NBA Finals Game 3 (7/11/21)

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In a traditional FanDuel NBA lineup, you have a $60,000 salary cap to roster nine players. In the single-game setup, the salary cap is the same, but the lineup requirements are different.

You select five players of any position. One of your players will be your MVP, whose FanDuel points are multiplied by two. You also select a STAR player (whose production is multiplied by 1.5) and a PRO (multiplied by 1.2). Two UTIL players round out the roster, and they don’t receive a multiplier to their production.

This makes the five players you select important in more than one way, as you need to focus on slotting in the best plays in the multiplier slots rather than just nailing the best overall plays of the game. Read this piece by Brandon Gdula for some excellent in-depth analysis on how to attack a single-game slate in NBA DFS.

Suns-Bucks Overview

The Milwaukee Bucks could be in trouble. While they have yet to host a game at home in this year’s NBA Finals, they are down 2-0 in the series and in a desperate situation to win Saturday. The good news? Giannis Antetokounmpo appears to be healthy enough, and they will have plenty of fan support to battle the Phoenix Suns in Game 3.

Milwaukee is actually a 4.0-point home favorite for Game 3 currently on FanDuel Sportsbook. The over/under for the contest is set at 222.0, which is an interesting mark with totals of 223 and 226 in the series thus far. The Bucks were the 3rd-fastest team in terms of pace in the regular season, whereas Phoenix was 28th. That makes the fairly average total fully understandable.

Injuries and What-Ifs

It is great to see a clean injury report — other than two peripheral contributors for Phoenix — in such an injury-mired postseason. The Suns are watching the status of Torrey Craig for Game 3, as he is day-to-day with a knee injury that was feared to be much worse. Craig only played 13 minutes in Game 1, so the loss has very little impact to their rotation, other than a slight bump to Abdel Nader.

Phoenix is also without Dario Saric for the remainder of the series after Saric tore his ACL in Game 1.

Player Breakdowns

At The Top

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($16,000): The question entering this series was what Giannis, coming off a knee injury, could contribute, but the question has quickly morphed to whether or not he can carry his team. Despite a superhuman 42-minute performance where he posted 71.4 FanDuel points, he was not able to win Game 2 either. Giannis currently has the clear market share in both usage (30.5%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.64) compared to his struggling teammates, so he is in a great position at the default MVP on the slate.

If looking outside the injury for a reason to use in a STAR or PRO spot instead, Antetokounmpo is unlikely to continue his 61.4% shooting through two games against such a staunch Phoenix defense, which is posting the second-best defensive rating this postseason (107.0).

Chris Paul ($14,000): This is the NBA veteran’s moment, and Paul is fully aware of that. He has now scored at least 22 points in each of the past 4 contests after hitting that mark in just 2 of 12 contests before the upward trend. Part of that may be heath as Paul recovers from a shoulder injury, but a majority of that can be attributed to his absurd 56.6% efficiency in the series so far, and an even higher 58.6% mark from three-point territory.

His peripheral usage is actually a step behind Devin Booker’s at just 26.5%, so the question becomes how much that may turn as he looks to secure the Finals MVP trophy that would add a good deal to his legacy.

Khris Middleton ($13,500): One of the Bucks’ co-stars should find a return to form at home, and Middleton is a great candidate given that he’s already put a 29-point scoring effort together in Game 1. An underrated aspect of Middleton’s fantasy production in the series with the Atlanta Hawks was his rebounding. He averaged 8.0 contest against an Atlanta team that was the fourth-worst rebounding squad in the playoffs.

The Suns are exactly middle-of-the-pack in that category, which is an improvement, and perhaps means Middleton’s ceiling is more reliant on his scoring. He will have to improve upon his 31.7% shooting from Game 2 to score but still should see his looks with a 24.1% usage rate despite the struggles.

Deandre Ayton ($13,000): Entering this series with Phoenix so slow and Milwaukee so fast in terms of pace, Phoenix’s rebounders were all in great spots to score in this series, and it has taken a well-rounded statistical effort for Ayton to lead the Suns in FanDuel points per minute in the series thus far at 1.14.

His overall usage (12.1%) at this salary, though, is fairly concerning, and he has taken only 10 shots in both games. He still is playing north of 40 minutes as a 12.4-rebounds-per-36-minutes player in the regular season. That means he will have monstrous double-double upside in any of these games. Despite this, an MVP-caliber performance would be tough to visualize from a scoring perspective.

In the Middle

Jrue Holiday ($12,000): Holiday was the biggest beneficiary of Antetokounmpo’s absence late in the Atlanta series, but his 31.0% shooting from the field in this series has him squarely at the end of the stake in the national media as Milwaukee has fallen behind.

Now at more of a mid-range salary, the question of whether Holiday can return to his form before the Giannis injury will determine whether he pays off a STAR or PRO spot.

His 21.7% usage and 0.92 FanDuel points per minute are both behind his marks from the first four games of the Atlanta series, but his minutes and defense remain unchanged.

Brook Lopez ($11,000): Lopez’s spot here is more of a warning than a recommendation. He is absolutely delivering to the maximum extent of his role at the moment: he has cashed in a 1.17 FanDuel points per minute mark in this series, which is second-best on the team.

Lopez, however, is fourth amongst starters in usage at 19.5%, and much more concerning is his 25.5 minutes per game in the series. Lopez has been the subject of much discussion that he has had severe defensive implications on Milwaukee, and with options such as Bobby Portis and Bryn Forbes potentially available, he is the one starter whose role in potentially in flux.

Jae Crowder ($10,000): In terms of core plays, both Crowder and Mikal Bridges are at the top of the list beyond obvious studs. Both have lost a good deal of their competition with Saric and Craig hurt, as well as Cameron Johnson‘s minutes decreasing early in the series. Crowder has had a dreadful start to the series where he is shooting lower from the field (25.0%) than three-point territory (30.0%) but did at least rebound with three 3 in Game 2.

Crowder’s 11.7% usage is lowest among Phoenix starters, and he is just averaging 0.62 FanDuel points per minute while also yet to get it going on the glass. He is affordable in salary but has a very limited path to a big game.

Mikal Bridges ($9,500): Bridges is arguably the top value play on the slate given his role in the offense compared to his salary. He is projected for his usual healthy 35.2 minutes by numberFire, and his peripheral usage blows away anyone in his salary neighborhood.

Bridges is third amongst Phoenix starters with a 21.9% usage and 0.87 FanDuel points per minute, and the only downside is that he already had his ceiling game in Game 2 with 38.9 FanDuel points.

That will inflate his popularity, but it should still be justified, and as always, a way to differentiate with him could be a multiplier spot in tournaments.

At The Bottom

Cameron Johnson ($8,500): The Suns appears to be leaning less on the second-year sixth man. Johnson still led all Phoenix reserves with 18 minutes in Game 2, but that is not a lofty bar with the Suns essentially abandoning their bench at this point. Considering the Milwaukee forwards on the court nearly twice as often below him in salary, he is a tournament play at best.

Johnson has still been making great use of his minutes by averaging 0.96 FanDuel points per minute. For what it is worth, Johnson’s 14.8 projected points by numberFire are still second of options below $9,000.

Pat Connaughton ($8,000): The value debate on this slate comes down to which low productivity Milwaukee forward suits you. Milwaukee has two players seeing real, substantial minutes below $9,000, and Connaughton’s 31.0 minutes per game in this series comes as a surprise after averaging just 25.2 minutes in the Atlanta series — and even fewer in the last two contests without Giannis.

He is still averaging just 0.57 FanDuel points per minute in this series, but he should be the less popular alternative to P.J. Tucker given his higher salary and coming off the bench.

P.J. Tucker ($7,500): Tucker is likely as low as one wants to go if avoiding a $6,000 punt, which was the strategy in the perfect lineup in two NBA Finals games last year with rotations so short. Compared to his teammate, Connaughton, Tucker amazingly has posted a lower FanDuel-points-per-minute rate (0.44) in this series, and he has taken 6 or fewer shots in 7 of the last 10 games that Giannis has played.

In short, his role will not be very good, but guaranteed north of 35 minutes as a defensive-minded starter, Tucker always has single-game upside from steals and blocks.

Key Takeaways

— Despite his ankle issues, Antetokounmpo still is a distant leader on both squads in usage and FanDuel points per minute in the series.
— Devin Booker led Phoenix in usage in the first two contests of the series, yet Chris Paul posted a higher FanDuel points per minute rate.
— Phoenix’s relative strength on the glass compared to the Atlanta Hawks has significantly reduced Khris Middleton’s presence rebounding, which lowers his overall floor.
— Mikal Bridges’ usage rate in the series is 9.1% higher than two other Suns players despite being below both of them (Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder) in salary.
— Pat Connaughton and P.J. Tucker are the only two players averaging over 20 minutes at $9,000 or below.



Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.



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