Saturday features Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Celtics are listed as 3.5-point road favorites, while the total sits at 210 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 and Jimmy Butler are the top two options on this slate by a wide margin. They’re both priced above $13,000 on DraftKings, and no one else is priced above $9,400. That’s a massive discrepancy, and it’s reflected in the projections. Tatum and Butler are projected for at least 8.5 more points than every other option, and the gap in ceiling projection is even wider.
The bigger question is which of these two studs is the priority target. Playing both together is definitely doable – it’s probably the preferred strategy – but if you can only choose one, Tatum stands out as the superior option.
Tatum has been the superior fantasy producer over the course of the full season, and the gap has only gotten wider over the past month. Butler was outstanding in the early rounds of the postseason, but his production has come crashing back to reality of late. He’s posted a negative Plus/Minus in two of his past three games, while Tatum has at least 51.5 DraftKings points in four of his past six games. That includes three contests with at least 62.75.
Not only is Tatum the better pure scorer, but he’s also been piling up the peripherals during the postseason. He’s pulled down double-digit rebounds in four of his past six games, and he has at least seven dimes in three of his past four. A final stat line of 30+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists is well within the realm of possibility. Expect Butler to bring his best to the table on Saturday – this is the Heat’s best chance to win the series – but Tatum is simply the better player.
What is going on with Jaylen Brown? Is he hurt? Does he simply not want to be here anymore? For one reason or another, Brown’s production has fallen off a cliff in this series. He’s posted a negative Plus/Minus in four straight games, and he has 25.0 DraftKings points or fewer in two of those contests.
That’s caused his salary to plummet to $9,400, but Brown did show some signs of improvement in his last contest. For starters, he was much more efficient as a scorer. He shot 50% from the field and 60% from 3-point range, resulting in 21 points scored. If not for a subpar two rebounds and two assists, he could’ve had a much stronger fantasy performance. If Brown can continue to shoot the ball as he did in Game 5, he has plenty of buy-low appeal at his current salary. Our projections like Brown to return value on this slate, ranking third among all players in projected Plus/Minus.
The only players that Brown trails? Tatum is one of them, while Bam Adebayo is the other. In fact, Bam leads the entire slate in projected Plus/Minus. He hasn’t been at his best in this matchup, posting a negative Plus/Minus in three straight games, but he’s played reduced minutes in two of them. If anything, his production in Game 5 can be considered a positive for his outlook moving forward. He posted a 32.1% usage rate in that contest and averaged better than a fantasy point per minute. If he can maintain that pace over a greater minute count in Game 6, he could easily be the strongest option on this slate.
Adebayo also stands out using our PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy simulations table:
NBA DFS Midrange Picks
Marcus Smart was brilliant for the Celtics in Game 5. He finished with his best fantasy output of the season despite playing less than 30 minutes in the blowout win.
Can we expect a repeat performance in Game 6? I wouldn’t bank on it. He shot the lights out in Game 5, knocking down four of six shots from 3-point range. Smart is far from a deadeye shooter, knocking down just 33.6% of his 3-point attempts in the regular season, so some regression seems likely.
Smart also benefitted from the injury to Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon was limited to less than eight minutes, which opened up some additional opportunities for Smart and the rest of the backcourt. There’s a chance that Brogdon sits again on Saturday – he’s currently listed as questionable – but it’s hard to imagine him being inactive in a must-win contest. Smart has averaged -0.05 fewer DraftKings points per minute while sharing the floor with Brogdon during the postseason, so his return would be a negative for Smart’s outlook.
The Celtics have messed around with their rotation a bit during this series, but Al Horford seems locked in as the team’s primary center. He’s played well over the past two games, scoring at least 30.25 DraftKings points in both, and he’s projected for around 30 minutes on Saturday.
Horford isn’t the same player he was in his prime, but he’s still capable of racking up fantasy points in a variety of ways. He has games with double-digit points and rebounds over his past two contests, and he’s also a willing passer. Overall, his fantasy production is up over the past month, and he ranks fourth on the team in fantasy points per minute during the postseason.
Caleb Martin has been phenomenal for the Heat in this series, but his production is trending in the wrong direction. He scored at least 31.75 DraftKings points in the first three contests, but he’s dipped to 24.5 and 20.25 over the past two games. He’s still played roughly the same number of minutes; he just hasn’t shot the ball as well. He was a remarkable 24-38 from the field and 10-21 from 3-point range through the first three contests, but he’s 11-21 over the past two games. That’s still excellent efficiency, but his performance through the first three games was otherworldly.
