The NBA has another busy bubble schedule lined up for Sunday with seven games filling the afternoon and evening as the battle for playoff seeding continues. The action tips off with the Wizards and Thunder at 12:30 p.m. ET, includes a fun Magic-Celtics game at 5:00 p.m. ET, and finishes with a nightcap between the Rockets and Kings. Also on the slate is a Grizzlies vs. Raptors contest with both teams expected to be wearing their original uniforms, so we’ll get those sweet Dino unis for the Raptors vs. the teal Vancouver edition of the Grizz’s threads.
It should be an entertaining slate with plenty of good options in good matchups to consider. You will definitely want to keep up with all the latest news, analysis and lineups, so download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive to keep up with any injury news that should impact your roster.
Damian Lillard, POR vs. PHI, $10,000 – Lillard had a rough game on Saturday, missing critical shots as he and the Blazers fell to a short-handed Clippers team that seemed to be trying to give them the game. While his 34.75 DKFP in 39 minutes was definitely a disappointment, he had been playing very well before that letdown averaging 31.3 points, 11.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game in the bubble before falling well short with just 22 points, five assists and three boards.
Because of all the off-court fireworks, I think Lillard will be especially ready to go for his matchup against a Sixers backcourt that will be without Ben Simmons (knee). Portland can’t let another game slip away like the team let Saturday’s contest slip away, so look for Lillard to come out and carry the team to the win like he did in a while earlier bubble contests against the Nuggets, Rockets and Grizz.
Other options – Kyle Lowry ($8,800), Derrick White ($6,100)
Ish Smith, WAS at OKC, $5,200 – The Wizards moved Smith into the starting lineup three games ago and the veteran PG has continued to be among the best players on the court for Washington in just about every contest. He is coming off his best bubble game on Friday against the Pelicans, when he posted 18 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals for an impressive 49.5 DKFP.
Smith has at least 12 points in all five games inside the bubble and usually chips in solid non-scoring numbers as well. He’s finishing out the first year of his two-year deal with the Wizards and seems to be a part of the team’s plans for next season even if he may return to the bench depending on the status of John Wall. Smith will look to keep rolling against the Thunder in the early game.
Other options – Shake Milton ($5,400), Alec Burks ($4,200)
James Harden, HOU at SAC, $11,300 – The Kings and Rockets both like to play with plenty of pace, so expect the points to be flowing in this late game. With Russell Westbrook (quad) already ruled out, it’ll be another showcase game for Harden, who gets a boost to his already-high usage when his fellow All-Star is absent from the backcourt. Harden had 74 DKFP on 39 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and three steals in Houston’s win over the Lakers without Russ in his most recent contest.
Harden should be able to torch the Kings, who have gone just 1-4 in the bubble and are very close to being eliminated from playoff contention. Sacramento has struggled defensively all season and especially in the bubble, so I don’t see the Kings slowing down Harden in this contest.
Other options – Fred VanVleet ($7,500), Jaylen Brown ($6,900)
Gary Trent Jr., POR vs. PHI, $5,000 – One of the key reasons the Blazers have surged into serious playoff contention in the West has been Trent’s exceptional play off the bench. The second-year player has helped fill in for Trevor Ariza in the Portland rotation and scored over 15 points in each of his five games in the bubble, averaging 20.6 points and 30.25 DKFP per contest.
Trent has played at least 34 minutes in each of his past four games as well and was one of the few bright spots in Saturday’s loss. He should be ready to help the Blazers bounce back on Sunday in a game Portland needs to win in a tight playoff race in the West.
Other options – Evan Fournier ($5,600), Luguentz Dort ($3,800)
Jayson Tatum, BOS vs. ORL, $7,900 – Tatum has bounced back nicely after an ugly start to his time in the bubble and has resumed his role as the lead option in a Boston offense that has been among the best since the restart. He only posted 23.25 DKFP against the Bucks in his first game of the restart but has posted over 35 DKFP in three of his four games since, highlighted by 58.5 DKFP against the Blazers in a win last Sunday. His only down game during that run was a blowout win over Brooklyn where he got some extra rest.
