FanDuel Single-Game Boost Daily Fantasy Basketball: Conference Finals Preview
Now that the NBA season has whittled down to the conference finals, you may be thinking that daily fantasy basketball has laced up its personified sneakers for the year.
Not so fast.
FanDuel's single-game offerings continue into the conference finals, and there's a new tweak to the game. And don't worry much about the change: the Single Game Boost format will feel familiar if you've played FanDuel's other single-game NBA offering -- or the traditional setup from the regular season.
Here's what you should know.
How to Play
To play Single Game Boost on FanDuel, you'll fill out a five-man roster with your $60,000 salary cap. Those five players include an MVP, a Star, a Pro, and two utility players.
The MVP will have his FanDuel points doubled. The Star will have his fantasy points multiplied by 1.5. The Pro gets a multiplier of 1.2. The two utility players will return the standard FanDuel points.
This means a block from your MVP is worth a full 6.0 FanDuel points and an assist (1.5 FanDuel points normally) from your Star will net you 2.25 points.
This series comes down to how well the Celtics defend LeBron James and how well the rest of the Cavaliers fare as a result. Cleveland won two of three regular-season matchups against Boston, though none of them came since the All-Star break and none of them came since Kyrie Irving's season-ending injury.
For as maligned as Cleveland's defense has been all season, they maintained a defensive rating south of 100 in all three matchups against Boston (who scored 99, 102, and 99 points in those three contests). Boston's effective field goal percentage in these matchups was 45.5% in the opener (October 17th), 51.1% in their January 3rd win, and 46.1% in a February 11th loss. Boston's post-break effective field goal percentage has been 52.6%, for comparison, and in the playoffs, it's been 51.1%. Those rank 16th and 12th, respectively.
This conversation starts and ends with LeBron James. Among 123 players with 100-plus minutes in the postseason, James' 1.54 FanDuel points per minute leads the way. That 1.54 FanDuel-point-per-minute mark would rank 10th among players when everyone else gets the Pro multiplier (1.2), and 27th when they get the Star multiplier (1.5).
This season, James scored 63.7, 38.4, and 52.6 FanDuel points against Boston. If we factor out Irving, only one other player in this series scored 40 FanDuel points in a game (Terry Rozier had 41.3 in the third game). In fact, just one other Cavalier topped 30 against Boston (J.R. Smith had 31.7 in the third game). James' usage and efficiency is too high to want to get cute here.
Star and Pro Tier
Here's where things get more interesting because you can go a lot of different ways. The first place to look would be Al Horford, whose 1.05 FanDuel points per minute in the playoffs ranks him second in the series, but Rozier (0.99), Kevin Love (0.91), and Jayson Tatum (0.91) are in the mix, as well.
In their regular-season matchups, Rozier averaged 1.31 FanDuel points per minute (74 minutes), Marcus Smart averaged 1.03 (62 minutes), and Horford average 1.00 (85 minutes). Love played just 49 minutes against Boston in the regular season (0.86 FanDuel points per minute), for what it's worth.
Unless you're keen on a Kevin Love game, you'll likely want a Celtic in your Star and Pro slot, but whether it's Horford, Rozier, or Tatum depends on how the series and matchup unfolds.
Values to Monitor
In the most recent game, Marcus Morris matched up with LeBron on 52.6% of possessions, while Semi Ojeleye did so on 24.6% of possessions. Sure, Marcus Smart didn't play in that game, but those two covered James primarily in the second matchup, as well.
The Celtics do well to limit three-point attempts, which has translated into the postseason, yet limiting the three-ball wasn't enough to win the season series. Jordan Clarkson (28.1) and Rodney Hood (23.6) fared well against Boston in their lone matchup with Cleveland. They could be thrust into bigger minutes against Boston's guard-heavy rotation.
The Rockets eked out a 122-121 win against Golden State on opening day, lost 124-114 on January 4th, and won again 116-108 on January 20th. Houston owned an effective field goal percentage of 56.0% against Golden State this season, third highest of any Warriors opponent. The Dubs actually shot 61.8% against Houston, second-highest of any team against the Rockets this season.
That shouldn't be a surprise, as Golden State's 112.3 offensive rating just narrowly beat out Houston's 112.2 for tops in the NBA. You may be thinking that the Warriors build a lead in defensive rating, but that's not true. Houston ranked sixth this season with a 103.8 defensive rating. Golden State finished ninth at 104.2.
Between James Harden, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Chris Paul, we have a lot of options for the MVP slot in these matchups. Harden ranked second this season with 1.50 FanDuel points per minute, while Durant (1.38) and Curry (1.37) were still top-15. Paul ranked 20th at 1.27.
In the season series, Paul led the charge with 1.38 FanDuel points per minute. Harden's mark dropped to 1.31, and Durant and Curry were a step behind (1.16 and 1.11, respectively). Any of these four players can take over a game, and all are viable in your MVP spot, with Harden being the default.
Star and Pro Tier
Here, you'd plug in your second-favorite pick of the day, realistically, provided that you can afford to spend up on two of these four studs. If not, then Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Clint Capela would be in consideration.
Green actually averaged 1.33 FanDuel points per minute against Houston in the regular season (102 minutes), second-most in this series (if you look past David West's 1.48 in 35 minutes). Green is notching 1.25 FanDuel points per minute in the playoffs, second among Warriors players.
Thompson's 0.81 FanDuel points per minute are way off the mark of these other top-tier players, and he's averaged that in the playoffs and against Houston over three games. Houston's defense is predicated, in part, on limiting three-point attempts, as well, so that's problematic for Thompson's predictability, though he can always pour in points from deep. Don't write him off in tournaments.
Capela doesn't have the name power as these other picks, yet his 1.32 FanDuel points per minute in the playoffs actually bests Durant's 1.31. Speaking of Durant, both he and Capela averaged 1.16 FanDuel points per minute in the season series, with Capela playing 76 minutes and Durant playing 73.
Values to Monitor
Houston has had a tight rotation in the playoffs, with Harden (35.4), Paul (33.3), Trevor Ariza (32.3), Capela (32.0), Eric Gordon (30.6), and P.J. Tucker (29.8) the only Rockets to average at least 20 minutes per game. Tucker guarded Durant on a team-high 29.7% of matchups in their most recent game. Luc Mbah a Moute did average 28.0 minutes per game in the season series, and his defensive abilities could generate minutes for him in this series.
It's hard to get a good read on the Warriors' value picks, as only five players averaged at least 22 minutes in the season series: Thompson (37.4), Durant (36.5), Curry (34.2), Green (33.9), and Andre Iguodala (30.6). Further, Thompson has guarded Harden on at least 50% of possessions in each of Harden's two games against Golden State this season.
Iguodala and, potentially, David West (who is averaging 1.21 FanDuel points per minute in the playoffs) stand out as the most reliable value plays to start out the series, until the matchup dictates otherwise.