Breaking Down Portland at Oklahoma City
While a lot of people might be excited for Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics to take on the Miami Heat on NBA TV for Fan Night, the best matchup of the evening belongs to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That’s because not only are they tied for second in the Western Conference with identical records of 31-10, but the over/under is 215.
Now granted that doesn’t mean there are great value plays, but it does mean there will be a lot of points and possessions. With only five games on tonight, you’ll certainly want to use a couple players here.
Let’s take a look.
(Salaries via DraftKings)
Portland is 2-0 in the season series (one with Russell Westbrook), but since the Trail Blazers are on the second of a back-to-back, Oklahoma City is a 6.5-point favorite. The Trail Blazers lost 129-116 to the Houston Rockets last night.
Despite playing at a fast pace and are averaging an NBA-best 109.6 points per game, they’re still struggling defensively having given up 126 points to Houston and have given up over at least 100 points in 16 of their last 19 games.
In the last 15 games, OKC has given up the fifth-most FPTS to PGs and the third most to SGs. On the season, OKC has given up the fourth-most to PGs, but are 16th to SGs.
Damian Lillard is worth a look, despite being $8,400.
Whether it’s Russell Westbrook or Reggie Jackson, the Thunder have given up a lot of FPTS to PGs. It’s also important to note that in terms of FPTS allowed to PGs on the season that 11 of the bottom 13 teams are Western Conference teams. This is because the West has a vast majority of the best point guards in the league.
But Westbrook is a better defender than Jackson and Westbrook is still out. Lillard doesn’t have a high correlation and went for 21 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and a steal on Dec. 31 in his last meeting with OKC. Plus, that was one of the lower-scoring games as the final was 98-94.
As for Wesley Matthews, I’d fade him, despite the $5,700 salary and going against a struggling Thabo Sefolosha. Matthews actually posted 16-7-7-1 versus the Thunder last time, but I’d consider that more of a fluke. The one thing to note is Matthews’ minutes have gone down from 34.9 in December to 32.2 in January. His 4.1 rebounding and 2.3 assists averages on the season are a solid representation of what he produces and his low fantasy outputs come mostly when his minutes are limited. His high-fantasy outputs come when his three-point shot is on, and those have most recently come against the Spurs, Bobcats and Heat. Essentially, Matthews is a risk without a huge reward.
Nicolas Batum left the Rockets game after has hand got slapped and caused some swelling in his finger. He could miss tonight’s game. But even so, there’s no reason to go with him as OKC gives up the least FPTS to SFs (Durant factor). He is taking fewer shots (and scoring less by default), but his rebounding and assists numbers are up. Something to keep in mind for the future.
This does mean Dorell Wright would likely get the start (although not confirmed). He’s the backup small forward, but all five Portland starters haven’t missed a game yet this season. We ultimately don’t know what Terry Stotts will do. Wright is averaging 4.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13.5 minutes. Even though he’s minimum salary, I’m not sure extending his minutes into the low 20s will do you much good. I’d bump Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge higher to take on a more offensive load if Batum can’t go.
As for Aldridge, he continues to go on a terror, posting anywhere between 41 and 64 FPTS in his last eight games. He has a low correlation, but he’s $9,800. OKC is 23rd in FPTS allowed to PFs on the year, but 11th in the last 15 games. This is pretty impressive since OKC has faced David Lee, Terrence Jones (twice), Zach Randolph, Kenneth Faried, Kevin Love and Aldridge in this stretch. Aldridge has 25-14-2-2 against the Thunder. Serge Ibaka is playing great D and Nick Collison does a great job on the glass (OKC is No. 1 in rebounding). I think Aldridge will have a good game, but you won’t get much value for the salary. I’m not crazy about it.
For Robin Lopez, he needs to have a great rebounding game to be effective in fantasy. He has high correlation to weak defensive frontcourts and bad rebounding teams. OKC doesn’t fit the category. Stay away despite a $5,100 salary.
OKC’s outlook is a lot more straightforward.
Portland’s two weakest FPTS allowed positions come at PG and C. Kendrick Perkins won’t be played for obvious reasons, but Reggie Jackson is certainly worth a look.
Jackson has decent correlation and recorded 12-7-6-1 against the Trail Blazers last time. Even though he’s not the defender Westbrook is, his steals are up to 1.8 each month and is playing better in transition. For $5,800 in a favorable matchup that’s supposed to be high scoring, he’s a solid play.
Let’s skip past Sefolosha given his low output and move on to Kevin Durant. First of all, he’s $11,600. Yes, he’s a monster in terms of FPTS without Westbrook and has posted FPTS in the 70s three times in the last 10 games, but look at this logically. Let’s say Durant puts up 70 FPTS, which is a decent possibility especially if Batum can’t suit up. But even so, that’s the same equivalent of someone at $5,800 scoring 35 FPTS. There are plenty of players at $5,800 who are capable of putting up beyond that mark (Reggie Jackson). It’s not that playing Durant is an atrocious move, but you better have some really good value plays if you do. And tonight with only five games, I’m not sure there is to make it worthwhile.
As for Ibaka, he’s been fairly inconsistent and Portland gives up the third-least FPTS to PFs. At $7,500, I wouldn’t do it.
Jeremy Lamb is too reliant on scoring and streaky to play. Plus, he has a low ceiling, even at $4,100.
The point guards are the best plays tonight.
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