FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Bucks at Nets (6/5/21)

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.

Bucks-Nets Overview

With Joel Embiid hurt for the Philadelphia 76ers, this could the unofficial Eastern Conference Finals. The 2 seed Brooklyn Nets and 3 seed Milwaukee Bucks will battle in Game 1 at Barclays Center tonight as this much anticipated showdown gets under way. The Nets quickly dispensed of the shorthanded Boston Celtics in five games, and the Bucks exacted revenge on the Miami Heat with a clean sweep of last year's Eastern Conference champions.

Per FanDuel Sportsbook, Brooklyn is a 3.5-point favorite for Game 1, and the lofty 239.5-point total should be a mainstay in this series between two of the fastest-paced squads during the regular season.

Injuries and What-Ifs

Thankfully, the top six stars in this series are all ready to go -- which is the opposite of many of the top teams in the league at this moment. Each team has a key rotational injury worth discussing, but they have been injuries since early in their previous series, which has allowed for the FanDuel salaries of these teams to properly reflect their missing rotation piece.

Brooklyn could potentially be missing Jeff Green, who is day-to-day to return from a foot injury. Green has been missing for three games after leaving Game 2 against Boston, but his return would likely negatively impact Blake Griffin, Nicolas Claxton, and others.

For the Bucks, Donte DiVincenzo has already been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs with his foot injury. DiVincenzo's absence has allowed Pat Connaughton to start, and it's also provided a huge boon to Bryn Forbes off the bench.

Player Breakdowns

At The Top

James Harden ($15,500): While Harden's 25.6% usage was well behind Kevin Durant's (31.1%) in the Boston series, his 1.60 FanDuel points per minute in the five-game series was well ahead of Durant's (1.45). As one of the NBA's best catch-and-shoot guards as well as perhaps its best quick passer, Harden does not need the ball in his hands all the time to score or distribute, as he dished out 10.6 assists per game in the Boston series with a low-water mark of 7. Milwaukee allowed the eighth-most FanDuel points per game to shooting guards this season, so with that in mind and Harden being blazing hot from the field, he will carry a great deal of popularity at MVP -- as he should.

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($15,000): In clean sweep of the Miami team that "solved" him in the bubble, The Greek Freak quickly dispensed of the narrative that his style would not translate to the playoffs. He averaged 57.7 FanDuel points per game in the four games versus Miami, and three of the games were essentially decided at halftime. That led to an absurd clip of 1.59 FanDuel points per minute for Giannis, and Antetokounmpo maintained his team-high 29.8% usage in the series. Where this matchup with Brooklyn is so salivating for Giannis is on the offensive glass, as he should see plenty of time at center, and Brooklyn allowed the second-most offensive rebounds to centers in the NBA this season. While Harden likely is the most popular choice at MVP, Giannis is my personal selection.

Kyrie Irving ($13,000): Irving is the clear third wheel on the Nets in terms of usage (24.5%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.05), but the new matchup may bring new life for him. With Durant in a brutal defensive matchup -- presumably versus Giannis -- and Harden likely getting checked by Jrue Holiday, Irving may have a clearer path to scoring. Irving posted a 30.3% usage rate and 1.30 FanDuel points per minute during the entire regular season, so he can go nuts if the matchups fall his way.

Khris Middleton ($12,000): The dynamic of these two rotations is that there are so precious few players who are designated to see heavy minutes, and therefore any option below $10,000 is a roll of the dice. With that in mind, a balanced lineup makes plenty of sense, and that brings Middleton firmly into play. For the salary it takes to pair Irving and Middleton, you can only pair Harden with Bruce Brown Jr., who is a barely a lock to see 15 minutes. After his 47.2 FanDuel points in Game 1 last round, Middleton's services were just simply not needed in the same fashion, but he still posted more than 33 minutes and 34 FanDuel points in two of other three contests.

In The Middle

Brook Lopez ($11,000): Lopez posted his most consistent playoff series as a Buck against Miami, with at least 23 minutes in each contest and averaging 0.95 FanDuel points per minute in the series. While he does bring the most upside below $12,000 given that he erupted for more than 30 FanDuel points 6 times in his last 20 regular season games, Lopez has a very low floor in Game 1. If the Nets decide to run with Brown or Landry Shamet in their fifth spot on the floor, Lopez will likely be matched off the court. While a balanced build is certainly viable, Lopez's salary would need to decrease -- at least in my eyes -- to offset the extreme risk.

Joe Harris ($10,000): Minutes remain undervalued in the mid-range of single-game slates, as the potential path to failure of a player like Harris, who averaged 34.6 minutes per game in the Boston series, is more obvious given that he scored fewer than 13 FanDuel points in two of those five games. Still, a player needs to be on the court to produce points, and numberFire expects Harris to do both, with a projection of 35.6 minutes and 26.9 FanDuel points. No other player below $12,000 has a realistic path to more than 30 minutes, and that scarcity further amplifies Harris' viability.

Bruce Brown Jr. ($9,500): Brown has two major plus signs in his direction entering this series. The first is his playing time, as in the wake of Green's injury, Brown posted 23 minutes in back-to-back games to end the Boston series. But it is well worth noting that the best gauge for minutes in a close game for the Brooklyn rotation was Game 3 of that series, and Brown played just 14 minutes that night. However, head coach Steve Nash might rethink that given Brown's bizarre bump in production, as he posted 1.25 FanDuel points per minute in the final two games of the last series. Blowouts in the NBA playoffs are just a reality in 2021, as well, so it does not hurt that Brown usually sees run in those periods.

Bryn Forbes ($9,000): This summary is penned by a bitter Miami Heat fan, but there are objectively two sides to Forbes as a tournament play in this area. Using more of a pessimistic outlook, Forbes could regress from his shooting performance in the Miami series, where he shot 39.9% from deep in 33 attempts -- and why not shoot if you are making that many? However, especially with DiVincenzo hurt, Forbes has a legitimate offensive role on this team as an option to close late in games, as Forbes had a 20.9% usage rate in the Miami series and averaged 10 shots per game. It would be ideal if Forbes was starting in place of Pat Connaughton, but he is still one of Milwaukee's best options outside their Big 3.

At The Bottom

Blake Griffin ($8,000): Griffin is the new starter at center for Brooklyn with DeAndre Jordan entirely dispatched, and Griffin's best fantasy prospect lies in game conditions in which Brooklyn needs the veteran late in a tight game. His highest minutes total in the Boston series was 24, but that came in Boston's lone win, which the Celtics won late. Griffin's decline as a rebounder -- with fewer than five in each game in the series -- really caps his overall upside despite the likely fast pace in this game, but he still will start and is capable of scoring in double figures, which should lend him to carrying some popularity.

P.J. Tucker ($7,500): With so many offensive superstars on the Brooklyn side, there is always a chance that a defensive specialist like Tucker sees more run. He did just that in the two games of the Miami series after DiVincenzo was lost for the season, averaging 23.5 minutes and playing crunch-time minutes for Milwaukee. Unfortunately, Tucker has posted just a 5.8% usage rate and 0.43 FanDuel points per minute with the Bucks this season, and he never posted more than 15.1 FanDuel points in the Miami series. Tucker does not have the upside to burn you if you choose to fade him and need to save $1,500 in salary to pivot to a minimum punt like Jeff Teague.

Pat Connaughton ($7,000): The salary-versus-expected-role argument is fascinating with Connaughton, as he finds himself lower than Tucker and Landry Shamet despite starting Game 5 and playing 22 minutes. Connaughton's 0.74 FanDuel points is indicative of better performances than the 8.0 FanDuel points he posted in that contest, and our algorithm likes the idea of using Connaughton in this spot, projecting him for 24.9 minutes and 16.8 FanDuel points in Game 1. Given that Milwaukee may play smaller this series than they did versus Miami and Bam Adebayo, Connaughton could see good minutes.

Key Takeaways

-- Kevin Durant led the Nets in usage in their first-round series, but James Harden was far more efficient in terms of FanDuel points per minute.

-- Kyrie Irving posted well below his season-long averages in usage and FanDuel points per minute in Brooklyn's first-round series, which makes him an interesting buy-low candidate as someone expected to dodge Milwaukee's top two defenders.

-- With only six players projected to eclipse 30 minutes and rotational uncertainty on both sides, it is viable to build a more balanced lineup with lower-end stars in the STAR and PRO positions.

-- Joe Harris is the only player under $12,000 projected to see at least 30 minutes by numberFire's model.

-- Pat Connaughton will likely start for Milwaukee and play significant minutes, but his salary is lower than multiple options who failed to surpass 15 FanDuel points at any point in the Bucks' previous series.

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.