Sunday features Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Despite winning back-to-back games on the road and winning all four home games during the playoffs, the Heat are 3.5-point home underdogs in Game 3. The Celtics proved last round that they play much better when their backs are against the wall, so maybe this isn’t a surprising line. With a total of 214 points, expect another slugfest tonight.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics.
Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups. Also, make sure to check out Matt LaMarca’s article if you’re looking for a refresher on the single-game format.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
NBA DFS Stud Picks
The four stud picks in this game can be split up into two sections due to pricing.
Jayson Tatum leads us off as the highest-priced player on DraftKings with the highest ceiling projection in our NBA Model. He is averaging a double-double in the playoffs with 28.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. A lot of criticism for Tatum is regarding his inability to make shots down the stretch and in the fourth quarter, but he is averaging 32 points per game while shooting 51.4% from the field in the first two games of this series. He had a game-high 62.75 DraftKings points in Game 2.
Tatum is also projected to play 41.03 minutes, which is the most of any player in this game. He has played 40+ minutes in seven-straight games. Despite the heavy minutes recently, Tatum has stayed aggressive on offense, making double-digit free throws in three of his last four games including both games in this series. With the Celtics’ backs against the wall, expect another huge performance from Tatum. The Heat defense has been fantastic, but Tatum has proven to be matchup proof.
Jimmy Butler isn’t far behind Tatum on DraftKings, and he leads all players on FanDuel in ceiling projection and salary. Jimmy “freaking” Butler has been a completely different player in the playoffs. He is averaging 31.1 points per game while leading the team in assists and steals as well. Butler had nine steals over the first two games against the Celtics, which is why he looks better on FanDuel than DraftKings. He does it all on both ends of the court, leading the Heat to a 10-3 playoff record.
It doesn’t take much to get Butler fired up, but Grant Williams talking trash after his only made 3-pointer in Butler’s face in the fourth quarter of Game 2 certainly did the trick. The Heat were down nine points at that time with 6:37 left in the game and ended up taking the lead less than four minutes later on a Butler pull-up bucket. During this incredible playoff run, Butler is shooting 51.8% from the field while attempting a career-high 21.4 field goals per game. He is on a different level recently.
Taking a drop into the next pricing tier is Heat center Bam Adebayo. Butler is the Batman of the Heat, but Adebayo is a phenomenal Robin. Adebayo nearly recorded a triple-double in Game 2 with 22 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists. His defense continues to cause havoc on the Celtics frontcourt, as he had eight contested shots and seven recorded boxouts, which was more than the entire Celtics team. The hustle stats are what sets the Heat apart from the rest of the playoff teams.
Adebayo has increased his scoring and rebounding in each playoff series. In two games against the Celtics, he is averaging 21 points, 12.3 rebounds, and seven assists per game while shooting 53.3% from the field. He had several huge plays down the stretch of Game 2 to secure the win, including an offensive rebound and putback with under a minute left to put the Heat up five. Among the pay-up options on DraftKings, he has the highest projected Plus/Minus with the highest Bargain Rating.
Jaylen Brown has had a difficult start to this series, as he is averaging 19 points per game but shooting just 38.6% from the field and 15.4% from behind the arc. He has also only converted on two of four free-throw attempts. As the Celtics second-leading scorer and second-best player behind Tatum, Brown needs to step it up if the Celtics are going to come back in this series. Against the 76ers last round, Brown averaged 22.9 points per game while shooting 54.1% from the field and 43.2% from behind the arc.
If Brown can get back to his game, the Celtics are going to be just fine. Brown looks much better on FanDuel at his $14,000 price tag, which is resulting in a 71% Bargain Rating. He has yet to record a steal or block in two games, but again in the close-out game against the 76ers, he had four total. Brown has a ceiling at this salary on FanDuel that is difficult to ignore. He is going to play 40 minutes like the rest of the stud options, but if his ownership is down, he is a great contrarian option.
NBA DFS Midrange Picks
Marcus Smart has been a roller coaster through his last four games. He has two games averaging 41.8 DraftKings points and two games where he failed to top 20 DraftKings points in either game. Smart won’t attempt many shots, but he can stuff the stat sheet in a variety of ways. He leads the Celtics in assists per game and recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists in Game 1 of this series. He is another Celtics player to prioritize on FanDuel with a 90% Bargain Rating at $10,000.
