Monday features Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Celtics are listed as 7.5-point home favorites, while the total sits at 203.5 points.
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 my 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
Jayson Tatum is the most expensive option in this matchup, just like he has been all series. That said, it’s hard to argue too hard against him. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in four of his past five games, with the lone exception being a blowout loss where he played just 33.5 minutes. He has at least 59.5 DraftKings points in three of those contests, including Game 6.
The last time the Celtics were in a Game 7, Tatum put the team on his back. He posted a 38.6% usage rate – his second-highest mark of the postseason – and responded with 51 points, 13 rebounds, and 83.25 DraftKings points.
Does he have something similar in store for the Heat on Monday? It’s possible but unlikely. His ceiling projection is closer to 65 in our NBA Models, and while that’s still a great score, his 83.25 DraftKings points vs. the 76ers is clearly an outlier. His second-highest-scoring game in the playoffs of 67.5 DraftKings points, which feels like a more reasonable outcome.
The only real issue with Tatum is his price tag. He’s been priced up aggressively as the series has progressed, so he’ll cost you more than $20,000 in the Captain spot. That might be a smidge too much. Tatum was the highest-scoring player in Game 6, but he was not the optimal Captain due to his massive price tag. He did make the optimal lineup as a utility, and there’s a good chance that someone provides more “value” at the spot on Monday.
Jimmy Butler is right behind Tatum from a price standpoint, but his production hasn’t been nearly as impressive of late. He’s posted a negative Plus/Minus in two of his past four games, and he hasn’t cracked 55 DraftKings points since Game 1. He’s still managed to provide solid raw points, but like Tatum, Butler is priced way up. Just getting to 50 fantasy points is not going to cut it at his current salary.
That said, there is some room for improvement for Butler on Monday. He finished with 53.25 DraftKings points in Game 6 despite shooting just 5-21 from the field. With some better scoring efficiency, he could definitely put together a better performance. Butler is also the type of player who thrives on the biggest stages, so it would not be shocking to see an improvement in Game 7.
Still, it’s tough to justify paying $13,600 for him when Tatum is just $200 more. Playing both together on this slate is viable, but it means you’re going to have to sacrifice elsewhere. Butler does not show up in our optimal lineup based on projected points, and we can’t play everyone. I have the easiest time cutting him from my roster builds in the stud tier.
Jaylen Brown and Bam Adebayo are significantly cheaper than the top two studs, and they stand out as the strongest options in our NBA Models. Bam leads the slate in projected Plus/Minus by a comfortable margin, while Brown ranks second. Using either player in the Captain spot allows you to save some salary without sacrificing a ton of raw points, which could be critical on this slate.
Brown started the series in a massive funk, which has caused his price tag to dip to just $9,200. That’s basically as low as we’ve seen him all playoffs. However, he’s turned things around over his past two games. He shot 50% from the field in Game 5, and he followed that up with 46.5 DraftKings points and a double-double in Game 6. I wouldn’t expect another 10 rebounds in Game 7, but he should be able to pile up the points after rediscovering his shooting touch over the past two games.
Adebayo is the more complete fantasy player, capable of racking up fantasy points in every category. We haven’t seen a ton of that during this series, but Adebayo did have 13 rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block in Game 6. That resulted in 40.25 DraftKings points despite a subpar 11 points on 4-16 shooting.
With some better shooting luck in Game 7, Adebayo provides plenty of upside for his price tag. The Heat also played Adebayo virtually the entire game on Saturday, racking up 45.7 minutes. That was more than anyone but Butler.
NBA DFS Midrange Picks
The big news for the Celtics is that Malcolm Brogdon is expected to return to the lineup after missing Game 6. That said, it remains to be seen how much he’ll actually play. Brogdon’s playing time was trending downwards even before his injury, and he’s currently projected for less than 15 minutes in our NBA Models.
That should keep Marcus Smart very relevant at his current salary. He played 42.3 minutes in Game 6, and he racked up 21 points with four 3-pointers. His peripheral production was disappointing – he had four rebounds, one assist, and four turnovers – but that’s uncharacteristic for Smart. He ultimately finished with 13 fewer fantasy points than he did in Game 5 despite scoring just two fewer actual points. Expect his peripherals to bounce back in Game 7, making him a solid choice at his price tag.
