Thursday NBA slate features a pair of contests, including Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:00 p.m. ET.
The Jazz had a dreadful shooting performance in the first quarter of Game 1, which allowed the Clippers to control most of that contest. They entered halftime with a 13-point lead, but the Jazz came storming back in the third quarter. They outscored the Clippers by 13 points in that frame and were ultimately able to secure a three-point victory.
The Jazz were also able to win that contest without Mike Conley. He missed the game due to a hamstring injury, and he’s been ruled out for Game 2, as well.
Even with Conley sidelined, the Jazz enter the day as 3-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook.
DraftKings is offering up a featured Showdown slate for this contest, so let’s break down some of the top options to consider for your lineups.
Donovan Mitchell ($15,600 CP) – You have three choices if you want to pay up at Captain: Mitchell, Kawhi Leonard ($17,100 CP) and Paul George ($15,000 CP). All three are solid choices, but Mitchell stands out to me. He’s been excellent recently, increasing his production to 1.54 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he’s coming off 61.75 DKFP in Game 1. He’s also taken on a much larger workload during the postseason, posting a usage rate of at least 40.5% in three of his past four games. Mitchell averaged a 33.5% usage rate during the regular season, so that’s a massive increase.
He is also one of the primary beneficiaries with Conley ruled out once again. He’s seen the largest boost on the Jazz in terms of assist rate with Conley off the floor this season, giving him added upside as a distributor.
Luke Kennard ($3,900 CP) – The other option at Captain is to pay all the way down. Doing so allows you to easily jam all of the studs into your lineup, and you typically need all the studs in the Showdown format.
Kennard is my favorite value if you want to go in that direction. He failed to make an impact during the regular season after being acquired from the Pistons, but he’s starting to deliver in the playoffs. He was instrumental in the Clippers’ Game 7 victory over the Mavericks, and he played 29.3 minutes in Game 1 vs. the Jazz. He responded with 22.5 DKFP in that contest, and his spot in the rotation should be solidified.
If you don’t want to use him at Captain, he can still help you save a bunch of salary as a UTIL play.
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Kawhi Leonard ($11,400) & Paul George ($10,000) – The Clippers need to treat this game as a must-win. Teams that have fallen into an 0-2 hole have historically advanced at a less than 10% clip, so it’s basically a death sentence in the postseason. They were able to overcome an 0-2 deficit in the first round vs. the Mavericks, but the Jazz are a much better team.
With that in mind, expect Leonard and George to both carry large workloads. Both players should play more than 40 minutes, and both have provided excellent value for most of the postseason. Kawhi has scored at least 55.0 DKFP in six of eight playoff contests, while George has gone for at least 51.0 DKFP in four of his last seven.
Rudy Gobert ($9,200) – The Clippers stuck with their small-ball starting lineup in Game 1, opting to use Nic Batum ($4,800) at center in place of Ivica Zubac ($3,800). If they stick with that same lineup in Game 2, Gobert is going to have a massive size advantage. He didn’t make the most of that matchup in Game 1, finishing with just 10 points and 12 rebounds, but he has the potential for a better performance on Thursday. His six shot attempts were his second-lowest mark of the postseason, and he finished with his second-lowest rebound total, as well.
Ivica Zubac ($3,800) – Speaking of Zubac, he continues to stand out as underpriced. The Mavericks were a dreadful matchup for him, with Luka Doncic absolutely abusing him in pick-and-roll situations. This matchup is much friendlier for his skillset. He logged 20.4 minutes in Game 1 and responded with 29.0 DKFP, and I think he should be looking at a similar workload in Game 2. It wouldn’t shock me if he moved back into the starting lineup, either.
Bojan Bogdanovic ($7,200) – No one on this slate stands out as a super-strong fade candidate, but I’ll go with Bogdanovic. His price tag has stayed constant during the postseason, but he hasn’t proved that he has the ability to pay it off consistently. This middle range of pricing is also the weakest area on today’s slate. Getting at least two of Leonard, Mitchell and George feels like a must, which means you’ll likely have to sacrifice the players in the $6K to $8K range.
I’m not willing to write off the Clippers just yet. The fact that they couldn’t win Game 1 despite the Jazz’s terrible first-quarter shooting and Conley being out of the lineup is a bad sign, but the Clippers did have to deal with Kawhi being in early foul trouble. The Clippers were ultimately outscored by 12 points with Leonard on the court, and I don’t expect that trend to continue.
From a fantasy perspective, stars-and-scrubs is definitely the preferred lineup construction. My ideal lineup has Leonard, George and Mitchell in it, particularly with one in the Captain slot. I also don’t mind using a value play at Captain since I can add Gobert to that core. Luckily, there are some strong values to consider.
I’m expecting another close contest, and I think the Clippers ultimately pull off the upset. As NBA fans, I think we’re entitled to at least one competitive series in each conference, right?
Final Score: Clippers 112, Jazz 111
Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $300K Fadeaway [$100K to 1st] (LAC vs UTA)
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