NBA Grind Down: Tuesday, May 16th

Welcome to the RotoGrinders NBA Grind Down. In this all-encompassing preview of today’s NBA action, every game will be broken down statistically, with several key elements highlighted in our charts.

Vegas lines are broken down to show projected team totals, to give you an idea of who is favored to win, and often more importantly, how many points they’re expected to score. We also provide pace numbers, so you can spot a game that might have a few extra possessions and more opportunities for fantasy points.

We also provide position-by-position matchup rankings for every team, to give you an idea of the players who will be in better situations to succeed. Using Defense versus Position data, every projected starter is listed along with his opponent’s rank in points allowed to players of his position. These color-coded charts will help you spot the best matchups of the night at a glance.

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Legend & FAQ

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors – Tuesday, 9:00 PM ET

San Antonio Spurs Golden State Warriors
Vegas Total 208.5 Vegas Total 208.5
Vegas Spread 14.0 Vegas Spread -14.0
Team Total 97.3 Team Total 111.3
Pace +/- 3.5 Pace +/- -2.3
Proj. Starter Patty Mills Danny Green Jonathon Simmons LaMarcus Aldridge Pau Gasol Proj. Starter Stephen Curry Klay Thompson Kevin Durant Draymond Green Zaza Pachulia
Opponent Rank PG SG SF PF C Opponent Rank PG SG SF PF C
Adj. DvP 3 14 5 21 12 Adj. DvP 8 12 2 2 2
DRPM 0.24 -0.91 1.35 5.08 3.61 DRPM -1.07 2.10 1.37 1.25 1.43

San Antonio Spurs

Ah, it feels good to be back. First off, I want to thank Bryan Pauquette for doing an amazing job on the NBA Grind Down so far this postseason. He really took it to the next level and I loved reading his piece each and every day. With so much content overlap between NBA and MLB, I wasn’t able to find the time needed to devote to the Grind Down, but I’m back for the conference championships. We only have one game each day, which makes it a little easier to keep up with.

Where do we start with the Spurs? I’m not sure where I stand on the Zaza Pachulia play where he took two steps forward with his lead leg to close out on Kawhi Leonard. It certainly didn’t look like a routine close out, but at the same time, he wasn’t even looking at Leonard when it happened. Regardless of intent on Zaza’s part, it cost the Spurs Game 1 and it will likely cost them Game 2 as well. The moment Leonard went to the locker room, the Warriors went on a huge run in the third quarter. Even though the game stayed close, we all got the feeling of inevitability that the Warriors would win the game.

Leonard is listed as doubtful for tonight’s game, which is going to hurt the Spurs on both ends of the floor. Their offensive and defensive ratings both plummeted in Game 1 without him on the court. The injury is going to open up big minutes for Jonathon Simmons, who has had a small breakout party here in the playoffs. He is going to slide into the starting lineup tonight and immediately push for 30+ minutes with an increased usage rate. With little value to speak of in the slate, I will label him as a “fade at your own risk” play. If we run the CourtIQ tool with Leonard and Parker off the floor, we see that LaMarcus Aldridge a
nd Pau Gasol both saw a 7% usage boost during the regular season.

The Spurs have no choice but to force feed Aldridge the ball, but this feels like a trap play. Draymond Green may end up being the Defensive Player of the Year and everyone is going to be on Aldridge after scoring 44 fantasy points in Game 1. We saw Aldridge’s production decline after Leonard went down with his injury in Game 1 and we could see the Warriors key in on him tonight. His shot volume will be there, but I’m worried about his efficiency and his playing time in a potential blowout game. This is not a good matchup for Gasol and we saw Pachulia out-play him in Game 1. If the Spurs decide to play small again, Gasol will have a difficult time reaching value at this price point.

Assuming Leonard is out for tonight’s game, we can expect big minutes for Danny Green and Manu Ginobili, both of whom provide good value at shooting guard. Green is under $4,600 on both FanDuel and DraftKings and Ginobili is under $3,700. Kyle Anderson could also see some extra run if Leonard is out and he could see some garbage time as well. At his price point, he is worth a flier in tournaments or as a cheap cash game punt at small forward. Patty Mills played very well against the Rockets in the second round, but a lot of his open shots came on kick outs from Leonard or Aldridge. The Warriors have been the best defensive team so far in the postseason, so the open looks may not come as frequent. I’m still willing to take a shot on Mills moving forward, but will be waiting for when the series shifts to San Antonio. All in all, I’m bearish on the Spurs tonight in Game 2. I will take the value where I can find it (Simmons, Green, Ginobili, Anderson), but I’m not going to force anyone into my lineups.

