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Best lineup strategy for Heat vs. Pacers NBA Showdown [UPDATE]

The status of Domantas Sabonis will be key to Wednesday night’s featured DraftKings Showdown between Miami and Indiana. We break it down.

UPDATE: Jan. 8, 6:23 p.m. — Sabonis will start.

UPDATE: Jan. 8, 5:47 p.m. — Butler is available to play as well as Winslow for the Heat.

UPDATE: Jan. 8, 5:19 p.m. — Sabonis is considered a game-time decision while Brogdon has been ruled out.

We’ve got a solid battle between two Eastern Conference contenders in the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. Both teams are in the thick of the playoff race in the East, with the Heat entering Wednesday as the No. 3 seed at 26-10, while the Pacers are 23-14 and in the 6-spot.

There are a few injuries to cover on both sides before we get into some analysis. Jimmy Butler is probable and Justise Winslow will be available for Miami, so the Heat will be relatively healthy for this game. The same can’t be said for the Pacers, who may be without both Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis. The big man is questionable with a knee injury, while Brogdon is a game-time decision. Those will be key before we can lock in our lineups. But let’s take a look at how to craft said lineup below.

Captain’s Picks

I think with all the injury news we’re waiting on, Bam Adebayo ($15,600) is my favorite Captain to pay up for. He’s got the safest floor out of anyone other than Sabonis, who may not play. We know Bam is going to play a ton of minutes and this game should be competitive if the Pacers are healthy. Adebayo is averaging 16.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per 36 minutes this season.

The other Captain I’d be interested in is T.J. Warren ($13,200), who is going through one of those scoring binges with Brogdon and Victor Oladipo sidelined. If both Brogdon and Sabonis are out, I’d lean Warren over Bam or Jimmy Butler ($15,300) at Captain. Warren is averaging 20.7 points on 52.9% shooting from the field and 37.% from distance over his past nine games. The Heat are a tough defensive task, but if Brogdon and Sabonis are out, it’s Warren’s team really.

If I’m looking at a cheap Captain, Meyers Leonard ($5,700) has been soaking up frontcourt minutes with Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson becoming non-factors. Leonard doesn’t have a high ceiling, but his floor is around eight points and eight boards, which is solid if we’re looking to save salary.

UTIL Options

Again, injuries will dictate what we do in the rest of our lineup, but we can sort of get a sense of what to do now. If we Captain Bam and fit in Warren ($8,800), then we have $6,400 on average left over to fill out the rest of the lineup. If Brogdon is out, I’d be interested in paying down for a guy like T.J. McConnell ($5,000), who has a safe floor given his ability to rack up assists and boards. If Sabonis is sidelined, we could see more Doug McDermott ($1,200) and he’s dirt cheap. I also don’t mind UTIL for Leonard ($3,800) as well.

Overall, this is probable a wait-and-see type of contest, plus we’re going to have to leave some salary on the table if Sabonis and Brogdon are out specifically. There just wouldn’t be a lot of options to pay up for outside of Butler, Bam and Warren — at least not players worth it. I think with both Butler and Winslow back, Goran Dragic ($8,400) isn’t as appealing. Myles Turner ($7,400) is in play if Sabonis sits as well, but Adebayo is a tough matchup defensively.