NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance … (May 25)

Thursday’s NBA gives Boston one more chance to keep the season going, and tonight the action begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on DraftKings and FanDuel. There are several options in the player pool worth analyzing to find the top NBA DFS building blocks and NBA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups. Can Jayson Tatum pay off his price and get Boston to Game 6, or is Jimmy Butler the preferred stud play? Let’s dive into the data and find out.

NBA DFS Picks Today: Thursday, May 25

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Core Play of the Day — Jayson Tatum — Boston Celtics

Things finally got at least a little spicy in this series, with the Celtics finally recording a victory after watching three winnable games slide through their fingers. Tonight Boston is favored by 8.5 points as the Miami Heat come to town with the hopes of their next game being in the NBA Finals.

Jayson Tatum rolled out another strong game, with his second 60-fantasy-point performance of this series and his seventh in the last 12 postseason games. Tonight we should expect around 30 points, 10 rebounds and a handful of assists as a baseline for the 25-year-old superstar.

Jaylen Brown has yet to reach the 40-fantasy-point plateau in this series, but tonight could be that night! Or it may not — particularly when we realize he has reached this milestone only twice in the last two series, spanning 11 games, and neither were over 45 fantasy points. Brown has been harried on offense, and while he has averaged 19 field goal attempts per game, he is converting only 38.9% of his shots. Plus, a lot of his effort is going toward defense, and the other guards have been picking up the assists and the frontcourt the rebounds, so with fewer possessions in playoff games, each of these little “hits” have added up to a semi-substantial decrease for Brown’s fantasy production.


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It looks like Derrick White will once again be in the starting lineup as the Celtics look to go a little smaller with a three-guard lineup. Additionally, it appears that White has moved by Malcolm Brogdon in the playing time pecking order, as the former University of Virginia stalwart has seen his minutes drop each game this series from 37 to 26 to 18 and barely 17 in Game 4. He too has been dreadful from the field, and over his last two games he has made one of 11 total shots. This appears to be more of a trend than just recency bias from two bad games.

Marcus Smart has been able to put together serviceable point-per-dollar fantasy performances most of this series by filling up the box score just enough across all of the statistical categories. FanDuel has assigned Smart a $12,000 cap hit for the second consecutive game, which is a 20% increase from Game 1. DraftKings, on the other hand, has maintained a tighter range, but with the injury value popping up for Miami, Smart looks like a tougher player to roster tonight.

Al Horford had everything go his way on Tuesday in a 30-fantasy-point performance, but that was mostly courtesy of him sinking 3 or 6 3-point attempts and adding seven rebound and four assists, both of which surpassed his Game 2 and 3 combined totals in those categories. Robert Williams has had two lackluster performances since returning to the bench, partly due to four fouls in each game and also with the decrease in playing time. This duo is still viable in tournaments, but it is more of a “lightning in a bottle” kind of play.

Grant Williams does seem to be on the rise, and his energy has earned him 26, 29 and 29 minutes each of the last three games after being a DNP-CD in Game 1. Though there is still risk he could do something dumb and find himself anchored to the bench, he is worth the risk of having him in most lineups on DraftKings ($2,600). On FanDuel ($8.500) he received a $2,000 salary increase, which makes him more of a neutral option but still ahead of Brogdon, Horford and the other Williams.

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Jimmy Butler — Miami Heat

Game 4 was another strong showing from Jimmy Butler, who posted 29 points, nine rebound, five assists, one block and one steal on his way to his fifth 50-fantasy-point performance in the last seven games. We know what we are getting, and there is not much else to add at this point in the series — other than he may be asked to somehow do more, with Gabe Vincent (ankle) joining Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo on the injured list.

It will be interesting to see who starts for the Heat in place of Vincent. It could be Kyle Lowry as the point guard, it could be Caleb Martin, who would share facilitation duties with Butler and Bam Adebayo, or it could even be Duncan Robinson in the hope he regains the accuracy from behind the arc he had in Games 2 and 3. The best guess is that it will be Martin for his younger legs, and then Lowry will likely see around 28 to 30 minutes in his usual role as well as filling in for Vincent, plus a couple minutes of attainable upside if he is playing well and/or ends up closing out the game.

For those thinking that Max Strus will be a major beneficiary without Vincent on the court, just know that Strus has two assists in this series and only 15 this postseason, despite starting all 17 games for Miami. He is who we think he is and not someone who is likely to suddenly drop 30 fantasy points tonight. That is a total he has surpassed only once in 15 playoff games, and he also got there in the second game of the Play-in Tournament.

Adebayo had a Game 4 dud, with only 10 points, five rebounds, four turnovers, four fouls and a steal in 35 minutes, which was pacing for his normal playoff run. He should be able to shake that off, and in DFS we need to have a short memory — especially with Adebayo, as he has burned everyone more than once since the end of the regular season.

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Kevin Love played 7:26 to start the game and 4:20 to start the third quarter, and that was it. He did manage 6 points, four rebounds and a steal in that limited time, so when combined with his rock-bottom $2,200 salary on DraftKings, he remains a viable option. Cody Zeller played 13 minutes, and it is likely this duo will again tally 26 to 30 minutes between them. The team goes long stretches without either on the floor, so this is definitely a risky spot — but that is about all the other value available this deep in the postseason in an elimination game.

Haywood Highsmith has about a 30% to 40% chance of seeing the court via trickledown minutes in the absence of Vincent, but he is unlikely to get more than a couple minutes outside of mop-up duty.

Additional NBA DFS Building Blocks Pick — Sports Betting Opportunities

Though Strus did not get a lot of love as a DFS option in the absence of Vincent, we should still consider his 16.5 points + rebounds + assists (PRA) prop. This series he is averaging 12 points and 3.5 rebounds, which has him right on the cusp of this threshold tonight with a similar performance.

NBA Bet Pro currently has Strus projected for 34.5 minutes, 11.74 points, 3.85 rebounds and 1.78 assists for 17.37 PRA. The math has him topping 16.5 PRA nearly 59% of the time, and with this -120 line at BetMGM, this play projects out to a solid 5.2% expected ROI.

Keep in mind that, with only one NBA matchup today, finding major value is unlikely, so consider using bonus bets and boosters to aid in the quest to remain profitable.

Did you know that you can get one free month of Stokastic+ Platinum for signing up and making your first bet at BetMGM? Claim here today!

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today

When you start to build your DFS lineups, be sure to let us do the heavy lifting for you by tuning into the Stokastic NBA Live Before Lock show at 7:30 p.m. ET on YouTube, brought to you by Sleeper.

Eric MacPherson
Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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