PG - Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Given that LeBron James (more on him later) will cost nearly one-quarter against the salary cap, one target of creating Saturday's lineup is building around him judiciously.
This space went back and forth between Lowry and Terry Rozier at this position, but Lowry's steady play coupled with Boston's road woes in the postseason make the Raptors guard the pick here.
Lowry totaled 39 points and 18 assists in the two losses at home, shooting 59.1 percent overall and making six of 12 from 3-point range. He has averaged 19.7 points and 7.8 assists in his last six games, hitting 53.8 percent (21 for 39) from beyond the arc and 53.2 percent overall.
Given the Raptors have averaged 111.0 points in their losses, and the Cavaliers goal of outscoring them rather than resolutely defending them, Lowry should continue to pile up solid numbers.
Alternate option - Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics @ Philadelphia 76ers
Going with Rozier is admittedly a risky selection given the discrepancy between Boston's play at home and on the road in the postseason. Rozier is part and parcel of those issues, hitting just 25.9 percent (seven for 27) of his 3-pointers in their three road losses compared to his 54.3 percent marksmanship (25 for 46) in their six home wins. However, the 76ers have yet to find a player who can stay with Rozier, who has done an excellent job punishing Philadelphia in transition.
Rozier has also been an underrated playmaker in this postseason, compiling 6.9 assists per game to go with a 4.77 assists-to-turnover ratio. He has committed just 13 turnovers in Boston's nine games, and five came in one game. A loss on the road. Caveat emptor, here.
Low-cost option: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics @ Philadelphia 76ers
If Smart can put up similar numbers to what he had in Game 2: score 19 points while making six of 13 shots, shoot better than 33 percent from 3-point range and grab a handful of rebounds along with a few assists and steals for good measure, then this would be an easy decision as an alternate option at worst.
Shot discipline makes this slightly touch-and-go, but he is a better low-cost selection than the Raptors' bench mob backcourt and 76ers reserve guard T. J. McConnell at the point.
SG - J. J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics
Using Smart here is an option, but in a bid for more sure-fire 3-pointers, opting for 76ers guard J. J. Redick is a better choice while costing roughly the same. Redick was one of the few players unfazed by Boston's defense in the first two games of their semifinal series, and he has scored 20 or more points in his last four contests while hitting 40 percent (14 for 35) of his 3-point shots.
He has scored in spurts in the first two games of this series, totaling at least eight points in three different quarters, and being back home may give him a chance for more such moments along with more heat checks if he does get going.
Alternate option: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Like Lowry, DeRozan has done nothing wrong by DFS players in the first two games of this series save not hit a 3-pointers (zero for nine, and zero for 13 when including Game 6 versus Washington). Unless your DFS has a section for plus-minus. DeRozan has shot better than 50 percent and averaged 23.0 points in the first two games of this series while staying within the offense.
The biggest difference is DeRozan has not gone to the foul line as much after attempting only five free throws combined in the first two games. He did that in three different first-round games alone.
This, however, could be a legacy-defining game for DeRozan with Toronto desperately needing a win to repair their fragile psyche. With that, DeRozan's shot attempts could climb from the low 20s to the high 20s.
Low-cost option: J. R. Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors
Smith has been a solid contributor in the first two games of Cleveland's semifinal series, totaling 35 points while making seven of nine shots from beyond the arc and 11 of 19 overall.
He will not get big rebound and assist numbers, but with the Cavaliers holding the hammer in this series, Smith could be a key difference-maker on the perimeter in their bid to go up 3-0.
SF - LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors
Here is the only thing prohibitive about selecting LeBron James for your DFS lineup: His cost.
To quote Denis Leary, "End of list."
There is no compelling argument this space can make against him. His 43-point, 14-assist performance in Game 2 was so ruthless, the fadeaway shot he made over Kyle Lowry that resulted in Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas throwing his arms out on the bench while looking skyward for mercy elicited empathy.
Don't even dare quibble about him being four for 14 from 3-point range in the last three games since James is averaging 38.0 points on 62.3 percent shooting inside the arc in that span. His overall shooting mark of 56.6 percent in that stretch is better than his foul shooting, which is inexplicably only 55.2 percent.
He also has averaged 11.3 assists and 9.3 rebounds in that span. And he has 27 assists against two turnovers in this series.
Just play the man.
Alternate option - Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics @ Philadelphia 76ers
However, if you are like Sisyphus and feel the need to challenge yourself with a DFS lineup that does not include LeBron James, then Tatum is a great Plan B. The rookie swingman has upped his scoring average from 13.9 to 17.4 in the playoffs and has scored 20 or more in four straight games.
Tatum has taken full advantage of Redick's defensive shortcomings and gotten to the basket and the foul line at will, making 16 of 18 free throws in the first two games of this series while shooting 50 percent.
Low-cost option: Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics
This pick is a flier, with the hedge that Covington's playoff career-best 22-point effort in Thursday's Game 2 loss portends big things to come with Game 3 at home Saturday. He has scored in double figures in four of his last five games and is shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Covington was just the second player in club history with at least 200 treys in the regular season. Just a hunch thinking he is due.
PF - Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors
Even if Kevin Love fails to go off for 31 points and 11 rebounds like he did in Game 2, he did something that makes him a steal at his listed DFS price: He took advantage of what the Raptors defense gave him, and that makes him a strong play for Saturday.
Love punished every smaller defender who tried to guard him in the low block Thursday night, and that is why he wound up with 31 points and got to the line seven times.
The 3-pointers are a bonus when he recognizes what he can do with his size in such mismatches, and while it helps that James was hitting everything in sight, Love's first-half play fed into James' effort in the second half.
Alternate option: Marcus Morris, Boston Celtics @ Philadelphia 76ers
Game 3 will serve as a homecoming for Morris, a native of north Philadelphia, and he has been a key cog in Boston's playoff drive, averaging 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds coming off the bench.
Morris has scored in double figures in all but one of Boston's nine postseason games, and he has the freedom offensively to reach double figures in shots. Morris has also been a vital part of their defensive clampdown on Ben Simmons, so expect him to get plenty of minutes once more.
Low-cost option: Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics
Though he has gotten little fanfare, Saric has improved on his regular-season averages of 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds to contribute 15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his first postseason.
His assists are also higher at 3.4 per contest compared to 2.6 in the regular season, though his 3-point percentage has dipped from 39.3 percent to 33.3 percent. Still, there are far more inconsistent and worse low-cost options than the second-year pro.
C - Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics
The face of "The Process" has delivered in the postseason, even if Joel Embiid is wearing a facial mask to protect his healing fractured orbital bone. The 76ers center has averaged 21.4 points and 11.6 rebounds in his first five career playoff games while posting double-doubles in the last four.
Embiid has also shown playmaking skills with five assists in each of his last two games, but this is a game where Philadelphia need him to be a dominant scorer and overpower Celtics counterpart Aron Baynes, something he did in spurts in the first two games in Boston.
Alternate option: Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Valanciunas may be the most underrated third scoring option of any team left in the Eastern Conference and posted his fourth straight double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds in Thursday's Game 2 defeat. The seven-footer has averaged 16.3 points and 14.5 rebounds in that span and also has added six assists and six blocks in those four contests.
The Toronto pivot is a good fallback option if Embiid is too pricey.
Low-cost option: Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors
Despite being sent back to the bench after back-to-back double-doubles and getting just two points and two rebounds in 15 minutes in Game 2, Thompson has the highest ceiling of any low-cost center in DFS, which makes him a slightly better value than Raptors back-up big man Jakob Poeltl.
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