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While the Warriors have already locked up their place in the NBA Finals, who will take on the Western Conference champs remains unknown. Miami, thanks in large part to its star wing, forced a decisive Game 7 with its impressive win in Boston Friday night. That's where the Daily Dose will begin, followed by the Lakers making a decision regarding the team's head coaching vacancy.
Heat 111, Celtics 103 (series tied, 3-3)
With multiple players nursing injuries, some listed on the official injury report and others not, the Miami Heat looked to be done heading into Friday's Game 6 in Boston. Well, Jimmy Butler had other ideas and, as a result, the Eastern Conference Finals are headed for a seventh game. Butler turned back the clock to the 2020 bubble, posting a line of 47 points (16-of-29 FGs, 11-of-11 FTs), nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals, one blocked shot, and four 3-pointers in 46 minutes.
The 47 points are a playoff career-high for Butler, who's still nursing a sore left knee. And he suffered another injury during Friday's masterclass, stepping on Al Horford's foot and tweaking his right ankle in the process. As will be the case the Miami's other banged-up players, we'll see how Butler's body responds to the flight back to Miami and the treatment he'll undergo in order to be ready for Sunday's series decider.
Also bouncing back for the Heat was Kyle Lowry, even though his field goal percentage (5-of-14) wasn't anything to write home about. He played 37 minutes before fouling out, scoring 18 points to go along with four rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one block, and four 3-pointers. If this Lowry shows up for Game 7, there's no doubt that the Heat can defend home court and advance to the NBA Finals. Max Strus (13/2/2 with three 3-pointers) and P.J. Tucker (11/5/1/2 with two 3-pointers) also hit double figures, helping to make up for Bam Adebayo (6/9/2/1 with four turnovers) continuing to struggle. With Boston's two-headed monster in the post, this hasn't been the series for Adebayo from a production standpoint. He's still going to play plenty, however, as evidenced by his 40 minutes on Friday.
The Heat was once again without Tyler Herro, who has not played since Game 3 due to his groin injury. Victor Oladipo (9/5/0/1 with one 3-pointer) played 22 minutes off the bench, while Duncan Robinson missed his lone shot attempt and played just five. Neither stands to be a great DFS option for Game 7 if Herro is unable to play, but Oladipo is clearly the pick between him and Robinson. And it needs to be noted that Oladipo made the biggest defensive play of the game, taking a charge with 12.1 seconds remaining that effectively sealed the outcome. Caleb Martin (five points, three rebounds, and one 3-pointer) and Gabe Vincent (two points, two assists, and one steal) played 12 and 17 minutes, respectively. So long as Butler and Lowry are healthy, there's no need to even consider plugging Martin or Vincent into your lineups.
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Jayson Tatum (30/9/4/2/1 with four 3-pointers) shot the ball well, going 9-of-12 from the field and 8-of-8 from the foul line. But he was also responsible for a team-worst seven turnovers so that DFS point total took a hit (depending upon where you had him in your lineup). Averaging 4.3 turnovers per game for the postseason, Tatum's average is up to 5.2 in this series (four games with at least five). He'll have the ball in his hands plenty on Sunday, and hopefully, he'll be able to do a better job of managing the turnovers.
Jaylen Brown (20/6/5/3 with one 3-pointers) committed four turnovers, while Derrick White chipped in with his best game of the series. Playing 33 minutes off the bench, White accumulated 22 points, three rebounds, five assists, three steals, one blocked shot, and four 3-pointers. He's hit double figures in each of his last three games, so there is some DFS value to be had here, even with Marcus Smart (14/4/3/1 with one 3-pointer) logging heavy minutes. White's emergence has meant fewer minutes for Payton Pritchard, who played just four in Game 6.
Robert Williams (12 points, one rebound, and two blocks in 26 minutes) shot 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line, but the lack of production in the rebounding category was disappointing. Add in the Celtics not getting much from Al Horford (3/9/5 with one 3-pointer on 1-of-8 shooting) or Grant Williams (2/2/0/1 in 17 minutes), and it isn't too difficult to figure out why Boston was unable to close out the series (of course, the aforementioned Butler had a major impact on the outcome as well). Boston's interior rotation has effectively neutralized Adebayo, but Horford still has to produce offensively, and there isn't an excuse for the Time Lord grabbing just one rebound, either.
Lakers reportedly make a head coaching hire
A head coaching vacancy was reportedly filled on Friday, with it being reported by both ESPN and The Athletic that the Lakers have hired Bucks assistant Darvin Ham. While he doesn't have head coaching experience Ham did play eight seasons in the NBA, and he was a part of the 2004 Pistons squad that won the NBA title. After spending two seasons on the Lakers coaching staff (2011-13) he has since worked for Mike Budenholzer in both Atlanta and Milwaukee.
It's been reported that Ham's past playing experience was a factor in the Lakers' decision to hire him, with Terry Stotts and Kenny Atkinson being the other finalists. And coaching the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo may also help, as Ham is walking into a locker room headlined by LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. For his part, James appeared to be pleased with the Lakers' decision based on his reaction on social media. The key for Ham in his debut season will be to figure out how to get Westbrook back on track after a rough 2021-22 season.