NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals Preview

NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals Preview

Celtics (2) vs. Heat (1)

Series price: BOS -180, MIA +150

Most likely outcome: BOS 4-2 (+265)

BOS outlier factors (league rank)

DTRG (1)

DeFG% (1)

MIA outlier factors

eFG% (5)

TOV (28)

FTA (5)

DRTG (4)

DTOV (3)

DFTA (27)

Things got interesting for the Celtics in Round 2, being pushed all the way to a Game 7 by the Bucks. However, Boston looked way more polished and confident in that game while getting hot from three – helped by plenty of open looks – and sealed the series up convincingly. The Heat also convincingly sealed things up against the 76ers, though it appeared Philadelphia just stopped caring during Game 6.

Jayson Tatum is the best player in this series. Last round, the Bucks chose to use Wesley Matthews as the primary defender, which is like when towns try to paint an optical illusion speedbump on the road to slow down traffic – after a while, people just ignore it. The Heat will skip the speedbump step and just construct a brick wall. They'll switch, they'll play zone, they'll do whatever it takes to disrupt Tatum's flow and the of the Celtics' offense, and they have the personnel to do it with Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker and Bam Adebayo. Somehow, they allowed more three-point attempts than Milwaukee during the regular season, but they also defended them at the best clip (34.1%). Boston relying on threes probably won't work out as well in this round as it did against the Bucks.

But, will Miami be able to score? At the very least, they probably won't be as affected by Robert Williams and Al Horford at the rim as Milwaukee was. The Heat took the third-least shots at the rim during the regular season, often settling for a mid-ranger or corner three. The mid-rangers should be there, but Boston held the fifth-best defensive field-goal percentage against corner threes (36.1%) during the regular season. Ultimately, I'm expecting a lot of 17-footers and short floaters from Butler, Herro and Adebayo.

Mavericks (4) vs. Warriors (3)

Series price: GSW -225, DAL +185 

Most likely outcome: GSW 4-3 (+300)

DAL outlier factors (league rank)

TOV (5)

GSW outlier factors

eFG% (4)

TOV (29)

DRTG (2)

DeFG% (2)

It's hard to determine whether Mavs-Suns Game 7 was more of a collapse by Phoenix or a dominating performance by Dallas – the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But, the Mavericks' Game 6 and 7 wins were about as a decisive of a closeout as you'll see in a series, winning by a combined 60 points. Meanwhile, Golden State didn't exactly look like a juggernaut against the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies, and the Warriors actually were outscored by the Grizzlies in the final three games by 22 points.

It's tough for me to gauge how I feel about the Warriors. They're the title favorites (+135), but what have they done in the playoffs to earn our trust? They disposed of the dead-man-walking Nuggets in five games, but the final three games were all decided by five or fewer points. Then, they need six games to end Memphis' season, with Morant playing in half the games, and Golden State ultimately only scored four more points in the series than Memphis. The matchup also concerns me a bit because Dallas is elite at defending the three-pointer. They allowed the seventh-fewest attempts from distance during the regular season with the third-best defensive three-point percentage (34.5). That's bad news for a Warriors team that launches 42.2% of its shots from three – the second most during the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks have done everything possible to earn trust. They only needed Doncic for three games to defeat Utah in the first round, then dominated Phoenix in the final two games of the second round. It's all revolved around Doncic and defense. Doncic is posting 32/10/7 while the Mavs have held opponents to 101.9 points per game in the postseason. Golden State has a great defense, but there's an issue – they stop the things the Mavs don't care about: shots at the rim, transition and putbacks. The Warriors allowed the fewest shots at the rim during the regular season; the Mavericks took the second fewest. Golden State allows the fourth-least points in transition; Dallas generated the second fewest. The Dubs allowed the fifth-fewest points per miss off of putbacks; the Mavs generated the least putback points per miss in the NBA. 

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Alex Barutha plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel Username: unclestosh99, DraftKings Username: Roto_Alex.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's NBA Assistant Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, DraftKings Live and other platforms. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.
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