For the first time in the NBA Playoffs since 1999, an eight-seed is in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Miami Heat have fought their way past the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks to set up a conference finals rematch with the Boston Celtics. Remember, last year the Heat were the top seed in the East, but the Celtics won last year’s series in seven games. The two teams split their four-game regular-season series. Heat guard Tyler Herro isn’t ready to return to the basketball court just yet and other Heat shooters will have to continue filling in the void by hitting long-range jumpers. Boston is hosting the first two games of the series and they’re favored by eight points tonight. The game total for tonight is 211. Don’t forget to check out our NBA DFS Projections and NBA Starting Lineups ahead of lineup lock for Wednesday’s contests. Here are tonight’s NBA DFS top play for the Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami Heat Injuries
Boston Celtics Injuries
- Danilo Gallinari, OUT
NBA DFS MVP/Captain
Tatum is coming off a heroic performance in game 7 last series where he dropped 51 points on the Philadelphia 76ers and while Tatum had strong games for the most part against Miami during the regular season, Jimmy Butler missed a couple of games and Tatum is going to be facing a lot of Butler throughout this series, but, if Tatum keeps moving and doesn’t hold the ball for too long, he can use his size to cut past Butler to the rim and get easy opportunities to score under the basket. Tatum is looking at 20+ shots and at least 40 minutes of action. He’s posted four double-doubles in his last five outings. He also recorded four multi-steal contests during that span. Tatum is the Celtics prioritized scorer and he’ll also bring up the ball a decent amount. Tatum has dished at least five assists in five straight games, but he will have a battle on his hands. There will be times that Butler switches to Jaylen Brown, but limiting Tatum will be Miami’s main priority. Tatum has shot no lower than 40 percent from the floor in six of his last eight games. If the Celtics are taking advantage of the Heat in the lane early tonight, the Heat will clamp down in the post like they did for the Knicks and if that’s the case, the Celtics could see high-percentage shots from downtown with the Heat giving them space at the arc and we just saw Tatum hit six three-pointers last game.
The last time Butler played the Celtics, he buried Boston for 52 DraftKings points and we’ve seen him hit the 20-shot mark in two of his last four games. He’s scored at least 24 points in nine of his last ten games and he’ll get a huge volume of shots tonight. The Heat will need his offense because the Celtics can produce points quickly and with the way Butler has been attacking the lane, that will be his best bet once again. He’ll need to get inside and draw contact on the low block. He got to the free-throw line a lot last series. Butler has also pulled down seven or more boards in six of his last eight contests. He hasn’t been producing much from the arc, but he’s been excellent at reading screens and getting the ball out of his hands quickly before he gets trapped with it. This series will move at a bit of a quicker pace for Butler than the last one. Butler has also dropped at least nine dimes in two of his last three matchups and if the Celtics successfully trap him again and again, he’ll pass off to an open teammate at the arc and it'll be up to Miami’s long-range shooting to help propel their offense. He’ll play 40+ minutes tonight and he is the gas that keeps Miami’s fire burning and he’ll be plenty involved on both sides of the ball. He’s produced three multi-block games in his last four as well.
If you’re looking to be a bit different, with Tatum likely drawing more of Butler, Brown should have an easier time creating space and getting good looks at the basket. He scored no fewer than 26 points in three regular-season games against Miami and he’s shot over 53 percent over his last few games. Brown is going to have to aggressively call for the ball when Tatum gets trapped. Sometimes he’s not as vocal, but Miami’s defense is strong and Boston will need Brown to keep the speed up in the offense before the Heat settle in on defense and that will require him to communicate and be loud. Brown should take 15-20 shots tonight and I can see him taking more shots from the arc especially if Tatum passes off more. Brown should get more looks from downtown, but he’s been very successful at the elbow. Brown has been more helpful on the glass pulling down six rebounds or more in four of his last five outings. He should play 40 minutes tonight and if there’s any night to consider him for the MVP spot, tonight’s the night because even though Tatum gets more shots, he’ll still have plenty of time with the ball and Miami will sacrifice stronger defense on Brown to limit Tatum and Brown can benefit from that.
Normally, I don’t have four possible MVP/Captain options, but Adebayo has had a lot of success against Boston and we really saw him blossom at the end of the Knicks series. Robert Williams and Al Horford will have a tough time keeping up with him on defense. Adebayo is a very mobile big man and the Heat forgot at the beginning of the postseason that besides being a good option to bring up the ball, he has tremendous size and can produce from the post. Adebayo scored no fewer than 19 points in four games against Boston this year and he dropped 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds with Robert Williams starting against him. Adebayo has been set up more in the post and he’s taken at least 17 shots in two of his last three contests and scored 23 points in both games. He’ll play 35-40 minutes and he’s even swatted away shots in four of his last five contests. He should be able to block shots against Boston and he’s even recorded four swipes combined in his last three games. He’ll get to bring up the ball and the Celtics will have to make sure they have someone back in the paint or else he'll take advantage of a sleepy defense and drive right by everyone. He has very good ball-handling ability. The Celtics just don’t have a lot of muscle in the post and Adebayo should have a lot of success positioning himself in the paint and if the Heat’s guards set him up as much as they did last series, he’ll get a lot of high-percentage shots from inside.
NBA DFS Utility Top Plays
We should see Smart play at least 35 minutes tonight and he is among the riskier utility options because we don’t know what he’s exactly looking at when it comes to shot volume. His production could come down to his three-point shooting in which he’s hit at least 37 percent from downtown in three of his last four outings. Smart has nine assists in both of his last two games against Miami and he scored 14+ points in five of his last six contests. We have seen him shoot fewer than ten shots in two of his last three games and that’s where the risk of using him comes into play because if Tatum or Brown are going off, he’ll be passing a lot more. Even though he’s not stealing the ball consistently, he’s been helpful enough on the boards and he’s dropped seven dimes in two of his last four games. He’ll have plenty of time with the ball and his shooting has been reliable despite his volume of shots not being as certain. I was debating whether Smart belongs in the dart throw area because Malcolm Brogdon will get a big piece of the offensive pie as well, but Smart does hold value because he’ll be running the point for most of the game and he’ll get a lot of minutes.
Lowry had a few good performances against the Knicks and we should see him play close to 30 minutes in this game. Miami will have to rely on their seasoned veterans to get them through this series against this tough Celtics team. Lowry has scored in double figures in three of his last four battles and he dropped at least five assists in four of his last six contests. He’s been a key piece for the Heat throughout the playoffs and both he and Gabe Vincent will split time bringing up the ball. On the defensive end, we should see him grab three-to-five rebounds. Lowry has grabbed five steals total over his last two games and he blocked shots in five of his last six contests as well. The Heat are still down a few guards and Lowry’s minutes are safe. He’ll take around ten shots tonight and he’s been good at keeping the turnovers down despite how much time he spends on the ball and he doesn’t force up stupid shots. He’s hit multiple three-pointers in three of his last four contests. Lowry has certainly found the fountain of youth throughout the playoffs and he can control the offense a bit better than Vincent.
If the Heat decide to favor guarding the paint more, Boston will need Brogdon to hit threes to keep their offense flowing and Brogdon is a reliable shooter and he’ll take double-digit shots tonight. He’s going to be shooting more threes this series. We saw him have success cutting to the basket at times last series, but the Heat know how to shut down the lanes and cover the paint and he’ll be in more of a jump-shooting mode tonight. We saw him have a 21-point game against Miami earlier this year and he should take 10-15 shots once again. During the regular season, he grabbed over four rebounds per game and rebounding will also be key for Boston because we saw how the Heat can crush the glass and Brogdon will have to follow up his shots to keep plays alive by grabbing more rebounds and even on defense as well. He’ll be plenty involved in the Celtics game plan coming off the bench. Brogdon will bring up the ball a bit as well and he does have speed and the pace will be key for both sides in this series because both teams have the ability to slow down their opposition and the guards can make sure they keep the ball and offense moving to keep the other team on their toes. Brogdon can provide a lot of help with that.
NBA DFS Dart Throws
Strus’ scoring came alive last series and we’ve seen him take 11 shots or more in each of his last five games. He hit at least 45 percent of his shots in four of those contests. We’ve even seen him hit the 30-minute mark in three of his last four outings. Strus will take a lot of three-pointers as he's attempted ten in three of his last four games and shot 40 percent from downtown in two of his last three. Strus has also been helpful on the glass posting a pair of six-rebound games in his last three. We should see him play around 30 minutes once again and the Heat have had major shooting issues throughout the postseason, and they’ll need Strus to bail them out as he’s been one of Miami’s more reliable shooters and he’s been rewarded with more playing time. With Herro sidelined and Duncan Robinson not able to help out on the defensive side of the ball, Miami will continue to favor Strus and he does have a bit of control over his destiny as a starter and the Heat dealing with backcourt injuries also protects Strus’ playing time. He’s also recorded a block and a steal in two of his last four contests.
Martin was a big help while Butler was dealing with his ankle issues and even though Horford has size on him, Martin has good quickness, and he can get to the basket even with Horford on him. He’s had two double-digit scoring games against Boston this year and he’s scored in double figures in three of his last five games. He plays good defense and is good at getting through screens and should play 25-30 minutes. Martin has pulled down at least five rebounds in five of his last six outings. He’s stolen the ball in both of his last two games and being that he gets as many minutes as he does, we can rely on him for his salary as long as he’s rebounding. He’s hit 50 percent or more of his shots in three of his last five battles and we should see Martin take six-to-ten shots tonight.