One of the most intriguing series in the first round of the NBA Playoffs is the matchup between the No. 4-seed Houston Rockets and the No. 5-seed Oklahoma City Thunder. The matchup is an incredible contrast in styles and strengths and featured plenty of Narrative Street storylines, including multiple players with revenge opportunities against their former team.
If you’re pumped up for this series, one way you can get in on the DraftKings action is with the new series-long Showdown contests. It works like like the regular Showdown contests with a Captain’s pick and five utility plays in your lineup, but points and stats will be accrued throughout the whole series. It’s a little like fantasy golf in that multiple rounds of play will determine the winner of the contest and is a fun hybrid between a typical one-game contest and a season-long format. This contest will get underway at 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 18 when Game 1 tips off in the Orlando bubble.
You’ll definitely want to stay tuned to DK Live for all the important injury news and updates leading up to lineup lock and throughout the series. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive to help stay up-to-date on all the breaking news across the world of fantasy sports.
Set your DraftKings lineups here: NBA Series $20K Pull Up Jumper [$5K to 1st] (OKC vs HOU Series)
Oklahoma City Thunder
One of the spiciest storylines to follow will be the revenge of Chris Paul ($9,600), who played for the Rockets for two seasons and took much of the blame for the Rockets’ inability to get past the Warriors. He and his huge contract were shipped out this offseason to OKC in part of the Russell Westbrook trade, but Paul had a strong season, playing 70 games and averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. In the bubble, he looked pretty solid, although he did suffer a sprained hand that caused him to miss Friday’s contest for precautionary measures. When CP3 played full minutes, though, he produced good numbers with over 35 DKFP in his first five games in the bubble before playing limited minutes against the Suns and Heat. He averaged 40.2 DKFP in his three matchups this season with the Rockets, and is definitely an option to consider if you can work his salary under your cap.
Paul has gotten great help in the backcourt from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,800), who continued to emerge as a solid starter with star potential throughout his sophomore season in the NBA. SGA has scored in double-digits in 43 straight contests and averaged 34.8 DKFP per contest thanks to balanced production. He had just about that average with 35.7 DKFP against the Rockets in three contests and is another great play to look at if you can make his salary work.
My favorite of the Thunder guards on a per-dollar basis, though, is Dennis Schroder ($7,000), who creates a big mismatch for the Rockets due to his quickness and willingness to drive to the hoop. He pretty much matched SGA’s numbers against Houston with 33.4 DKFP per contest against the Rockets but costs almost $2K less. He was out of the bubble for the birth of his child but returned and looked sharp in the regular-season finale on Friday. His offense off the bench will be critical if the Thunder want to knock off the Rockets.
In that same price-range as Schroder, the Thunder also have Danilo Gallinari ($7,400) and Steven Adams ($7,800). With the Rockets trying to go super-small there is a question of how much Adams will be able to be on the floor given the mismatch, but when he is on the court, he should dominate the glass. He averaged 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 29.7 minutes in his five games in the bubble but also battled a lower leg injury that cost him three games. He is a boom-or-bust play since his role in this series is a little uncertain. Gallinari should be very involved and could even slide to center if the Thunder try to go small with their three guards all on the court at once. Gallo hasn’t been logging heavy minutes in the bubble in an attempt to stay fresh but has been productive when on the floor. In his three games against Houston this season he averaged 40.7 DKFP, which was actually the highest of any player on the Thunder, making him worth a look at this price as long as his workload returns to normal as expected.
OKC’s lack of depth is demonstrated by the fact that there aren’t even any options between $5K and $7K on the board. Luguentz Dort ($3,400) is expected to get plenty of time in the series once he’s healthy since he is a great on-ball defender and can help slow down Houston’s speed attack. He The rookie will miss at least Game 1, though, due to a knee injury. He’ll probably be a good value when he returns, but you’re taking a risk and paying for at least one game with a zero from Dort. If you think he’ll be back for Game 2 and that the series will be a long one, that’s not too big a deal, but he could sink your lineup if he continues to be sidelined or the series is short.
If Dort does miss significant time, Hamidou Diallo ($3,800) could be the beneficiary of extra minutes and showed some nice upside with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 46.75 DKFP in the Thunder’s most recent game against the Clippers. Most of the starters were out for that game, so the fact that Diallo got so much work could indicate he’s not a pivotal part of the Thunder’s playoff plans. If it was an audition, he aced it, but it’s not clear how large of a part he landed. With Dort out for Game 1, make sure to keep an eye on if Diallo moves into the lineup.
