There are two games on hand for tonight’s DFS NBA main slate as the 2023 NBA Playoffs roll on. After the Philadelphia 76ers stunned the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Boston struck back hard in Game 2 to even the series despite the return of NBA MVP Joel Embiid for the Sixers. The Denver Nuggets won both games at home in their Western Conference semifinal series against the Phoenix Suns. As the series shifts to Arizona, the Suns find themselves down a critical piece in Chris Paul, who is suffering from a groin injury and won’t return to action until Game 6 at the earliest. The Suns must shoot better from downtown if they are going to fight their way back into this series. Here are tonight’s prioritized NBA DFS picks and plays for Friday night's NBA Playoffs slate. You can build daily fantasy basketball lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
NBA DFS Playbook May 5
Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers – Game 3 (Series Tied 1-1)
- O/U: 214.5
- Spread: BOS -2.5
Boston Celtics Injuries:
- Danilo Gallinari – Out
Boston Celtics DFS NBA Breakdown:
The Celtics were in complete control of Game 2 and were especially dominant in the third quarter when they outscored the 76ers, 35-16. Jaylen Brown got featured more last game and scored a team-high 25 points. Jayson Tatum hit one shot all night and ended up with seven points and seven rebounds. Foul trouble limited him a bit during the game and when the Celtics were up big, they preserved him. Malcolm Brogdon continues to be a huge help off the bench, hitting the 20-point mark in scoring in both games this series. Since Game 3 of the Atlanta Hawks series, Brogdon has hit at least 46% of his field goals. The Celtics were moving up and down the court at a quicker pace and they were able to take advantage of a hobbled Joel Embiid last game.
Marcus Smart doubled his shot attempts from Game 1 and even Derrick White, who has looked lost this series, put up 15 points. The one question that continues to linger is how Boston is utilizing Robert Williams. He’s their best bet to defend the low block and limit Embiid, but he continues to come off the bench and not log a ton of minutes. If Embiid looks healthier and starts dominating the Celtics, expect Williams to be on the court more. Al Horford has done a good job putting up numbers. He’s blocked multiple shots in four straight games and stole the ball in four of his last five battles. We’re seeing him take eight to 10 shots lately and he's grabbed no fewer than six boards in each of his last five battles. When the game is close, count on Horford to play 30 minutes.
Tier 1 Play(s): Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon
Tier 2 Play(s): Al Horford
Philadelphia 76ers Injuries:
- Joel Embiid – Questionable
Philadelphia 76ers DFS NBA Breakdown:
Joel Embiid blocked five shots in Game 2, but he didn’t look 100% healthy. If his mobility hasn’t improved by now, the Sixers may want to consider executing a game plan of keeping Embiid at the elbow and using him as a bit of a decoy while having other players attack the rim. Tobias Harris is a slasher while James Harden and Tyrese Maxey are good ball-handlers who can get to the rim as well. Embiid will see high-percentage shots from the elbow, and it’ll be less pressure on his injured knee if he stays out of the post a bit more. The Sixers looked good with Harden running the offense in Game 1 and they could have him be the prioritized scorer tonight – despite coming off a poor shooting performance in Game 2. He still pulled down 10 rebounds last game.
Philadelphia shot under 40% last matchup and they’ll need to find ways to get to the hoop, especially if Embiid can’t attack the rim with force. Harris has shot over 53% from the floor and 40% from beyond the arc in this series. He should take about 15 shots in this game tonight. Maxey should take 12-15 shots tonight, but he’s been more scoring-dependent in recent games and hasn’t been contributing as many boards and assists. He’s stolen the ball seven times combined in his last four games. De’Anthony Melton plays decent defense, and we should see him play around 20 minutes. If his shot isn’t on, though, Melton will leave you with a very low DFS total because he doesn’t really produce in other areas. After averaging 1.6 steals per game during the regular season, he’s been inconsistent about posting swipes throughout the playoffs.
Tier 1 Play(s): James Harden
Tier 2 Play(s): Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris
Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns – Game 3 (DEN leads 2-0)
- O/U: 225
- Spread: PHX -4
Denver Nuggets Injuries:
Denver Nuggets DFS NBA Breakdown:
The Nuggets aren’t loaded with depth but they’re deeper than Phoenix. Now they don’t have Chris Paul to deal with for the next few games of this series. Nikola Jokic is completely controlling the paint and he’s scored 63 points combined in the first two games against the Suns. He’s also pulled down 16 or more rebounds in both games and dropped five dimes. Even with Jamal Murray not shooting well last game, Phoenix didn’t have an answer for Jokic. Until the Suns step up their defense in the post, the Nuggets should continue letting Jokic operate with the ball as much as possible and he’ll play around 40 minutes tonight. Jokic has taken no fewer than 26 shots in three of his last four battles and shot over 56% in two contests during that span. He’s also recorded three multi-steal outings in his last four battles.
Jamal Murray will take a high volume of shots and should have an easier time finding openings with Paul out of action on the other side. Michael Porter Jr. has been pretty much a non-factor this series and we can’t rely on him to produce, especially after taking fewer than 10 shots in both games in this series. He doesn’t put up much production in other areas and he’s a hard guy to rely on for DFS. At least Aaron Gordon has scored 14-plus points in five straight games and he’s shot over 62% from the field in both of his last two outings. He’s also been helpful on the glass and stole the ball in four of his last five games. Bruce Brown has been a critical piece for the Nuggets off the bench and he can play multiple positions. Brown has hit at least 50% of his field goals in two of his last three contests.
Tier 1 Play(s): Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray
Tier 2 Play(s): Aaron Gordon, Bruce Brown
Phoenix Suns Injuries:
- Chris Paul – Out
Phoenix Suns DFS NBA Breakdown:
The Suns' backs are against the wall because of Paul’s injury and their lack of depth. If they lose this game, they will have to do what no team has done in the history of the NBA – which is come back to win the series after being down three games to none. With Paul out, Devin Booker and Cameron Payne will help run the point. We saw Damion Lee log 26 minutes and he’ll likely get an uptick in playing time once again. If Booker runs the point for most of the game, Lee will take his spot at shooting guard. Payne should get some time to run the Suns' offense as well. Between Payne and Lee, I give the slight edge to Payne when it comes to his production ceiling heading into tonight as he should spend more time being on the ball while Lee could be used as more of a bailout option if Booker is doubled and needs to pass off. Booker has posted 27 points or more, grabbed four or more boards, and dropped at least six dimes in both games this series.
Kevin Durant should take 22-28 shots tonight and he’ll need to shoot better than he did in Game 2. He hit 63% of his shots in Game 1. Durant has blocked five shots collectively this series and he should be looking at 40 minutes of action tonight. The Suns are very top-heavy and if Durant is having an off night, they’ll likely lose this game. Durant posted a double-double in Game 1. DeAndre Ayton must guard the post better to try to limit Jokic in any capacity. There were multiple plays in Game 2 in which Ayton wouldn’t even fight for boards. It’s confusing because he was a good defensive center during the regular season and he is the Suns' best post defender. Ayton has scored 14 points in both games in this series, but we’re looking for him to improve his rebounding tonight and he’ll play 30-35 minutes.
Tier 1 Play(s): Kevin Durant, Devin Booker
Tier 2 Play(s): Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne
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