Finally, it’s the playoffs! Today, we get the Eastern Conference play-in games. The Washington Wizards were 34-38 (eighth in the Eastern Conference) on the season and 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Boston Celtics were 36-36 (seventh in the Eastern Conference) on the season and have won four of their last 10. Washington is 15-21 on the road, while Boston is 21-15 at home. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Celtics favored with the O/U at 232.5.
Let’s break down this Showdown contest on DraftKings.
Bradley Beal ($14,400 CP) - Beal is my guy today. The ownership discrepancy should be massive from Russell Westbrook ($19,500 CP) and I think Beal has a chance to match or even outscore him. At $5,100 cheaper in the Captain’s spot, that would be massive. Now, Westbrook has been on a historic run recently and he has the chance to put up the most raw points on the slate. That said, Brad Stevens is a good coach and I think he schemes to limit Westbrook. I remember a back-to-back series with the Bucks back in late March. The Celtics limited Giannis Antetokounmpo to 35.5 DKFP and 33.0 DKFP in those games. In three regular-season meetings with the Wizards, Westbrook went for 28.5 DKFP, 42.75 DKFP and 47.25 DKFP. Beal went for 50.75 DKFP, 54.25 DKFP and 62.75 DKFP.
Kemba Walker ($13,200 CP) - The Wizards boost the fantasy points per minute to point guards by 6.49% above league average. Kemba has been in and out of the lineup all season, but with this being the playoffs, it’s full steam ahead, especially with Jaylen Brown (wrist) done for the season. In the last four games that he played, Kemba went for 46.25 DKFP, 48.5 DKFP, 32.0 DKFP and 54.25 DKFP. His usage rate was 30% and he averaged 35.5 minutes, 19.8 shot attempts, 29.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals.
Robin Lopez ($2,200) - The Wizards have a three-headed monster at center with Alex Len ($2,400) usually starting, then Lopez and Daniel Gafford ($3,200) coming off the bench. Gafford is usually the most appealing from a fantasy perspective as he averages 1.26 DKFP per minute. I’m not sure how much run he gets now that it’s playoff time, though. Len has his moments, but isn’t particularly great, and he’s seen his playing time shrink the last two games. That leaves Lopez, who averages 0.85 DKFP per minute. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s within the range of outcomes that he gets over 24 minutes in this one, as the coaching staff may prefer a veteran presence with a high IQ on the court. Over the last two games, he’s played 27 and 16 minutes, contributing 28.0 DKFP and 21.25 DKFP, respectively. At $2.2K, that would be a fantastic contribution.
Jayson Tatum ($10,000) - Since Brown was ruled out for the remainder of the season, Tatum has averaged 34.7 minutes, 20.2 field goal attempts, 25.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. His usage rate has been 31.2% overall, but in the last three games, it’s been 32%, 38% and 39%. Over that six-game span, he’s put up at least 50.0 DKFP four times. Tatum and Walker will be the two alphas for the Celtics, so I want both, especially since I’m fading Westbrook.
Tristan Thompson ($6,000) - You’ll have to note that Robert Williams ($7,600; toe) a game-time decision for this one. Even if he plays, the center minutes will likely be split down the middle, so Thompson will be involved regardless. He averages 0.89 DKFP per minute. Now, there’s upside here. Williams could not play at all, he could re-injure the toe, he could get in foul trouble, or Thompson could get more minutes by simply being more effective. In two games at the end of April, Williams played 17 and 24 minutes while Thompson played 29 and 29 minutes, respectively. Thompson put up 37.25 DKFP in both games, while Williams contributed 22.25 DKFP and 27.25 DKFP. The Wizards boost the fantasy points per minute to centers by 16.93% above league average, the most generous in the NBA, so the matchup doesn’t get any better.
Russell Westbrook ($19,500 CP, $13,000) - I’m scared. Westbrook can Hulk smash at any time against anyone and put up the most raw points on the slate. That said, I outlined above why I think there’s a chance that he only puts up an average game instead of a nuclear one. He will likely be the highest owned player on the slate by a wide margin, so the leverage gained and cost savings will be massive.
For full transparency, I’ve been absolutely horrible at predicting outcomes, so you may want to go Costanza on me. If that doesn’t work, then Costanza the Costanza.
Over the last five games, the Wizards have had the ninth-best defensive rating. There was a time when they were dead-last, so kudos to them. The Celtics have been 15th. The Wizards are coming into the playoffs hotter than the Celtics, but I like Boston to squeak out a close victory at home. I do think Brad Stevens is a good coach and he limits Westbrook from going nuclear, while Kemba and Tatum get busy on offense.
Final Score: Boston 112, Washington 107
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