Smart also stands out using our PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy simulations table:
At what point do we just accept that Caleb Martin is legit? He entered the starting lineup in Game 6 and finished with 48.25 DraftKings points across 40.6 minutes. He had another impressive shooting performance and added 15 rebounds, which was good enough to make him the optimal Captain.
That said, I’m still not a believer. Martin has looked like the third Splash Brother during this series, but he’s at best a second cousin once removed. He shot just 35.6% from 3-point range during the regular season, so the fact that he’s at 46.2% in this series screams regression. Martin is tougher to fade as a member of the starting unit than he was as a reserve, but I still think he’s overpriced for his most likely outcome.
After juggling their rotation a bit at the beginning of the series, Al Horford has locked up most of the center minutes in Boston. He’s not the same player that he was in his prime, but he’s still capable of doing a little bit of everything. He struggled in Game 6, finishing with just 19.25 DraftKings points, but he had at least 30.25 in his previous two games.
The big issue with Horford is that he doesn’t provide much ceiling. He might be able to get back to 30 DraftKings points in Game 7, but he doesn’t have upside for much more than that. That’s not all that appealing at $6,600, although he is a bit more palatable on FanDuel.
Derrick White stands out as one of the best options in this price range. He moved back into the starting lineup in Game 3, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in all four contests. That includes at least 30.5 DraftKings points in three straight games.
White will likely lose a few minutes to Brogdon in Game 7, but that’s not a guarantee. Either way, he should be locked into at least 35 minutes in this matchup. White has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute during the postseason, so that’s more than enough for him to provide value.
Kyle Lowry has had a slight resurgence during the playoffs. He looked cooked during the regular season, but he’s increased his production to 0.89 DraftKings points per minute during the playoffs. That trails only Butler and Adebayo among the Heat’s regulars.
However, he logged just 18.1 minutes off the bench in Game 6, which makes him tough to trust on Monday’s slate. There’s a chance he plays a bit more in Game 7 – he was pretty effective with his minutes – but Martin and Gabe Vincent have clearly jumped him in the pecking order.
Speaking of Vincent, he’s expected to be one of the most popular players on the slate at just $5,200. His 57.9% ownership projection trails only Adebayo’s, which is not surprising given his minute projection and recent production. He’s projected for more than 39 minutes in our NBA Models, which is a ton for his current price tag. Vincent has also increased his production slightly during the playoffs, and he’s scored at least 23.0 DraftKings points in four of five games this series. That includes his last game, despite shooting a subpar 6-18 from the field. He has plenty of room for growth in Game 7.
Brogdon rounds out this price range, and it’s very tough to make a case for him. He has the worst projected Plus/Minus in this section, and he doesn’t offer much of a ceiling, either. I would much rather go with Lowry if looking for a contrarian play in this range. If you are going to play him, you’re best off doing so at just $7,000 on FanDuel.
NBA DFS Value & Punt Picks
- Max Strus ($4,800 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Strus didn’t see much burn in Game 6, with the team opting to funnel more minutes to Duncan Robinson. Still, Strus is the starter, and he has the opportunity to play more if his shot is falling. That hasn’t been the case for most of the series, but he has displayed the ability to knock down shots previously. He has some buy-low appeal at $4,800.
- Robert Williams III ($4,400 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel): Williams has settled into the backup center role for the Celtics, but he can still provide some fantasy value off the bench. He scored 20.75 DraftKings points across 17 minutes in Game 6, and he’s averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute during the postseason. He doesn’t have a ton of upside with less than 20 minutes, but he was just three rebounds shy of a double-double on Saturday.
- Duncan Robinson ($3,800 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Robinson and Strus are an interesting duo on this slate. The two players are heavily negatively correlated, so playing both together is not advised. However, if one of the two is able to get cooking from downtown, they could easily wind up in the optimal lineup. Robinson has been the better of the two recently, and he’s also projected for less ownership at a cheaper salary.
- Grant Williams ($3,400 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel): Williams continues to play a key role for the Celtics off the bench, although he’s another player that could lose some minutes with Brogdon back in the fold. Still, he’s projected for 24 minutes in our NBA Models, making him one of the safer bets in this price range.
- Cody Zeller ($1,200 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): Both of these teams shortened their rotations in Game 6, and Zeller was one of the casualties. He played less than two minutes after logging closer to 10 minutes per game earlier in the series. It seems unlike he returns to that level in a must-win contest, but he grades out as the best punt play on the slate.