We’re deep in the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs and both the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks are on the brink of elimination, but, both teams have won their 2 home games in this series. With the two games on tonight’s DFS NBA slate, a big decision will be whether or not to invest big in Joel Embiid. He took a shot to the face last game and it shook him up. Since returning, he hasn’t had an outstanding performance that makes him worth his price tag, but with the season on the line, we have to think that he’ll take more than 12-13 shots tonight. Let’s preview these playoff games and talk about players and prices we like on FanDuel, DraftKings, and Yahoo.



Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers (MIA up 3-2)



We’ve seen just one game finish with an under 10-point differential in this series and after the last game when Miami demolished Philadelphia by 35 points, the Sixers will need to beat them with speed tonight. James Harden has looked slow throughout the series and has had just one game in which he scored more than 20 points. His shooting has been inconsistent and unfortunately with the way the Sixers are built, if Harden and Tyrese Maxey don’t shoot well, they won’t win. They don’t have much depth and haven’t found an offensive spark off the bench. Meanwhile, on the Miami side of the ball, Kyle Lowry won’t play and Jimmy Butler will spend a lot more time bringing up the ball. Butler has been hot shooting from the field and the Sixers main mission should be to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible and make any other Heat player beat them.

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Jimmy Butler has completely roasted Philadelphia since the second game of the series. He’s shot better and better as the series continued and has shot no lower than 53 percent in each of his last 4 games. He’s taken at least 15 shots in every game this series and with Kyle Lowry out, we should see his assists stay up. He’s dropped six or more dimes in three of his last four games. He’s grabbed multiple steams in all but one game in this series and he even grabbed nine-plus boards in three of five games in this series. Bam Adebayo hasn’t been as impactful on the offensive end and with other teammates providing inconsistent shooting efforts, Butler is a must-play heading into tonight’s games. He’s been burning the Sixers from the mid-range as he didn’t get to the free-throw line as much as he did in the previous two games, but he shot 60 percent from the floor and hit multiple three-pointers for the 2nd straight contest.



It’s an elimination game and minutes shouldn’t be an issue for Joel Embiid. Since returning to action, he hasn’t taken as many shots and he posted just five boards last time out. Is his mask bothering him? How about the other injuries he’s suffering from? The Miami Heat play excellent defense and they won’t make it easy for Embiid to get to the basket. He may need to start putting up three-pointers to keep Bam Adebayo on the move and draw him out of the paint. He averaged more rebounds during the regular season than in this series. Embiid will have to be more physical if the Sixers are going to survive for another game. He took just three free throws last time out as opposed to the 10-plus he took in both of the previous 2 games. Don’t force him in your DFS lineups if you’re not overly confident in his ceiling. How can we be between his injuries and Miami’s toughness?



We saw flashes of the old James Harden in game four when he dropped 31 points and 9 dimes. He hasn’t shot great from the field, but his price point has become cheaper in the last few games and if we didn’t see the strong performance in this series, we’d write him off, but he needs to be in full-drive mode. He can’t waste most of the shot clock in isolation trying to fake out his defender so he gets a better look. He’s hit over 35 percent of his three-pointers 1 time in this series. Plus, Jimmy Butler is an awesome perimeter defender. Harden has to help speed up the movement from the Sixers offense to tire out Miami. He should look to drive as much as possible and take more contact than Embiid who’s actually hurt. It’s the only way Harden and Sixers will succeed. Harden shot 10 free throws in game 4 and then just 3 in game 5 in 37 minutes. This needs to change and if Doc Rivers doesn’t make him understand that, they will lose.



Victor Oladipo has taken nine or more shots in three of his last four outings and scored in double figures in all three of those games. We forget because we haven’t seen much of Oladipo this season the kind of impact he can provide. With Kyle Lowry sidelined, we should see him play around 20 minutes off the bench. Oladipo has grabbed five steals total in his last two games and he’s not forcing up bad shots like we’ve seen from him in the past. Oladipo is cheap and he’s been contributing a bit on the glass as well as pulling down rebounds. He can play multiple guard spots and is a bit more dynamic with the ball than Duncan Robinson and being that the scoring and defense has been there, he should once again be able to take advantage of the Heat’s second unit.



Max Strus defensive efforts haven’t gone unnoticed as the Sixers wing players haven’t been contributing consistently and he has played no fewer than 27 minutes in any game against Philadelphia. He’s coming off of a double-double and he’s blocked shots in three of his last four outings. It might look like we’re chasing Strus because he scored 19 points and shot nearly 54 percent from the floor, he’s actually taken 11 or more shots in 2 of his last 3 battles. He’s produced four or more boards in three of five games and hasn’t been turning the ball over. He’s good at fighting through screens and after getting a little too physical in game four, he played smarter not harder in game five. He was excellent at playing help defense and he’s not even 100 percent healthy. Let’s face it, half of the Heat players aren’t 100 percent, but he’s hit 40 percent of his three-pointers in 3 of his last 4 contests and his defense alone will keep him in the game. Duncan Robinson hasn’t been able to take advantage of the short leash he’s been given and he’s not as much of a two-way player as Strus is.



Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks (PHX up 3-2)



It was very shocking to see the Mavericks take both games in Dallas before the Suns outshined them big time in game five. The Suns are finally realizing that they shouldn’t have abandoned their game one strategy of executing multiple high screens for Deandre Ayton so he can get to the basket. The Mavericks don’t have the size to stop Ayton and the Suns should look to feed him more heading into tonight. Jae Crowder was holding his Shoulder at the end of the last game after taking a shot but he doesn’t have an injury designation heading into tonight. If the Suns continuously attack the basket forcing the Mavericks defense to collapse in the paint, their shooters will see higher-percentage shots and knock them down. They saw so much success inside the arc and Chris Paul has played more like a decoy and he’s been focusing more on setting up other teammates and he should compile a good amount of assists once again. He logged 10 assists last game and he hasn’t taken a lot of shots in his last 3 contests. Dallas will need their shooters such as Dorian Finney-Smith to be hitting his three-pointers if they’re going to extend this series.

Injury Report

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Luka Donic produced four double-doubles in five games in this series and there’s no reason to think that he won’t take 22-26 shots tonight with the Mavericks season on the line. He’s scored 26 or more points in every game this series and he grabbed 11 or more boards in 3 of those contests. Luka Doncic has even swiped multiple balls in each of his last three games. He hasn’t been as successful shooting from the outside in his last few games and it’ll be up to Doncic to drive effectively because most of his other teammates will simply rotate around the arc and wait to be fed. He should play 40 minutes tonight unless Dallas completely blows out Phoenix and shouldn’t rely on his long-range shooting game unless the Suns completely close the lane down on him.



While Chris Paul hasn’t been contributing as much in the scoring department, Devin Booker has scored 28-plus points in 3 of his last 5 battles and Booker has shot no lower than 45 percent from the floor. He’s shot 50 percent or better from downtown in 3 of his last 4 contests and Dallas doesn’t have an answer for him on the defensive end. Jalen Brunson is too small and Dorian Finney-Smith is slower than him. Reggie Bullock hasn’t done a good job when he switches on Booker. Booker hasn’t needed to rely on his long-range shooting as much because he and Deandre Ayton are having an easy time getting to the basket because Dallas lacks the size and strength to guard the low block. He’s even contributed six or more assists and a block in three of five games in this series.



If the Suns abandon Deandre Ayton, Monty Williams deserves to get his Coach Of The Year award taken away from him. It’s been the winning formula and Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith haven’t been able to successfully box him out and isolate him from the paint. Ayton is coming off of his second 20-point game of the series and he’s logged double-doubles in 2 of his last 3 battles. Ayton can hit shots from right inside the arc, but the Suns should utilize the top of the key pick-and-roll on him especially early in the game so it forces the Mavs to put an extra defender in the paint. Ayton should have plenty of easy trips to the basket and he’s a good cheaper alternative to Joel Embiid tonight and has proven himself when fed.



Dorian Finney-Smith is utilized mainly as a bailout shooter from the arc. He shot 40 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season and we saw him hit 8 three-pointers during game 4. The shot volume will be there as Dallas provides limited interior offense. He’ll play around 40 minutes tonight and should take 10-15 shots in this game. Finney-Smith has also grabbed steals in three of five games in this series and he’ll help a bit on the glass grabbing rebounds. He exceeded his 4.8 regular-season rebounding average in 2 games in this series. The shots will be there for him and anytime the opposing defense collapses on Luka Doncic, Finney-Smith will be wide open. He plays strong defense at the elbow and will fight for loose balls. He has a higher scoring ceiling than teammate Maxi Kleber.



If Dallas is hot shooting from the field early in this game, the Suns will have to bring in Cameron Johnson, their offensive spark off the bench. Johnson has shot 50 percent from the floor or better in 3 of 5 battles and even though he hasn’t seen a tremendous amount of shots, he’s been getting the job done hitting open three-pointers and even crashing the boards once the shot goes up. He’s hit double figures in scoring three times during this series and he’s coming off of a game in which he grabbed multiple steals. He’s taken eight or more shots in three of five games. Even with this game expected to be more competitive, Johnson should still play around 25 minutes. The Suns have had a tough time playing in Dallas this series and when the second units come on the floor, Johnson will be heavily featured and he’ll need to help attack the paint because that’s where Dallas is exposed.



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