As many of our great nation sees the world through reddened eyes on April 20th, we’ve got to stay focused and clear on our options tonight. We’ve got three games, each of which expected to be tightly contested. Once again it’s do-or-die mode for at least one squad on the slate as there are no chill vibes to be expected for the Washington Wizards as their team as in tatters following two brutal losses. Where there is crisis and a high likelihood of Bradley Beal ending up on a tropical island within the next four days there is opportunity so I’ll do my best to help you find those opportunities here in the Switch and Hedge.
As always this column will pair best with Awesemo’s rankings, ownership projections, and my live-before-lock show with Josh Engleman tonight at 6PM Eastern on the Awesemo YouTube (subscribe now so you know the second we go live). And without further adieu, onto the slate.
Cleveland Cavaliers (103.5 implied points, -2.9 on their last 10 games) at Indiana Pacers (104.5 implied points, +0.6 on their last 10 games)
The Cavs were LeBron’s team in a way that only LeBron can provide in their last game with him going full vintage Michael Jordan mode and willing the team to a win, piling up the team’s first 16 points and posting a gaudy 40% usage rate while shooting 17-for-24 from the floor en route to 46 real life points, 12 boards, and five assists. Simply put: No one else on this slate can do what LeBron might do again tonight. The Pacers will try to adjust but in all likelihood if LeBron is still on seek-and-destroy mode that only means he’ll get a few less points and a few more assists out of the gambit. This Cavs team is not good enough to win without him shouldering the whole load and frankly I’d be afraid to fade him tonight. Kevin Love’s got a banged up thumb that seemingly greatly affected him last time out but he’s going to get his shots. With even more attention on LeBron, Love will get the chance to do more. Larry Nance got 24 minutes on the floor last time out and did nothing with it, primarily serving as a body to screen and box out. He’s been productive before but I don’t trust him. Kyle Korver picked up the start last time out and could be another beneficiary of whatever gameplanning the Pacers do to try to limit LeBron’s damage. Everything else here is a hard pass for me.
For the Pacers, everyone sucked last time but the bigger issue was Victor Oladipo picking up two quick fouls that deeply cut into his minutes. He posted a juicy 42% usage rate on the floor last time and one would think in his first home playoff game in Indiana, Oladipo is going to bring it tonight. Going Oladipo and some other guys coming up could be a good LeBron pivot if you’ve got the stomach for such a play. Bojan Bogdanovic’s shot attempts disappeared into the ember last time out with him also giving up some minutes to Lance Stephenson and Corey Joseph with Oladipo’s foul troubles. Bojan can get back on track tonight but I wouldn’t stake all my lineups on it. Darren Collison is a boom/bust play, assuming we’re considering a bit over 5x as a “boom.” He’s okay but I don’t love him ever. Ditto Myles Turner who’s had upside all year but is having a hard time getting rebounds or blocks given the Cavaliers’ defensive focuses and offensive usage. Without those, he’s a points-dependent scorer who doesn’t score enough. Thad Young gets minutes but is expending his energy on the LeBron guarding front, posting usage rates under 10% in the first two games of the series. I don’t foresee that changing too much tonight, although he has a shot at being a lower owned 5x play.
Toronto Raptors (108 implied points, flat with their last 10 games) at Washington Wizards (110 implied points, +6.1 on their last 10 games)
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry reasserted themselves in the series last time out with DeRozan shooting more (and finally hitting them) and Lowry balancing out his poor shooting with more playmaking. Jonas Valanciunas also had the big game it seems like he’s always capable of but never gets a shot at accomplishing due to coach Dwane Casey’s rotations. I like all three of those guys but I’m most curious about Jonas tonight; he didn’t play in the fourth with the game mostly under control last time out and a few more minutes of run could mean even more value smashing tonight. Fred Van Vleet tricked everyone after being ruled into last game only to play like crap for two minutes and return to the bench. If he sits, Delon Wright is a great play but if he plays Wright gets much riskier. Serge Ibaka was okay but my gut tells me he’s not as effective when Jonas is. He’s still an okay play but his ceiling is getting a bit questionable.
The only guy to trust right now on the Wizards is John Wall and even he opened exceedingly poorly last game out, resulting in him only barely hitting value by the slimmest of margins. I like him tonight to bounce back at home with possibly the same 60+ DK point upside he’s shown recently. Bradley Beal has played so poorly all series but his price keeps dropping. He’s not getting enough usage to be super confident but I’m going to have a bit of him tonight in the hopes he breaks out of his slump somehow. Markieff Morris also regressed a bit last time out and his opportunity will be limited if they can’t keep Jonas Valanciunas off the boards. I might be more inclined to go Otto Porter’s way than Morris given how Porter looked a bit healthier in Game 2 after slogging through a leg injury in Game 1. I have no clue what to do with Ty Lawson but he should be popular tonight. It’s worth noting the Wizards got the closest to catching up after trailing all last game with a Lawson/Wall/Beal/Kelly Oubre/Mike Scott group and that Lawson saw a lot of minutes with Wall on the floor. It seems like that could portend bad things for Beal and good things for Mike Scott but overall I think you’re going to want and possibly even need some exposure to both Lawson and Scott. Oubre can be an okay play if he gets as much run as he did last game but he could easily give some of those minutes back to Morris and Porter.
Boston Celtics (100.25 implied points, -4.6 on their last 10 games) at Milwaukee Bucks (104.75 implied points, -6 on their last 10 games)
Al Horford came back down to Earth after a ton of free throw attempts propped up his Game 1 line. We’ve now seen both Horford’s ceiling and floor in this series and this game tonight with John Henson doubtful can break either way. Some media outlets have speculated in the series that the Bucks should move to a Giannis at center lineup that would allow Horford more action and offense creation in the post but it’s guesswork to say the Bucks will do that tonight. I think Horford is an okay but slightly overpriced play based on all the unknowns and his own oft-middling performance. Jayson Tatum’s shot didn’t fall last time but I think he’s a solid play tonight. Small forward has been the Bucks’ biggest weakness all year and we know Tatum’s upside. Jaylen Brown seems like a safer play and he’s been super consistent in performance and usage this series and he even put up 12 threes last game en route to the team’s biggest usage rate. Terry Rozier looked good last time out, perhaps buoyed by some of the wild shade thrown his way by Eric Bledsoe:
Bledsoe says he’s focused on the Game 3, but he’s not walking back any of his Rozier comments. At the first mention of Rozier’s name, Bledsoe’s response was quick: “Who?”
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 19, 2018
Bledsoe’s arrogance amidst his own awfulness is almost endearing. Almost. Rozier looks like a fine play but one who may be more popular in ownership than his actual opportunity and price dictates. He’s mostly owned Bledsoe this series so I worry more about other Celtics stepping up than about Rozier being “bad” per se. Marcus Morris looks like a decent chance to hit value and not much more. He’s been something of a forgotten man in the offense for a guy shooting between 10 and 20 times a game and I like him, just not as much as Brown, Tatum or Rozier (though he’s much safer than the latter two).
Tyler Zeller may see some action if John Henson is ruled out, although he also could end up a victim of the aforementioned potential Giannis-at-center experiment. He’s been an okay point-per-minute player and that price is tempting if he gets Henson’s run. I’ll have some of him as a result but I’m not dying to stake my night on Tyler Zeller. Value is great but Tyler Zeller-tier value can be as hurtful as it helps if he ends up giving you 10 fantasy points. Giannis looks good to me regardless of where he’s played and he’s been steadily over 5x value at his price. It’s tough to pay up for guys like him in playoff DFS but he can be worth it even though, even though LeBron being about $1,000 more is tempting to try to figure out. Khris Middleton’s usage has been steady in Game 1 and 2 with very different outcomes. He’s definitely capable of greatness but his price does have a little downside to it. Eric Bledsoe is playable despite Terry Rozier owning his ass; his price allows him to hit value and possibly smash his ceiling if he figures out how to be even moderately effective in the Bucks’ return home.
There we have it, three more games in the books. Make sure to go sign up for an Awesemo premium account since his rankings and ownership projections are MASSIVE helps when trying to figure out these tight playoff slates. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and let me know any questions or thoughts you have, subscribe to the Awesemo YouTube and spend your 4/20 with me and Joshy Engles talking NBA, MLB, and some green holiday chatter at 6PM Eastern tonight and good luck out there tonight!