NBA DFS Rotations: Something to Play For
The regular season comes to an end on Wednesday and 16 teams will move on to the post season. Despite only a couple of games left, a decent amount of teams still have something to play for. Let’s take a look at some of the implications these next couple of games may have on the playoff seeding.
In the East, the Cavs are currently sitting at the top spot and since they lost on Saturday, they were unable to lock in the one seed in the East. They will finish no worse than the second seed and with a win on Monday, they will lock in the top seed in the East. They play the Hawks who are also playing for something. I’m fully expecting LeBron James to get rest in one of the next two games as well as Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. However, it’s uncertain if any of them will rest on Monday. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on. If they win against the Hawks, chances are the big three will sit out the team’s final game. With that said, J.R. Smith, Matthew Delladova, and Mo Williams (when active) all see a significant boost in usage when the three studs are off the court.
Toronto is effectively locked in to the two seed and still has a shot at the top seed with two wins and two Cavs losses. If the Cavs win on Monday night however, the Raptors will automatically be the number two seed in the East and we could see Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan get some rest in the last couple of games. This should open up the door for Cory Joseph and Norman Powell to receive more minutes and see an uptick in usage.
The Hawks have clinched a top six seed and are currently sitting at the number three spot. They hold the tie breaker with the Celtics, but are 0-2 against the Heat which is only one game back from Atlanta. The Hawks need a win or a Miami loss to remain locked into the number three seed. They have two games left in the season so the resting of their players will ultimately depend on what happens with the other teams they are competing against and whether they win or not. Their starters played regular minutes in Saturday’s win against the Celtics. I’m expecting them to be on the court in their next game as well with no minute restrictions.
The Celtics are one game back from the Hawks and have the same record as the Heat, but hold the tie breaker against the Heat. The Celtics have two very important games coming up that will determine their final seeding. They play against the Hornets and the Heat. Unless they mathematically are at a specific seeding, I can see them playing their starters full go the rest of the way. Especially as they play against two teams that can jump ahead of them in the standings.
The Heat are locked in to a top six seed, but still have a shot at the three seed. They are one game back from the Hawks and hold the tie breaker against them. If they win out and the Hawks lose a game, the Heat will move to the three seed and get home court advantage in the first round. This is important for the Heat as their home record was far better than their road record, so I’m not expecting much rest out of their player in the next couple of games unless they lose and hurt their chances at the three or four seed.
The Hornets are one game back from the fifth seed, but they are pretty much behind in all tie breakers with the Hawks, Heat, and Celtics. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them rest some of their starters to get them ready for the post season. They can finish no worse than the six seed.
Since the Bulls lost this weekend, both the Pacers and Pistons are guaranteed the last two playoff spots. At this time, the Pacers are the seven seed, but do have the same record as the Pistons. These two could swap places before season ends, but it’s unsure how much emphasis that will have on whether the coaches decide to rest players or not. Ultimately, I can see some of their starters resting at some point in the next two games. It’s a situation worth keeping an eye on as it could open up value in DFS.
The West is less complicated up top as the Warriors are the one seed regardless of the outcome of their next game. Although they don’t have something to play for from a standings stand point, they are playing for an NBA record 73 wins. With that at stake, I’m fully expecting their starters to be on the court in the team’s final game with no restrictions unless this game becomes a blowout and they don’t play a full game.
The Spurs are the two seed and nothing will change that. Pop will rest his starters as usual and if they play, it’s very likely that they will be on minute restrictions.
The Thunder are locked as the three seed. We’ve already seen Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant sit out to rest and it’s something we could see a couple more times before the regular season ends. When they are off the court, Dion Waiters, Enes Kanter, and Cameron Payne see the biggest uptick in usage. These are some players you may want to look at in DFS if Westbrook and Durant sit out again.
The Clippers are locked in the four seed and will have home court in the first round. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, J.J. Reddick, and DeAndre Jordan all sat out of Friday’s game, but did play on Sunday. However, we could see them sit out again before the end of the season. This will create opportunity for numerous players, but Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and Cole Aldrich are the ones I’d be eyeing and considering in DFS.
Portland and Memphis are the other two teams in the West that have officially clinched a playoff spot. Portland is currently the five seed and Memphis the six seed. Although it’s unlikely that Portland falls below the fifth seed, it’s still possible. The Grizzlies could fall as low as the eighth seed, but after all the injuries they’ve dealt with, a playoff appearance is not bad at all. I don’t see either team resting their starters much.
The final two spots in the West will be filled by two of the following three teams: Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and Utah Jazz. As it stands, the Mavs are the seven seed and the Jazz are the eight seed. The Rockets are one game back from the Jazz and would need to win out and hope for a Jazz loss in order for them to clinch a playoff berth. Since all of these three teams have something to play for, it’s unlikely their starters will get much rest in the next couple of games. It should be business as usual for players on these teams from a DFS standpoint as well.
I hope you have enjoyed my Rotations weekly column. Best of luck to all in the playoffs. Until next season!