We’re back in the Eastern Conference tonight for LeBron’s shot at redemption in Boston, a spot where the series feels very much on the line depending upon how King James responds. Can Cleveland respond on the road after so many pundits have already declared them dead on arrival? Or will Boston hold on to home court advantage and put the Cavaliers into a hole they may not be able to dig out of this time?
Awesemo’s rankings for the slate are already up and ownership projections will come closer to lock so keep an eye here before you build your lineups. And now onto the slate.
Cleveland Cavaliers (101.25 implied points, -5.2 on their last 10 games) at Boston Celtics (102.25 implied points, -2.6 on their last 10 games)
Unsurprisingly, LeBron James is the key here after a Game 1 that was less than kingly. The expectation and history of LeBron says he’ll show up after that dud of a performance, something his teammates are discussing openly:
Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson has witnessed bad playoff games from LeBron James, and he has seen the response from James in the following game.
“Usually when ’Bron has these kind of games, the next game he does something legendary,” Thompson said, referring to James’ 15-point performance in Game 1 against Boston on Sunday and looking ahead to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday.
LeBron’s price is onerous on both sites and the Celtics did a great job defending him while his teammates’ missed shots deflated his enthusiasm in Game 1. But it’s hard to not play LeBron with his back against the wall after what he dubbed a “feel out game” in the series opener. Kevin Love’s shot didn’t fall and the Celtics didn’t give him much room to breathe on his looks, something that didn’t help. He flashed an obscenely high ceiling in the Toronto series and while the potential of Tristan Thompson being moved into the starting lineup may affect his role, it could get him better looks from three. Thompson is being rumored to enter the starting lineup for Game 2 and he’s historically been a good play versus Boston, including in the first game of the series where he put up over 1 fantasy point per minute in 20 minutes of court time. Thompson picking up the start would be a boon for his value and his potential chalkiness. He should be a good play but definitely not a sneaky one. George Hill would likely move to the bench if that ended up being the case, a spot where he thrived in the Indiana series. As is always the case, keeping an eye on how the starting lineups shake out may give a better indicator of how to proceed. JR Smith and Kyle Korver had enough decent looks that one or both should be able to get closer to their normal performances in Game 2. Jeff Green seems due to do more than he did in Game 1 while Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson seem likely to do less, though for some reason Hood got a ton of looks even before the game blew out. The Cavs need offense somewhere and I think they can get it from the main guys but if they don’t, it’s possible to see Hood and Clarkson summoned into more action.
The Celtics gave Jaylen Brown his biggest usage rate of these playoffs since Game 2 in the Milwaukee series en route to a stellar performance. Brown has played with some extra oomph all year versus LeBron and I would expect him to continue to push his offense tonight. Al Horford was great in Game 1 although he was incredibly efficient in shooting at an 80% clip to get his numbers. He’ll get more minutes tonight if the Cavs keep it closer and I always like Horford better at home. Terry Rozier was quiet in Game 1 and he’s underperformed more often than not over his last four games. I want to believe in his bounceback tonight given his price but I question if he’s getting enough usage with Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart putting up more shots along with Horford and Marcus Morris getting theirs. I’m not crazy about Tatum’s upside at his price while I’m always easily talked into Smart. Morris had his way with Cleveland and while his defense of LeBron got more headlines he really took advantage of their weak defense to get better looks than he got versus Philadelphia. Morris’s price on FanDuel is more appealing but I think he has upside on both sites and Awesemo agrees with Morris being the lone player on the slate to get a B in points and value in his DraftKings rankings. Aron Baynes should see more run if Thompson picks up the start for Cleveland and many experts think Cleveland will try to make Boston play bigger with Baynes to have a shot in the series. Again I greatly prefer Baynes’ price on FanDuel but he works for me on both sites.
And there we go, another Eastern Conference Final in the books. If you haven’t yet, go join our contest on Playline with our referral code to get free money for signing up and if you deposit. All you have to do is guess the stat lines of James Harden, Draymond Green, and Steph Curry and you can win up to $1,000. Go sign up now and build your bankroll.
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