Friday’s NBA slate features a pair of contests, including Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks at 7:30 p.m. ET.
This has easily been the most competitive series to start the second round of the playoffs. The Hawks were able to steal Game 1 on the road thanks to a huge first-half performance, but the 76ers bounced back with a win in Game 2. The 76ers remain sizable favorites to win this series — they’re -250 on DraftKings Sportsbook – but they’re just two-point road favorites in Game 3.
The story coming into this series was the health of Joel Embiid ($12,200; knee), who suffered a small tear in his meniscus during the 76ers’ first-round series. That said, he’s played great in his past two games.
The Hawks have actually been dealt the bigger blow from an injury perspective. They’ve ruled out De’Andre Hunter (knee) for the rest of the season, and he was instrumental in their first-round series vs. the Knicks. He was a monster defensively, particularly on Julius Randle, but the Hawks will have to find a way to survive without him if they want to pull off the upset.
DraftKings is offering up a Showdown slate for this contest, so let’s break down some of the top options to consider for your lineups.
Joel Embiid ($18,300 CP) – Apparently, a small tear in your meniscus is just not a big deal when you’re as good as Joel Embiid. He’s played wonderfully despite the injury, scoring at least 62.75 DKFP in each of his past two games. He’s still technically listed as questionable for this contest, so he’ll need to avoid a setback during pregame warmups before officially being ruled in. As long as that happens, I have no qualms about putting Embiid into my lineups. He’s the clear choice if you want to pay up at the Captain spot.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Joel Embiid (knee) will be available to play in tonight’s game vs. the Hawks.
Kevin Huerter ($7,800 CP) – The other option is to pay down at Captain. That allows you to get all the studs into your lineup without having to dip too heavily into the punt plays.
Huerter is my favorite option if you’re looking to go in that direction. He’s been one of the largest beneficiaries of the Hawks’ injuries. He’s scored at least 29.0 DKFP in back-to-back games without Hunter, and he’s coming off 35.6 minutes in Game 2. He’s also increased his production to 0.89 DKFP per minute over the past month, so he’s underpriced in Game 3.
If you don’t want to use him at Captain, he’s one of the best UTIL plays on the slate.
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Trae Young ($11,000) – Young is the only player on this slate who can match Embiid’s upside. The 76ers were able to contain him in Game 2, limiting him to just 21 points on 16 shots, but he scored at least 58.0 DKFP in each of the two games prior to that underwhelming performance. I prefer Embiid if I’m paying up at Captain, but Young is still a lock for my lineups.
Bogdan Bogdanovic ($8,000) – Bogdanovic is another quasi-stud that I’d like to get into my lineups on Friday. He’s also another player who has benefitted from the injury to Hunter. He was already carrying a large workload for the Hawks, but he logged a whopping 41.2 minutes in his last contest. Bogdanovic has averaged 0.99 DKFP per minute this season, so he’s capable of doing some damage with that much playing time.
Lou Williams ($1,000) – If you need to dip into the punt plays on today’s slate, Williams is your best bet. Lemon Pepper Lou should see around 15 minutes off the bench, and he will be highly active when he’s on the court. He’s averaged 0.92 DKFP per minute over the past month, so he can crack double-digits at just $1K. That’s definitely appealing.
Tobias Harris ($9,600) – Harris has been fantastic for the 76ers during the postseason, but his upside is diminished with Embiid playing close to full strength. He’s also due for some shooting regression after starting this series 19-for-32 from the field. His price tag has increased by $1,200 since the start of the playoffs, so this seems like a nice opportunity to sell high on him.
I liked the Hawks' chances of pulling off an upset before the start of the series, but the injuries have swung in the 76ers’ favor. Hunter being out is a bigger blow than most casual fans probably realize, and Embiid doesn’t appear to need a fully functioning knee to do damage. There’s always a chance that Embiid injures that knee further, but as long as he’s on the court, the 76ers should win this series.
From a fantasy perspective, pairing Embiid and Young is the most logical place to start. They’re the two players in this game with ceilings of 60-plus DKFP, so you need them in your lineups. After that, most of the value comes from the Hawks’ side. Bogdanovic, Huerter, Williams and Danilo Gallinari ($5,600) all have the ability to pay off their current price tags.
I’m expecting a competitive contest, but Embiid will ultimately be too much to handle.
Final Score: 76ers 112, Hawks 106
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