This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We've reached the conference finals, and the first installment of what should be an intriguing Lakers-Nuggets Western Conference championship set gets us started Tuesday night. There is one big-name injury, but otherwise we should have access to a full player pool.
With just one game on the ledger, we're dealing with FanDuel's single-game contest rosters, which are comprised as follows:
- MVP- (Garners points at 2x the normal rate)
- STAR- (Garners points at 1.5x the normal rate)
- PRO- (Garners points at 1.2x the normal rate)
- Two Utility spots- (Garner points at normal rate)
With salaries also being different than in conventional FanDuel contests on multi-game slates and top players inevitably headed for heavy rostering, there are definitely strategic elements particular to single-game lineups. Finding key value plays for the two utility spots is undoubtedly key, as it enables you to fill out the multiplier spots with some of the top projected producers.
The Nuggets are listed as 6-point home favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook as of early Tuesday, and they're 26-16-1 against the spread in Denver since the start of the regular season.
The projected total of 222.5 points is a solid one for DFS purposes, but it's worth noting three of the four regular-season games between the teams ended with final totals above that figure.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Anthony Davis, LAL (foot): PROBABLE
Davis is fully expected to continue playing through his probable designation, as he's done throughout the postseason thus far.
LeBron James, LAL (foot): PROBABLE
James is also in line to suit up in spite of his probable designation, and like Davis, he should have benefitted greatly from the three days off between games.
Jamal Murray, DEN (illness): QUESTIONABLE
If Murray isn't able to overcome his questionable tag, Reggie Jackson and Bruce Brown would likely be in line to share point guard duties, while elevated usage would be in line for the remainder of the starting five.
Other notable injuries
Mo Bamba, LAL (ankle): OUT
The three highest-salaried players on the slate are Nikola Jokic ($17,500), Anthony Davis ($16,500) and LeBron James ($15,500). All three are excellent candidates for the MVP spot, and whichever two don't make the cut in your lineup are naturally very viable for the STAR spot.
Jokic is coming off a spectacular semifinal-round series against the Suns in which he posted a trio of triple-doubles and averaged 67.8 FD points on 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block per contest. During the regular season, Jokic nearly averaged a triple-double versus the Lakers, churning out 23.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 2.3 steals per contest while shooting 62.3 percent.
Davis averaged 52.6 FD points across six games against the Warriors, posting between 50 and 76.1 FD points in four of those contests. The big man averaged 18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per contest over three games against Denver during the regular season, shooting 58.1 percent in the process.
James averaged 47.1 FD points per game against the Warriors in the semifinal round, scoring over 45 FD points in five of the six contests. LeBron put up 25.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.3 steals per contest against the Nuggets over three regular-season games.
With only one game on the ledger, the likes of Jamal Murray ($13,500), D'Angelo Russell ($11,500) Austin Reaves ($10,500) and Michael Porter ($10,000) should also be very popular. All four players make for very viable options for the STAR or PRO spots.
Murray will have to overcome his questionable designation, and if he does, he brings an average of 43.2 FD points per game from the semifinal round and scored 32.3 to 51.4 FD points in three of the four regular-season meetings against the Lakers.
Russell bounced back from a 1-for-10 shooting night in Game 4 against the Warriors to shot 52.0 percent over the final pair of contests in the series, although he averaged a relatively modest 26.2 FD points per game overall versus Golden State. However, he did shoot 58.3 percent, including 53.3 percent from distance, in three regular-season games against the Nuggets.
Reaves scored over 30 FD points in each of the last three games of the series against the Warriors and has averaged 28.9 FD points across 12 contests since the play-in game win over the Timberwolves while keeping a firm hold of the starting shooting guard role.
Porter finished the semifinal round with just 16 FD points across 24 minutes in Game 6, but he recorded over 34 FD points in each of the three contests before that and averaged 29.4 FD points in two regular-season contests versus the Lakers.
The following players make for strong candidates for the Utility spots:
Aaron Gordon, DEN ($9,500)
Gordon averaged 26.2 FD points across the six-game series against the Warriors while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range, producing a pair of 32.2 FD-point tallies along the way. He's been steady throughout the entirety of the postseason, scoring 24.7 FD points or more in eight of 11 games. Gordon also shot 50.0 percent across four regular-season games versus the Lakers, and Los Angeles has allowed the most rebounds per road game (47.8) of the four remaining teams in the postseason.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, DEN ($9,000)
Caldwell-Pope boosted his fantasy production over the last two games of the series against the Suns, recording 28.9 and 40.5 FD points in those contests. KCP's output is always a bit of a wild card and makes him best suited for tournaments, but he's shooting 39.1 percent from three-point range over 11 postseason games and has exceeded 20 FD points on five occasions during that span. Los Angeles is also allowing elevated 38.4 percent three-point shooting on the road during the postseason, and Caldwell-Pope drained 53.3 percent of his attempts from behind the arc versus the Lakers in four regular-season games.