Martin’s salary continues to increase, and he’s tough to justify at his current price tag. He’s playing plenty of minutes off the bench, but he’s going to need another incredible shooting performance to return value.
The Celtics aren’t the only team dealing with an injury on this slate. Gabe Vincent is questionable for the Heat, and he was unable to suit up in Game 5. Vincent has been a massive part of the Heat’s rotation during the playoffs, so his status is arguably even more important than Brogdon’s.
If Vincent remains out, Kyle Lowry should earn his second consecutive start. He played a series-high 30.3 minutes as a starter in Game 5, but it didn’t lead to much production. In fact, his 7.5 DraftKings points were easily his worst mark of the series. Still, the fact that he played more than 30 minutes in a blowout loss is still encouraging, so he would be worth considering if Vincent is out once again.
If Vincent does return, he stands out as the better target in the Heat’s backcourt. He’s projected for approximately four more minutes than Lowry in our NBA Models, and he’s been the more productive player during this series. He has at least 24.25 DraftKings points in three of his four games, including 42.0 DraftKings points in Game 3. Vincent was the optimal Captain in that contest, and he has one of the better projected Plus/Minus marks in this price range.
Derrick White would be another beneficiary if Brogdon is unable to go. He might actually be the biggest beneficiary. He saw a massive spike in playing time with Brogdon limited in Game 5, finishing with nearly 40 minutes of playing time. White has shot the lights out in this series, so any extra playing time would be a welcome addition. He’s projected for 34 minutes in Game 6, which is more than enough to make him viable at his current salary.
Even if Brogdon can go, it’s very tough to make a case for him on Saturday. His playing time was decreasing even before suffering the injury, logging less than 18.5 minutes in Games 3 and 4. He finished with 12.25 DraftKings points or fewer in both contests, so it’s unlikely he has a huge impact in Game 6.
Max Strus is basically the only member of the Heat who hasn’t shot well in this series. He’s just 9-37 from 3-point range, and he’s made two 3-pointers or fewer in four straight games. The vast majority of Strus’ fantasy value comes from his perimeter shooting, so he’s unsurprisingly failed to return value of late. That said, Strus is capable of getting hot from 3-point range, so he always has a bit of appeal for DFS.
NBA DFS Value & Punt Picks
- Robert Williams ($5,000 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Williams has played limited minutes of late, and he’s projected for just 20 minutes in Game 6. Williams is a capable per-minute producer, but it’s hard to get too excited about him with limited playing time.
- Duncan Robinson ($4,000 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Robinson is the ultimate boom-or-bust player. If he’s not making his shots from the perimeter, he’s likely not going to play much. That happened in Game 4, where he played just 10.9 minutes. However, when he’s shooting well, the Heat are not afraid to ride him. He had 37.0 DraftKings points in Game 5 and 32.0 in Game 3, so he has a ceiling for his salary.
- Grant Williams ($3,200 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel): What does Williams have to do to get priced properly? He’s emerged as one of the team’s most important players in this series, and he’s provided tons of fantasy value. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in four straight games, and he stands out as the clear top option in this price range.
- Kevin Love ($2,800 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): Love’s playing time has been down recently, but he’s still scored at least 13.5 DraftKings points in back-to-back games. He’s one of the best per-minute producers in this price range, but he’s going to be capped at around 13 minutes.
- Haywood Highsmith ($2,000 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel): Haywood was one of the Heat’s lone bright spots in Game 5, giving the team quality minutes off the bench. That could keep him in the rotation for Game 6. He’s projected for around 10 minutes in our NBA Models, which gives him just a smidge of appeal. He’s way too expensive on FanDuel, but he’s viable at $2,000 on DraftKings.
- Cody Zeller ($1,600 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): Zeller stands out as a better value in the Heat frontcourt. He’s played around 10 minutes per game as the team’s backup center, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in four straight games.
- Payton Pritchard ($1,000 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): If you’re going to play the Celtics’ blowout narrative, including Pritchard has some value. He would likely be one of the first guys off the bench in that scenario, and he had 22.0 DraftKings points in 12 minutes in Game 3. That said, I’m only using him in lineups that include five Celtics.