This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We've finally arrived at the NBA Finals, nearly four months later than they normally would have started. In accordance with the unpredictable year 2020 has been, the Miami Heat are the surprise representatives of the Eastern Conference, setting up a true David vs. Goliath angle with their opponent, the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers. The fact LeBron James, who was the most pivotal component of Miami's last championship, is part of the opposition makes the story all the more intriguing.
With just one game on the ledger, we're dealing with FanDuel's single-game contest rosters, which are comprised as follows:
- MVP- (Garners points at 2x the normal rate)
- STAR- (Garners points at 1.5x the normal rate)
- PRO- (Garners points at 1.2x the normal rate)
- Two Utility spots- (Garner points at normal rate)
With the pricing also being different than in conventional FanDuel contests on multi-game slates and top players inevitably headed for heavy rostering, there are definitely strategic elements particular to single-game rosters. Finding key value plays for the two utility spots is undoubtedly necessary, as it enables you to fill out the multiplier spots with some of the top projected producers.
We'll proceed to examine the important injuries for the day below and will also break down the positional outlook, before reviewing possible chalk plays and some of the value plays that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's dive into Wednesday's single-game slate!
Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Projected total: 217.5 points):
This sets up as a generally modest total, but not one that's necessarily out of line with how things unfolded between these teams in the regular season. The first meeting between the clubs finished with just 175 combined points, as Los Angeles held Miami to 35.0 percent shooting, including 17.1 percent from three-point range, in a 95-80 win on Nov. 9. The Lakers also prevailed in the second game, although that contest resulted in a narrow 113-110 victory. Thus far in the postseason, the Heat is averaging 112.2 points per game, while the Lakers are putting up 113.9 points per contest. Nine of Miami's 15 postseason games have finished over 217.5 points, while eight of Los Angeles' 15 playoff contests have exceeded the figure.
FanDuel single-game rosters don't have traditional positions that match those on a starting five, so we'll instead break down some candidates for the top three multiplier positions instead:
MVP (2x): There are three main candidates for this spot in my view, with the Lakers' duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis naturally leading the way. James arguably has the most upside of the two, as most recently evidenced by his seven tallies of more than 60 non-multiplier FD points in 15 playoff games. James is averaging 54.7 percent from the floor on 17.8 shot attempts per contest during the postseason as well, so the efficiency is certainly there. Davis has certainly been impressive too, but he interestingly saw a significant drop in rebounds over the last three games of the series against the Nuggets, averaging just 4.0 rebounds per contest in that span. Finally, Bam Adebayo edges out teammate Jimmy Butler on the Heat in terms of candidacy for this spot, with the big man averaging 19.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.2 steals across 37.4 minutes since Game 3 of the first round against the Pacers.
STAR (1.5x): Whichever two players from the trio above don't make your MVP spot are naturally excellent candidates for this slot, as is the Heat's Butler. The veteran wing has averaged 21.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.6 steals across 37.5 minutes since Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Bucks, scoring 32.6 to 53.8 FD non-multiplier points 10 of 11 contests over that span.
PRO (1.2x): Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic may be your top options for this final multiplier spot. Both players have secure roles and contribute in enough categories to justify their rostering. Herro, whose play has not been that of a rookie in an impressive playoff run, is averaging 33.3 minutes in 15 postseason games despite coming off the bench in each one, and he's complemented his 16.5 points per game nicely with 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 37.8 percent from distance. Dragic has been impressive in his own right, putting up 20.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds in the playoffs while averaging a solid 34.7 minutes per contest.
It's worth noting Rajon Rondo is a riskier but still viable candidate for this spot due to his ability to stuff the stat sheet, but his minutes have been less reliable and his involvement on offense also much lighter on average than the Heat duo.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Dion Waiters, LAL (groin)
Waiters is questionable for Game 1.
Other injuries to monitor:
Chris Silva (pelvis), MIA
Gabe Vincent (knee), MIA
The four highest-priced players on the slate are LeBron James ($15.5K), Anthony Davis ($14.5K), Jimmy Butler ($14K) and Bam Adebayo ($13.5K). There's not much surprise there, with the possible exception of Adebayo being $500 cheaper than Butler. The big man is coming off an impressive run in the conference finals against the Celtics, scoring 43.4 to 59.7 FD points in five of the six games in the series, with two games over the 50-mark overall. Those numbers far outpaced Butler's, who posted 34.1 to 44.3 FD points in the same span.
With only one game on the ledger, the quartet mentioned in the prior section should be even more popular than usual. Additionally, important complementary pieces such as Dragic, Herro, Rondo and Jae Crowder should also be on plenty of rosters.
Note: On a multi-game slate, I typically try to highlight players that would be considered under-the-radar plays in this section. Naturally, with such a limited player pool, there will be very few low-rostered players that are likely to also be viable from a DFS perspective, so I'll instead focus on two of the best candidates to provide a strong return relative to salary for the two Utility spots in single-game lineups:
Duncan Robinson, MIA vs. LAL ($9,000)
Robinson doesn't come without risk, considering he can often fail to contribute much in non-scoring categories when his shot is off. However, considering his price and the narrow selection of options at the value level, he's worthy of consideration for the upside he can provide if he gets hot. The second-year wing scored 20.2 to 29.4 FanDuel points in four of six games in the conference finals against the Celtics, and he also managed tallies of 30.4 and 32.5 FD points in the earlier rounds against the Pacers and Bucks, respectively. The Lakers have allowed a 35.5 percent success rate to two-guards from three-point range this regular season and postseason, and Robinson is shooting an impressive 40.0 percent from distance on an average of 7.3 three-point attempts in 15 playoff games.
Dwight Howard, LAL vs. MIA ($8,000)
Howard figures to see a solid allotment of playing time during this series against Bam Adebayo, and given his relatively sparse usage in seeding games and most of the postseason thus far, he should have fresh legs with which to hold his own down low. Howard tuned up for what will be a tough assignment with a pair of starts in Games 4 and 5 against the Nuggets, contests in which he parlayed allotments of 23 and 35 minutes in tallies of 29.7 and 23.8 FD points, respectively. He also has recorded 24.6 and 26.6 FD points in two other playoff contests, offering a glimpse of the solid returns he could offer at his reasonable salary.