Jared Johnson

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Christmas Day Preview

Monday, December 25, 2017

Week 11 Schedule






2 Games: POR


With no games to report on Sunday, I figured I’d take the time to preview the Christmas Day games with a DFS slant for Monday’s Dose. But first, I’d like to outline my general philosophy for attacking daily fantasy sports.


While individual matchup data is a tool we can use to attempt to predict an outcome, I’d say pace is the most important element to consider when selecting potential targets. Because matchup data is a macro data point, it tends to ignore the day-to-day fluctuations and it’s also tough to get an accurate read on position data in today’s position-less NBA. For example, the Rockets have the second-best defense in the league against the point guard position, but they rank 22nd overall in defensive efficiency at the two-spot (hey, that’s where James Harden plays). Chris Paul is an elite defender, but when he sits, Harden slides over to the one and all the macro data on that position essentially goes out the window. Also, in today’s NBA there is a lot of switching, and just because a player is labeled a small forward doesn’t mean he’ll be exclusively going up against the opposing teams SF. Take Draymond Green for example, while he starts at power forward he also spends 40% of his minutes at the three and 2% of his playing time at the five, and he tends to guard the opposing team’s best player regardless of their position. As you can see, there is a lot of uncertainty when evaluating individual matchup data, and while I don’t discount it entirely, I don’t think it’s necessarily the best measure to use when evaluating targets.


Pace, on the other hand, is a much more stable and reliable data point. Teams that like to run and gun tend to do just that, and teams that favor a halfcourt offense don’t tend to deviate from that playing style. The faster the pace, the more total possessions and the more fantasy goodness to go on for everyone involved, so targeting teams like the 76ers, Warriors, Lakers, etc. is something I’d recommend doing.


Knicks vs. 76ers


Pace differential: PHI 103.4 – NYK 98.5 = 4.9


I imagine this will be the fastest paced Christmas Day game, so I like targeting some of the big name guys here: Kristaps Porzingis, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Joel Embiid (back).


Low-Budget options: Richaun Holmes (pending Joel Embiid), Dario Saric


New York Injuries


Kyle O’Quinn (illness) skipped Sunday’s practice and he should be considered questionable for the Knicks’ Christmas Day game against the 76ers. If he’s forced to the sidelines, Willy Hernangomez and Joakim Noah would have the opportunity for some increased minutes, but neither of those guys will be doing much while Enes Kanter is healthy.


Courtney Lee was also not in attendance for Sunday’s practice due to personal reasons, but there’s nothing suggesting he won’t play on Monday.


Philadelphia Injuries


J.J. Redick, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring issue, is questionable for Monday’s matchup with the Knicks. If he’s out again, Jerryd Bayless will be looking at another start and Timothe Luwawu will have the opportunity for some increased minutes with the second unit. Bayless has been okay as a starter this season with averages of 11.0 points, 2.1 triples, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.8 turnovers per game, but I think there are guys with more upside to deploy as low-budget DFS options. Luwawu has been far too inconsistent to trust in fantasy hoops.


Joel Embiid (back) did not practice on Sunday and is also questionable for Monday’s game. Embiid skipping practice after logging just 23 minutes in his return from a three-game absence on Saturday isn’t a great sign, but perhaps he’ll gut it out for a nationally televised Christmas Day game. I’d expect him to be a game-time decision, but if he's forced to sit, Amir Johnson would be in line for another start, but Richaun Holmes would be the guy to pick up a majority of his minutes. Per nbawowy.com, Ben Simmons’ usage spikes to 30.2 when Redick and Embiid are off the floor, so he’d be that much more alluring of a DFS target if those guys sit. Robert Covington and Dario Saric would also see an uptick in usage.


Justin Anderson (shin) practiced in full on Sunday, but he will not play on Christmas.


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Warriors vs. Cavaliers


Pace differential: GSW 102.5 – CLE 99.0 = 3.5


Kevin Durant has been holding down the top spot in fantasy hoops ever since Stephen Curry (ankle) hit the sidelines, and he should keep the good times rolling for this Christmas Day Finals’ rematch. Durant roasted the Cavs during the Finals last year with averages of 35.2 points, 8.2 boards, 5.4 assists, 3.6 trey-bombs, 1.0 steal, 1.6 blocks and 2.2 turnovers per contest, so he’ll be a popular DFS target on Christmas, and for good reason.


You could also make a strong case for rolling out LeBron James, who has been incredible this season and averaged a triple-double against the Dubs’ during last years Finals with 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 2.4 triples, 1.4 steals, 1.0 block and 4.2 turnovers per game.


I’d be fading Kevin Love in this one as he tends to struggle against the Warriors. Through two regular-season games against the Dubs’ last season he posted measly averages of 11.5 points, 4.5 boards, 2.0 assists and 1.5 triples per game, and he wasn’t much better during the Finals.


Low-Budget option: Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell (not as high on him with Pachulia expected to play)


Golden State Injuries


Stephen Curry (ankle) will not play on Christmas, while Shaun Livingston (knee) and Zaza Pachulia (shoulder) and Draymond Green (elbow) are probable. With Livingston back in action, Patrick McCaw won’t play quite as many minutes and Pachulia’s likely return makes Jordan Bell a far less attractive option.


