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NBA fantasy playoffs call for teams to focus on wins above all else

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We're nearing the "playoff zone" as far as fantasy basketball is concerned. This is the last week before playoffs begin if you are playing in the head-to-head format. For some leagues, those with commissioners who adjusted the standard playoff schedules to begin a week or two earlier, the playoffs are already in full swing. Regardless of which situation you're in, we have solid playoff strategy and recommendations that will help you win the week.

For teams trying to make the playoffs:

If your team is just a game or two behind the final spot to qualify for your league's playoffs, here are a few tips you may want to consider this week

1. Drop injured players. Players such as Channing Frye, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay, are all solid players for fantasy hoops when they're healthy. The problem for teams that need to win this week is that the above are currently injured. Production from more marginal players you can find in the FA pool is still better than the ZERO production that you will get from an injured fantasy stud. Go for broke. This is not the time to be patient. There's no point in saving them for the playoffs if your team does not even make it in.

2. Win the counting categories. Out of the nine standard categories, six of them are counting stats, meaning we value the totals accumulated for fantasy teams in those categories over the course of the week. These are the points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks and three-pointers made categories. If you play in a league where rosters are set daily, add and drop players to maximize the total number of games played for your team. This will generally translate in wins in about four to six of the mentioned categories, depending on the type of players you cycle through for the week. This is sometimes referred to as "streaming."

3. Micromanage. Study your matchup on a day-to-day basis. Focus on winning the categories that are most winnable for your team. Contest for wins when you can and do not be afraid to punt categories when you can't. For example, if you are matched up against the league leader in blocks, you may not want to fight that uphill battle which may be in vain in the end anyway. See if you can contest for a win in rebounds instead.

For teams in the playoffs or preparing for their upcoming playoff matches:

1. A win is a win. Fantasy playoffs are almost a completely different animal compared to the regular season grind. During the regular season, it is good strategy to set your team up so you can win match-ups by a score of 6-3, 7-2, or 8-1 in order to climb up your league's leader board. In the playoffs, all you need to do is defeat your opponent by a score of 5-4. Adjust your team's composition so that it dominates FIVE categories to a degree that almost regardless which team you face in your league, you will (ideally) win those five cats. You may find yourself dropping players who are better overall, but who do not contribute to your team's strengths. Don't worry, it will make your team more likely to win in the end. There is no difference if you defeat your opponent 9-0 or 5-4 in a single or double-elimination type playoff, so you might as well consolidate talent that will best assure your success in winning those targeted stats.

2. Stream. It works. Assuming you are in a daily changes league, adding and dropping players on a daily basis is arguably the best strategy to use in order to win. You might not make many friends this way as this strategy is frowned on by some managers, but streaming is an effective way to guarantee winning about five of the six counting categories. You are not breaking any of your league's rules. You aren't cheating anyone. Whether you are ethically in favor of streaming or not, the point is that is it works. Whether you choose to do it is entirely up to you. Just remember that given roughly equal talent on both opposing teams, the team that has more games played by its players for the week is more likely to win.

3. Study the schedule. Whether you intend to stream or not, it's best to study the NBA schedule to take note of which teams have more games over the course of the week than others. Take note of the opposing teams that your players are facing for favorable matchups, such as New York, Golden State, Minnesota and Phoenix, to name a few. You may want to stream in players who have matchups versus these teams. Find players who have been hot lately. You can use player raters, such as the one at Give Me The Rock, to assess who are stream- or cycle-worthy, and then add them at a timely fashion for the week to optimize the number of games they will play for your team. It pays to plan ahead.