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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets for Celtics vs. Heat Showdown on May 17

Zach Thompson gives his top NBA lineup advice for Tuesday’s fantasy basketball Showdown contest on DraftKings between the Celtics and Heat.

The Eastern Conference Finals get underway Tuesday night when the Heat and Celtics square off for the fourth time this season. Boston went 2-1 in their regular-season contests and enter the series as the favorites to win the series on DraftKings Sportsbook even though they are the lower seed. Partially due to a major disparity in rest, the Heat are actually slight favorites to win Game 1 in what should be a fascinating start to the series. As you get your lineups assembled for the great DraftKings contests, check out some of my favorite options to consider for this Showdown slate below.

Editor’s Note: Celtics PG/SG Marcus Smart (foot) and PF/C Al Horford (health protocols) have been ruled out tonight vs. the Heat.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $600K Shootaround [$150K to 1st] (BOS vs MIA)

Captain’s Picks

Jimmy Butler ($16,200) – Playoff Jimmy Buckets has been outstanding, especially in the absence of Kyle Lowry (hamstring), who remains out for Game 1. Butler had over 50 DKFP in four of the final five games in the series vs. the 76ers and has averaged exactly 50 DKFP in his 11 postseason contests. He usually gets a little more help from his teammates when playing in Miami, but he will still have to carry the load without Lowry. Defensive player of the year, Marcus Smart ($11,400 CP; foot) will likely get the defensive assignment on Butler if he’s able to play through his questionable tag, but if he’s slowed at all, that would only increase Butler’s potential. With Butler getting more assists sans Lowry and nearing 10 rebounds for that double-double bonus in several recent contests, his multi-category potential and reliably high usage rate make him the safest pick to build around in Game 1. He’s averaging 1.38 DKFP per minute in the playoffs, the highest mark of any player in this series that has played more than 10 minutes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Marcus Smart (foot) has been ruled out tonight vs. the Heat.

Jaylen Brown ($13,800) – Brown has been much more volatile than Butler, but he’s significantly more affordable than Butler and Jayson Tatum ($18,000 CP) as a Captain’s Pick, which opens the door for much more balanced roster construction. Brown actually out-produced Tatum in Boston’s three regular-season games vs. Miami, averaging 41.8 DKFP to Tatum’s 36.8 DKFP. In their most recent meeting at the end of March, Brown had 52 DKFP on 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. If Smart is out or limited, he will need to help Tatum carry the offensive load more, and he played well in Games 6 and 7 vs. the Bucks, even though he didn’t go off like Tatum did in Game 6. Brown did have three games in that series with over 47 DKFP, so especially in GPPs, it make sense to take the discount and look for him to have a ceiling game while using the salary savings to bulk up your flex plays, maybe even finding room to squeeze in Tatum and Butler as flex options.

Flex Plays

Max Strus ($7,000) – I’ve been pro-Strus for most of the season, advocating for him to replace the struggling Duncan Robinson ($1,000) in the rotation. It took until late in the year, but Strus eventually moved into the starting five and has been a key contributor whenever given a larger role. He had back-to-back double-doubles to finish the series vs. the Sixers, posting 36 and 43.75 DKFP. Strus is averaging 0.84 DKFP per minute in the playoffs and is a safer play than Tyler Herro ($6,600), whose production can vary wildly from game to game. Strus also had a very strong all-around performance the last time these teams met, posting 34.75 DKFP in 32 minutes on 14 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Robert Williams ($4,800) – Williams is the huge wild card coming into the series. He missed Games 4, 5 and 6 of the series vs. the Bucks and was cleared for Game 7 but did not play. However, coach Ime Udoka said he will be available and without a minutes restriction for the Eastern Conference Finals. If that is really true, Williams will be an absolute steal at this salary and could even end up a great option as a Captain’s Pick if he jumps back into the starting lineup. Williams played limited minutes against Brooklyn and Milwaukee but produced 0.96 DKFP per minute when on the floor. Williams has an extremely high ceiling if he’s healthy, but we haven’t seen him at full strength since mid-March, so there’s definitely risk in rolling him out in your lineups as well.

Value Plays

Gabe Vincent ($4,200) – Vincent has been starting for Lowry in the playoffs and chipping in solid numbers. He had 15 points and 26.75 DKFP in his Game 5 start vs. Philly and seven points, six assists and 19 DKFP in Game 6. Vincent is only averaging 0.74 DKFP per minute in the playoffs but should get enough minutes to return value even at that lower rate.

Payton Pritchard ($3,600) – While Grant Williams ($5,000) massive Game 7 performance will deservedly get a lot of attention, don’t miss that Pritchard also stepped up and hit four 3-pointers to finish with 26.75 DKFP on 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in just 17 minutes. It was his best performance of the playoffs, but he has shown the ability to add that “instant offense” off the bench and contribute in multiple categories. The Celtics’ rotation could tilt in his favor if Smart is limited and Derrick White ($5,200) can’t shake off his shooting slump.


Al Horford ($8,000) – Horford was absolutely amazing vs. the Bucks, and his veteran leadership and the maturity he has helped cultivate on the roster are the key differences between this Celtics team and the Celtics who lost to the Heat in the bubble. That being said, paying $8K for Big Al is hard to see making sense in this matchup. He looked very worn out the final two games vs. the Bucks, and the best scenario for him and Boston is that Robert Williams can take much of the pressure and workload off the 35-year-old big man. He will play plenty of minutes and be very involved, but his salary makes him a no-go for me in this contest.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Al Horford (health protocols) has been ruled out tonight vs. the Heat.

The Outcome

The Heat come into this matchup after four full days off while the Celtics played a grueling seven-game set against the defending champs that just wrapped up two days ago. There’s definitely the question of rest vs. rust for Miami and how quickly the Celtics can bounce back. It is huge, though, that Boston’s Game 7 win was comfortable enough to not put too much strain on their big stars down the stretch.

Miami has not lost at home in the playoffs, winning their six home games by an average margin of 17 points. That being said, this Boston team is significantly better than either the Hawks or the injury-depleted 76ers. I think this game and this series will be very close and hard-fought. Of the two teams, I think the Celtics have more offensive variety since the Heat don’t have a healthy Lowry, and I believe in Boston’s defense enough to think they can get a big game from Brown and pull out the win in Game 1.

Final Score: Celtics 98, Heat 96

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $600K Shootaround [$150K to 1st] (BOS vs MIA)

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Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $600K Shootaround [$150K to 1st] (BOS vs MIA)

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and customer (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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