After weeks of splitting time, it appears Jason Kidd has settled on his favorite center. 

Despite coming off the bench, Dereck Lively has emerged as the top minutes-getter at the big man position in the Mavericks’ rotation. 

Lively had a massive Game 3 in the NBA Finals, helping Dallas keep the contest within striking distance, which bodes well for his stat-padding prospects Friday night. 

The 20-year-old scored 11 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in a playoff-high 30 minutes Wednesday. 

Most importantly, the Mavericks, who lost by seven, outscored the Celtics by six with Lively on the court. 

Outside of Kyrie Irving, who dropped 35 points, Lively was one of the few things that went well for Dallas in Game 3. 

Daniel Gafford, Lively’s positional counterpart, who was -11 in 16 minutes in Game 3, has fallen out of favor with Kidd.

If Lively can stay out of foul trouble Friday, he should blow by his 16.5 points + rebounds total (-113, FanDuel Sportsbook), which is still priced as if he’ll split minutes with Gafford.

In the nine games he’s played 24 or more minutes this postseason, Lively has gone Over 16.5 points + rebounds eight times. 

The Celtics will also likely be without the only player on their roster that can match Lively’s size – Kristaps Porzingis, who suffered a “rare” leg injury in Game 2. 


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With Porzingis out, Lively has spent most of his time matched up against Jayson Tatum and Al Horford, two players that can’t counter his combination of size and athleticism. 

Look for plenty of opportunities on the boards and Luka Doncic lobs to come his way in Game 4. 

The play: Dereck Lively Over 16.5 points + rebounds (FanDuel Sportsbook, -113)

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