We’ve got a high-end Atlantic Division clash this evening, as the Boston Celtics head to the Wells Fargo Center to square-off with the Philadelphia 76ers. Of course, the big news isn’t so much who is playing, but rather who isn’t. All-Star Joel Embiid will not be available for the 76ers on Thursday due to an ugly finger dislocation suffered in Monday’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. His absence opens up a slot in Philadelphia’s starting five and the possibility of expanded roles all the way down the roster, as Embiid’s 31.6% usage rate is easily a team-high.
Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.
Ben Simmons ($16,200 CP) has been playing like a man possessed since the end of December, averaging 17.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.1 assists in the seven contests he’s started dating back to Dec. 23. Not surprisingly, his workload has been eye-popping within this stretch, as the former first-overall pick has registered 38.6 minutes per night to go along with a league-leading 101.6 touches. Simmons DKFP production and usage rate haven’t really been all the effected in 2019-20 by whether on not Embiid is on the court; however, that means little with the kind of run the 23-year-old is currently on.
Kemba Walker ($12,300 CP) can’t exactly claim to be in as good a groove as Simmons — he’s missed three of Boston’s past four games with an illness and was ejected from the other — yet, at the same time, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be the Celtics’ most expensive piece on each and every slate. Tonight? He comes in with the team’s third-highest salary despite leading all on the Boston roster in DKFP per contest (38.2), usage rate (28.2%) and points per game (22.0). Yes, Philadelphia has surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing point guards, but Walker’s always a huge upside asset and he dropped 25 points and eight assists the last occasion these two squads met.
Once again, the defining trait of this slate is the fact Embiid is missing. Several 76ers have seen their numbers improve without the ball-dominant center on the floor — Tobias Harris’ ($9,200) usage rate jumps from 21.4% to 25.6% — yet no one is impacted more than Al Horford ($7,400). When sharing the court with Embiid in 2019-20, the veteran has produced just a lowly 0.63 DKFP per minute played. However, that figure nearly doubles when Horford is freed of the Cameroonian (1.13). Kyle O’Quinn ($5,800) also warrants mentioning if he’s called upon to replace Embiid amongst Philadelphia’s starters, though I wouldn’t be shocked if Furkan Korkmaz ($3,400) instead gets the nod in a matchup with the mobile Celtics’ front court.
Looking at Boston, Jaylen Brown ($7,800) is name that sticks out as a possible value. The Celtics’ offensive hierarchy is relatively top-heavy, but Brown has certainly distinguished himself as a focal point in recent weeks, exceeded 40.0 DKFP in six of his last 10 starts. Brown’s impressive .612 true shooting percentage doesn’t hurt his cause, either. Aside from him, Grant Williams ($2,000) could be a decent option in a stars-and-scrubs build, as the rookie regularly logs 15-to-20 minutes a night and has the size to be effective in a matchup with Philadelphia.
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