Thomas Wood: The playoff matchups are all set, and the Clippers drew the Spurs, so I will now go jump off the U.S. Bank Tower. I'm sure you're just as depressed, so let's cheer ourselves up with some fantasy talk. We'll start with the series we'll be watching most. Which player do you like to light up this Clippers-Spurs series?
Shap: Well, because I'm a masochist, how about Kawhi Leonard? Who's going to stop this guy? Seriously? Seriously, please tell me? Leonard has already been playing like an MVP candidate since he's been finally on the healthier side over these last few weeks, and he's not only going to be an absolute elite terror defensively, but the Clippers have no one with the combination of strength and speed to check him. Leonard must be champing at the bit to use this matchup to springboard a new era of Spurs basketball, with him at the focal point.
TW: Shoot, I agree with you. Leonard has been out of his mind lately. Plus, he kinda has a playoff history now. He is the reigning Finals MVP after all. To make matters worse, the Clippers have played poorly against opposing small forwards all year. They've certainly improved, but while Matt Barnes is solid, he's no stopper. I expect Leonard to play this series like NBA 2K.
S: I'm just generally excited to watch John Wall play basketball now. He's put a lot together in the past couple of years and seems to have found a nice middle ground between his drives and his improving midrange shots. That, and his always great court vision has translated well into gaudy assist numbers this year. Sad you're missing out on Russell Westbrook this postseason? Have a slice of John Wall.
TW: That's a great pick, and I certainly don't trust any other Wizards. I've always loved me some Paul Pierce, but in his *ahem* advanced age, he just doesn't have the juice left to dominate a series.
I'm going with DeMar DeRozan. I think this becomes his coming out party. Kyle Lowry's been hurt, or something, because he's really struggled for a few months. DeRozan will be the Raps' offense, and I don't see who can stop him. Pierce is smart and physical, but I doubt he'll have the quicks to keep DeRozan in front of him. Beal is too small. Get ready for DeMar DeRozan, playoff star.
Is there a first round series that catches your eye?
S: I feel like the Rockets-Mavericks series will be better than we expect, mostly because I feel like Carlisle is a fantastic coach and the Rockets aren't difficult to scheme for. I'm not so sure the Rockets will win that series, though it's hard to bet against them considering the difficulties the Mavs have had since Rajon Rondo came aboard. It's worth remembering that Carlisle took another slapped-together Mavs team to a 7 game series against the Spurs in the first round last year. I wouldn't be surprised to see this series go the distance.
TW: That will be a good series, because the Rockets are pretty one-dimensional as contenders go. Take away James Harden -- which is easier said than done -- and you stop Houston's offense. That being said, which player is the fantasy star of that series?
S: I'm really interested to see how Monta Ellis plays in that series. With Pat Beverley out, there's no one on the Rockets that can really check him. He's an explosive player and can really carry that team, and I feel like this is a nice chance for him to shine, just like the Rockets were a nice foil to help Damian Lillard shine last year. It's an interesting series for sure.
TW: Monta is a great choice. Harden sure won't be the one stopping him. Part of me, the part that remembers that 2009 Bulls-Celtics series, thinks that Rondo is going to suddenly transform into playoff superstar Rondo when the lights come back on. And when Rondo is going well, he can fill a stat sheet like few other players.
S: Rondo is definitely going to be an interesting player in that series.
Between Curry and Davis, I'd probably go with Curry just because of the defenders taking his assignment vs. the defenders taking on Davis.. Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green are some rugged boys and they're going to welcome Davis to the postseason with an edge, and we already know what those two are capable of sneaking in when matched against a great power forward. Nice seeing old buddy Eric Gordon in the playoffs, and though his defense had been underrated as a Clipper, I can't see him, or anyone on the Pellies, slowing down Curry.
TW: Jrue Holiday could surprise and give Curry some trouble, but I'm not sure he's healthy enough. His combination of length and strength would be exactly the kind of antidote New Orleans needs to solve Curry's shooting, but his leg has been bothering him for some time. I would pick Curry too, but I'm not confident that Bogut and Draymond will slow the Brow down much. Anthony Davis is unlike anyone else in the league -- too long for Draymond and too fast for Bogut. Davis will get his too.
Disclaimer: Even though this is a sponsored post with affiliate links, all of the opinions in this post are my own. And as an FYI, FanDuel gave me some cash to play its daily fantasy games.