With the NBA playoffs scheduled to begin Aug. 17, there's not much time left for teams battling for seeding and the final postseason berth. The action is set to continue in the NBA bubble Sunday, with seven seeding games set to take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.
In the Eastern Conference, the eight playoff teams are set, and the Washington Wizards have been eliminated. But teams can still improve their seeding, such as the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, the Nos. 4-6 seeds who are separated by only a half-game.
The Memphis Grizzlies are holding on to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, but they have only a 1.5-game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers and a two-game lead over the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs. The New Orleans Pelicans (2.5 games back) and Sacramento Kings (3.5) are also still alive in the race.
Here's Sunday's schedule, followed by a look at several players to consider for daily fantasy lineups.
Aug. 9 Schedule
Washington Wizards at Oklahoma City Thunder (-9), 12:30 p.m. ET
Memphis Grizzlies at Toronto Raptors (-7), 2 p.m. ET
San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans (-3), 3 p.m. ET, ABC and ESPN+
Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (-10), 5 p.m. ET
Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers (-2.5), 6:30 p.m. ET, NBATV
Houston Rockets (-4.5) at Sacramento Kings, 8 p.m. ET
Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Clippers (-10), 9 p.m. ET, NBATV
Daily Fantasy Picks
James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets ($10,800 FanDuel; $11,300 DraftKings)
Obviously, James Harden is going to come at a fairly high price tag. But this is one of the times when he's going to make it more than worth it.
According to Ben DuBose of USA Today, Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni confirmed that Russell Westbrook (right quad contusion) will be out Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, while Eric Gordon (sprained left ankle) is "definitely doubtful" for the game. Without those two on the floor, there will be plenty of shot attempts coming from Harden, who is coming off one of his best showings since the season resumed in the NBA bubble.
Harden led the Rockets to a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, tallying 39 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and a block while shooting 11-for-19 from the field (including 5-for-10 from 3-point range) and 12-for-12 at the free-throw line.
Houston still has four seeding games remaining, and it's two games behind the Denver Nuggets for the No. 3 seed and only one game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 5) and Utah Jazz (No. 6). So there should be motivation for Harden and the Rockets to play well and win so they can end up with the best possible seed.
Harden will cost a bit in daily fantasy, but expect a performance similar to his Thursday showing against the Lakers that can lead your lineup to a strong day.
Jusuf Nurkic, C, Portland Trail Blazers ($8,500 FanDuel; $8,900 DraftKings)
Although Jusuf Nurkic had his lowest scoring output through the Trail Blazers' first five seeding games Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers (10 points), he nearly had a triple-double, tallying 13 rebounds and nine assists. It continued a strong start for Nurkic, who hadn't played a game during the 2019-20 season before it was suspended in mid-March as he recovered from a broken left leg.
Considering his recent production, Nurkic's daily fantasy price is reasonable, especially because Portland will be without Hassan Whiteside (left hip strain) for Sunday's game against Philadelphia. That not only gives Nurkic more shot attempts in the post, but he's also likely going to pull down a lot of rebounds.
Nurkic is averaging 19.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.4 blocks in the bubble as he tries to help the Trail Blazers make the playoffs in the Western Conference. But after he led Portland to an overtime win over Memphis in his first game back July 31, he expressed a team-first mentality.
"I'm just glad we won the damn game, man," Nurkic said, according to ESPN's Royce Young. "I've been preparing for this moment for the last 16 months."
While Nurkic is focused on leading the Trail Blazers to victory, he should put up solid numbers against the 76ers, making him a solid center option for daily fantasy Sunday.
Marcus Morris, PF, Los Angeles Clippers ($4,300 FanDuel; $4,700 DraftKings)
Based on the way Marcus Morris has been playing in the Clippers' recent seeding games, it should be a steal to get the veteran power forward at this low of a price. And while he may not have a huge performance, his consistent scoring output should provide a nice addition to a daily fantasy lineup.
In Morris' past three games, he's scored 16, 16 and 15 points. On Saturday, he also had eight rebounds, matching the most he's had in a game since getting traded to Los Angeles in February. Morris also took 13 shots, his most through the Clippers' five seeding games. And while it didn't lead to more points, it's still noteworthy that he was that involved.
It's taken a while for Morris to find his role in Los Angeles' rotation, one that features a pair of stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. However, he's impressed his teammates with his play, which has been solid.
"If he misses five in a row, he's going to shoot it like he made 10 in a row," Leonard said, according to Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated. "That's what you got to do in this league. You can never get down on yourself. You got to stay in the queue."
Morris should be a nice complementary player to others with higher price tags in daily fantasy lineups Sunday, and he should be able to be relied upon in a favorable matchup for the Clippers against the Nets.