Cleveland Injuries


J.R. Smith, who missed Wednesday’s game with a sore knee, will return to the court for this Christmas Day Finals’ rematch, which should result in Channing Frye returning to the second unit. Isaiah Thomas (hip), Derrick Rose (ankle) and Iman Shumpert (knee) are out.


Wizards vs. Celtics


Pace differential: WAS 99.4 – BOS 97.5 = 1.9


Kyrie Irving has been ballin’ over the past week with averages of 30.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.8 triples, 1.0 steal and just 2.0 turnovers per game, so he’ll be coming into this Christmas Day matinee red hot, making him one of the more attractive point guard targets out there. I am somewhat worried that this game could turn into a blowout, though, so that will be something to consider.


Al Horford is also on the radar, as he tends to have his way when going up against Marcin Gortat. In three games against the Wizards last season, Horford posted averages of 18.0 points, 6.7 boards, 4.0 assists, 1.3 triples, 1.0 steal, 1.7 blocks and just 1.3 turnovers per contest.


I’m not very high on John Wall. He’s been struggling over the past week with averages of 13.3 points, 8.3 dimes, 5.3 boards, 2.3 triples, 0.8 steals and 3.5 turnovers per game on 35.2% shooting, and the blowout potential only makes matters worse. Same goes for Bradley Beal.


Low-Budget options: Marcus Smart, Kelly Oubre


Washington Injuries


Aside from Sheldon Mac (Achilles), the Wizards should be at full strength on Christmas.


Boston Injuries


Shane Larkin (knee) is probable, Marcus Morris (knee) is questionable and Semi Ojeleye (back) is doubtful. Morris hasn’t played since December 8, but perhaps a Christmas Day matchup against his twin brother will give him some extra incentive to try and get back out there. If he does play, he’d likely be working with a strict minutes limit, so he’d be an unattractive DFS target.


Rockets vs. Thunder


Pace differential: HOU 101.6 – OKC 97.6 = 4


I think Harden is essentially “must-play” in DFS right now. He’s coming off back-to-back 50-plus-point games and over the past four, he’s come through with averages of 39.8 points, 7.0 assists, 4.8 boards, 4.5 triples, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 5.5 turnovers per game. The only knock against him would be that he struggled a bit against OKC last year, but a struggling James Harden is still pretty elite, his averages: 20.5 points, 12.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 treys, 1.5 steals and 6.3 turnovers on 34.3% shooting. I’m fairly confident predicting that he’ll be gifting those that invest in him with a ridiculous stat line, particularly with Chris Paul (groin) unlikely.


Russell Westbrook would be the other “must-play” guy, as he too has been crushing it lately with averages of 28.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 2.4 steals and just 2.6 turnovers per contest. He also balled out against the Rockets last year, and I’d expect that trend to continue.


Low-Budget Options: P.J. Tucker, Eric Gordon (pending Chris Paul), Steven Adams


Houston Injuries


Chris Paul (groin) is doubtful to play on Christmas, whereas Clint Capela (heel) is questionable. With CP3 unlikely, Eric Gordon figures to earn another start, and Nene will also remain in the starting five if Capela sits. Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) is out, which will translate to more minutes for P.J. Tucker.


Oklahoma City Injuries


No injuries to report.


Timberwolves vs. Lakers


Pace differential: LAL 104.5 – MIN 98.2 = 6.3


Jimmy Butler is the guy I’m looking at here with a dream matchup against the Lakers. He’s been red-hot over the past week with averages of 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 triple and just 1.3 turnovers per contest, and the Lakers rank just 24th overall in terms of defensive efficiency against the two-guard position. Partner that with the fact that the Lakers rank first in pace this season (104.5), and you’ve got a good recipe for a Jimmy Buckets explosion. Karl-Anthony Towns could also be in for a big night against the small-ball Lakers.


Low-Budget Options: Josh Hart, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson


Los Angeles Injuries


Brandon Ingram (quads) missed Saturday’s game against the Blazers, but his absence from that game seemed more so precautionary with it being the second of a back-to-back set, so I’d be surprised if he sits on Christmas. Brook Lopez (ankle) is out.


An MRI revealed a left shoulder sprain for Lonzo Ball and he will miss at least the next week of action. I think it will be either Josh Hart or Jordan Clarkson moving into the starting five, but Clarkson is probably going to be the primary beneficiary here as he should assuredly see more consistent minutes. Hart started sans Brandon Ingram (quads) on Saturday and produced 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 34 minutes, so he’s could be worth a punt on Christmas.


Minnesota Injuries


Aside from Nemanja Bjelica (foot) and Justin Patton (foot), the Wolves should have everyone available for Christmas.


Other Injury News


Jason Kidd said he has “no concerns” regarding the soreness Giannis Antetokounmpo has recently experienced in his right knee, and The Greek Freak himself described his absence from Saturday’s game as precautionary more than anything else. He should be fine for Tuesday’s game against the Bulls, but it sounds like owners may need to double check on Giannis’ status ahead of back-to-back sets over the coming weeks.


Devin Booker (groin) practiced in full on Sunday and barring a setback, he expects to return to the court for Tuesday’s game against the Grizzlies. He’s missed the past nine games, so I’d expect him to be dealing with a minutes limit over his first handful of games, but he should immediately replace Josh Jackson in the starting lineup and he’ll likely be cutting into Jackson, Isaiah Canaan and Troy Daniels’ minutes once he’s fully up to speed.

A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the Rotoworld team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJ831, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.
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