The Magic will be without Jonathan Isaac (knee) for the rest of the season and Aaron Gordon (hamstring) has been ruled out Sunday. With a depleted frontcourt to take on in this one, look for Tatum to keep pouring it on as Boston tries to wrap up the No. 3 seed in the East.
Other options – Kawhi Leonard ($9,300), Robert Covington ($6,400)
Ben McLemore, HOU at SAC, $3,800 – In addition to the Narrative Street appeal of rolling out McLemore against his former team, this matchup jumps off the page after McLemore’s success in the starting lineup on Thursday. He slid into the lineup for Westbrook and had 20 points in 30 minutes against the Lakers on his way to a juicy 33.0 DKFP. He’s still under $4K despite that big game but he does have a tendency to be boom-or-bust due to his reliance on long-range shooting. With Westbrook out again and the Kings’ defensive struggles, he has a huge upside and should continue to play a key role in the Rockets’ small-ball rotation.
Other options – Bogdan Bogdanovic ($5,300), Josh Hart ($4,000)
Al Horford, PHI at POR, $6,500 – Horford moved into the starting lineup for the Sixers in place of Simmons and had his best game since the restart. He had 21 points and nine rebounds for 37.25 DKFP in 30 minutes against the Magic. He should continue to start next to Joel Embiid ($10,600) and be a big part of Philadelphia’s offense.
Horford typically chips in excellent non-scoring numbers as well which makes him a solid, low-risk option at just over $6K with the upside for a double-double in every contest. He has been a solid contributor when given a role in the starting lineup, and he should continue to be a good mid-range target moving forward.
Other options – Tobias Harris ($8,700), Pascal Siakam ($8,100)
Rudy Gay, SA at NO, $5,700 – Without Lamarcus Aldridge (shoulder), the Spurs weren’t expected to be able to stay in the playoff hunt very long but San Antonio has played very well in the bubble and remains in playoff contention. Gay has been one of the players to step in and help fill the gap and has looked very good in the bubble with at least 25 DKFP in each matchup.
The veteran had 33.75 DKFP against the Jazz in his most recent contest on 14 points and seven boards in just 21 minutes. He typically plays closer to 30 minutes and has 19 points or more in three of his five games since the restart. Gay should continue to be a solid play with a decent ceiling as the Spurs take on the Pelicans Sunday.
Other options – Carmelo Anthony ($5,400), Rodions Kurucs ($4,000)
Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs. PHI, $8,900 – Nurkic has been exceptional since his return to action in the Orlando bubble and saves over $1,500 in salary compared to Embiid, who is the other elite option on the board. Nurkic fell just one assist short of a triple-double in 33 minutes against the Clippers on Saturday with 44.25 DKFP on 10 points, 13 boards, nine assists and two steals. It was actually his second-lowest fantasy point total since his return and he has posted over 50 DKFP in three of those games.
Nurkic still seems to be limited to around 30-to-35 minutes per game and could be dealing with fatigue limitations on the second day of a back-to-back. On the other hand, though, the Blazers need to get this win any way they can, so look for them to unleash the Bosnian Beast as much as they can.
Other options – Joel Embiid ($10,600), Thomas Bryant ($7,400)
Nerlens Noel, OKC vs. WAS, $3,900 – With Steven Adams (lower leg) unavailable for a second straight game, Noel should get another start for the Thunder and will get a very favorable matchup against the Wizards. He played 27 minutes in his start Friday with 11 points, four boards and 19.0 DKFP despite also picking up five fouls. He typically can provide solid scoring and good rebounding when given extra run and he’s a great way to spend under $4K at center and still get solid production in the middle if you’re looking to spend big at your other roster spots.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thunder C Steven Adams (leg) will NOT be available to play today vs. the Wizards despite initially being called available. Nerlens Noel (ankle) also will not play.
Other options – Ivica Zubac ($5,400), Zach Collins ($4,400)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.