This article is part of our DFS NBA series.
Well, we made it. After a long pause because of COVID-19 that put the season in doubt, Wednesday marks the start of the NBA Finals. It's a great matchup, as well, with the Heat taking on the Lakers. We don't have any more traditional DFS slates, but we will have Showdown lineups to ponder. Let's examine some trends and players to keep in mind over the course of the series.
Stats to Know
Let's kick things off by giving some important stats to consider for both teams. The Lakers were a defensive juggernaut during the regular season, posting the third-best defensive rating in the league on their way to allowing an average of 107.6 points per game, which was the fourth-fewest. They weren't a plodding team, either, considering they also played at the 11-fastest pace. They have remained one of the best defensive teams during the playoffs, although their pace has slowed from 101.2 possessions per game to 98.7.
The Heat weren't as stingy as the Lakers during the regular season, but make no mistake about it, their defense is their identity. They allowed an average of only 109.1 points per game and had the 12th-best defensive rating. Unlike the Lakers, they didn't exactly race up and down the court during the regular season, leaving them with the fourth-slowest pace (98.7) in the league. That mark has been mostly unchanged during the playoffs at 97.4.
Players to Target
The big names in this series are obviously going to be the most appealing in DFS. The question is, how many can you fit into your lineup? LeBron James has arguably the highest floor of any player on either team with his ability to contribute in so many different areas. Bam Adebayo also has the ability to stuff the stat sheet in multiple columns, but after dominating a small Celtics' frontcourt in the Eastern Conference Finals, he's looking at a much more difficult task against Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard. Jimmy Butler has also been great in the playoffs with averages of 20.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals a game.
Among the second-tier players, few are as appealing as Goran Dragic. The Heat moving him back into the starting five has proven to be a wise decision since he has averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists during the playoffs. The key is that he averaged 35 minutes a game in that role compared to just 28 minutes a night during the regular season.
The Heat may have lost Dragic from their second unit, but all that did was create more opportunities for Tyler Herro. He couldn't have looked much better against the Celtics, averaging 19.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest. He averaged 14.3 shots a game in the series in large part because of an increase in playing time. Despite this tough matchup, he should play enough to be an appealing option on a nightly basis.
There really aren't many exciting second-tier options on the Lakers behind James and Davis. The most productive option could be Rajon Rondo, who has averaged 9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.7 steals across the last nine games. If there's one thing that we know for sure about Rondo, it's that he won't be overwhelmed on the big stage.
Players to Avoid
There are few certain options on the Lakers behind James, Davis and Rondo. Howard had a couple of big games against the Nuggets, but who knows how much he's going to play on a nightly basis. Danny Green mostly only provides production in the three-point column, and Kyle Kuzma has been extremely underwhelming with averages of 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds during the playoffs. Basically, anyone else besides the top-three Lakers that have been mentioned should be considered as nothing more than punt plays in tournament contests.
The Lakers allowed the seventh-lowest three-point shooting percentage to opponents during the regular season, so this could be a tough matchup for Duncan Robinson. The majority of his scoring contributions come from behind the arc, and he provides very little in terms of rebounds and assists. This could also be a tough matchup for Jae Crowder, who could find himself in foul trouble with the expectation that he spends a good majority of his time on the floor guarding James or Davis.