MIA vs. LAL (-4.5) O/U: 217.5
After their unlikely run through the Eastern Conference bracket, the Mami Heat find themselves in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014. Those finals resulted in a loss to San Antonio and the end of LeBron James' tenure in Miami. James faces his former team with the distinction of being only the fourth player in NBA history to reach the Finals 10 times. If the Lakers prevail, he'll become the third player to win the championship with three different teams. To say that James will be particularly motivated to hit these historic milestones would be an understatement.
Rather than delve into particulars about Showdown contest strategy, I recommend reading my article about single-game contests here, as it will expand upon tackling this unique format.
While our goal is to find a way to get the most productive player into the 1.5x multiplier or CPTN spot, it is often not the best avenue to take. The ability to do this usually depends on how much value we can locate on any given slate, so that is where our builds should begin. A big hurdle in lineup construction is the lack of game history between these two teams, as they have yet to meet in Orlando.
FINDING THE VALUE Dwight Howard, LAL (CPTN $7,500, UTIL $5,000) Howard is winning the battle with Father Time and was the winning CPTN for most GPP contests in the Lakers' final game against the Nuggets. With his CPTN salary way below the median price, he could once again be the perfect ingredient for an optimal build. After posting excellent numbers opposite Nikola Jokic, one can readily assume that a matchup against Bam Adebayo would be to Howard's advantage, but his volatility is something to be wary of. Alex Caruso, LAL (CPTN $4,500, UTIL $3,000) Caruso represents a solid $3,000 discount if you consider him for a CPTN spot, and going this low isn't out of the realm of possibility. I plan to stack the deck with elites in utility spots, and Caruso proved to be one of the best options to maximize that effort. You can also flip the deck and load your utilities with value and give one of the elites a nod in the multiplier, but it makes finding room for James AND Davis a bit more difficult. JaVale McGee, LAL (CPTN $2,700, UTIL $1,800) As far as I can tell, McGee is the only guy I could find who would allow LeBron James or Anthony Davis in the CPTN position. If either player beats 50 DKFP, an additional 25 DKFP is generated for your lineup, and the perceived difference between other values like Caruso and Howard won't match that kind of output. McGee is the cut-off point on this slate in terms of scoring, but as I said, he's the only sound way to get one of the top three in a CPTN spot. Andre Iguodala, MIA (CPTN $5,100, UTIL $3,400) After six seasons with Golden State, Iguodala possesses an advantage that many of his teammates lack, and that's a lot of real-time experience against the Lakers. Now in his 16th season, the veteran has to use brain over brawn to detect how he can make the best contribution, and you can bet he has an angle on how to impact this game off the bench. He is the other prime ingredient necessary to get the top three into a CPTN position. Iguodala is also coming off his best game in the bubble, with 15 points off of four threes against the Celtics. ELITE PICKS Let's start with LeBron James (CPTN $19,800, UTIL $13,200) and Anthony Davis (CPTN $18,000, UTIL $12,000). They are a requirement for your build, and you're behind the pace if they are not included. Where they go all depends on your value selections and where you place them. We've already discussed how to get James or Davis in the CPTN spot, and you can also get Bam Adebayo(CPTN $15,900, UTIL $10,600) into the McGee-based build as well. I think Adebayo's projection will be the toughest one to nail in this series. He had one double-double in two games against the Lakers but only averaged 11.5 points over both of these games. Anthony Davis will be one of his most stringent tests yet in the bubble, and we've seen him struggle against Giannis Antetokounmpo in the playoffs. Davis presents a similar skill set, and this might be enough to warrant a fade for Bam as we tackle this first game of this series. If you go that way, you're allowed a slight upgrade at your value positions if you make Goran Dragic($8,600) or Tyler Herro ($8,000) your third player, but not so much with Jimmy Butler ($9,200), who will pretty much require McGee to be in the mix. As previously stated, the option to 'flip the script' is undoubtedly a viable way to play the slate, but in order to succeed, you have to justify losing the 25 (projected) points you could lose without Davis or James in the CPTN spot. While Butler wouldn't give you much of a differential, taking a bet on a big night from Dragic (CPTN $12,900) or Herro (CPTN $12,000) is going to be a very contrarian way to approach the evening. A complete flip that puts someone like Caruso or Howard in the top spot will still give you a pretty stacked UTIL lineup as well. My recommendation is to play the slate in a straight-up fashion with James or Davis in cash situations, but it's a good idea to mix it up a little in a 3-max/20-max GPP with some of these alternate cash considerations. The contrarian builds will also be able to free up usage for guys like Jae Crowder ($6,200), Kyle Kuzma ($3,800) and Duncan Robinson ($6,800), who are also decent mid-range values. Kuzma is a sensible core option when paired with a stack of James(CPTN)/Davis/Dragic/Caruso/Iguodala.