. The Good news in that they’re at least going to be the No. 6 seed.
As for the Hawks, they’ve pulled off a miraculous three-game winning streak. After putting together a total of four three-game winnings streaks over the entire season and being faced with the possibility of not even making the playoffs, the Hawks sneakily won at home against Boston last Thursday, then won at Cleveland on Friday, and then pulled off the miracle comeback on Sunday. I’m not sure anyone is talking about it, but that is probably the best three-game winning streak in Atlanta history. As a result they now control their own destiny and are favored to become the No. 5 seed in the East. That doesn’t get them home court, or guarantee anything, but it’s a heck of a lot better than missing the playoffs or starting off with the Cavaliers or Celtics. It’s pretty simple – if Atlanta wins at Charlotte tonight, they’re the No. 5 seed. If they lose that game but still beat the Pacers on Wednesday, they’re still the No. 5 seed. If they lose both of those road games and the Bucks lose at Boston, they’re still the No. 5 seed. But if Atlanta loses both of its games and the Bucks win, the Hawks become the No. 7 seed. Expect the Hawks to go all out tonight against the Hornets and if they win, expect to see the backup squad that pulled off the miracle against Cleveland on Sunday to get another shot at a win at Indiana on Wednesday night.
Washington is locked into the No. 4 seed and has absolutely nothing to play for on the road at Miami on Wednesday. Maybe they’ll want to play spoiler and try putting a knife in the heart of the Heat, but if I’m running the Wizards, my studs are sitting on Wednesday night. I’m staying away.
Pacers, Bulls & Heat (each team has one game remaining on Wednesday)
As if things weren’t confusing enough in the East, things are really cloudy at the bottom, especially after the Heat pulled off last night’s huge overtime win against the Cavaliers.
Here are the scenarios:
The Pacers finish at home against the Hawks on Wednesday. They’re likely in, and would either be the No. 6, 7 or 8 seed, but there is also a scenario where the Pacers could miss the playoffs. The Bulls host the Nets on Wednesday, and the Heat host the Wizards, who have nothing to play for due to being locked in at No. 4. If the Hawks win tonight, they’ll have nothing to play for at Indy on Wednesday, which works in the Pacers’ favor.
The Pacers, Bulls and Heat all find themselves mostly in must-win scenarios.
Pacers win, Bulls win, Heat win, Heat are out.
Pacers win, Bulls win, Heat lose, and Heat are out.
Pacers win, Bulls lose, Heat lose, and Heat are out.
Pacers win, Bulls lose, Heat win, Bulls are out.
Pacers lose, Bulls win, Heat win, Pacers are out.
Pacers lose, Bulls lose, Heat win, Bulls are out.
Pacers lose, Bulls lose, Heat lose, and Heat are out.
Pacers lose, Bulls win, Heat lose, Heat are out.
As for the Western Conference, things are pretty much set in stone except for a couple things.
No. 1 Warriors vs. No. 8 Blazers (locked)
No. 2 Spurs vs. No. 7 Grizzlies (locked)
No. 3 Rockets vs. No 6 Thunder (locked)
No. 4/5 Jazz vs. No. 4/5 Clippers (not locked)
The Clippers need a Utah loss or a win against Sacramento on Wednesday, and they’re the No. 4 seed. If the Clippers lose AND the Jazz beat the Spurs on Wednesday, the Jazz would get the No. 4 seed and home court in Round 1.
So, to recap, the teams with meaningful games on Wednesday are:
Atlanta (if they lose on Tuesday)
And those are the teams you want to build your DFS around on Wednesday. Tuesday night is a total crapshoot, with only the Hawks having a meaningful game.
Some guys to possibly target on Tuesday and Wednesday, outside of the studs for the teams with something to play for:
Jerian Grant, Montrezl Harrell, Bobby Brown, Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles, Evan Turner, Dwyane Wade, Brandon Jennings, Tyler Johnson, Kyle Korver, Alex Poythress, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Timothe Luwawu, Kevin Seraphin, Thaddeus Young, Justin Anderson.
Good luck, if you’re still trying to secure a championship or win some FanDuel money down the stretch!