  • San Antonio Spurs Offense
    Points Per Game: 105.3 (14 of 30)
    Implied Team Total: 97.3 (4 of 4)
    Projected Point Differential: -8.1 (4 of 4)
    Pace of Play: 96.4 (27 of 30)
    Projected Pace Differential: 3.5 (1 of 4)
  • Golden State Warriors Defense
    Points Allowed Per Game: 104.3 (11 of 30)
    Defensive Efficiency: 101.1 (2 of 30)
    Rebounding Differential: + 0.9 (10 of 30)
    Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game: 200.3 (10 of 30)

Notable Fantasy Players

Player FD Salary DK Salary FP/Min Minutes L5 +/- FP/Game L5 +/- True Usage L5 +/- DvP DRPM
Patty Mills $5,200 $5,500 0.79 21.9 3.7 17.2 0.0 21.8% -2.0% 3 0.24
Danny Green $4,200 $4,500 0.62 26.6 1.4 16.5 -0.3 13.8% -0.7% 14 -0.91
Jonathon Simmons $4,600 $4,700 0.67 17.9 0.5 11.9 1.8 18.9% 3.4% 5 1.35
LaMarcus Aldridge $8,800 $7,100 0.96 32.4 3.0 31.1 -0.6 24.0% -0.5% 21 5.08
Pau Gasol $6,100 $5,200 1.06 25.4 -1.9 26.9 -6.6 21.5% -4.3% 12 3.61
Manu Ginobili $3,000 $3,600 0.84 18.7 -1.1 15.7 -2.5 22.0% -2.7% 14 N/A
Kyle Anderson $2,200 $2,900 0.74 14.2 -4.0 10.5 -1.8 13.0% 4.4% 5 N/A
David Lee $3,000 $2,500 0.92 18.7 -0.4 17.2 -5.9 17.3% -5.6% 21 N/A

Elite Plays – Jonathon Simmons, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili (FD)

Secondary Plays – LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili (DK), Kyle Anderson

Golden State Warriors

  • Golden State Warriors Offense
    Points Per Game: 115.9 (1 of 30)
    Implied Team Total: 111.3 (2 of 4)
    Projected Point Differential: -4.7 (3 of 4)
    Pace of Play: 102.2 (4 of 30)
    Projected Pace Differential: -2.3 (4 of 4)
  • San Antonio Spurs Defense
    Points Allowed Per Game: 98.1 (2 of 30)
    Defensive Efficiency: 100.9 (1 of 30)
    Rebounding Differential: + 2.4 (6 of 30)
    Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game: 188.8 (2 of 30)

You can call the Warriors lucky, but they took advantage of a vulnerable Spurs’ team once Kawhi Leonard went down with his injury. Their offense was extremely stagnant in the first half they didn’t seem to have much energy on either end of the floor. After Leonard went down, Stephen Curry stepped up and hit some big shots to get the crowd back into the game. They eventually completed the come back to keep home-court advantage in their favor. They head into Game 2 as 14-point favorites with the second highest implied point total (111.3) in the slate.

During the regular season, the Spurs were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They were ranked second in points allowed per game and first in defensive efficiency. They are still an above-average defense, but their play on that end has taken a step back in the playoffs. Not only that, but may be without their best defender in Kawhi Leonard. If he is unable to suit up, Kevin Durant would be the biggest beneficiary. He wasn’t particularly effective with Leonard defending him in Game 1, but proceeded to catch fire after Leonard left the game. Durant is considerably cheaper than LeBron James and should garner lower ownership with everyone worried about a potential blowout.

