This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
The Cavs-Celtics series returns to Boston on Wednesday, and DraftKings will be presenting a six-spot Showdown contest as per usual. Both of these teams have proven that playing at home makes a difference come playoff time. Cleveland swept both games at the Q, while Boston is still yet to lose at home during the postseason. Now deadlocked at 2-2, the Cavs will be looking to break that trend and pull off a win at the Garden.
A key component to achieving that goal lies with LeBron James (of course), but perhaps the most important factor is his supporting cast. Any Cleveland player not named James or Kevin Love as a go-to fantasy play has proven to be a headache in the postseason, but Tristan Thompson, George Hill and Kyle Korver are now stabilizing in terms of usage, and posting respectable stat lines as a result. In order to field a successful lineup, we'll have to dip into this pool to stay below our salary cap.
On the Celtics side, it's anyone's guess as to which team will show up. The Cavs aren't known for their defense, but they've managed to keep the Celtics' offensive attack at bay. While Jayson Tatum and Al Horford have taken a hit, Terry Rozier has re-emerged as a viable play, with Jaylen Brown showing up as one of the best-risk/reward picks on the slate. It's almost inconceivable to say, but coming into Game 5 you may actually contend with less risk by giving the Cavs role players a closer look. With a starting five that could be all over the map, the Boston stars are definitely tougher to predict.
As far as the LeBron James question, his sky-high price of $19,500 is well-warranted, but there's a $7,200 gap between him and the second-costliest player, Kevin Love ($12,300). With that being said, I don't see a way you can replicate what James brings to the table, and previous analysis of the showdown contests in this series has proven that the winning lineups are teams that go with James, the highest-scoring Celtic, and 2-3 Cavs who pop with strong totals. As I've noted in previous articles, the best way to maximize profit in Showdown contests is to play the cash games, as there will be ties at the top of the GPP contests.
I'll now make two selections at each position with the intent of using LeBron James as my anchor.
Jaylen Brown ($11,800): Brown is the ultimate GPP selection on Wednesday, as his explosiveness factor carries some risk, but could reap huge benefits. I'm going to opt for more stable selections in cash games, but Brown's capability to jump-start his team kept them competitive in Game 4. He struggled shooting the ball, but his aggressiveness was nonetheless encouraging, and he's hitting nearly 43% of his threes in the postseason.
Kyle Korver ($4,400): Korver is a popular play, and it's no surprise as he has the ability to post a good number when he's shooting well. Although George Hill ($5,400) has awakened in previous games, I find it difficult to spend an extra $1K for such a volatile play. That extra cash could be a difference-maker for your other slots, and Hill's limited ceiling won't burn you too much if he outscores Korver.
This spot is a little tough, and as a result I might slide Brown into my lineup as a forward, but it matters little since our slots aren't position-specific. Some of the best selections are guys with dual eligibility at forward and center, so the next two sections will cross over a bit. I find it worth mentioning that while I like Jayson Tatum's chances, $9,400 is a little too steep for me. I think his price will make him a fade for most, which could make him an interesting GPP play. Marcus Morris delivers the opposite effect, as his ownership will skyrocket with a $7,100 price tag. I don't find it too be a particularly worthwhile play.
Kevin Love ($12,300): Love had a mediocre outing in Game 4 but he has the capability to deliver 40 DKFP on any given night. If you're of the mindset that the rest of the Cavs will falter, then Love has to be your best play, but if you opt for Love and James, you'll have an average of $4,625 left for your remaining four slots. That means you'd have to go with a few lower-tier Cavs anyway. This kind of combination hinges on a rout at the Garden for Cleveland.
Larry Nance, Jr. ($3,300): I think it might finally be time to give some attention to Nance, who proved to have some success inside in Game 4. With Thompson and Love manning the premier unit, Nance's success hinges on how much opportunity he'll receive, but I think his ownership will end up lower than most. As I mentioned previously, it's a matter of selecting a couple of Cavs in this range – Nance could be that guy.
It pains me to say it, but I'm about to highlight two guys that I've been down on, but they've both managed to show up with decent stat lines in the past couple of games. While I think you can avoid using them in a six-slot contest, they are both reasonable value plays.
Tristan Thompson ($6,000): I know, go figure. The Cavs have found that putting Thompson out there results in more production inside. Perhaps running from the paparazzi has increased his stamina, but coach Tyronn Lue has expressed faith in Thompson and he'll see plenty of minutes on Wednesday.
Aron Baynes ($5,100): Not flashy, but cheap. Ok, so that sounds like an ad for Marshall's or Kohl's, but they do have some nice clothes there. I'm sure Baynes would rather not be compared to an inexpensive shirt on the sale rack, but the Celtics have found him to be a comfortable fit. There's no one on the court that shows more hustle than Baynes, and while that doesn't always translate to a big line, he doesn't have to do much to meet value here.