Fantasy Basketball 2021: Daily Fantasy Advice for Thursday's NBA Playoffs

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 27, 2021

Fantasy Basketball 2021: Daily Fantasy Advice for Thursday's NBA Playoffs

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Damian Lillard has been fantastic through two games of the Portland Trail Blazers' NBA playoffs series with the Denver Nuggets. 

    Lillard produced 76 points in the two games in Denver. C.J. McCollum's 42 points marked the only other Portland total above 40.

    Portland's top scorer should continue to shoot and score at a high rate in Thursday's Game 3, which makes him one of the top daily fantasy basketball selections.

    An argument could be made that Lillard is the best option to use in DFS lineups on a slate that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Devin Booker. 

    Since you can't roster all of the superstars, you need to find a few role players at decent salaries in FanDuel contests to complement the stars you do use. 

Build Around Damian Lillard

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Lillard should be worth every cent of the $10,500 salary you pay to roster him in Thursday's main slate contest on FanDuel.

    The Portland guard was lights out in the first half of Game 2, and if the pace did not slow down with so many fouls, he could have made a legitimate run at 50 points. 

    Forty-two of Lillard's 76 series points have come from three-point range. Lillard's total from downtown matches the overall point total of McCollum, who is Portland's second-leading scorer in the series. 

    When Portland and Denver met in the 2019 second round, Lillard began his home schedule with 28 points in Game 3. That total would have been higher if he made more three-point shots. He was 2-for-9 in Game 3.

    That is the most recent example we have of what Lillard is capable of in a Game 3 on his home court. If he hits more than two three-point shots, he should easily go over 30 points. 

    In his last nine playoff games versus Denver, Lillard attempted at least seven three-point shots in every game. He is 14-for-28 through the first two contests of the 2021 first-round series. 

    Since Lillard is going to take a high volume of shots, it makes sense to use him as the lineup anchor. After you select him, you can add another superstar and a handful of role players, and that should put you in the top positions.

Call on Deandre Ayton at Center

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Deandre Ayton's paint production has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the playoffs. 

    The Phoenix Suns center has 43 points, 26 rebounds and is 21-for-24 from the field versus the Los Angeles Lakers. 

    Ayton carries the fourth-highest salary at center in FanDuel DFS contests on Thursday, which means you can save some money by starting him at center over Jokic, Bam Adebayo and Jusuf Nurkic. 

    Ayton's success down low could mean more to the Suns in Game 3 if Chris Paul is not at full strength. Cameron Payne played most of the fourth quarter minutes at guard in Game 2. 

    If Paul is unable to contribute at a high scoring pace, Ayton needs to play well down low for Phoenix to steal a game at Staples Center and potentially head home with a series tie. 

    So far, Ayton has not been intimidated by the matchup with Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond, and if he plays with confidence gained from Games 1 and 2, he could be a menace on the glass once again.

    By rostering Ayton, you should have enough room to land one of the few players above $10,000 at other positions without sacrificing a major drop off from Jokic, who should have a high roster percentage at center. 

Utilize Jrue Holiday at Point Guard

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Point guard may be the position on Thursday where you have to pay a premium to ensure a high level of production.

    Jrue Holiday would be a perfect complement to Lillard at $8,500, or he could be used as the top point guard on your roster if you want to avoid the Portland guard's likely high roster percentage. 

    Holiday did a bit of everything in Milwaukee's two wins over Miami. He had 31 points, 18 assists, five steals and 18 rebounds. 

    The only area in which Holiday struggled in those games was three-point shooting, as he went 1-for-9 from deep, Miami's defense held Milwaukee to 32.1 percent from three-point range. 

    If Holiday continues to put out a decent assist total and knocks down more shots, he could be one of the best DFS plays from the second tier of stars in the entire first round.

    If you take the risk that his shooting will improve, you could partner him with Dennis Schroder ($6,100) and use salary on top-tier players at other positions. 

    That strategy would allow you to comfortably add two more players over $8,000 while not forcing yourself to punt on a role player around the $4,000 mark. 


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.


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