Curry has really stepped it up in the postseason. He has scored at least 30 actual points in four of his last seven games and is the main reason why the Warriors are holding on to a 1-0 lead. He caught fire in Game 1, scoring 40 points on 26 shot attempts. The Spurs don’t seem to have an answer for him and Patty Mills has by far the worst defensive rating of any player (-1.07) in the Spurs’ starting lineup. Curry is a bit expensive on FanDuel ($10,000), but firmly in the mix on DraftKings ($8,900). Even if this game turns into a blowout, I expect the Warriors’ starters to play close to a full complement of minutes. Klay Thompson peripheral statistics have disappeared in the postseason. Even though his price is down across the industry, he is an easy fade at this point. Keep an eye on the status of Andre Iguodala as we get closer to tip-off. If he is ruled out, Matt Barnes would become a viable punt at small forward.

Last, but not least, we have the Warriors’ frontcourt. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant scored all of the points in Game 1, but Zaza Pachulia may have been the hero. He played 26 minutes and finished with a very respectable stat line of 11 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. He was also involved in the play that swung the momentum in the Warriors’ favor, but we don’t need to harp on that. Pachula is a decent punt play on DraftKings at a price of $2,800, but we shouldn’t expect a repeat performance. The Spurs have a tough defensive frontcourt and Pachulia hasn’t topped 19 minutes in any other game in the playoffs. I would rather invest in Draymond Green, who is coming off of subpar outing in Game 1. Green has been a monster this postseason, scoring at least 42 fantasy points in five of his last seven games. I’ll take Green over Aldridge, even on sites where he is more expensive.

Notable Fantasy Players

Player FD Salary DK Salary FP/Min Minutes L5 +/- FP/Game L5 +/- True Usage L5 +/- DvP DRPM
Stephen Curry $10,000 $8,900 1.25 33.4 1.5 41.6 3.1 31.3% 0.3% 8 -1.07
Klay Thompson $7,100 $6,000 0.91 34.0 0.9 30.9 -8.3 24.6% -4.2% 12 2.10
Kevin Durant $9,700 $9,900 1.36 33.4 -0.4 45.5 -3.7 28.0% 0.4% 2 1.37
Draymond Green $8,600 $8,000 1.06 32.5 3.1 34.6 7.7 19.3% -1.1% 2 1.25
Zaza Pachulia $4,000 $2,800 0.96 18.1 -2.7 17.4 -2.6 15.7% 2.0% 2 1.43
Andre Iguodala $5,200 $4,600 0.75 26.3 0.0 19.7 -1.7 13.2% 1.9% 2 N/A
Matt Barnes $1,500 $2,200 0.74 24.0 -16.8 17.8 -14.4 15.8% 0.8% 2 N/A
Shaun Livingston $1,500 $2,400 0.62 17.7 -0.6 11.0 -0.9 14.4% -2.0% 8 N/A

Elite Plays – Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant (GPP), Draymond Green

Secondary Plays – Klay Thompson, Zaza Pachulia, Matt Barnes (if Andre Iguodala is out)

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics – Wednesday, 8:30 PM ET

Cleveland Cavaliers Boston Celtics
Vegas Total 219.5 Vegas Total 219.5
Vegas Spread -4.0 Vegas Spread 4.0
Team Total 111.8 Team Total 107.8
Pace +/- 0.6 Pace +/- -0.3
Proj. Starter Kyrie Irving J.R. Smith LeBron James Kevin Love Tristan Thompson Proj. Starter Isaiah Thomas Avery Bradley Jae Crowder Amir Johnson Al Horford
Opponent Rank PG SG SF PF C Opponent Rank PG SG SF PF C
Adj. DvP 18 11 13 24 21 Adj. DvP 23 29 26 9 17
DRPM -4.21 -1.13 1.37 3.79 1.59 DRPM -2.16 -0.77 1.57 1.93 0.95

Cleveland Cavaliers

We all get the feeling that it is going to be another Cavaliers/Warriors final, but Cleveland has their work cut out for them. They failed to secure home-court advantage during the regular season, which means they have to win at least one game on the road in this series. I certainly expect that to happen, but we can expect Boston to put up a solid fight. The Cavaliers won two of the three regular season meetings with the Celtics and come into Game 1 as 4-point favorites on the road. They slightly beat out the Warriors for the highest implied point total (111.8) in the slate.

