Friday’s NBA slate features Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
If you’re new to single-game formats, be sure to check out my previous work on the subject:
- 5 Tips to Dominate the DraftKings NBA Showdown Format
- How Does the Single-Game NBA Format on FanDuel Differ From DraftKings?
Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks (-6.5), 217.0 total
Paying up at Captain today comes down to a decision between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. Both players have been tremendous during the postseason, and they possess the highest floor, ceiling and median projections in our NBA Models by a comfortable margin.
Let’s start with Giannis. He’s been the best fantasy asset in basketball on a per-minute basis this season, averaging 1.74 DraftKings points per minute. He’s unsurprisingly seen a bump in playing time during the playoffs after averaging just 32.8 minutes per game during the regular season, which has led to some awesome fantasy performances.
Giannis has scored at least 55.5 DraftKings in four of his past five games, and the only thing that has been able to stop him has been reduced minutes in blowouts. He was merely average on the offensive end in Game 1 of this series but was able to make up for it by grabbing 14 rebounds and totaling five combined steals + blocks. No one in basketball can pile up peripherals like Giannis.
A lot was made of his struggles on offense when matched up with Kawhi during the regular season, but Leonard served as his primary defender for just eight possessions in Game 1. The responsibility of defending Giannis fell mostly to Pascal Siakam, who actually did a wonderful job. That said, Giannis shot 15-of-27 over 93 possessions vs. Siakam during the regular season, which represented an increase of +5.0 points per 100 possessions compared to his regular season scoring average. He could be in line for better offensive results on today’s slate, which makes him the top overall play.
Leonard is coming off 50.25 DraftKings points in Game 1 of this series, but I’m slightly more pessimistic about his Game 2 outlook. Kawhi gets the majority of his fantasy points through real scoring, and he shot just 10-of-26 in his last contest. He shot 53.0% from the field vs. the 76ers, so that represents a big decrease in efficiency.
The Bucks were the best defensive team in the league during the regular season, which makes them a brutal matchup. They have a bunch of different players they can throw on Kawhi defensively, and they were all excellent at performing that task during the regular season:
- Khris Middleton: 143 possessions, -12.5 points per 100 possessions below his season average
- Malcolm Brogdon: 25 possessions, -5.7 points per 100 possessions below his season average
- Sterling Brown: 14 possessions, -9.2 points per 100 possessions below his season average
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: 12 possessions, -4.2 points per 100 possessions below his season average
Middleton and Brogdon were the primary defenders on Kawhi in Game 1, with Middleton guarding him on 51 possessions and Brogdon guarding him on 26. Leonard actually fared pretty well against Middleton, which makes his poor shooting night even more alarming. If he struggles more in that matchup in Game 2 – like he did during the regular season – he could be in for a long night.
Of course, pairing both Giannis and Kawhi in the same lineup is definitely possible, but you’ll have to get creative with the rest of your lineup.
There’s a big drop-off from Antetokounmpo and Leonard to the next tier of players.
Kyle Lowry is coming off a phenomenal performance in Game 1 of this series, but he seems like a prime regression candidate on today’s slate. He wasn’t particularly aggressive in Game 1, posting a usage rate of just 22.0%, but he made up for it by shooting 66.7% from the field and 77.8% from 3-point range. Banking on that kind of efficiency on a night-to-night basis is typically a poor strategy in NBA DFS.
He’s also seen a salary bump across the industry following his Game 1 performance, and he’s now the third-most expensive option on FanDuel. He’s a prime fade candidate.
Khris Middleton is an appealing pivot in this price range. He’s coming off just 32.75 DraftKings points, but he seems due for some positive shooting regression. He’s shot just 33.3% from the field and 25.0% from 3-point range over his past two contests, which represents a big decrease from his regular season averages of 44.1% and 37.8%, respectively. He does have to deal with the individual defense of Kawhi – which is possibly the most daunting matchup in the league – but he’s a much more talented player than his performance in Game 1 indicates.
His ownership should also check in much lower than Lowry’s, which increases his appeal.
Marc Gasol is popping as one of the best values today in our NBA Models. He was initially in a timeshare with Serge Ibaka after arriving in Toronto, but he’s currently dominating the center minutes for the Raptors. He played just under 40 minutes in Game 1 and has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Gasol should be able to take advantage of those minutes in this series. He has a wonderful matchup vs. Brook Lopez, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.86 on DraftKings. As good as Lopez can be on the offensive end – and he was outstanding in Game 1 – he remains the biggest weakness in the Bucks defense.
If you’re not going to pay up for Giannis or Kawhi at Captain, Gasol makes a lot of sense. A lineup with Gasol at Captain and Kawhi and Giannis as utilities leaves an average of $6,100 for your remaining three lineup spots, which allows you to fill out your roster with solid players.
As usual, there are some interesting options at the bottom of the pricing spectrum if you choose a stars-and-scrubs approach on DraftKings:
- George Hill ($3,400): He could play a larger-than-expected role for the Bucks in this series. The Raptors are giving Eric Bledsoe no respect on the perimeter and daring him to make 3-point shots. He’s struggled mightily as a shooter in the postseason, making just 24.5% of his 3s, and Hill will continue to eat into his playing time if he doesn’t improve in that department.
- Ersan Ilyasova ($2,400): He’s not expected to play a ton of minutes – he’s currently projected for 15 in our NBA Models – but he’s capable of doing some damage in limited playing time. He’s averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, so he has big upside if he plays more than expected.
- Fred VanVleet ($2,000): The Raptors need to find more bench production if they’re going to have a shot in this series. Brogdon outscored their entire bench during Game 1, and he scored only 15 points. VanVleet is one of the most likely candidates to give them better bench minutes in Game 2.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NBA News Feed.
Pictured above: Raptors SF Kawhi Leonard (2)
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports