Over the past two weeks, NBA teams have returned to action at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. Some battled to get into the playoffs, while others looked to improve their seeding. But everybody was looking to shake off the rust after a four-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, the NBA playoffs are almost finally here, set to get underway Monday. The final four seeding games are scheduled for Friday, while the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies will face off in a Western Conference play-in game on Saturday (as well as potential second play-in game Sunday, should Memphis win the first one).
Seven of the eight first-round playoff matchups are set, and the play-in game will finalize the last one. So, there isn't much at stake during Friday's final seeding action.
However, there could still be some exciting showings as all eight teams in action are playoff squads that will be looking for one final tune-up.
Here's a look at Friday's schedule, followed by several players to consider for daily fantasy lineups.
Aug. 14 Schedule
Denver Nuggets at Toronto Raptors (-2), 1:30 p.m. ET
Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers (-1), 4 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers (no line), 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+
Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets (-4.5), 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+
Daily Fantasy Picks
Austin Rivers, PG, Houston Rockets ($4,900 FanDuel; $5,300 DraftKings)
The Rockets are going to be without Russell Westbrook for a bit, as he's expected to miss the start of their first-round playoff series against the Thunder with a strained right quad muscle, according to ESPN.com.
It's also possible James Harden could sit Friday as home-court advantage doesn't matter much at the NBA bubble, so it won't matter if it ends as the No. 4 or No. 5 seed.
So, with minutes to be had, Austin Rivers could be poised for a strong showing. He had 41 points in a win over the Kings on Sunday, then had 13 points in a loss to the Spurs on Tuesday. He struggled in the Rockets' last game, though, scoring only three points on 1-for-9 shooting in a loss to the Pacers on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old should have a bounce-back performance against the 76ers, who are likely to be resting some of their key players ahead of the playoffs. Even though his scoring output was low last game, he still had a season-high nine rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals.
Over the Rockets' past four games, Rivers has played at least 29 minutes in each contest, so he should get the floor time to put up some big numbers, should he come out with a hot hand. It's worth playing him in daily fantasy because of his low price and his potential to go off for a lot of points.
Darius Bazley, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder ($5,200 FanDuel; $5,400 DraftKings)
Darius Bazley has had a mostly quiet rookie season for the Thunder. But over their past three games, he's shown what he can do with consistent increased playing time.
Against the Wizards on Sunday, the 20-year-old had 23 points and seven rebounds. He followed that up by tallying 22 points and 10 rebounds on Monday against the Suns, then had 21 points and nine rebounds against the Heat on Wednesday. Over those three games, he shot 55.8 percent (24-for-43) from the field.
The Thunder have already announced that Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder and Lu Dort won't be playing Friday, and with no stakes, it's possible several other key players could play limited minutes (if at all). That means Bazley should have no trouble getting at least 27 minutes, which he's reached in five of his last seven games including each of the past four.
Bazley, who Oklahoma City selected in the first round of the 2019 NBA draft, has proved to be a solid contributor since the season restarted, and he should cap off the seeding games with another strong performance against the Clippers, who will likely be resting their star players.
Mike Scott, PF, Philadelphia 76ers ($3,800 FanDuel; $4,200 DraftKings)
Joel Embiid suffered an ankle injury on Sunday and a wrist injury on Wednesday, so it's doubtful he'll be starting at center for the 76ers on Friday. That should allow Mike Scott to play a lot of minutes down low, which he has shown recently he's capable of capitalizing on.
The 32-year-old had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting on Tuesday against the Suns, then had 12 points and five rebounds against the Raptors on Wednesday. They're not huge numbers, but they're pretty consistent with what he's produced when playing at least 20 minutes in a game this season.
Although Scott is only 6'7", he and the 76ers will be going up against the Rockets, who frequently use a small-ball lineup. So, don't be surprised if he tallies a rebound number higher than the 3.6 per game that he averages, which will only increase his value for daily fantasy.
His affordability in daily fantasy is another reason why he should be reliable play on Friday without having to allocate too many resources.