When it comes to DFS and the Cavaliers, it’s basically the big three and the occasional role player thrown into the mix. This series will be no different. We obviously need to start with LeBron James, who has transformed into a superhero in the playoffs. In eight games (Cavaliers swept both of the first two series), James is averaging 34 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, while shooting 47% from the three-point line and 56% from the field. He is playing 43 minutes a game and averaging nearly 60 fantasy points per contest. He is the premier play in this slate, and the next one, and the next one. James is extremely expensive on FanDuel and DraftKings, but deserves to be in all of your lineups. In his three meetings with the C’s this season, he averaged 54 fantasy points in only 37 minutes per game.

Kyrie Irving is looking to carry over his stellar play from the second round series against the Raptors. He scored at least 40 fantasy points in three of the four games and topped it off with a 55-fantasy point outing in Game 4. The Celtics will likely slide Avery Bradley over to Irving and put Isaiah Thomas on J.R. Smith, but Bradley’s defensive numbers weren’t as elite as they were in year’s past. In fact, he had a -1.13 DRPM during the regular season. Bradley Beal had some big games against the Celtics in the second round and I expect more of the same from Irving.

Kevin Love doesn’t play as many minutes as James or Irving, but we’ve seen him crack the 35-minute mark a few times this postseason. He should have a lot of success against a Celtics’ team that had the fourth worst rebounding differential in the NBA this season. This may be a hot take, but I prefer Love over Aldridge straight up in this slate. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he comes with a $1,300 discount on FanDuel and a $200 discount on DraftKings. Tristan Thompson should also be able to take advantage of a favorable rebounding matchup. He is one of the best offensive rebounders in all of basketball and we’ve seen him play as many as 38 minutes in close games this postseason.

With a potential blowout brewing in the Warriors/Spurs game, it makes sense to get as much exposure to this game as possible. The big three from Cleveland and Thompson are all viable plays and with such a high implied point total, we should feel comfortable using three or four of them in the same lineup.

  • Notable Injuries:
  • Cleveland Cavaliers Offense
    Points Per Game: 110.3 (4 of 30)
    Implied Team Total: 111.8 (1 of 4)
    Projected Point Differential: 1.5 (1 of 4)
    Pace of Play: 98.4 (16 of 30)
    Projected Pace Differential: 0.6 (2 of 4)
  • Boston Celtics Defense
    Points Allowed Per Game: 105.4 (15 of 30)
    Defensive Efficiency: 105.5 (12 of 30)
    Rebounding Differential: -2.5 (27 of 30)
    Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game: 204.4 (15 of 30)

Notable Fantasy Players

Player FD Salary DK Salary FP/Min Minutes L5 +/- FP/Game L5 +/- True Usage L5 +/- DvP DRPM
Kyrie Irving $8,800 $8,400 1.09 35.1 -0.8 38.2 -0.5 32.0% 2.7% 18 -4.21
J.R. Smith $3,300 $3,400 0.56 29.0 -3.1 16.2 -5.2 14.4% -3.6% 11 -1.13
LeBron James $12,500 $12,000 1.30 37.8 4.6 49.3 9.4 32.9% 1.1% 13 1.37
Kevin Love $7,500 $6,900 1.14 31.4 -0.1 35.8 -9.2 25.2% -5.8% 24 3.79
Tristan Thompson $5,100 $5,100 0.77 30.0 2.7 23.0 0.8 11.0% -0.4% 21 1.59
Kyle Korver $3,500 $3,100 0.63 26.2 -6.7 16.5 -3.0 15.1% -1.5% 11 N/A
Channing Frye $3,500 $3,300 0.83 18.9 -4.6 15.8 -1.7 18.1% -1.6% 24 N/A
Deron Williams $2,500 $3,000 0.82 25.9 -9.9 21.2 -9.0 24.7% -3.4% 18 N/A

Elite Plays – Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson

Secondary Plays – Kyle Korver (DK)

Boston Celtics

The Celtics’ series against the Wizards was strange. It featured two of the best games in the entire playoffs and four of the worst ones. Game 7 wasn’t close at the end, but it was at least a competitive Game 7, which is really all we can ask for. Boston has been through a lot so far in the postseason and they will look to continue their run against the defending-champion Cavaliers. Even though they lost two of the three games to Cleveland in the regular season, they did enough to grab home-court advantage. The TD Garden is going to be rocking for Game 1, as the C’s are listed as only 4-point underdogs.

