Sunday features Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.
The Nuggets rolled in Game 1, winning 104-93 despite losing the fourth quarter by 10 points. They are once again 8.5-point home favorites in Game 2 as they look to win their 12th-straight home game. The Nuggets haven’t lost at home since March 30, so the Heat will have their hands full Sunday as they look to tie up this series before going back to Miami.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics.
Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups. Also, make sure to check out Matt LaMarca’s article if you’re looking for a refresher on the single-game format.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
NBA DFS Stud Picks
Triple-double machine Nikola Jokic recorded 27 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds in Game 1, shooting 8-for-12 from the field and 10-for-12 from the free-throw line. Jokic has the highest ceiling projection by far on DraftKings and FanDuel in our NBA Model, as he fell just short of 70 DraftKings points last game. Jokic’s salary has risen, but no one touches his ceiling.
Jokic has dominated this matchup against the Heat frontcourt over the last three years, and he will have an advantage for the entire NBA Finals series. He should once again take advantage of this matchup in Game 2. Jokic is the only player at the captain position who has a ceiling projection in the triple-digits. Don’t get cute; Jokic is by far the best play on this slate.
Jimmy Butler was not aggressive at all in Game 1, only attempting 14 field goals with a playoff-low 18% usage rate. It wouldn’t be surprising if Butler was tired from the Eastern Conference Finals going seven games, but for the Heat to be competitive they will need an aggressive Butler in Game 2. He usually bounces back, and that is what is expected Sunday.
Among the four studs, Butler has the lowest projected ownership at the Captain/MVP position, making him a great contrarian pay-up option. Butler has shown inconsistencies from a DraftKings-points perspective, but he has the upside to be the highest-scoring player on the slate. Prioritize Butler on FanDuel, where he is $15,500 and has a Bargain Rating of 98% for Game 2.
Jamal Murray picked up right where he left off against the Lakers, scoring 26 points in Game 1 with 10 assists and six rebounds in a game-high 44 minutes. Murray has made double-digit field goals in five-straight games while shooting 57.3% from the field and 38.6% from behind the arc over that time. He is playing at a career-best level with an incredible upside.
Murray’s salary is way too close to Butler on FanDuel, but he gets a nice discount on DraftKings with a 96% Bargain Rating for the utility position. Over the last five games, Murray is averaging over 55 DraftKings points per game. He has recorded a positive Plus/Minus in nine consecutive games and certainly deserves consideration for the captain/MVP position Sunday.
Bam Adebayo had a fantastic Game 1, finishing with a 26-point, 13-rebound double-double while also recording five assists. He had a team-high 29.8% usage rate, as he shot a career-high 25 field goals. Shockingly, he did not attempt a free throw, but Adebayo has the highest projected Plus/Minus among the studs and the highest ownership at the captain spot.
Getting Adebayo at $8,800 is an absolute steal, as his salary dropped despite his fantastic Game 1 performance. He has a slate-high 98% Bargain Rating and is projected for the highest captain ownership, just above Jokic. Adebayo has recorded a double-double in three-straight games. Even though he may not attempt 25 field goals again, his upside remains very high.
NBA DFS Midrange Picks
Michael Porter Jr. rebounding the ball this well has put the Nuggets over the top. He has a double-double in four of his last five games and in three straight, as he has proven he is more than just a scorer. Despite shooting 2-for-11 from behind the arc in Game 1, Porter Jr. still recorded 38.25 DraftKings points. He has double-digit 3-point attempts in three consecutive games and is only shooting 32.6% from the field. If his shot falls, Porter Jr. could make a running for the optimal lineup.
Caleb Martin was held out of practice on Saturday due to an illness and is questionable to play in Game 2. Make sure to monitor his status the closer we get to lock, as he has been an important part of the Heat’s rotation during the postseason. After back-to-back games with a double-double and 20-plus points to close out the Celtics, Martin only shot 1-for-7 from the field in Game 1 and barely scored double-digit DraftKings points. We’ve seen the upside displayed, just make sure he is healthy.
