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NBA Playoff Fantasy: Play For $100,000 In Prizes

The NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday and DraftStreet is having a 2-Day first round Fantasy Contest with $100,000 in guaranteed prizes to celebrate.  

Simply select a line-up of 3 Forwards, 3 Guards, 1 Utility and 1 Center from the games played on Saturday and Sunday. You have a $100,000 salary cap to make your selections and your roster must be submitted by 12:30 PM EST on Saturday.

If your fantasy team scores the most points, you win $20,000 and the top 300 scores share $100,000 guaranteed.

This is an example of completed roster for the $100,000 Guaranteed NBA Contest:

How to Enter the NBA Playoffs $100,000 Fantasy Contest:

1. Sign up at Draftstreet.com

2. Make a minimum deposit of $55

3. Select your NBA lineup while staying under the $100,000 Salary cap.

Add excitement to the NBA Playoffs this weekend by entering the $100,000 Guaranteed NBA Playoff Big Score.

Spurs Remain The Surest Playoff Bet

After Ray Allen took the life out of the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, a lot of people—including myself—thought their era of contention would draw to a close. It had been seven years since the Spurs last won a title, yet they have managed to stay relevant every season since.

“I don’t take it as a redemption,” Manu Ginobili told David Flores of Kens5.com. “I think we had a hell of a playoff run last year, and it just happened that we lost. We had an unbelievable regular season. We put ourselves in a great situation to be No. 1 overall. And we’re going for it, like ever year.”

San Antonio finished the regular season with a 62-20 record, good for 1st in the brutally tough Western Conference. With 30 road wins, they managed to become the 13th team in NBA history to accomplish the feat. Seven of those previous 12 teams went on to win the championship.

Since 1996, Gregg Popovich has been at the helm of the Spurs, guiding them through four championships in a decade span. Although the Spurs have not won since 2007, they have managed to win at least 50 games for 15 straight seasons. Like Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots, Popovich conducts a strict system style of team ball consequently demanding respect and discipline from every player, no matter how valuable or invaluable they are to the franchise. Known as one of the most stable and consistent franchises in North American professional sports, the Spurs have remained a powerhouse franchise throughout the 21st century.

One of the most important things that coach Popovich has preached from the start of his tenure has been team defense. The Spurs finished the regular season 4th overall in defensive efficiency at 100.1 points allowed per 100 possessions. According to Synergy Sports, the Spurs as a team allow 0.86 PPP (points per possession), third best in the league.

Offensively, the Spurs have been one of the most unselfish teams in the league for awhile now. Since the ABA-NBA merger, San Antonio is the first team to not have any player average more than 30 minutes per game. Moreover, the Spurs lead the league in assist ratio at 19.1 (percentage of team’s possessions ending in an assist). No player on the roster averages more than six assists per contest, yet at 2,064 total assists, the Spurs finished with the most total assists by any team according to NBA.com.

Since the Spurs shifted away from relying on Duncan as the main go-to guy on heavy half-court sets, they have followed the rest of the league and starting playing a more up-tempo style. Anyone that watches the Spurs usually finds an open three-point shooter wide open from the perimeter. This past season, 20.1 percent of their plays were via spot-up shooting per Synergy. Their pedigree on offense relies on Tony Parker to speed through the lane and find open shooters around the perimeter. Only 8.6 percent of their plays relied on posting up, proving how far the Spurs have gone away from halfcourt basketball.   

Like all of Spurs teams in the past, Popovich surrounds his starting five with deep benches. With the departure of Gary Neal, Aussie journeyman Patty Mills was given more responsibility of backing up Parker. Albeit Mills averaged just less than 19 minutes a game, he managed to score 10.2 points and shoot 46 percent from the field in 81 games this season. Additionally, offseason acquisition Marco Belinelli has been the perfect fit to the Spurs style of ball: capable of shooting the three and creating off the dribble. Contrasting to previous seasons when Ginobili was relied upon to do so much for the offense off the bench, the arrival of Belinelli and the emergence of Mills have lessened the pressure on aging Argentinian Manu Ginobili.  

Some may argue that 13 of the Spurs’ 20 losses have come against the other top-4 seeds in the West and top-2 seeds in the East. However, this is misleading since the Spurs rest much of their players throughout the long grueling 82 game season, and on many occasions against the elite teams. Everyone knows how little Greg Popovich and his personnel care about the regular season.