The key to stopping the Celtics this season has been containing Isaiah Thomas. When he plays well, the Celtics play well. When opponents are able to bottle him up, the Celtics’ offense can look stagnant at times. It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers match up with Thomas in this series. He will likely see Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert most of the time, but the Cavaliers may decide to put LeBron James on him in the fourth quarter. Thomas should push for 38-40 minutes a game in this series and he played well against Cleveland in their three meetings earlier this season, averaging 45 fantasy points per game. Deciding between the three star point guards is difficult, but dollar for dollar, I am going to give Thomas the small of edges over Irving and Curry.

I expect Thomas to get his numbers in this series, so it will likely come down to how well the Celtics’ role players perform. Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Marcus Smart will all take their turn defending LeBron James and should all average over 30 minutes per game. With so many viable shooting guard plays available, I see Bradley and Smart as more of secondary plays, although Bradley is more appealing on DraftKings ($5,800) and Smart is more appealing on FanDuel ($5,100). Small forward is also a loaded position with LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Jonathan Simmons (who should draw the start for Kawhi Leonard). That leaves Crowder as more of a pivot play in tournaments. Jaylen Brown is a player to keep an eye on in this series. Coach Brad Stevens started giving him more minutes in Games 5, 6, and 7 and he had arguably the best game of his career earlier in the season against the Cavaliers.

Al Horford has had an up and down season with the Celtics. He came out of the gates firing, he disappeared for a couple of months, and now he is playing at a high level again. If the Celtics have any shot at pulling off the upset in this series, they are going to need Horford to be at his best. They have been running their offense through him at times this postseason, which is why we have seen a spike in his assist totals. He has developed more of an outside shot this season, which could be important in a matchup against Tristan Thompson, who is a much better low post defender than on the perimeter. Horford is a little pricey on FanDuel ($8,000), but my favorite play at center on DraftKings ($7,100). He has basically been a lock for 30+ fantasy points in the playoffs and has the ability to fill up all areas of the stat sheet. Kelly Olynyk will have his moments in this series. His ability to stretch the floor will be important against the Cavaliers. He has a boom or bust nature to his game, but is always in play for tournaments, especially on DraftKings where he is PF/C eligible.

  • Notable Injuries:
  • Boston Celtics Offense
    Points Per Game: 108.0 (7 of 30)
    Implied Team Total: 107.8 (3 of 4)
    Projected Point Differential: -0.3 (2 of 4)
    Pace of Play: 99.3 (12 of 30)
    Projected Pace Differential: -0.3 (3 of 4)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers Defense
    Points Allowed Per Game: 107.2 (20 of 30)
    Defensive Efficiency: 108.0 (22 of 30)
    Rebounding Differential: -0.4 (19 of 30)
    Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game: 208.2 (22 of 30)

Notable Fantasy Players

Player FD Salary DK Salary FP/Min Minutes L5 +/- FP/Game L5 +/- True Usage L5 +/- DvP DRPM
Isaiah Thomas $9,200 $8,800 1.19 33.8 2.0 40.4 -2.6 34.9% -2.7% 23 -2.16
Avery Bradley $6,500 $5,800 0.84 33.4 2.0 28.1 -2.3 21.5% -1.8% 29 -0.77
Jae Crowder $6,300 $6,000 0.79 32.4 0.7 25.7 0.9 16.9% 0.2% 26 1.57
Amir Johnson $2,500 $2,600 0.82 20.1 -9.1 16.5 -9.5 14.3% 1.3% 9 1.93
Al Horford $8,000 $7,100 1.00 32.3 1.9 32.2 3.6 21.6% -3.3% 17 0.95
Marcus Smart $5,100 $5,000 0.80 30.4 -0.8 24.2 0.0 20.7% -3.2% 29 N/A
Kelly Olynyk $4,800 $4,200 0.90 20.5 -0.9 18.5 0.1 19.5% 0.7% 17 N/A
Jaylen Brown $2,100 $2,400 0.67 17.2 -6.4 11.5 -4.5 17.4% -0.3% 26 N/A

Elite Plays – Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Avery Bradley (DK)

Secondary Plays – Avery Bradley (FD), Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk

About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Incentives members on a daily basis during the NBA season with daily videos for the Court Report and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards..


    Interview after $100,000 Win

    January 5th, 2012 Daily Fantasy Fix

    February 14th, 2013 Daily Fantasy Fix Interview


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