Aaron Gordon came out of the gates hot, scoring 12 first-quarter points. He finished with 16 total points, shooting 7-for-10 from the field and taking advantage of mismatches with his size and strength. Playing alongside Jokic has propelled his game to a whole new level. Since joining the Nuggets in 2021, Gordon has shot 50% or better in every season. Outside of the four stud options, Gordon has the highest projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings at his very inviting $6,400 price tag.
Tyler Herro is listed as out for Game 2, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he was a mid-day upgrade to questionable, especially with Martin’s status in jeopardy. He likely isn’t fantasy-viable, but he is worth mentioning if he plays.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played 36 minutes in Game 1, but he only had a 13.3% usage rate as he scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds. It was a disappointing scoring night, but Caldwell-Pope is still averaging 14.5 points per game in his last five games. Prioritize Caldwell-Pope on FanDuel, where he is an elite value at $8,000 resulting in a 91% Bargain Rating. He has the highest projected Plus/Minus on the slate and simply plays way too many minutes as a starter to be priced this low.
Bruce Brown only played 21 minutes in Game 1, but he put up 20.75 DraftKings points as he stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal. His salary has dropped on DraftKings since Game 1, making him a very reasonable value play. Brown has scored over 20 DraftKings points in six of his last seven games. In his first season with the Nuggets, Brown averaged a career-high in points and is a valuable piece off the bench, especially scoring the ball.
Gabe Vincent was one of the Heat’s best players in Game 1, finishing with 19 points as he shot 7-for-14 from the field and 5-for-10 from behind the arc. He added five assists and scored 33 DraftKings points, and he is one of the best values on the slate at only $5,400 with an 89% Bargain Rating. Vincent has scored double-digit points in five-straight games with at least three assists in four of those five games. For the scoring upside that Vincent provides, he is too cheap on DraftKings at this salary.
Backing up Vincent is Heat point guard Kyle Lowry, who is much cheaper on FanDuel, where he should be prioritized. Lowry stuffed the stat sheet in Game 1 with 11 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 26 minutes. If Martin is out, Lowry is another Heat player who will need to step up. Due to the peripherals that he always seems to get, Lowry is one of the safest cash-game plays on the slate. His upside is limited, but Lowry is as safe as they come despite the Heat being big underdogs.
NBA DFS Values & Punts
- Max Strus ($4,600 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel): Game 1 was one to forgot for Strus who shot 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-9 from behind the arc. He did contribute with five rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes, but Strus was held scoreless for the second time during the postseason. Expect a bounceback shooting night from Strus, who has made at least two 3-pointers in 13 of his 19 playoff games. The minutes and field-goal attempts will certainly be there.
- Duncan Robinson ($3,800 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Similar to Strus, Robinson relies on his perimeter shooting to capture fantasy points. He shot 1-for-6 from the field and 1-for-5 from downtown in Game 1. That was the second time in his last seven games where Robinson failed to score double-digit points. If the Heat want to win Sunday, Robinson will need to find his shot. His upside is similar to Strus, but Robinson is cheaper on DraftKings and FanDuel.
- Haywood Highsmith ($3,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): The Heat role player that really popped off in Game 1 was Highsmith, who finished with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting in 23 minutes. Highsmith was the captain in the winning lineup for the DraftKings $25 Milly Maker in Game 1, so it’s not surprising that his salary and ownership are spiking. Our model has Highsmith projected for a modest 14 minutes Sunday, but if Martin is out, that should rise significantly.
- Jeff Green ($2,400 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel): Green continued his streak of playing double-digit minutes in Game 1, as he scored four points and grabbed one rebound. He is a pure punt play who can randomly pop off for double-digit fantasy points. Prioritize Green on FanDuel, where he has a $6,000 salary, which is too cheap for his playing time.
- Christian Braun ($1,400 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel): Braun rejoined into the rotation in Game 1, playing eight minutes but failing to score with one rebound and one assist. His upside is very limited due to his playing time and usage rate, but Braun fits well in a stars-and-scrubs lineup build. He is a couple 3-pointers away from being optimal.
- Cody Zeller ($1,200 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Zeller was the backup center of choice to be thrown into the wolves against Jokic, and he did grab three rebounds in his eight minutes in Game 1. He is another pure punt play, but since Zeller is a center, there is a better chance he can provide more fantasy upside being around the rim often.