Thursday features Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
The Celtics completed the first step in their potential epic comeback, beating the Heat in Game 4 116-99. They return home where the Celtics are eight-point favorites looking to avoid elimination. Sending the series back to Miami would put a lot of pressure on the Heat for Game 6. The Celtics play great with their backs against the wall, so we’ll see if they can do it again.
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
Once again, the stud picks can be split into two sections with the pricing discrepancies.
Jayson Tatum leads all players with the highest ceiling projection on DraftKings and FanDuel in our NBA Models. He is averaging a double-double with 27.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in this series. Tatum has scored 30+ points and shot well over 50% from the field in three of the four games, with the loss exception being the blowout loss in Game 3.
Playing at home as a heavy favorite, Tatum is projected to be the highest-owned Captain and MVP on this showdown slate. Paying up for Tatum has been a hit-or-miss proposition, but he has an untouchable ceiling, going for at least 60 DraftKings points in two of the four games in this series. Tatum also leads all Celtics players with a usage rate of 30% during the playoffs.
Jimmy Butler isn’t far behind Tatum in terms of pricing and ceiling projections. When looking at the Heat, Butler is easily the player to target. He leads the Heat during the playoffs in points, assists, steals, minutes, and usage rate. Butler is shooting over 50% for the second-straight playoff run while averaging a playoff career-high of 29.9 points per game.
Butler’s shooting is down in this series compared to the first two rounds in the Eastern Conference, but that is due to the difficult matchup against the Celtics’ defense. They can throw plenty of bodies his way, but Butler has proven he can get the matchup he wants and take full advantage, despite all the attention his way. It is difficult to fade him tonight.
There is a considerable drop-off in pricing after Butler, especially on DraftKings. Jaylen Brown is the next most expensive player, and he’s priced under $10,000. However, he looks much better on FanDuel with a 90% Bargain Rating at his $13,500 price tag. Usually a great defensive player, Brown only has two steals in the entire series, and they both came in their only victory in Game 4.
Among the four stud options on FanDuel, Brown has the highest projected Plus/Minus. He is second on the team in playoff scoring and usage rate. Brown’s upside has yet to be displayed, as he is shooting 39% from the field, 12% from behind the arc, and even 44% from the charity stripe through the first four games. If his shot is falling, he could be in the optimal lineup.
Bam Adebayo is the opposite of Brown, where he should be prioritized on DraftKings. Adebayo has the highest projected Plus/Minus and Bargain Rating among the studs on DraftKings. He took a backseat in the last two games, but Adebayo displayed his upside in Game 2 with 22 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists.
Despite playing 35 minutes last game, Adebayo had his lowest usage rate of the series at 16.6%, scoring just 10 points with five rebounds. Adebayo’s four turnovers were also a series-high for him. Expect a bounce-back game from Adebayo despite the Heat being only implied for 103.75 points. He is the second-best Heat player to target.
Bam also stands out using our PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy simulations table:
NBA DFS Midrange Picks
In a pricing tier of his own, Marcus Smart is the best mid-range option on this slate. He is coming off of a series-high three made 3-pointers and continues to lead the Celtics in assists with seven per game through four games. Smart notoriously shoots and plays much better at home, which makes him an intriguing player to roster tonight. When Smart is playing his best, he can fill up the stat sheet in a variety of ways. Outside of Brown and Tatum, Smart is third on the team in many stats.
Caleb Martin has been phenomenal for the Heat off the bench, averaging 18.5 points per game in this series while shooting 63.8% from the field and 46.2% from behind the arc. He is one of the many Heat “others” that stands out on FanDuel with an 87% Bargain Rating. Despite coming off the bench, Martin has averaged 33 minutes per game in this series with a 17.6% usage rate. Martin has been consistent in this series, with three of the four games scoring over 30 DraftKings points.
