RotoGrinders' coverage of the 2018 NBA playoffs could be coming to an end tonight. We plan on going through the second round, and now we are down to only one series remaining in the conference semis, with an elimination game in Boston tonight.
This series travels back to Boston now with the Celtics leading three games to one. The old saying is that the hardest game to win for the team leading in the series is the elimination game. Those elimination games are easy when you are the far superior team. However, these two teams are pretty equally matched, although I think Boston is slightly better. But being only slightly better is going to still make this an incredibly difficult game for Boston to close out. The last thing the Celtics want to do is get on a plane and go back to Philadelphia, where they will be 7+ point underdogs and risk suddenly having a Game 7 when they were up 3-0. Ultimately, I think Boston sneaks this game out and closes out this series, and those thoughts will be reflected in the teams I build tonight on this one-game slate.
I’ve preached in this section multiple times in the second round about being different. You have to open your mind up to different possibilities and hope those scenarios play out in order to be slightly unique from the field. It doesn’t take much. You can play the five most popular guys on your team, as long as that sixth guy is something out of the ordinary and can keep you from tying the field.
For the most part, each game in this series has been extremely competitive, and I believe this game sees each and every superstar on both teams play the full allotment of minutes. Two situations to watch for tonight: Shane Larkin is questionable. That may fly under the radar, but it probably means I’m locking in Terry Rozier. Brad Stevens knows how important this game is and we may see 48 minutes out of Rozier at point guard if Larkin can’t go. Situation number two is the T.J. McConnell dilemma. One part of me says lock him in because the salary is so cheap and he’s probably going to pay it off. However, the contrarian part of me says that he will be by far the most popular player tonight, so if you fade him and he flames out, you could set yourself ahead of 85% of the field and have a legitimate chance at winning some big money. He’s an energy player who typically doesn’t score big real life points. If Brad Stevens makes adjustments, we could see McConnell revert back to a below average fantasy performer tonight. That is a very real possibility and one I would explore in these large-field tournaments.
As noted above, Rozier could get a ton of playing time tonight and is the most fantasy friendly backcourt player in this game. I’m locking him in.
Being the most expensive player on the board and coming off of a poor game might drive the ownership down, even on a one-game slate. However, don’t be lulled to sleep on Embiid; he is easily the odds-on favorite to be the leading scorer on DraftKings and FanDuel by the time this game finishes. Role players play better at home, but on the road it’s all about the superstars on a team. Clearly Embiid is the best player on this team and should thrive on the road in this game.
He had a very poor Game 4, but that won’t deter me from playing him tonight. Boston will treat this like a Game 7 and I expect that, no matter what they say, the minutes limit is raised for Jaylen Brown tonight. He has an extremely explosive fantasy game and has a very valuable salary tonight on the two major sites. Looking at his ownership from the last game, I think we’re getting a big time upside guy at very low ownership. This is all about taking smart chances to be different in these tournaments.
This pick plays hand-in-hand with the T.J. McConnell fade. If McConnell has a poor game, it stands to reason Covington could have a nice game. Yes, in three of the four games this series he’s been terrible. But on the road in Game 2, he put up a tournament-winning performance of 46.25 DraftKings points. So, the upside is there if things break his way. Any time I can get a high upside player on a one-game slate with little to no ownership because people are scared, I’m going to pounce on it.
Let’s say I want to spend $100 and I put in 10 teams tonight. All 10 teams have McConnell and one of those teams happens to be enough to tie for first place. It would be a chalky team and my $100 investment may land me a net profit of $200-$300. That’s fine, if that’s what you’re striving for. But if you’re striving for that big $100K or $50K payday, you have to be different. A $100 investment fading McConnell could most likely lead to losing that hundred dollars. But taking that chance and fading McConnell, and then stocking up on Covington and watching those two scenarios break your way could lead to that big $50K score. The bottom line is: If you’re playing the chalk and staying away from the difficult guys to roster, you are just grinding away, and I can promise you with near certainty that you’re not going to make a significant tournament win financially. However, if you go for the tougher choices and those choices hit, your payday will be reflected in those decisions.