Thursday has the potential to be one of our last three-game slates of the NBA season. Three teams will be facing elimination. The first team trying to stay alive will be the Raptors, who may have to do so without Fred VanVleet (hip), who is listed as doubtful. The Suns will then try to dispatch the Pelicans, and there is some speculation that Devin Booker (hamstring) might have a chance to play. Finally, the Jazz will try to stay alive at home when they face the Mavericks, and Donovan Mitchell (quadriceps) said Wednesday that he expects to play. Let's discuss some players to target for your Yahoo lineups, as well as a few to possibly avoid.
CJ McCollum, NO vs. PHO ($35): The acquisition of McCollum is one of the main reasons why the Pelicans made the playoffs. He hasn't disappointed against the Suns, scoring at least 42.1 Yahoo points in four of the five games. He plays a ton of minutes, has the ball in his hands a lot and is one of the team leaders in shot attempts, so expect him to continue to have a high floor.
Gary Trent, TOR vs. PHI ($20): Trent struggled from the field in Game 5, shooting 5-for-14, including 2-for-6 from behind the arc. He still managed to score 16 points, and he's now averaging 21.3 points over the last three games. He also averaged 41 minutes during that stretch and should continue to be on the floor for most of this game, especially with VanVleet unlikely to play.
Guard to Avoid
Mike Conley, UTA vs. DAL ($19): The Jazz need to make changes this offseason, especially if they get knocked out in the first round. Moving on from Conley might be a good idea, but trading him could prove to be difficult. He is still owed $22.7 million next season, and $14.3 million of his $24.4 million for the 2023-24 season is guaranteed. He's had a dreadful series, averaging 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists, while shooting 31.9 percent from the field.
Scottie Barnes, TOR vs. PHI ($29): The Raptors went big with VanVleet out for Game 5, moving Barnes over to point guard. The rookie played 41 minutes, scoring 35.6 Yahoo points along the way. He should have the ball in his hands a lot, while also playing a lot of minutes, making him one of the most appealing forward options for this slate.
Reggie Bullock, DAL at UTA ($14): While Bullock is not a big name, the Mavericks rely heavily on him. He's averaged 42 minutes per game in this series, which contributed to him scoring at least 23.9 Yahoo points in all five matchups. With a salary this cheap, he's an appealing choice to help balance out your budget.
Forward to Avoid
Herbert Jones, NO vs. PHO ($18): Jones has had one good game against the Suns but has scored 21.7 Yahoo points or fewer in each of the other four games. He doesn't have a significant role within the Pelican's offense, posting a 13.7 percent usage rate during the regular season. Given that Bullock has been more productive, and that he has a cheaper salary, there's no need to chance it with Jones.
Pascal Siakam, TOR vs. PHI ($40): Siakam is an excellent passer for a big man, averaging a career-high 5.3 assists per game during the regular season. With VanVleet out in Game 5, he dished out seven assists to go along with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Not only should he remain one of the Raptors' leaders in usage rate, he'll be asked to help facilitate more for his teammates with VanVleet likely out again.
Precious Achiuwa, TOR vs. PHO ($15): The Raptors went with a tight rotation with VanVleet out in Game 5. Four of their starters logged at least 39 minutes, and Achiuwa played 27 minutes off the bench. He didn't disappoint, posting 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. If you want to fade Siakam, Achiuwa should play enough minutes to at least be worth considering.
Center to Avoid
Joel Embiid, PHI at TOR ($52): It looks like Embiid's torn ligament in his right thumb might be impacting his production. Since suffering the injury, he has scored 30.1 and 35.2 Yahoo points, respectively, the last two games. He didn't score more than 21 points in either game, shooting a combined 45.2 percent from the field and missing all five of his three-point attempts. At his hefty salary, there's plenty of risk here.