Sunday’s NBA slate features Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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Jayson Tatum continues to produce like one of the best players in fantasy. He’s coming off 56.5 DraftKings points in Game 5 of this series, and he’s now scored at least 52.25 DraftKings points in six of his past seven games.
He’s been excellent as a scorer, but the biggest difference in his fantasy production has been his increase in the peripheral categories. Tatum has averaged 10.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game during the postseason, both of which represent significant increases from his marks during the regular season. Against the Heat in particular, Tatum has averaged 10.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists to go along with 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. Part of that increase is due to a spike in playing time during the postseason, but he’s also increased his rebound and assist rates as well.
He continues to look like one of the strongest options in this series, leading all players in median and ceiling projection in our NBA Models.
After Tatum, Bam Adebayo stands out as the next best option. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in all five games against the Celtics during this series, and his projected Plus/Minus of +9.99 trails only Tatum’s on today’s slate. He has scored fantasy points in a variety of ways during this series and finished just two rebounds and two assists shy of a triple-double in Game 5. His fantasy production was kept down due to scoring just 13 points, but he’s gone for at least 20 points in three of his past five games. He has a monster ceiling if he can put everything together in Game 6.
Jimmy Butler is coming off 41.5 DraftKings points in his last game, which was enough to put him in the optimal showdown lineup. He has now scored at least 41.5 fantasy points in back-to-back contests after struggling in the first three games of this series. He continues to post subpar shooting numbers, but he’s made up for it by averaging 8.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists over his past two games.
Butler also seems to live for big games like this — if you don’t believe me, just ask Butler — so don’t expect the stakes to be too high for him.
Jaylen Brown rounds out the stud tier, and he has been an incredibly efficient scorer during this series. He’s coming off 28 points on 12-of-23 shooting in Game 5, and he’s shot 54.9% from the field and 51.9% from 3-point range over the duration of the series. That seems unsustainable, but Brown continues to defy regression. I’m not prioritizing Brown in this contest — Tatum and Adebayo are the studs I want to pay up for — but he was in the optimal lineup in Game 5.
The story of Game 5 was Miami’s inability to shoot the ball from 3-point range. It shot just 20% from deep in that contest, including just 5-of-22 on 3’s classified as “open” or “wide open,” according to NBA.com. Overall, that graded out as a first-percentile performance, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The Heat were one of the best 3-point shooting teams in basketball during the regular season, so I’m expecting some progression in that department today. Their midrange players in particular were the most affected, which makes them prime bounce-back candidates.
It starts with Goran Dragic, whose price has dropped to just $7,800 on DraftKings and $10,500 on FanDuel. Dragic continues to lead the Heat in scoring and usage during the playoffs, so he should be able to improve on his performance from Game 5. He still finished with a respectable 32.5 DraftKings points, but he shot just 8-of-17 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3-point range.
Tyler Herro was the star for the Heat in Game 4, but he came crashing back to reality in Game 5. He finished with just 19.25 DraftKings points over 29 minutes.
What’s more concerning is that he was basically the only member of the Heat who didn’t shoot the ball poorly in Game 5. He was 6-of-12 from the field and 2-of-5 from 3-point range, so he isn’t someone we can bank on some shooting progression for today.
Jae Crowder stands out as my favorite target on today’s slate. He finished with 28.0 DraftKings points in Game 5 despite the fact that he shot 0-of-6 from downtown. That continues a string of poor shooting performances from Crowder, but he shot 41.7% from 3-point range during his first 10 postseason games. There’s no reason he should continue to shoot this poorly from behind the arc, which makes him a prime buy-low candidate. The fact he’s shown the ability to return value without shooting well is just a bonus.
The Celtics also have a host of options to choose from in this contest. They played a pretty tight rotation in Game 5 — only six players saw more than 10.2 minutes — so expect a similar rotation in another must-win contest.
Kemba Walker is the Celtics’ most expensive option after Tatum and Brown, but he hasn’t really lived up to expectations during the postseason. He’s struggled in particular as a scorer, shooting just 41.8% from the field and 35.7% from beyond the arc during this series, and he was limited to just 28.4 minutes in Game 5. He’s a risky DFS option today, but he does have solid upside if his shot is falling.
Marcus Smart has completely won me over during the postseason. He’s not the most efficient scorer, but he finds a way to contribute every single time he’s on the floor. He stuffed the stat sheet in Game 5, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. He also finished second on the team with 40.3 minutes. Expect him to come to play in another elimination game.
Daniel Theis occupied the captain spot in the optimal DraftKings lineup for Game 5. He finished with 39.75 DraftKings points thanks to 15 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocked shots. His price has come up a bit for Game 5 — and he’ll likely command increased ownership — but he still has some appeal on today’s slate.
Values & Punts
These are the players who typically decide these showdown contests. It may not feel comfortable to roster someone who isn’t projected for a ton of minutes, but history suggests it’s the easiest way to find yourself at the top of the leaderboard. These plays typically command lower ownership than the mid-tier guys, so they allow you to differentiate your lineup without sacrificing the high-end stud production.
Let’s break down some of the top options in this range, rapid-fire style:
- Duncan Robinson: $5,000 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel — Robinson came out hot for the Heat in Game 5, leading the team with 17 points in the first half. With that in mind, his 26.0 DraftKings points in that contest was actually a bit of a disappointment. Still, his first-half performance shows that he’s clearly capable of paying off his current price tag.
- Andre Iguodala: $4,200 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel — Iggy stands out as an excellent value play on FanDuel at just $6,500, and he’s played a solid handful of minutes recently. He’s coming off 27.3 minutes and 19.5 minutes, which gives him much more playing time potential than the rest of the players in this price range.
- Enes Kanter: $2,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel — Kanter is the ultimate X-factor on today’s slate. He’s only played in three of five games in this series, but he’s returned value in all three of those contests. He provided the Celtics with a much-needed spark in Game 5, and he finished with 16.0 DraftKings points over 10.2 minutes. There’s no guarantee that he sees the floor today, but expect him to be productive if he does.