After a couple of big Game 7s this weekend, including one by these very Celtics where they ran off another youthful team in the Milwaukee Bucks at home, we’re onto round 2 of the NBA playoffs with a couple of interesting matchups. Tonight we’ll have only one game where the Sixers will return to their first conference semifinals since the 2011-12 season as a somewhat surprising road favorite versus a very banged up Boston squad who’ll likely add Jaylen Brown to their walking wounded with him expected to miss at least Game 1 with a hamstring injury.
On a night like tonight with only one game, it can be crucial to use Awesemo’s rankings and ownership projections (for more details on how to use our ownership projections to check your lineup’s viability in a tournament like this, check out my “how to play a one-game DraftKings or FanDuel showdown game” article from last week) in order to build lineups that won’t tie with 100 other folks so be sure to check all that out before diving in. And now, onto the slate:
Philadelphia 76ers (104.25 implied points, -13.9 on their last 10 games) at Boston Celtics (100.75 implied points, -4.1 on their last 10 games)
The Sixers have been a more concentrated team since Joel Embiid returned to action in the Miami Heat series with less to go around for the Marco Belinellis and Ersan Ilyasovas of the world who were putting up big numbers with Embiid off the floor. JJ Redick is really the only one of that group who’s been positively affected by the move with him yielding some usage but getting far better spacing with Embiid diverting attention. Even without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics will have competent wing defenders to roll out in Marcus Smart and Semi Ojeleye but there’s a likelihood Redick will see the weakest of the group with bigger and more versatile threats on the floor in Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and even Robert Covington. I like Redick’s chances of being able to find his shot. Saric ceded some minutes to Ilyasova last game for no reason other than some ineffectiveness issues. With the rest and matchup and perhaps a chip on his shoulder with only playing 22 minutes in a Game 7, I think Saric can get back on the board with the value he needs to hit for you here. Covington looks like an okay proposition to hit the 3xish value you need to be competitive tonight but I’m not crazy about him. Ilyasova’s price is cheap enough where he can help you if he gets around 20 minutes and be really valuable if Saric does falter again. Belinelli should get enough shots to have a decent chance at providing some salary relief on a one-game slate with the same points dependency risk he always has. Embiid will likely be a popular play with his previous success versus the Celtics, including a 60 DK Point game last time out, and it’s going to take some creative defenses drawn up by coach Brad Stevens to match up with him. Simmons has struggled versus the Celtics all year and while I don’t mind him tonight, I think I’d rather pay for Embiid given how much more difficult he should be to gameplan for and where the salaries are on the Celtics’ side.
Terry Rozier came on strong down the stretch of the Bucks series, earning the mutual admiration of Eric Bledsoe in the process, and will get the usage to keep momentum going with Jaylen Brown sidelined. He’s got a very decent chance to get to 3x tonight and could do much more if the game breaks his way and Ben Simmons’ defense doesn’t throw off his shot too much. Al Horford has been a much better player at home thus far in the playoffs and while his price is a bit uncomfortable, he’s shown the ability to get over that 3x threshold we need both in the last series and versus Philly this year. Marcus Smart should see extra run with Brown out but there is some reason to question his upside given how little offensive interest he’s shown since returning from his hand/wrist injury. He’s still a fine play whom I’ll have a bunch of but maybe not as much of a stone cold lock as he’ll likely be treated as tonight. Marcus Morris was his most effective last game when coming in for Brown after his injury and he may be overlooked on the slate despite limited options. There are some questions about how Boston will attack this series defensively; coach Brad Stevens went small a lot last series in response to the Bucks losing John Henson but the Sixers will have Joel Embiid on the floor for at least 30 minutes a game. Does that mean more run for Aron Baynes or maybe even Greg Monroe? The starting lineups here before lock may provide a bit of an answer. If Baynes starts, I think he’s a great low-priced filler to help you afford better guys. And I don’t hate Monroe for a one-off flyer. But if they stick with Semi Ojeleye to help out on Philly’s screening wings and their penchant for piling up threes, Baynes will see less run. It’s a key chess match to think about when mining for options in a single game slate.
And there we have it, a big Game 1 in the books. Subscribe to the Awesemo YouTube channel so you’ll know the second Josh Engleman and I go live tonight before lock to talk about this game and the night’s MLB slate, make sure to follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow for a couple more playoff games to distract ourselves from real life. Yay basketball!