NBA Conference Finals May 18-19 DFS picks: Is LeBron James a lineup must?

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Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) backs down Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green (32) during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals series, Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Denver. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 132-126. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

The NBA Conference Finals produced exciting Game 1 matchups between the Lakers and Nuggets and the Heat and Celtics, so there’s plenty of excitement heading into Game 2.

There are multiple DFS contest options with Showdown Captain Mode and Classic, but we’re going to focus on Classic since it involves both the Western Conference and Eastern Conference games.

We broke down both matchups in order to determine which players are worth having from a DFS value standpoint and have an ideal lineup built for the Game 2 slate.

NBA CONFERENCE FINALS DFS MATCHUPS BREAKDOWN

Prices based on DraftKings’ $50,000 salary cap

Lakers at Nuggets (Thursday)

The Nuggets had the Lakers in a bind to start off Game 1, but LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t quit and nearly led a Laker comeback.

Both James and Davis are solid choices to build a lineup around, but we’re going with James since he’s priced slightly cheaper than Davis and still touches the ball more than any other Laker.

Austin Reaves shot lights out in Game 1 and has taken on more of a scoring role for the Lakers, but his price increase has us liking D’Angelo Russell better since Russell’s still heavily involved and is now priced almost $1,000 cheaper.

As for the Nuggets, we’re going to pivot to some of their secondary options since Nikola Jokic is too expensive to have in a lineup with James, and Aaron Gordon is someone that we like.

Gordon is very affordable at $5,400 and will likely be asked to take on more of the scoring load in Game 2 after a quiet Game 1 performance, and Bruce Brown is also intriguing at $5,200 as someone who contributes quality minutes off the bench.

Heat at Celtics (Friday)

The Heat outlasted the Celtics in Game 1 in what was a surprising performance considering the Heat were underdogs, but we’re expecting the Celtics to bounce back in Game 2 at home.

We were tempted to build around Jayson Tatum instead of LeBron, but we’re going with Jaylen Brown since he’s capable of scoring just as much or more than Tatum and is more affordable to where he and James can both be in the lineup.

The Celtics are somewhat lacking in secondary scoring options to complement Tatum and Brown, but Malcolm Brogdon is capable of scoring plenty off the bench and is a very affordable option at $4,800.

Jimmy Butler has continued his dominant run for the Heat, but he’s now priced up with the likes of Tatum and LeBron to where we’re going to go with Bam Adebayo instead as a key lineup piece since he’s been the most reliable center outside of Davis and Jokic.

Figuring out who’s going to produce for the Heat outside of Butler and Adebayo is a tough task, but we like Gabe Vincent as a value play at $4,500 as someone who can shoot three-pointers well.

OPTIMAL LINEUP MAY 18-19

PG: D’Angelo Russell, Lakers ($5,300)

SG: Jaylen Brown, Celtics ($8,000)

SF: LeBron James, Lakers ($9,800)

PF: Aaron Gordon, Nuggets ($5,400)

C: Bam Adebayo, Heat ($7,000)

G: Gabe Vincent, Heat ($4,500)

F: Bruce Brown, Nuggets ($5,200)

UTIL: Gabe Vincent, Heat ($4,500)

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