The other value I like from the Thunder is Darius Bazley ($4,600), who scored over 20 points in three straight games before struggling with his shot (3-for-12) in the regular-season finale. Bazley is a little risky since he’ll likely lose playing time and usage to Gallo. If he ends up with about 20 minutes a game, this could be a little too much to pay for him despite the obvious upside if he’s over 25 minutes a contest. I’d rather rely on Gallo getting the time than take a flier on Bazley.
The biggest question mark on the Houston side of things is how long Russell Westbrook ($11,800) will be sidelined with his quad injury. He was listed as out for Game 1 and seems unlikely to return in Game 2 on Thursday either. Even if the series goes a full seven games, Westbrook missing multiple games makes him hard to pay up for, especially with so many other solid options in the backcourt on the Thunder side of things.
For however long Westbrook is out, James Harden ($12,800) will add even more work on top of his crazy-high usage numbers. He was absolutely outstanding in the bubble, averaging 34.1 points, 8.9 assists, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 steals and even 1.0 blocks in his seven games since the restart. He had at over 55 DKFP in five of those games, including a 87.75-DKFP highlight reel against the Pacers and a game against Dallas that almost resulted in a 50-point triple-double as he dropped 49 points to go with nine rebounds and eight assists on his way to 85.25 DKFP. Harden is an extremely expensive play, but his production is so massive it’s almost impossible to fade him. Harden only averaged 45.8 DKFP in his three games against his former team this season, and if Westbrook was healthy, you could maybe make a case to fade The Beard, but with even more usage coming his way, it’s hard to see him not having a massive series, barring an injury of his own.
While Westbrook is out, Eric Gordon ($6,200) will slide into the starting lineup. He battled an ankle injury in the bubble and only played two games, scoring 13 points in each contest and shooting a combined 9-for-25 (36%) from the field. Gordon has a high ceiling but I don’t have a ton of confidence in his current form. Austin Rivers ($5,800) has looked much better lately, including a 41 point outburst against the Kings in which he totaled 60 DKFP. He probably won’t come near that production in this series but will get extra minutes while Westbrook is out. Ben McLemore ($5,000) and Danuel House Jr. ($6,400) will also get more work without Russ available. House did have a toe injury that caused him to miss the past three games, but he went through a full practice and is not on the injury report. Of all the options getting a boost without Westbrook, House is my favorite option since he is usually consistent with a high ceiling.
The Rockets have gone so small, sometimes it’s hard to figure out who their frontcourt is. Robert Covington ($8,200) has been a key to this ultra-small strategy since the Rockets acquired him from the Timberwolves at the trade deadline. He hasn’t been at his best in the bubble but does have double-double potential and the green light to take his perimeter shot when it’s available. He typically logs heavy minutes due to his defensive contributions, but this salary seems a little pricey compared to the Thunder options around this price point. Jeff Green ($5,400) and P.J. Tucker ($4,200) get most of the minutes at center, with Green being the more active offensively. Uncle Jeff scored at least 12 points in six straight games and is one of the best mid-range plays of the series as he too takes on his former team.
Value options are tricky to find in the Houston rotation, but DeMarre Carroll ($3,000) is potentially worth a look if he gets time off the bench. If you need a total punt play, Michael Frazier ($1,000) has been getting 15-to-20 minutes fairly consistently in the bubble but not doing much with them. If you have to spend down to the minimum, though, he is the best Houston option under Carroll’s $3K.
This should be an epic series, and I think we all win if it goes the full seven games. Ultimately, Westbrook’s health will play a huge role in determining who advances, but expect it to be the James Harden ($19,200 CP) show until then with insane numbers coming from him. Making him work as your Captain’s Pick is challenging since he’s almost $20K in that spot, but it is doable if you focus on values at utility spots. If you want a more affordable Captain’s Pick, Danilo Gallinari ($11,100 CP), Dennis Schroder ($10,500 CP) or even Jeff Green ($8,100 CP) make interesting pivots.
Final Series Score: Houston 4, Oklahoma City 3
Set your DraftKings lineups here: NBA Series $20K Pull Up Jumper [$5K to 1st] (OKC vs HOU Series)
Favorite Prop Bet For Game 1
Danuel House Jr. OVER 11.5 points (-107)
House hurt his toe against the Kings on August 9 and only had two points in that game. Before that, though, he had at least 14 points in each of his four games in the bubble. He was getting more looks while helping to fill in for Eric Gordon but will now help Gordon as the two try to fill in for the larger absence of Westbrook. Before the game in which he was injured, House had taken at least 10 shots and played at least 30 minutes in each of his five games in Orlando. During the most recent regular season meeting between these teams, House had 13 points and I expect him to hit the over in this contest fairly comfortably.
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