A good argument can be drawn that Oklahoma City will beat San Antonio as they did in the 2012 Western Conference Finals, but this Spurs’ team is on a mission to get back to the Finals. Sure, Kevin Durant is playing at an unbelievable MVP caliber season, but with the trade of James Harden and Russell Westbrook’s three knee surgeries in less than a year, there is too much of the unknown as to how far Durant can carry his team past the Spurs.

Even the demanding Popovich has been amazed at how this season has gone so far, given how last season ended.

“What does impress me about the group is the fact they’ve competed and gotten themselves in this position after a devastating loss in the Finals last year. I think that’s pretty impressive. I don’t think a lot of people have picked up on that, but I have. And I’m really impressed with them,” said Popovich to Mike Monroe of Express News.

With the improved depth and Popovich’s legendary presence, it is difficult to see any other team beating the Spurs four times. 

D-12 & LMA: Previewing Rockets Vs. Blazers

The Houston Rockets have been consistently strong this year and the first regular season of the Harden-Howard duo turned out to be a success. Despite persistent questions about the team’s lack of commitment to perimeter defense, the Rockets won 54 games including 33 at home, which was the fourth most in the league.

The Portland Trail Blazers were the talk of the league after winning 20 of their first 24 games. They were mostly able to sustain their productivity on offense, but leaky defense caused them to go through two prolonged slumps during the regular season.

Here are the efficiency ratings for both teams during the 2013-14 season.

 

ORTG

DRTG

Net RTG

Rockets

108.6

103.1

+5.5

Trail Blazers

108.3

104.7

+3.5

Now, here’s when they faced off against each other.

 

Wins

ORTG

DRTG

Net RTG

Rockets

3

114.6

105.0

+9.6

Trail Blazers

1

105.0

114.6

-9.6

It seems that the Rockets offense exploded against the Blazers while the Blazers were unable to match their own typical offensive production when playing Houston. One of the primary reasons for this is because of the disparity in offensive efficiency between each team’s All-Star big man during these games.

Rockets Offense Vs. Blazers Defense

Dwight Howard was able to score more against Portland than he was against most other opponents. Check out how his stats against the Blazers exceeded his normal averages.

Dwight Howard Stats (All per game)

 

PTS

FGA

FG%

Paint

2nd Chance

Vs. Blazers

25.5

15.0

63.3%

19

5

Season Avg.

18.3

11.3

59.1%

13.1

3.9

Howard got more touches and shot at a better percentage versus the Blazers. This is interesting because Robin Lopez is generally considered to be a competent post defender. The reason Howard was so dominant in the 4 regular season games was because the Blazers decided they were going to resist double teaming Howard when he got the ball in the post in order to stay close to the Rockets 3-point shooters. The Blazers mostly accomplished their goal of curtailing the Rockets’ 3-point attack, as Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley, and Francisco Garcia all shot below average from behind the arc. However, the strategy did not do much to slow the Rockets overall offensive output, as Howard constantly took advantage of single coverage in the post to score easily at the rim.

The following clips exemplify how Howard was able to score inside against the Blazers. Notice how the Blazers’ perimeter defenders are content to stay at home on the shooters and watch Howard go up for a dunk.

http://on.nba.com/1meLq4F

http://on.nba.com/1meLvW9

Terry Stotts may have to consider double-teaming Howard in the post in the playoffs if he wants to slow the Houston offense.

Blazers Offense Vs. Rockets Defense

LaMarcus Aldridge and Dwight Howard are vastly different players and the matchup between Portland and Houston reveals how they impact defenses in different ways. Aldridge is most comfortable around the elbows where he can get shoot his midrange jumper over just about any defender. He is an elite shooter from that spot and his excellence in that area is a large part of why the Blazers are the 5th seed in a tough Western Conference.

However, relying heavily on midrange jump shots represents an inefficient method of offense. While Howard shot 59% from the field during the season, Aldridge shot 45.8%. Granted, Aldridge is the primary scoring option on the Blazers offense whereas Howard is only Houston’s second or third. Regardless, Aldridge’s mid-range heavy game is less efficient and doesn’t put as much pressure on a defense as Howard’s inside game.

Here’s a table comparing Aldridge’s season averages to his stats vs. the Rockets.

LaMarcus Aldridge Stats (All per game)

 

PTS

FGA

FG%

Paint

2nd Chance

Vs. Rockets

26.8

23.5

42.8%

11.5

7.0

Season Avg.

23.2

20.6

45.8%

7.8

3.5

Aldridge’s scoring average against the Rockets was higher than his season average but that increase was mainly due to the fact that he took about 3 more shots per game. He did score more in the paint and off second chance opportunities, yet his field goal percentage was lower.

