This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Saturday's single-game slate features Game 5 of the Lakers-Nuggets series, a potential clinching game for Los Angeles. Naturally, the Nuggets have been at this juncture before and worked a couple of miracles, overcoming their current deficit in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds against the Jazz and Clippers, respectively. That undoubtedly gives them a certain degree of confidence in a less-than-ideal scenario, although the obstacle the Lakers present is arguably even more daunting than that of the Clips, which were saddled with an often struggling Paul George.
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 the pricing 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 rosters. 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.
We'll proceed to examine the important injuries for the day below and will also break down the positional outlook, before reviewing possible chalk plays and some of the value plays that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's dive into Saturday's single-game slate!
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets (Projected total: 214.0 points):
This was the same projected total for Thursday's Game 4, and that contest finished with a combined total of 222 points, the third game in four during the series that at least hit the 220-point mark. Nikola Jokic didn't do his part on the offensive end in Game 4, putting up a modest 16 points, but Denver still got to 108 points. The Lakers also had more varied scoring sources than usual in Thursday's win, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13 points) and Dwight Howard (12 points, 11 rebounds) particularly surprising contributors. If that repeats itself Saturday and LeBron James/Anthony Davis continue to play at their usual levels, then this total could easily get eclipsed again.
FanDuel single-game rosters don't have traditional positions that match those on a starting five, so we'll instead break down some candidates for the top three multiplier positions instead:
MVP (2x): Despite some of those unexpected Game 4 contributors alluded to earlier, there are still only four clear-cut candidates for this spot. On the Lakers, that would naturally be LeBron James and Anthony Davis (despite an ankle injury he's expected to play through), while Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic (despite his Game 4 downturn) hold that distinction in Denver. With the Nuggets now officially facing elimination yet again, Murray becomes especially appealing given how he's performed this postseason under pressure, and because he's the cheapest of the four. Of course, if Davis were to take a turn for the worse with his ankle issue and had to sit out, then James suddenly sees his already massive appeal shoot up.
STAR (1.5x): Whichever of the three players from the foursome mentioned above don't make your MVP slot would be fine candidates for this multiplier. In fact, it's accurate to say they'd exclusively constitute the pool you should be considering, as the complementary options on either squad are simply too unreliable to potentially squander this spot on.
PRO (1.2x): Rajon Rondo and Jerami Grant continue to be strong options for this spot, although Michael Porter enters the conversation after another strong performance in Game 4. I still have Porter as more of a Utility Player candidate as detailed later in the article, but Rondo (average of 25.5 FD points in series) and Grant have more secure minutes at the moment. Dwight Howard's Game 4 performance was also impressive, but he, too, is more of a Utility candidate due to some uncertainty regarding his ability to see the same level of opportunity/usage.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
LeBron James, LAL (groin)
James is probable with a groin injury and fully expected to play.
Anthony Davis, LAL (ankle)
Davis is questionable with the ankle injury he sustained in Game 4, but he's expected to play by head coach Frank Vogel. If there were to be an unexpected setback, Markieff Morris would likely step into the starting lineup at power forward, while LeBron James' already elevated usage would naturally get a sizable boost.
Danny Green, LAL (finger)
Green is probable with his left finger injury that he played through in Game 4.
Alex Caruso, LAL (wrist)
Caruso is probable with the right wrist soreness he played through in Game 4.
Dion Waiters, LAL (groin)
Waiters has been upgraded to questionable after being listed as doubtful and then sitting out the Lakers' last seven playoff games. Even if he's cleared to play, it remains to be seen if he'll see any appreciable time on the floor.
The three highest-priced players on the slate unsurprisingly continue to be LeBron James ($16K), Anthony Davis ($15.5K) and Nikola Jokic ($15K), while Jamal Murray checks in $1.5K cheaper than his teammate. There have been some changes in some of those salaries from Thursday, as James, who scored 48.8 non-multiplier FD points in 38 minutes, saw a $500 price drop. Meanwhile, Murray has seen a $500 increase after posting 46.6 non-multiplier FD points. Jokic remains as expensive as he was Thursday despite slumping to 35.4 non-multiplier FD points, his second sub-40-FD-point tally of the series.
With only one game on the ledger, the quartet mentioned in the prior section should be even more popular than usual. Additionally, important complementary pieces Grant and Rondo could also find themselves on plenty of rosters.
Note: On a multi-game slate, I typically try to highlight players that would be considered under-the-radar plays in this section. Naturally, with such a limited player pool, there will be very few low-rostered players that are likely to also be viable from a DFS perspective, so I'll instead focus on two of the best candidates to provide a strong return relative to salary for the two Utility spots in single-game lineups:
Michael Porter, DEN vs. LAL ($9,500)
Porter came through as a recommended value play Thursday, and with his price unchanged, he's right back in play Saturday. The rookie wing posted 25.1 FD non-multiplier points on the strength of a 13-point, eight-rebound effort that included a 50.0 percent success rate from three-point range. Porter now has double-digit scoring efforts in three of the first four games in the series, along with climbing rebound tallies of four, six and eight and minutes between 20 and 29, making his case especially solid.
Dwight Howard, LAL vs. DEN ($8,000)
As mentioned earlier, Howard was a key contributor in Game 4, as he posted a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double that netted 29.7 FD points in what was his first start since Jan. 25. Given the quality of his performance and JaVale McGee's seemingly fading role, it appears likely Howard will be able to once again log a solid workload in Game 5. Additionally, its worth noting Howard also posted 26.6 FD points in just 16 minutes in Game 1 of the series, and he compiled 25.2 (19 minutes) and 26.2 FD (30 minutes) points in two regular-season meetings versus the Nuggets as well.
Other value plays to consider: Monte Morris, DEN vs. LAL ($8,000)