Wednesday features Game 4 of the NBA Finals starting at 9 p.m. ET.
This series had the potential to turn into a blowout after the first two contests.
The Suns won both of their home games by comfortable margins, giving them a 2-0 series lead heading to Milwaukee. Historically, teams who take a 2-0 lead end up winning a seven-game series approximately 92.6% of the time, so they were clearly in control heading into Game 3.
That said, the Bucks found a way to right the ship at home, recording a 120-100 victory. That has had a large impact on this series. The Suns are still listed as -265 to win the series, but the Bucks are listed as five-point favorites in Game 4. If they can secure another victory at home, the series will be tied up at two games apiece heading back to Phoenix. That makes this another must-win game for the Bucks.
You could make a case that Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only true fantasy stud in this series. He’s the best fantasy player in virtually every series that he plays in, but the gap is particularly wide against the Suns.
His median projection is more than 20 points higher than every other player in our NBA Models, and the gap in ceiling projection is even larger. That makes him a must-play, and he should garner heavy consideration for the Captain spot on DraftKings. He was the optimal Captain in Game 3, and he was a utility in the optimal lineup for Games 1 and 2.
Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are the other players worthy of stud consideration for the Bucks. Both players have been extremely reliable from a fantasy perspective during the postseason, and both have merits on today’s slate.
Middleton is projected for more minutes than any other player in our NBA Models, while Holiday has scored at least 41.75 DraftKings points in back-to-back games. Holiday also stands out as one of the best pure values on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 93%.
Devin Booker is coming off a disastrous performance in Game 3. He finished with just 20.5 DraftKings points, which was his lowest output of the postseason. In fact, he hadn’t scored less than 29.0 DraftKings points in any previous postseason contest, so that was a major outlier.
His minutes were slightly down because the game turned into a blowout, but the bigger issue was that his shots just weren’t falling. He went just 3-of-14 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3-point range, and he also got to the free-throw line just five times. I’m expecting some positive regression in Game 4.
Chris Paul rounds out this price range, and he continues to look like a bargain. He’s been just as involved as a scorer as Booker to start this series — Paul’s usage rate is 27.5%, Booker’s is 28.8% — but Paul is much better in the peripheral categories.
He unsurprisingly leads the Suns in assist rate, and he’s scored at least 40.5 DraftKings points in three of his past four games. Paul does have the lowest minute projection among players in the stud tier, but he trails only Giannis in terms of per-minute production.
Deandre Ayton is coming off his worst game of the series in Game 3, which is the case for most of the Suns’ players. That said, there is a lot to like about him in Game 4.
For starters, his price has decreased by $800 on DraftKings over the past two games, and his usage rate was way up in Game 3. He finished with a usage rate of 26.3% after posting a mark of 14.4% or less in the first two games. If he can keep that same usage rate and return to his normal workload in Game 4, he has massive upside at his reduced price tag.
Mikal Bridges has been hit or miss in this series, which is not all that surprising. His fantasy production comes from his ability to make 3-pointers, which makes him a volatile player. When he’s making his jumper — as he did in Game 2 — he has the potential to go off for 40+ fantasy points. When he’s missing them, he’s going to bust. He’s a bit too expensive on DraftKings, but he’s a nice option on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 92%.
Jae Crowder’s price tag has jumped up for Game 4, which is to be expected given his recent performances. He’s scored at least 32.0 DraftKings points in back-to-back games, but it seems unlikely that he can replicate that production again today.
He’s posted a minuscule usage rate in his past two games, but he’s been red-hot from 3-point range. Crowder has shot 9-of-12 from deep over that time frame, which makes him a prime regression candidate in Game 4.
Brook Lopez was instrumental in getting the Bucks to the Finals, but this hasn’t been a great series for him. The Suns have exploited him on defense, so Lopez hasn’t played nearly as many minutes. He’s logged 28 minutes or fewer in all three games vs. the Suns, including just 21.2 minutes in Game 3.
Still, his price has dropped pretty significantly since Game 1, and he should see a few additional minutes if today’s game is more competitive. Lopez has some buy-low appeal, particularly on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 95%.
Bobby Portis exploded for 22.5 DraftKings points in Game 3 after scoring 9.25 or less in each of his first two games of this series. His fantasy projection for Game 4 should come somewhere in the middle. He clearly underperformed in the first two games against the Suns, but his Game 3 performance is an outlier. He posted a usage rate of 30.6%, which was his second-highest mark of the postseason.
Cameron Payne saw a few additional minutes in Game 3, and he finished with his highest fantasy output of the series. That said, that was likely due to the game being a blowout, so expect him to return to his usual workload on Wednesday.
Pat Connaughton rounds out this tier, and he is my favorite option outside of Ayton. He’s seen a nice spike in playing time recently, logging at least 30 minutes in three of his past four games. Connaughton has responded with at least 18.75 DraftKings points in all three contests. His price has barely budged, so he’s a nice source of value again in Game 4.
Values & Punts
- Cameron Johnson ($3,800 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel): Johnson stands out as one of the best values on the slate. His playing time has been trending upward, yet his salary has actually decreased. He’s currently projected for 24.8 minutes in our NBA Models, and he can pay off this price tag pretty easily with that much playing time.
- P.J. Tucker ($3,400 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel): Playing time is never an issue for Tucker, and he has actually been a decent source of fantasy production of late. He’s scored at least 14.75 DraftKings points in five straight games, which gives him a nice floor at his current price tag. That said, he possesses virtually no ceiling.
- Jeff Teague ($2,200 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Teague has seemingly jumped Bryn Forbes in the rotation, and he’s logged at least 12.1 minutes in back-to-back games. He doesn’t need to do much to pay off his current price tag.
- Frank Kaminsky ($2,000 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Kaminsky is coming off 13.5 DraftKings points in his last game, but he definitely benefitted from that game being a blowout. The team clearly doesn’t trust him on the court when the game is still in question, and he played less than a minute in Game 2. That makes him risky even at such a minimal salary.
- Torrey Craig ($1,800 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): Craig is probably your best option if you’re looking at a pure punt on DraftKings. He should see around 12 minutes, and he’s attempted three 3-pointers in each of his past two games.
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images.
Pictured: Devin Booker.