Playoff Previews Part 1

Mike Gallagher
Rotoworld

Can you believe it? The regular season is almost over. It seems like just yesterday we were looking at preseason stats and now we have the Western Conference matchups all set already. 

With all the regular-season fantasy analysis basically just coming down to who rests, we’re going to get an early jump on some of the playoff matchups.

We’ll look at some lineups, stories, narratives, injuries, trendy lineups and make some predictions for results and players we want to use for DFS. We’re also still going to do our DFS podcasts, so make sure you catch those for more in-depth DFS analysis and what it means.

I’m going to kick it off with the Warriors (1) against the Blazers (8), starting with the reigning Western Conference champs.

On the season, the Warriors just crushed the Blazers in the four matchups, winning the season series 4-0 with a 17.2 net rating along the way. The Dubs killed the Blazers on the glass with their 54.6 rebounding percentage, they passed all over them with a 72.4 assist percentage (season average was 70.7), and they shot the lights out with a 63.5 true shooting percentage as a team — that was good for a 117.5 offensive rating to explain the domination. Of course, Jusuf Nurkic not playing is a major factor. More on that later.

On top of this regular season, don’t forget the Warriors took care of business last year in the postseason with a 4-1 series victory over the Blazers in the second round. Of course, the Warriors are a little different this time around. Stephen Curry missed three of those five games and Kevin Durant was still in OKC. Shoutout to Harry B.

Noteworthy Injuries (from season series)

One game missed: Stephen Curry (stomach flu), Patrick McCaw (DNP-CD) and David West (thumb)

Lineups Breakdown

The first thing that jumps out is the Mega Death Lineup was a negative 17.5 net rating, but it is a little surprising it was only used for 3.3 minutes per game when that lineup was available -- Curry was out for one. For what it’s worth, coach Steve Kerr used the 2015-16 version of the Death Lineup for 10 minutes in the two games available against the Blazers in the postseason, and he tends to go with it a lot more in the playoffs. You would have to think that lineup gets out there more because of the Kevin Durant factor.

Of course, the starters absolutely took over with that absurd 143.0 net rating. They did it with just crazy efficiency (74.6 true shooting percentage) and actually weren’t too fast on the pace at 103.5 possessions per 48 minutes.  

There really shouldn’t be much going on here for Kerr to adjust his regular season rotation against this team.

Thriving Players

KD torched the Blazers so much so they should've been called the Portland Blazed afterwards. In four games, he averaged 29.3 points, 7.8 boards, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.5 steals and 2.0 treys on a 71.1 true shooting percentage and a 30.6 usage rate. What’s even more impressive is he was only 8-of-23 from deep, so he would’ve been closer to 80 TS%. Here’s his shot chart:

Eating inside big time. KD should have a big series, assuming he’s healthy. Maybe the addition of Jusuf Nurkic can slow him down, but it’s unlikely.

Ian Clark just loved going against Portland this year. In just 17.7 minutes per game, he averaged 13.0 points, 1.4 boards, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.8 treys on 92.6 TS%. He scored 22 and 23 points in the first two, but just two and five in the final two games — the two-point game was when Curry was out, too. He did have some garbage time for his blowups, so it’s hard to put too much stock into this.

Struggling Players

Klay Thompson didn’t perform very well, averaging just 17.8 points, 3.5 boards, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 treys. Basically, his shot wasn’t falling, so there’s little to read into here.

X-Factors

You have to start and probably end with Andre Iguodala. Last season, he played 26.6 minutes per game in the regular season and saw his playing time jump up to 32.0 minutes per game into the postseason. KD’s defensive presence and rebounding should make him even more deadly next to him. He was also really good against the Blazers this season, averaging 9.5 points, 4.0 boards, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 treys on a 77.1 true shooting percentage and 10.4 usage rate over his 27.2 minutes per game. I’d guess his DFS price will be a bargain to start the playoffs.

Portland Blazers

When you get thumped the way the Blazers did, coach Terry Stotts will have to go back to the drawing board. 

Noteworthy Injuries

One game missed: Al-Farouq Aminu (back) and Damian Lillard (ankle). This was the same game and they lost 135-90 in Oakland. Jusuf Nurkic (trade) didn’t play at all and Mason Plumlee (trade) played in all four.

