The balance of the Eastern Conference is on the line as the Celtics head into Cleveland with a shot at going up 3-0 in the series. LeBron has only been in that spot twice in his career (both in the NBA Finals, both resulting in series losses) and with no NBA team ever having erased such a deficit, it’s definitely not a place the Cavaliers want to find themselves. It’s all on the line for them tonight at home and Vegas seems to believe they’ll make it a series.
For premium members, Awesemo’s rankings and ownership projections in particular will be helpful in building your lineups as you get closer to lock at 8:30 PM Eastern tonight so check back later for more. But for now let me break this down for you in my Switch and Hedge.
Boston Celtics (99.75 implied points, -5.1 in their last 10 games) at Cleveland Cavaliers (105.75 implied points, -0.7 on their last 10 games)
Al Horford has been a key part of the Celtics’ attack on the offensive and defensive ends. And even though his playoff numbers don’t show it, throughout the season Horford was slightly more effective on the road than at home (the opposite of a Terry Rozier). Horford has had a steady usage rate, gets looks from three, rebounds, and defensive statistics and he’s tended to be lower owned than he should be in this series on DraftKings because of his pricing. The aforementioned Rozier has been quiet this series although he did notch his highest usage rate since Game 1 of the Philly series in the last Cavs-Celtics matchup. Many people are aware of Rozier’s home/road splits while being less aware of him having a little more upside due to his 7-for-16 shooting in Game 2 so there may be a contrarian value in playing him. Jayson Tatum hasn’t impressed me much this series from a fantasy perspective and while he can certainly get you the value you need, I don’t feel as great about him as many of the other guys on Boston’s side. Marcus Smart was very effective as a distributor with his nine assists in Game 2 and that balanced out a poor shooting night for him. I like his upside but there is a degree of risk given how much of a low usage player he can be. Marcus Morris was a disappointing player at high ownership in Game 2 and his 5-for-14 shooting make me see no issue going back to him tonight. If he shoots closer to his Game 1 percentages, Morris would be a killer play. Jaylen Brown is a good but expensive play to me and if anyone were to go shot for shot with LeBron if this game is competitive down the stretch, I would envision it being Brown. Aron Baynes got less minutes in Game 2 despite more time with big bodies on the floor for the Cavs with longer run for Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance. Only if the Cavs are successful with their bigs in forcing a shift would Baynes get additional run, likely at the expense of Tatum. Greg Monroe and Semi Ojeleye are the super cheap low-minute guys you can consider as a Showdown slate GPP punt to cram in the stars but neither is terribly secure for even the barest minimums of value.
LeBron is crazily overpriced and would need an absurd 76 points to hit 4x value on DraftKings…something which he exceeded thanks to a 47.3% usage rate (!!!) in Game 2. LeBron’s season is on the line and while I don’t expect as much of a massive early onslaught from LeBron as he had last time out, I still would have a hard time fading him tonight. His partner in crime Kevin Love likely has the second highest ceiling on the slate and he’s been a substantially better player at home this season. Tristan Thompson got 30 minutes of run and underperformed in Game 2; a similar opportunity tonight in front of a hot Cleveland crowd could be big for him. JR Smith has woefully underperformed this series and seems due for some regression to the mediocre mean at a price that would be interesting. Kyle Korver seems like he should get more run than the 21 minutes he received in Game 2; he was effective off the bench but it still seems like there’s a chance he takes some minutes from JR if his play remains poor. I really don’t like George Hill after he keeps doing nothing this series, though it makes sense to have a taste of him given his price and how the Cavs should use him more in pick and rolls with LeBron. The Cavs want him or LeBron on the floor at all times handling the ball, and not the out-of-rotation Jordan Clarkson, so there is potential there despite Hill being a perennial disappointment. Jeff Green got 28 minutes of run in which he didn’t do much in Game 2 but court time is court time at his price. Larry Nance was a spark plug off the bench doing things like this versus Aron Baynes:
— NedsAU (@NedsAus) May 16, 2018
He doesn’t get enough run or usage to be a “safe” play but I’d be a little intrigued by Nance even though he may be overowned given that he was in the winning lineup of many big GPPs in the last Cavs-Celtics showdown slate. Rodney Hood should still see a few minutes off the bench as a potential cheap flyer and that’s about as low as I’d go here.
There we have it, another conference finals Showdown slate in the books. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags, check back later for Awesemo’s rankings and ownership projections, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow with Warriors-Rockets thoughts.
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