In the same way that the Blazers chose not to double team Howard, the Rockets avoided double teaming Aldridge and were happy to let Terrence Jones defend him one on one. Jones struggles on defense when he has to guard powerful post players but his length and athleticism allow him to have success against more perimeter-oriented big men.

The clip below illustrates how Jones was consistently able to force Aldridge into taking tough contested shots.

http://on.nba.com/1meKXiM

The Rockets didn’t even send a double team when James Harden switched onto Aldridge in the post. This possession demonstrates Aldridge’s reluctance or inability to overpower smaller defenders inside.

http://on.nba.com/1meL5yY

The difference between the way in which Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge were successful in taking advantage of single coverage was the reason for the Rockets dominance over the Blazers in the regular season. If that trend continues and the defenses don’t make the necessary adjustments in the playoffs, the Rockets should move on to the second round.

As Long Season Ends, Danny Ainge Provides Insight Into Celtics' Offseason

After trading Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets, Ainge was left with a disorganized roster and future flexibility.

Draft Report: Dante Exum Of Australian Institute Of Sport

While Dante Exum isn’t quite as long and athletic as Andrew Wiggins, he’s far more skilled. He’s an elite athlete in his own right and plays with more poise. You have to play Trading Places with these guys - what would have happened if Exum was on the AAU circuit every summer and Wiggins was in the AIS?

Final Non-National NBA Games Of The Week & NNGW Season Awards

The final jockeying for playoff seeds and the NNGW awards are handed out.

NBA Players Who Could Still Be In College

It’s easy to forget how young some of the players in the league are - freshmen drafted in 2011 would have been college seniors this season. You have to judge young players against guys their age not against the guys in their draft class.

One And Done Model Works For Everyone

John Calipari is 18-3 in the NCAA Tournament at Kentucky. Even more remarkable, he compiled that number with four completely different teams, sending upwards of 15 players to the NBA. It’s a vindication not only of how he built his program, but of the entire “one and done” model.

Al Jefferson Chases The Money Into The Playoffs

Al Jefferson has often been considered an overrated stat compiler in his career, but he has posted his best season and has the Bobcats in the playoffs.

Searching For Journeymen

Amidst the D-League hopefuls and marginal talent, a few players have proven themselves as NBA caliber, and deserve to have roster spots either with the Sixers or with another franchise.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Apr. 7-Apr. 13)

Despite the huge stakes of the final full week of the regular season, the non-national slate looks pretty weak at the outset though Warriors/Blazers on Sunday will have the 5th seed on the line.

The Draft Deadline

The crucial earning years for a basketball player aren't their early 20's but their late 20's, when they are in the prime physically. At that point, it's not about whether they maximized their draft position but whether they developed their game and maximized their earning potential before they start to decline.

Why Oladipo Deserves ROY Honors Over Carter-Williams

Victor Oladipo had analysts dubbing him as the preseason favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award until Michael Carter-Williams' stat-stuffing season began.

How Kentucky Became Better Than The Sum Of Its Parts

In a tourney filled with unlikely stories, none is more unlikely than John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats becoming a Cinderella. Rather than 2-3 guys emerging as stars, everyone on has shared the burden, with each member of their rotation coming up big at a different time.

Haslem, Wade Share 'Maintenance' Plan In Quest For Fourth Ring

Together, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem share the same highs of prosperity, the same low of futility, in this franchise. Together, their plan for freshness could prove genius in June.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Mar. 31-Apr. 6)

A simply excellent week of non-national games with important tilts almost every night. This also could be the last week of feisty spoiler performances for a few teams that could…let’s say “reassess their priorities” as the lottery picture clears up.

RealGM's D-League Weekly Wrap-Up (Mar. 24-Mar. 30)

On Micah Downs' great week, along with strong showings from Ricky Ledo, Lance Goulbourne, Josiah Turner and Shawne Williams.

The Worst Game Of Aaron Gordon’s Life

Did the Elite Eight expose Aaron Gordon's game, or prove he is not a quitter?

Lakers' New Reality

With a likely top-6 pick and an ever-competitive West, the Lakers must adjust to their reality: they’re rebuilding. But their resources and history will allot a chance to eventually return among the NBA elite.

The Utter Nightmare Of Minnesota's 2011 Draft

A bad draft can happen in a variety of ways: poor selections, bad trades, or taking options off the table for no reason. All three hit David Kahn and the Wolves at the same time.

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