Lineups Breakdown 

Not great, Bob. Dame and C.J. only played 6.8 minutes against the Mega Death Lineup, as well. There really isn’t even much to take away from here, but it's probably a good thing Mason Plumlee isn't around anymore.

What about the playoffs last year? Well, one player that helped out a bunch was Allen Crabbe. The Blazers were -15.5 in net rating when he was off the court last playoffs. Although, that was not the case this year with Crabbe lineups not working out. Still, expect him to get minutes at the expense of Moe Harkless.

Thriving Players

While Dame didn’t play well against them this season, his track record against his hometown team is excellent. He scored just 23.3 points per game against them, but he’s not anywhere close to as hot as he is these days.

Struggling Players

Everyone? When you get beat up like that all season, nobody can really carry a team.

X-Factors

Simply put, it’s all on Nurkic’s leg. He also had a terrific quote about getting healthy. "I already got super intelligence. So, I'm gonna go super strength,"  Nurkic said. He looked good while he was shooting pre-game on Monday and I would love to believe him, but his track record with injuries isn’t the greatest. As mentioned above, I think Crabbe should have a strong series. One other noteworthy factor is how well Noah Vonleh has performed. His presence is just another wrench to throw into Stotts' rotation.

Prediction

Warriors win 4-1

San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

This was a close series with a 2-2 split and the Grizzlies edging out the Spurs for a 2.0 net rating. For the DFS crowd, these are not the droids you’re looking for. This series ran at just a 90.1 pace.

San Antonio Spurs

Noteworthy injuries

One game missed: Kawhi Leonard (quad, late scratch), Tony Parker (is this noteworthy?), Danny Green (leg), Pau Gasol (hand).

Lineups Breakdown

The biggest thing here is how much the LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Pau Gasol trio struggled. In their 49 minutes together, they posted a -25.7 net rating.

Thriving Players

Dewayne Dedmon had a strong series against Memphis in minutes and net rating, but he didn’t turn in much on the stat sheet. He averaged just 3.0 points, 5.5 boards, 0.3 blocks and 0.0 turnovers.

Struggling Players

As you might expect, Pau Gasol lineups didn’t not have a good series. He played 27.3 minutes against them, posing a lowly -15.6 net rating in that time. That said, it wasn’t exactly his fault on offense, posting a 66.3 true shooting percentage. Even though Gasol did average 9.7 points, 8.0 boards, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 treys, I’d be a little worried he is only in the 23-26 minute range.

Manu Ginobili also wasn’t very good, but he only played 14.5 minutes per game in this series. He and Tony Parker have aged a lot this year.

Kawhi Leonard actually was below average, which can have something to do with Tony Allen. His minutes should go up, so that means he should have some monster games.

X-factors

It’s all about Dedmon. Coach Gregg Popovich loves to use him situationally, so the slow tempo and bang-it-inside style with Marc Gasol could make Dedmon very important. That said, he’s not going to be a stat-stuffing guy for fantasy.

Also, Coach Pop is not happy about the Spurs playing so terribly lately. When Shabazz Napier burns you, there are some things you have to work on.

Memphis Grizzlies

Noteworthy Injuries

One game missed: Tony Allen (left eye)

Three games missed: Chandler Parsons (knee)

Lineups Breakdown

This is all about the Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combo. In 61 minutes, that combo put up a +18.7 net rating. That’ll be a big thing to watch. Meanwhile, the Gasol and JaMychal Green lineup was -13.2.

Thriving Players 

Z-Bo. He averaged 14.8 points, 9.0 boards, 1.5 assists and 0.5 steals in 28.1 minutes per game. As mentioned above, he will be a key in this series.

It’s hard to thrive against the Spurs defense, but Mike Conley was effective, averaging 18.0 points, 3.3 boards, 6.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.8 treys for his 54.7 TS%. He’s also coming in with a ton of momentum on offense, averaging 25.0 points, 6.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 3.5 treys over his last eight games. Shot chart in that span: 

If he stays hot, the Grizzlies could make this a series.

Struggling Players

I mean, it’s the Spurs, so most players were below their averages.

X-Factor

Z-Bo.

Prediction

Spurs win 4-1

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