Al Horford finally broke out of his slump in Game 4, recording 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and one block. He finished with over 30 DraftKings points for the first time in this series as the veteran big man shot 4-7 from the field. Despite dealing with foul trouble, it was nice to see Horford play close to his ceiling. Horford remains nearly unplayable on FanDuel at $11,000 but is much more reasonable on DraftKings at $6,400. He is always a sneaky double-double threat.
Sixth Man of the Year winner Malcolm Brogdon had back-to-back brutal games in Miami. He shot a combined 1-11 from the field and 0-6 from downtown, averaging just 8.6 DraftKings points in 17.5 minutes per game. Back in Boston tonight, Brogdon should bounce back, as he is averaging 14 points per game at home during the playoffs. Brogdon has the lowest projected Plus/Minus at the utility position on DraftKings but the highest projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel.
Gabe Vincent has been ruled out after suffering an ankle injury in Game 3, which will impact the rest of the rotation. The Heat may still look to have Kyle Lowry come off the bench and guide the second unit, but he should also play much heavier minutes with the starters. In the three games where Lowry has played 28 minutes in this series, he has averaged over 25 DraftKings points per game. Lowry has a steal in each game and is another player who can stuff the stat sheet with fantasy points on peripherals. If Lowry can repeat his production from Game 1, where he scored 15 points, he will be a great value.
Sharp-shooter Max Strus has been fairly consistent in this series but still has limited upside since most of his fantasy value comes from scoring. Despite not capturing steals and blocks and primarily being an outside shooter, Strus has the third-highest projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel, where he has a 91% Bargain Rating. Strus has proven he can get scorching hot from the perimeter, and the Celtics have struggled to guard the 3-point line during the postseason.
Moving back into the starting lineup has helped propel Derrick White‘s fantasy outlook, averaging 27.3 DraftKings points and 26.5 minutes over his past two games. He looks great on DraftKings at $5,200 with a 94% Bargain Rating. As long as White stays in the starting lineup, he should be one of the best values on the slate. He has made three 3-pointers in each game of this series while shooting 52.2% from behind the arc.
NBA DFS Values & Punts
- Robert Williams ($4,600 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): Williams has come off the bench in back-to-back games, greatly diminishing his upside. Williams is averaging 14.6 DraftKings points per game in those two games, compared to 23.8 per game in two games as a starter. His salary has come down, but he is a risky play.
- Duncan Robinson ($3,800 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Robinson is a boom-or-bust tournament option. How well Robinson shoots the ball determines the number of minutes that he plays. In the two games he played over 20 minutes, Robinson shot 65% from the field and 62% from behind the arc producing an average of 26.9 DraftKings points per game. In his two poor shooting games, Robinson only averaged nine minutes and 1.9 DraftKings points per game.
- Grant Williams ($2,600 on DraftKings, $8,500 on FanDuel): Williams is the best value on the slate. He leads all players on DraftKings with the highest projected Plus/Minus for the Captain position. Locking Williams in at Captain opens a ton of lineup flexibility, allowing you to jam multiple studs into your lineup. Of course, he can also be used as a utility at just $2,600.
- Kevin Love ($2,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): Love has seen his playing time dip in this series as he has gotten played off the floor. He has been effective when he does play, averaging 1.04 DraftKings points per minute, but he’s logged just 16.5 minutes over the past two games combined. If Love can return to his usual 15+ minutes tonight, he is a strong value with his shot-making and rebounding upside.
- Cody Zeller ($1,600 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Over the last three games of this series, Zeller has averaged double-digit DraftKings points while playing 13.7 minutes per game. He has been playing more than Love but is cheaper on both sites. Zeller is the least expensive player who will get meaningful minutes, which makes him a viable play.
- Payton Pritchard ($1,200 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel): Pritchard will likely only get playing time if this game blows out, but he would be one of the first players off the bench in that scenario. With the Celtics as eight-point home favorites in Game 5, it is not the worst idea to deploy a Celtics-heavy showdown lineup with Pritchard rounding it out.