How to Win Playing Daily Fantasy Basketball During the NBA Playoffs

Things change during the NBA playoffs. Make sure you know these things as you make your playoff daily fantasy hoops lineups.

Daily fantasy basketball is great, and that's especially the case for die-hard NBA fans. But if you don't eat, sleep, and breathe basketball, and you just tune in for the playoffs, maybe you want to have a little more fun with it.

You can do just that by playing NBA DFS over at FanDuel this weekend. 

And if you're entirely new to the game, there are some things to keep in mind -- factors to take into consideration when drafting your roster. Even for those of you with more experience playing America's new pastime, you have to adapt a bit for the playoffs. 

Because it's a completely different animal.

Here are the two key components to daily fantasy playoff basketball that you need to keep in mind when making your rosters.

Tighter Rotations

This time of year, teams tighten up their rotations.

This is even truer as the playoffs get underway, and especially as the rounds continue. More of a premium is put on winning instead of preservation. Every team is shooting for a championship now, not pacing themselves for the run or keeping their bodies healthy for the long season.

With tigher rotations come higher minutes, and that's what we need to pay attention to here.

I'll give you an example: Stephen Curry.

In the 2014-15 regular season, Curry played an average of 32.7 minutes per game. In the playoffs, he saw his minutes rise to 39.3 minutes per game. Curry's daily fantasy production jumped from 41.81 FanDuel points per game in the regular season to 44 FanDuel points per game in the playoffs.

This regular season, Curry averaged 47.93 FanDuel points in 34.2 minutes a game, while he has obviously yet to set foot on the court this playoff season. However, according to, Curry is tallying an average of 1.47 FanDuel points per minutes this season. If taken over the same per game minutes as last year, that brings his average DFS output to 57.77 FanDuel points for a jump of nearly 10 points.

So, keep this in mind, particularly with superstars and high-priced players. Independent of any other factors, if they garner more minutes, they'll be more likely to outplay their salary. Be sure to take advantage of that in the first couple of games in the opening round before prices catch up with production.

This is how tighter rotations and larger minutes affect the starters and superstars, but what about bench and rotational players?

What this means is that these players are more than likely going to see a reduction in their minutes and, therefore, their production. That ultimately leads to less options to pick up from on any given night. Almost all backups are out of play, save for guys like Jamal Crawford and Boris Diaw, who improved upon their regular season minutes in the postseason a year ago.

So, don't try too hard to be contrarian because, unless there's an injury or some other factor that gives value to a backup, it's probably not going to provide value for your lineup.

Pace Reduction

Usually come playoff time, "pace" -- the amount of possessions per 48 minutes of play -- tends to decrease with the ever-increasing value put upon each offensive possession. As you can see, in the last four out of five years, that has undeniably been the case.

PACE 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
League Average 95.8 93.9 93.9 92.0 91.3 92.1
Season Avg. (Playoff teams) 95.6 94.0 93.4 92.2 91.1 91.6
Differential *-2.2 0.4 -2.8 -2.7 -2.1 -3.8
Playoff Avg. *93.4 94.4 90.6 89.5 89.0 87.8

Why is this?

From 2010-11 to 2013-14, the average differential between playoff teams' season average and their average pace in the playoffs was -2.85. If you add in last year's positive pace differential of 0.4, that brings the five-year average to -2.2. If this year's team pace decreases by that average, it will come down to 93.4 points per 48 minutes.

As I mentioned, teams will generally value possessions more, especially going down the stretch in close, pivotal games. But, when teams get to the playoffs, they won't often play teams with ridiculously high paces because they won't be in the playoffs. A lot of those teams can rack up a high pace of play from high amounts of turnovers and inefficient possessions.

Take this year's Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans, for example. All five of these teams missed out on the playoffs, with the Wizards being the only one that got even close to sniffing a berth. The average pace among these five teams was 98.3 possessions. Three are within the league's top five in pace, and all five are within the top 10. 

That can't be a coincidence, right?

For the most part, it isn't. Of these five teams, the Suns, Kings, and Sixers were the three worst teams in the league in Turnover Percentage, averaging 14.7 turnovers per 100 possessions between them. In matchups with these less than stellar squads, teams often pick up a couple possessions due to the positive pace differential.

This is less likely to happen in the playoffs. Actually, exactly half of this year's NBA playoff teams play at a pace below this year's regular season average of 95.8.

TeamPACELg. Rank
Charlotte Hornets95.715th
Detroit Pistons95.121st
Dallas Mavericks94.322nd
San Antonio Spurs93.824th
Miami Heat93.625th
Cleveland Cavaliers93.327th
Memphis Grizzlies93.328th
Toronto Raptors92.929th

Why is pace such a big deal? Pace means possessions. Possessions mean points (and if not points, it at least means action). And with that comes fantasy points, whether it's points, assists, rebounds or even steals.

As an example, I'll go back to Mr. Curry once again. The record-breaking star averages 47.93 FanDuel points per game, but that's at the Warriors Pace of 99.3, which is second-fastest in the Association. Say the Warriors face off against the Spurs, who play at an average Pace of 93.8 possessions per game. By dividing Spurs' Pace by the Warriors' Pace and multiplying that figure by Curry's average regular season output, we get a reduction of 2.66 FanDuel points if at the Spurs' "desired" pace.

Now, last year we didn't see such a big dip, and that could be due to the big transition to small-ball lineups and uptempo offenses. The trend has continued this year, so Pace may not drop quite as much as it has in the past, but keep the eight teams listed above in mind either way as they tend to slow the game down with a more traditional style of play.

As usual, there are many other factors to consider, like opponent defense versus position (DvP) ranks and Vegas lines, but those are constants. 

The two factors above are playoff-specific and could give you a leg up on the competition if you play your cards right. 

Oh, and if you can't tell, playing Steph Curry isn't a bad idea.