(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters/Troy Taormina)
Point guard – Chris Paul, Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz
The hedge here is that Paul bounces back from Houston’s Game 2 loss, especially with regards to play-making after being held to a playoff-career low three assists in Wednesday night’s loss. Paul has averaged 19.3 points and 6.0 assists in the playoffs, which is a significant drop-off from his career postseason average of 9.2 assists.
Paul has gone ten playoff games without reaching double figures in assists. That streak ends in Game 3.
Alternate option – Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors
Holiday bounced back from a sub-par Game 1 to score 24 points in New Orleans’ defeat Tuesday night. He is still averaging an impressive 24.3 points and 6.3 assists in this postseason and totaled 57 points and 15 assists in the two games at home in the first round when the Pelicans closed out the Portland Trail Blazers. Holiday has averaged 21.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists against Golden State this season and should be good for such numbers or potentially more as the Pelicans fight to stay alive in this series.
Low-cost option: Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans
Iguodala’s impending shift to the bench should not discourage DFS players from giving him a utility slot since Warriors coach Steve Kerr has opted for experience over youth with Iguodala over Quinn Cook. While the minutes may drift closer to 25 for Iguodala, he has a chance to reach double figures in points and fill the stat sheet in other categories.
Shooting guard - Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans
Picking a shooting guard in these two Western Conference semifinals comes down to who do you trust. Do you trust Stephen Curry more in a Game 3 on the road making his first start of the postseason with a chance to take a commanding 3-0 series lead or do you trust James Harden to bounce back in a hostile venue in Utah in Game 3 with the series tied?
This space says Curry, who went five of ten from 3-point range and had 28 points off the bench in just 27 minutes. There were some sloppy moments for Curry, evidenced by his six turnovers, which is why he is slotted at shooting guard over point guard where the expectation is Paul will make it a point to get the ball moving. Curry averaged 28.5 points and 6.8 assists in four games against the Pelicans overall this season and has made four or more 3-pointers in three of those meetings.
Alternate option: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets
With the desire to have at least Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant in the frontcourt of a DFS lineup, Harden gets sacrificed for Mitchell, who has played lights out at home in the postseason with averages of 31.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in the first round while hitting 12 of 23 from 3-point range and shooting 48.6 percent overall.
Mitchell may have been held to a postseason-low 17 points in an off-shooting night, but he did register 11 assists and got his team a "W" in Game 2.
Low-cost option: Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz
Gordon is kind of like a ticking bomb in the sense one does not know when he is going to go off offensively, but you hope it's on the gameday you selected him to see the carnage. Gordon had 15 points in the Game 2 loss and has made three or more 3-pointers in four of Houston's seven postseason games while averaging 12.9 points. His shooting percentage leaves a lot to be desired at 31.4 percent, but there are fewer potential low-cost, high-reward players in the Western Conference.
Small forward - Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets
There is plenty of risk in selecting Ingles over Durant, but this is more riding the hot hand than anything else, and the Aussie forward definitely has the hot hand after making seven of nine from beyond the arc Wednesday night in Houston. Ingles is averaging 15.9 points in the playoffs and shooting slightly better from 3-point range (50.9 percent) than overall (50.0).
He also provides decent secondary numbers in points and rebounds, and the salary cap flexibility allows for the selection of a player like Davis to fill the void in rebounds and blocked shots.
Alternate option: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans
Or, if you want overkill on offense and a secondary source of assists, Durant will be your man. The Warriors small forward has been steady throughout this postseason, scoring between 24 and 34 points in all seven games and contributed 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in addition to all those points. Durant has averaged 25.7 points while shooting 50.5 percent in 17 career games at N'Awlins, so he is about as safe an alternate option as it gets.
Low-cost option: Jae Crowder, Utah Jazz @ Houston Rockets
Crowder's M.O. has been about toughness, but the versatile yet undersized forward has been packing a punch on the perimeter for Utah in the postseason. He has averaged 17.0 points while shooting 15 of 32 from deep in his last four games while also grabbing 6.3 rebounds per contest. Crowder is not bashful about letting fly, which means he could be a solid utility pick.
Power forward - Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors
The Pelicans All-Star forward may be the one player who can be considered must-have in the starting five because this is the game he has been waiting for his entire pro career. He is a perfect six-for-six with double-doubles in the postseason, averaging 29.7 points and 15.3 rebounds along with 2.7 blocks and 2.0 steals, and showed a better sense of offensive nous in Game 2 by grabbing four offensive rebounds.
Davis has averaged 29.0 points and 13.4 rebounds while shooting 55.0 percent in five games versus the champs this season, and anything below those numbers in Game 3 would be surprising.
Alternate option: Nikola Mirotic, New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors
Mirotic showed flashes of being capable of breaking out offensively after finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds in Game 2. He is shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range and has quietly averaged 16.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks. If you have confidence in the Pelicans to win Game 3, then the play would be to shift Davis to center and insert Mirotic here.
Low-cost option: P. J. Tucker OR Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz
Tucker and Ariza are like six of one, half-dozen of another. They are both going to finish around double figures in points, hit a 3-pointer or two and grab a handful of rebounds. A coin flip would settle this debate but in the interests of statistical trends, Tucker gets the slightest of edges as the better 3-point shooter (39.4 to 35.7) this postseason.
Whose in your lineup tonight? Comment below!
Center - Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets
The "Stifle Tower" has been a steady paint presence for the Utah Jazz in the postseason as Rudy Gobert has averaged 13.8 points and 11.3 rebounds while shooting 65.0 percent through eight games. He totaled 46 points and 37 rebounds in Utah's three home games versus Oklahoma City in the first round, and the hunch here is he gets Rockets counterpart Clint Capela in foul trouble and ticks his numbers higher in Game 3.
Alternate option: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans
#PlayoffGreen has outperformed #PlayoffRondo thus far as the Warriors jack of all trades finished one rebound shy of a second straight triple-double. The only worry this space has about Green in Game 3 is Green picking up a quick pair of fouls in a frenzied atmosphere in New Orleans and winds up getting fewer minutes that blunts his bid for more big numbers. If you're confident Green can avoid hearing the whistle, then by all means, throw him in there.
Low-cost option: Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets
Favors is the best of the low-cost options because he will be starting and playing heavy minutes. While there is a very low ceiling offensively for Favors at around nine to 12 points, he will get enough shots to get near that ceiling while pulling down a few rebounds. Favors is the guy who you turn to to stay under the max cap without feeling bad about the selection.
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