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

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 29, 2021

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

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Daily fantasy basketball players have options on Saturday.

    The return of the weekend means the return of the four-game NBA playoff slate. It's a hoop junkies' dream with games tipping from 1:30 p.m. ET to 9:30 p.m. ET, and it offers as much flexibility for daily fantasy managers as they'll have in months.

    Options can be good, but they also increase the chances of making a misstep. For all of the players you could roster on Saturday, a big chunk won't be worth the cost.

    We'll try to help you avoid those pitfalls with three pieces of roster advice for Saturday's action.

Stay Away from Bucks-Heat

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    When the first-round schedule was cemented, the matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat quickly emerged as one of the most intriguing.

    It was a rematch from last season, when the eventual Eastern Conference champion Heat first flexed their muscle by ousting the then-top-seeded Bucks. It was also perhaps the motivation for Milwaukee's offseason investment in Jrue Holiday, who has dazzled during his first playoff run in the Bucks' Big Three with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

    Three games into the series, though, it's been a complete flopโ€”in real-world terms and in the fantasy realm. The Bucks have built a 3-0 lead without breaking much of a sweat since their overtime win in Game 1. The last two triumphs have been so thoroughly dominant that no one has had the floor time to put together a bananas fantasy line. Antetokounmpo is the high scorer in this series at just 24.7 points per game; Dragic is pacing Miami with a meager 17.0.

    The Heat's offense looks broken (worst offensive rating by a mile). The Bucks' has been solid, but other than maybe Holiday's (16.7 points, 10.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds), no one's numbers are otherworldly.

    It seems like Saturday's elimination game will go one of two ways. Either Miami will fold and Milwaukee can engage cruise-control to the finish line, or the Heat will turn it into a gritty, grind-it-out affair. Both would be bad news for invested fantasy managers, so it's best to just avoid this game altogether.

Splurge on the Likely MVP

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Sometimes, a ton of research and the right amount of daring can uncover a daily fantasy diamond in the rough.

    Other times, you're best off not overthinking things. If low-hanging fruit is dangling in front of your face, go ahead and take a bite.

    Nikola Jokic became this season's MVP front-runner largely on the strength of his statistical excellence. His first-round opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, had this season's second-worst defense. This is playing out exactly how the stat sheet says it should.

    Jokic's numbers have reached an absurd place, even by his own astronomic standards. Portland has decided it would rather have the big man score than distribute, so he has rocketed up his individual production to 36.0 points per game on 57.7/50.0/94.4 shooting. Oh, and he's still averaging 11.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists, so the box scores are just all the way blown up.

    When you pay a premium for a superstar to anchor your lineup, this is the kind of elite production you're after. There is zero reason to think Jokic won't keep putting up these numbers against Portland's exploitable defense.

Buy Ja Morant's Breakout

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Between the stakes, the spotlight and the statistical opportunities stemming from heavier workloads, the postseason can be a breeding ground for NBA stars.

    Ja Morant looks like one of the 2021 playoffs' premier leapers.

    The reigning Rookie of the Year has had electrifying moments before, but this is different. This feels transformational, a leveling up from young player on the roster to full-fledged star.

    Including the play-in finale, let's marvel together at Morant's last three stat lines:

    • 35 points (14-of-29 overall, 5-of-10 from three), 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals
    • 26 points (11-of-21 from the field), 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 turnover in 36 minutes
    • 47 points (15-of-26 from the field, 15-of-20 at the line), 7 assists, 4 rebounds

    If that's not enough reason to buy Morant as a top-shelf fantasy option, there's also the fact in two of his three regular-season matchups with the Utah Jazz he tallied at least 32 points and seven assists.

    Two weeks ago, you could call him a star-in-the-making. Now, his stardom is made.