In the 2009 comedy film Zombieland we learn about the term “double tap.” Essentially, it’s the process of shooting your enemy twice to make sure they’re actually dead — an attempt to avoid what Randy from the Scream franchise would refer to as “one last scare.”
Anyway, I bring this up not only because I’d rather be watching movies than writing this article, but because the Los Angeles Clippers have started to resemble a horror movie villain in these NBA playoffs. Just when you think they’re finally finished, they keep finding ways to stay alive. The Phoenix Suns would be wise to end this series as soon as possible.
Will that be tonight? Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.
Paul George ($17,700 CP) - There’s really not a lot to say here. I mean, how could you not agree that George is the asset with the highest ceiling on this slate? Since the loss of Kawhi Leonard (knee), Playoff P has lived up to his moniker, averaging 29.2 points and 56.6 DKFP in a six-game span that stretches across series with both the Jazz and the Suns. Also, while George has shot just 14-for-46 (30.4%) in Game 3 and Game 4 combined, he’s consistently found other ways to contribute, registering 15.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per contest. There’s likely some shooting normalization on the horizon, and even if there isn’t, George’s usage rate is a whopping 35.2% for the series. Volume won’t be an issue, especially if the former All-Star is tasked with a few extra minutes in an elimination scenario.
Deandre Ayton ($13,800 CP) - In terms of the Suns’ three most important players — Ayton, Chris Paul ($10,600) and Devin Booker ($11,000) — it would seem that the big man is in the best position to provide fantasy value. Not only is Ayton noticeably less expensive than his two teammates, but with Booker and Paul struggling to find their shot as of late, it’s the former first-overall pick that’s been carrying the team. Ayton is averaging 20.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in this series, culminating in a 61.0 DKFP performance in Saturday night’s 84-80 victory. He’s playing heavy minutes, he’s been super efficient and, most importantly, he’s moderately priced on Monday.
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Ivica Zubac ($6,800) - Zubac is viable in any lineup, but if your build is starting with the aforementioned Ayton in the Captain’s spot, you’re next move should 100% be slotting the Clippers’ big man in at UTIL. The two are obviously correlated, as Ty Lue has pretty much started matching Zubac’s minutes to Ayton’s, with the former second-round pick about the only hope Los Angeles has to contain the Suns’ center. In turn, Zubac has responded by posting back-to-back-to-back double-doubles, including a 13-point, 14-rebound effort in Game 4 — an evening where the 24-year-old logged a playoff career-high 39.6 minutes of action. With Zubac playing well and Ayton a fixture for Phoenix, I doubt much changes heading into Monday’s contest.
Patrick Beverley ($3,200) - Calling Beverley a “limited scorer” is almost an understatement, yet in an elimination game setting, his prospective role is difficult to ignore. Beverley logged 34.1 minutes in Game 4, as he’s found success being Booker’s primary defender. Now, you don’t get any fantasy points for forcing your opponent into a miss, but in a script where Los Angeles’ rotation could be tightened even further, I like Beverley odds of seeing substantial time on the court. Through sheer osmosis he should be able to find his way to 5x value, as Beverley’s managed at least 15.0 DKFP four of the last five times he’s played at least 20 minutes.
Devin Booker ($11,000) - Try as you might, it’s nearly impossible get all four players priced above $9K into a single lineup, so someone has to be the odd man out. For me, the choice is quite clearly Booker, who has failed to score even 30.0 DKFP in each of his past three games. I’m not sure if it’s the presence of Beverley or an uncomfortable mask, but Booker’s shooting just 30.5% since the beginning of Game 2. He’s also consistently been in foul trouble in that span of time, while he’s racked up 17 turnovers to just 10 assists. Obviously, Booker has the potential to break out of this slump instantaneously, yet even in a vacuum, the All-Star’s fantasy value has always been lower playing alongside Chris Paul. If he’s not contributing in secondary categories and his shot’s not falling, what exactly is Booker providing owners?
The Suns have won two “coin flip” games in this series. Heck, it’s the Clippers that have the positive net rating (0.5) as we stand before Game 5. Between that knowledge and Los Angeles’ propensity to never say die, you might be wise to side with Steve Balmer’s boys on Monday evening. However, I’ll be going in the other direction. Phoenix is a great team. So great, its somehow managed to win two of its last three contests despite shooting a putrid 25.6% from three-point range.
The Suns are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 and 4-1 ATS in their past five games at home. The distance shooting will normalize and they’ll punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.
Final Score: Phoenix 107, Los Angeles 99
Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $600K Fadeaway [$150K to 1st] (LAC vs PHO)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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.
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