Malcolm Brogdon is the opposite of Smart in that he has been much more consistent and should be prioritized in cash games over tournaments. His ceiling is limited because he comes off the bench, but he also has the upside to play 35+ minutes like he did in Game 1. When the starting unit, especially Smart is struggling to score, the Celtics deploy Brogdon. He is averaging just under 15 points per game in the playoffs and is shooting 42.3% from behind the arc during that time.
Continuing with the Celtics role players, Al Horford has dropped off considerably in his last five playoff games. Over that time, he is averaging 3.4 points per game while shooting 22.6% from the field and 13.6% from behind the arc. After back-to-back games with double-digit rebounds against the 76ers, Horford has only averaged five per game through the first two games of this series. His salary of $11,500 on FanDuel is absurd and nearly unplayable, but DraftKings offers some upside.
Caleb Martin leads off the Heat “others”, and he has stepped up the most in the scoring department with the absence of Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo. Martin is third on the team in scoring in this series, as he is averaging 20 points per game while shooting 63% from the field and 42.9% from behind the arc through the first two games. Playing over 30 minutes in back-to-back games, Martin looks like one of the safest value plays on the slate. He returns home where role players seem to step up even more.
Gabe Vincent has a team-high usage rate and DraftKings Plus/Minus increase with Herro and Oladipo off the floor during the playoffs. He has started all 13 playoff games for the Heat and is third on the team in minutes per game while averaging double-digit points per game. Vincent is not afraid of the moment, proven by his huge bucket down the stretch on Tatum in Game 2. Most of his production comes from scoring the ball and capturing steals, but he is a great value play on both sites.
Kyle Lowry had an awesome Game 1 with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field and 3-for-6 from downtown, but he struggled in Game 2 as the Heat closed with Vincent over him. Lowry’s role has switched to leading the second unit, which has increased his usage rate to 17.9% in the playoffs. He has the ability to get hot from the perimeter while also getting close to double-digit assists. However, prioritize Lowry in tournaments due to his boom-or-bust playing time and production.
Max Strus has scored double-digit points in seven-straight games while averaging 15.1 points per game over that time. He has made multiple 3-pointers in 10 of his 13 playoff games while shooting 38.7% from long distance. Over 70% of his field-goal attempts come from behind the arc, which provides an upside, especially on DraftKings. However, Strus looks a little better on FanDuel tonight with the third-highest projected Plus/Minus and an 88% Bargain Rating for his $7,500 price tag.
Robert Williams is a perfect 11-for-11 from the field through the first two games, averaging 13.5 points per game. He has even made five of his seven free-throw attempts while pulling down five rebounds per game. However, make sure to keep an eye on the Celtics starting lineup tonight. In the second half of last game, the Celtics went back to Derrick White starting over Williams. Williams may go back to his mid-teens minutes if he is coming off the bench. An important situation to monitor.
NBA DFS Values & Punts
- Derrick White ($4,400 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel): As previously mentioned, there is a chance that White draws the start again in Game 3. If that is the case, he may be the best value on the board, as his minutes may revert back to 30+ tonight. White is averaging 11 points per game while shooting 67% from the field in the first two games.
- Duncan Robinson ($4,000 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): Robinson is a boom-or-bust fantasy producer who failed to score in Game 1, but he had 15 points in Game 2 while shooting 67% from the field and 50% from behind the arc. He doesn’t provide much besides scoring, but Robinson can get scorching hot and isn’t afraid to hunt his 3-point shot.
- Grant Williams ($3,800 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): After not playing in Game 1, Williams recorded 26 minutes in Game 2 and stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, two rebounds, two assists and one block. If Williams gets the playing time, he will be a great value play, but he is risky. Keep Williams to tournament-only lineups in Game 3.
- Kevin Love ($3,400 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Love’s production is slowly starting to decrease the deeper the Heat’s playoff run goes, but he has still played 15+ minutes in all but one playoff game. Love was held scoreless last game, but he still managed to reach double-digit DraftKings points by capturing peripherals. He leads all players with the highest projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel and has the highest on DraftKings for the Captain position.
- Cody Zeller ($2,200 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): In a pricing tier of his own, Zeller is a value play who has displayed upside in limited minutes. Zeller recorded double-digit DraftKings points last game with six rebounds, two points, and one block in 10 minutes. He offers a great combination of safety with a cheap price tag for a value play.
- Payton Pritchard ($1,000 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel): Pritchard got the nod in Game 1 playing 12 minutes off the bench, but the Celtics went to Williams in Game 2, forcing Pritchard into a DNP. We have no idea what Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla will do in Game 3, making Pritchard an incredibly risky play. However, $1,000 on DraftKings is awfully enticing.