Fantasy Basketball 2021: Daily Fantasy Advice for NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 22, 2021

Fantasy Basketball 2021: Daily Fantasy Advice for NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The first two games of the 2021 NBA Playoffs will be rematches from playoff series we watched inside the Orlando, Florida, bubble last season. 

    Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat defeated Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on their way to the NBA Finals last summer. 

    To get into the second round, the Heat have to navigate their matchup with the No. 3 seed by putting in similar defensive performances to last summer. 

    Miami's recent success against Milwaukee's shooters should keep you away from the Bucks when building daily fantasy lineups for the weekend. 

    Luka Doncic and Kawhi Leonard should be two of the top lineup anchors chosen on Saturday after they both thrived in the six-game first-round series between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers. 

    While Doncic, Leonard and Paul George will catch plenty of DFS attention, one shooter on the Dallas roster could be the key to success on Saturday. 

Avoid Milwaukee's Top Shooters Against Miami

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    When the Heat rolled through the Bucks last summer, they held Milwaukee to 32.7 percent from three-point range. 

    Miami outshot Milwaukee thanks to Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson all shooting over 35 percent from deep. Miami shot 37.3 percent from long range as a team. 

    Even though Crowder and Olynyk are no longer on the roster, Miami can still create a large disparity in three-point shooting because of its defense. 

    Khris Middleton is the only Milwaukee starter who shot over 40 percent from three-point range in the regular season, but he was held to 33.3 percent over five games in the 2020 second round. 

    The five-game series from last summer is the best indicator for what we will see on Saturday and in the next week or two because the Heat and Bucks played twice in December and in a meaningless game last week. 

    The avoidance of Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Donte DiVincenzo makes even more sense when you look at the shooters strewn across Saturday's four-game slate. 

    Damian Lillard, Joe Harris, Tim Hardaway Jr., Luka Doncic and Duncan Robinson all ranked in the top 10 of three-point field goals this season. Any combination of those players should suit you better than the Bucks with a week off against one of the most tenacious defenders in the NBA in Butler. 

Use Tim Hardaway Jr. for Shooting Help

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    David Berding/Getty Images

    Hardaway was one of nine players to knock down 200 three-point shots in the regular season. 

    The Dallas guard comes into Saturday with five 20-point performances in his last eight games, including a 36-point outing versus Miami on May 4 that triggered the start of the run. 

    When the Mavericks lost to the Clippers in the bubble, Hardaway was the team's second-leading scorer behind Doncic. That happened partially because of the three-game absence of Kristaps Porzingis. 

    Even if Porzingis played in all six games, Hardaway would have had a high usage rate thanks to the way he shot the ball.

    Hardaway made 35.2 percent of his three-point shots and had three more makes from downtown than Doncic. His 19 three-pointers led the series. 

    Those totals should earn Hardaway a position in your lineup around whichever superstars you choose from. 

Trust the Superstars on Saturday Night

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard are all in action on Saturday night. 

    The plethora of superstars should give you plenty of anchor options for the Saturday slate if you either opt to pass on the first two games or want to pair one of them with the stars playing earlier in the day. 

    Of the four stars involved in the Boston-Brooklyn game, Durant may be the best option since he averages 29.1 points per game in the postseason. 

    Irving and Harden both average over 23 points per game in the playoffs, and they are expected to receive a heavy work load as the Nets cut their rotation. 

    Tatum averaged 25.7 points per game last postseason to bring his career total up to 20.6. With Jaylen Brown out and Tatum a few days removed from a 50-point performance, he may be the best option in terms of usage and shot attempts. 

    A pairing of Tatum and Lillard might be the best possible combination since the Portland guard averaged over 24 points in four of his seven postseason trips. 

    Jokic, who has a 24.7 playoff point average, is always a good selection for DFS contests, but you may have to lean away from him on Saturday. 

    Jokic and Bam Adebayo are the only terrific center options, which will lead to a high roster percentage for both big men. 

    We would not blame you for wanting Jokic's typical high point total, but center could be worth punting on a low-usage player to mix and match some of the shooters on the slate.


    Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference