FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: NBA Finals Game 1

In a traditional FanDuel NBA lineup, you have a $60,000 salary cap to roster nine players. The salary cap is the same in the single-game setup, 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 choose 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 for their production.

This makes the five players you select essential in more than one way; 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.

Heat-Nuggets Overview

Away Home Game

Though the betting line is nearly as split as we've seen in two decades, we can still try to squeeze some fun out of the 2023 NBA Finals. As you'd expect, the teams that have emerged from each conference are pretty quiet on the injury report.

The Heat are definitely represented more of these two clubs. Bam Adebayo (shoulder) and Gabe Vincent (ankle) are listed as available but dealing with ailments, and of course, one of the major storylines of the series is if Tyler Herro (broken hand) can return. It won't be in Game 1.

Denver's injury report is completely blank entering this one, which is one of the many reasons they won the Western Conference.

Player Breakdowns

At The Top

All series, there should really be just three MVP candidates to consider.

The defacto top option should be Nikola Jokic ($17,500) of the Nuggets, who eclipsed 65 FanDuel points three times in the series against Los Angeles. All other options have done it four times combined. Jokic's difficult work in the playoffs is likely done; Miami's 49.7% rebounding rate is sixth-worst in the NBA playoffs, and they don't regularly play a contributor taller than 6'9". Barring an injury or a meltdown, he should produce all series.

Jimmy Butler ($16,000) is the obvious choice if you're constructing a lineup built on a Game 1 upset. Butler hasn't regularly produced like Jokic, but he's topped 50 FanDuel points in 9 of Miami's 18 playoff games, leading the team comfortably in usage rate (29.0%), touches (77.5), and potential assists per game (10.1). He's their do-it-all force.

The only other player to eclipse 65 FanDuel points this postseason is Jamal Murray ($15,500), and Murray did usurp Jokic's FanDuel-point total in two of four games against L.A. Even in a Nuggets blowout, it's possible an explosive scoring effort from Murray was the cause. The usage gap between Jokic (30.3%) and Murray (27.2%) is closer than many would guess or acknowledge.

In The Middle

If the Heat are going to win games in this series, it's probably off the back of a dual-sided monstrous effort from Bam Adebayo ($13,000).

Adebayo disappeared in the Boston series, failing to top 20 points in any of the final five games. His seasonal work against the Nuggets is intriguing, though. In two matchups, Adebayo averaged 20.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 stocks (steals plus blocks). The stocks could be truly representative of his speed advantage over Jokic.

Michael Porter Jr. ($12,500) filling it up in a Denver rout shouldn't be a huge surprise. Porter's playoff usage rate (16.1%) has just cost him the upside of his two teammates, but we saw huge efforts from Derrick White and Marcus Smart in Miami's last series as they have a way of forcing the ball out of the stars' hands. If Porter Jr. is asked to shoot, he's constantly knocked them down in the playoffs (57.4 eFG%).

I'll likely fade Caleb Martin ($12,000) all series. Martin's 16.0% playoff usage rate is horrible for a guy that managed 19.3 points per game against Boston. His 73.8 eFG% from that series is laughably unsustainable.

Aaron Gordon ($10,000) is the last option with a five-digit salary, and Gordon could have a much stronger series now drawing Martin in lieu of Anthony Davis. He also stands to benefit from Miami's rebounding woes and figures to be the lone Denver starter that's not overwhelmingly popular.

At The Bottom

Assuming the vast majority of players lock Jokic as the MVP and he's optimal, you'll have to be very different down here.

That's where Bruce Brown Jr. ($9,500) could come in handy. Admittedly, Brown's profile is a bit concerning when he's not a great three-point shooter (28.9% in the regular season) and would be an obvious target for Spo. Plus, Brown played just 20 minutes in the last game. He'll be unpopular if he works his way into a full role despite the odds.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($7,500) should start ahead of him, and after playing at least 34 minutes in three of Denver's four wins against the Lakers, he'll be the most popular guy in this tier by a mile. He's only averaged 23.9 FanDuel points per 36 in the playoffs where his production has increased, though. He's not bulletproof despite the friendly salary.

To my surprise, the Heat have leaned toward Gabe Vincent ($8,500) over Kyle Lowry ($8,000) as these playoffs have progressed, and that'll be a decision of differentiation in tournaments tonight. Lowry has averaged just 25.2 minutes per game in the playoffs.

Deciding the rest of Miami's rotation is kind of ugly, too. If Miami tries to limit Jokic above all, Kevin Love ($6,500) and Cody Zeller ($6,000) could get additional burn.

Behind them, Max Strus ($7,000) isn't doing much lately but logged a tier-high 28 minutes in Game 7 over Duncan Robinson ($7,000) and Haywood Highsmith ($6,500). He's not projected to be too popular as a guy that could cash a handful of first-quarter triples.