An NBA Finals berth is on the line as the Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 17 from the TD Garden. For the second straight postseason, these two franchises will go head-to-head, as the Celtics walked away with a 4-3 series win over the Heat a year ago.
Here we’ll take a look at one potential DFS strategy for Showdown contests on DraftKings involving this matchup with Captain’s picks, flex plays, and fades.
Jayson Tatum ($18,600) - Tatum is averaging the eighth-most points per game (28.2) among all players in the 2023 postseason and is also coming off a playoff record-breaking 51-point performance in Game 7 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics star is averaging 62.6 DKFP over his last five games, and while he may not post another record-breaking performance in Game 1, he’ll more than be ready to shoulder the scoring load.
Jimmy Butler ($18,300) - Butler walks into Game 1 as the NBA’s third-leading scorer in the postseason (31.1 PPG) and if it wasn’t clear already, the Heat will only go as far as their franchise cornerstone. The Heat star is averaging 48.1 DKFP over his last five games and I fully expect him to be aggressive if Miami has any hope of stealing Game 1.
Jaylen Brown ($10,200) - Brown is averaging 24.6 PPG through these playoffs and finished with 25 points on 47.4 percent shooting in the Game 7 clincher, which was notably overshadowed by Tatum’s explosive scoring night. If Tatum falls back down to earth, and if Miami opts to blitz him at a moment’s notice, Brown has an excellent opportunity to take on a lead-scoring role in front of the home crowd.
Bam Adebayo ($9,000) - Adebayo is averaging 9.2 rebounds per game this postseason and averaged a solid 18.7 PPG in the Heat’s six-game series with the New York Knicks. The Miami big man logged his second-best DKFP performance over his last five games against the Knicks (40.75) and is also averaging 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals through the first two rounds of the 2023 playoffs, illustrating his all-around skillset.
Marcus Smart ($7,000) - While Smart played solid against the 76ers in their last series, I’m curious what his role will be against the Heat in the conference finals. A year ago against this same team, Smart averaged a solid 16.6 PPG but shot just 36.0% from the floor. He could very well be valuable as the series carries on, but I’m hesitant about putting him in lineups for Game 1.
Kyle Lowry ($6,800) - Lowry arguably plays a valuable role for his team, but his numbers in the box score leave much to be desired for DFS players. The Heat guard is averaging just 10.1 PPG on 35.7% shooting from beyond the arc, with 4.5 APG and 3.0 RPG. If anything, I would save starting Lowry until this series shifts to Miami, where he could get a boost from the home crowd.
The Heat know that Game 1 is the ideal opportunity to steal home-court advantage, and I expect Jimmy Butler to be aggressive while getting ample contributions from his supporting cast, including Max Strus out on the perimeter. Tatum will likely fall back down a bit after his record-setting Game 7 performance against Philadelphia, but Brown, Horford, and the rest of the Celtics’ supporting cast should step up to the plate given the stakes at hand.
The Heat will make this a closely contested game, and it will likely be a game of scoring runs from both teams, but at the end of the day Boston’s depth will be enough to hold off a feisty Heat team in a single-digit victory.
Final score: Celtics 108, Heat 103