This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Lock in your contests early, as Sunday's slate tips off at 3:30 p.m EDT. There will be single-game options later in the day for the DEN/PHO game, but today's article will cover all four teams.
The projected totals for the games are far apart once again, but it's not really something you can consider with such a small player pool. Intangibles like home court, rotations and coaching are more important and intriguing, and I think the looming question will be how effective the Sixers can be now that Joel Embiid has returned. While it's not an elimination game for Philly, a 3-1 deficit would be hard to overcome against the Celtics. As such, I'd treat the Sixers like a do-or-die team.
PHO Chris Paul (groin) - OUT
Paul will miss out again, which means Cameron Payne ($4,800) will get the start. Payne didn't do much in Game 3, so he's little more than a salary-saving punt play.
BOS Marcus Smart (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
Smart may suit up and play, but we shouldn't expect too much from him. Unfortunately, the salaries for Malcolm Brogdon ($5,700) and Derrick White ($5,000) are a little overblown, but I'll still get Brogdon involved as he's been far more productive than White this series.
Due to the small slate, elite players will all be above the $6,677 median salary.
Once again, we have some significant overvaluation for our elites, who will experience movement based on the most recent results. It's no surprise to see premium salaries from players like Nikola Jokic ($12,200) and Joel Embiid ($11,200). And though I found my way to Embiid a few times, he didn't make any of my single-entry lineups. The problem with the center position is that there is really no in-between for this slot. You either have to spend up or essentially sacrifice the position.
I could call Jayson Tatum ($10,600) a contrarian selection who won't get much exposure. Many people will see the 19-minute line in the Game 2 blowout and shy away from him, but I think he's worthwhile.
One player who made my single-entry lineups with enough frequency was Kevin Durant ($10,300), who produced 67.6 FDFPs Friday. Chris Paul's (groin) absence put a a lot of pressure on Durant and Devin Booker ($10,500), but I don't think we'll see the duo explode together in Game 4. There isn't much of a salary difference between the two, but I prefer Durant.
From a salary perspective, I expect many to be all over James Harden ($8,300). And who can blame them? He's coming in as a very favorable value, though a look at his results against the Celtics reveals a bit of a mixed bag. If I'm going to shell out at guard, I'd be happier with a tandem of Jamal Murray ($9,200) and Tyrese Maxey ($6,700) or some other less-expensive combo alongside Murray.
Also consider: Jaylen Brown, BOS ($8,300)
EXPECTED CHALK AND VALUE PLAYS
Al Horford, BOS ($6,200)
I think Horford is the lone exception to the judgment call I made earlier about the center position. Robert Williams is too volatile to be trusted, and Horford has jumped around 5x value at this salary for most of the series. He's going to be immensely popular due to dual eligibility, so those who go high at center can use him elsewhere.
Aaron Gordon, DEN ($5,700)
As we delve into players below the median, Gordon stands out as someone with explosiveness potential. His floor has been pretty solid over three games against Phoenix, and he tends to slip into looks while the Suns are busy containing Jokic. And Gordon's also good for a few looks from long-range.
Bruce Brown, DEN ($4,900)
Brown has one of the more desirable salaries in relation to his production, and there's little doubt he'll be popular. Based on his recent body of work, getting to 25 FDFPs is quite attainable and is the minimum we need for him to be viable.
De'Anthony Melton, PHI ($4,700)
Melton is the best example of a boom-or-bust player on the slate. One has to believe that with the number of minutes he receives, a 5x value-beating number is more likely than not. And Melton only needs 23.5 FDFPs to hit that benchmark. I also like that we can use him at SG, where we already need a little help.
An additional note: There are certainly players cheaper than Melton on this slate, and they could be tempting as you try to load up on elites. You could get lucky with someone like P.J. Tucker or Jalen McDaniels, but have a very solid methodology for going low. You lose production when you swap off balance, so be sure to calculate that in your analysis as you reach for another premier player.