It’s another early starting NBA playoff slate tonight as we return to the Eastern Conference. LeBron can ice the Raptors and probably completely combust their team with a sweep at home tonight in Cleveland, a spot in which Vegas currently expects DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry’s squad to go quietly into the night. The 76ers will look to avoid their own sweep at the hands of Boston after a heartwrenching premature confetti release that ended in a crushing overtime defeat at home in Game 3. Backs against the wall, who comes through? Let’s find out.
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Boston Celtics (99.75 implied points, -5.1 on their last 10 games) at Philadelphia 76ers (105.75 implied points, -12.4 on their last 10 games)
The Celtics are once again noteworthy underdogs versus the Sixers despite their 3-0 lead, a bit of disrespect that I’m sure somewhat fuels Boston’s fire as they march towards their destiny versus LeBron in the conference finals. Terry Rozier and Al Horford are the big ticket items on this side and while they both have decent ceilings, I’m not crazy about either at their current prices. There’s nothing wrong with playing either but in order to extract the value you need to take down a tournament, I’d look more in the direction of the Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, and Jaylen Brown group. Smart’s ownership should come down a bit after his Game 3 dud, something which I think will motivate Smart today, and Marcus Morris almost hit value last game despite shooting an atrocious 3-for-14 in 35 minutes of action. Jaylen Brown was solid in almost 30 minutes of court time in Game 3 and one would assume he’ll continue to be on the upswing with a little extra healing time for that hamstring. Jayson Tatum is close to his price ceiling and while I think he can get you to 5x, there’s a little risk given how the offense could break someone else’s way tonight. I’m not sure if he has the ceiling you need. Aron Baynes was good in Game 3 and while I have no issue with him, I think he’ll be owned as if he’s a lock for value when there is some substantial downside to him if rebounds don’t bounce in his favor.
Joel Embiid has been a lock for 50 fantasy points in this series and that makes him look like a really solid play on DraftKings with a little risk at his price on FanDuel. I don’t see him rolling over in an elimination game though so I’m fine with him on either. Ben Simmons seems okay again with the caveat that even with him playing better in Game 3 he still barely hit value in an overtime game. Dario Saric started insanely hot in Game 3 before settling in at barely over 5x value with crunch time possessions not really breaking his way. He has some upside at his price and should be in consideration tonight. After a monster Game 2, Robert Covington returned to vintage Covington form missing every shot en route to 6.5 fantasy points in 25 minutes of action. He’s really the weak link on this team, a link that would have been much better if they drafted Jayson Tatum instead of Markelle Fultz, but you can trot him out as a flyer in the hopes he somehow smashes value. If Covington falters, Ersan Ilyasova should pick up a few extra minutes, as would Marco Belinelli. I’m not crazy about either of those guys at their prices on DraftKings but I’d be interested on FanDuel given how much cheaper they are there. TJ McConnell has gotten run with different groups, some including Ben Simmons, and he would be an interesting punt to me again given his ability to put up stats, just not at any major volume.
Toronto Raptors (104.5 implied points, -3.5 on their last 10 games) at Cleveland Cavaliers (109.5 implied points, +3.1 on their last 10 games)
The Raptors are in shambles and after that soul crushing Game 3 loss with LeBron sinking another transcendent game winner, it’s not crazy to think they may completely fold today and head into a tumultuous offseason. DeMar DeRozan had some bad juju going in Game 3, something that resulted in him riding the pine down the stretch and not looking like the happiest guy in the world as the Raptors pulled close without him:
Watch Demar Derozan’s reaction to the Raptors tying the game Vs the rest of the bench ???? my boy is UPPPPPPPPPPPPset pic.twitter.com/4D81rijsKs
— GodFather BigStacks Porzingis (@PeeWeeDaPlug) May 6, 2018
DeRozan will get every chance to open the game hot and I like going back to him tonight in the hopes he can hit the upside he has previously, probably at lower ownership than he should have. If he fails again and Dwane Casey decides to go with guys putting in more defensive effort, that would mean more opportunity for CJ Miles and OG Anunoby, two guys who excelled in DeRozan’s absence in Game 3. Kyle Lowry had no such struggles with minutes and got more of a share of the offense with DeRozan limited. I’m okay with Lowry but it’s worth noting it took him 9-for-13 shooting and 50% from three to exceed value last game, a bit of a narrow margin for success given his price increases on both sites. Jonas Valanciunas didn’t see the court in the fourth quarter of Game 3 until the last possession as Casey rode the comeback Raptors group of Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Miles, Anunoby, and Serge Ibaka down the stretch. Jonas seems like a bounceback candidate to me although I have to admit I probably like Jonas as a player more than his own coach seems to. Ibaka was a resurgent player in Game 3 after a weak start to the series and he was more effective as a second unit player taking the role of Jakob Poeltl. He’ll likely find a lot of ownership tonight but he’s very much a risk due to the fungibility of Casey’s lineups. Assuming Ibaka stays on the bench for Fred VanVleet to start, it’s possible the game flow doesn’t break his way quite as well, particularly if Jonas is effective enough that they don’t go away from him as much. Anunoby and Miles will both likely pick up some ownership after their big Game 3s but I would really only play them as a DeRozan pivot. VanVleet should be better than he was in Game 3 if he picks up the start again and he should end up one of the higher owned players on the slate as a result so there may be a logic in fading him as well.
LeBron has owned the Raptors all series and there’s nothing they can adjust to change that. Lock him in for 60 fantasy points and being very playable on DraftKings while his price on FanDuel is definitely a tougher haul. You may have to work hard to get him in at a $14,500 price but the value pieces are there to make it work. Kevin Love seems fully back and despite a big price increase, he’s right in line with where he needs to be to hit value and have some potential upside. Kyle Korver was a strong play in Game 3 but without getting much more opportunity than he normally does. He’s a pure GPP play and not one I would bank on at volume. JR Smith barely saw the ball in Game 3 and he lost some minutes due to foul trouble. Smith is not someone who’ll be happy without chucking up shots and to me he’s the same as Korver, not a guy I’d bank on but as a GPP flyer, sure. Jeff Green got more minutes in Game 3 but did less with them. Assuming a similar run, Green should bounce back tonight. George Hill may end up a popular play tonight for his price point; I like Green more if you can get to him for almost the same price on DraftKings and a little cheaper on FanDuel but Hill is certainly a basketball player who exists and is at an appealing price. Jordan Clarkson has a faint shot at being a super cheap 5x punt play but I’m only pointing that out because his usage rate in 11 minutes of court time jumps off the page. Nothing to bank on but Clarkson is a potentially very low owned thought.
Boom two more do-or-die games in the books. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags, subscribe to the Awesemo YouTube to go live with me and Josh Engleman today at a special 5:30 PM Eastern start time, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow for more basketball!
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