This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
The Suns pulled off a convincing win in Game 1, and with the home-court advantage once again in Game 2, there could be another victory in The Valley.
Milwaukee needs to find a solution for Phoenix's top-flight shooting quickly, lest they find themselves down 2-0 before heading back to the midwest. To begin our analysis, let's first look at the winning Game 1 lineup from a popular 25-max-entry tournament.
2x Giannis Antetokounmpo – 104.8
1.5x Chris Paul – 76.96
1.2x Deandre Ayton – 57.36
UTIL Cameron Johnson – 22.6
UTIL P.J. Tucker – 16.6
Upon the announcement of Giannis' return, he immediately became viable as a multiplier threat, and those who pivoted to him were rewarded. The Suns crushed the Bucks with the consistent mid-range jumper, and it was Chris Paul leading that effort with a solid 12-for-19 night from the floor. Ayton was arguably a less-popular player in contests due to uncertainty about how he'd measure up against Milwaukee's frontcourt, but those fears were assuaged with a solid number in Game 1.
The departure of Dario Saric (knee) makes Cameron Johnson even more valuable as a utility player, but the gap in the rotation may make other Suns more valuable than P.J. Tucker this time around. Noticeable absences from the top lineup were Booker, Holiday, Middleton and Lopez.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL ($16,000)
Chris Paul, PHO ($15,000)
Deandre Ayton, PHO ($12,500)
Khris Middleton, MIL ($14,500)
Devin Booker, PHO ($13,500)
Jrue Holiday, MIL ($13,000)
Jae Crowder, PHO ($10,500)
There are no surprises here, and the order above is my order of preference for the multiplier spots. There's a solid argument for going back to the well with the top three from the Game 1 lineup, but your less popular plays due to recency bias will almost always be part of a winning contrarian formula.
Jrue Holiday could not get things going in Game 1, but his playoff results show that this was an outlier game for the standout guard. Holiday is a key reason why the 2021 playoff version of the Bucks is a vast improvement over the 2020 edition, and his shaky start to the series makes him a very viable multiplier pivot. The same is true for Khris Middleton, although many may balk at a salary that may not reach value.
Rounding out the multiplier picks, we have Devin Booker and Jae Crowder. I believe that the loss of Saric could result in increased usage for Crowder as they try to gain a defensive advantage at the four. His reduced price could allow for more desirable utility plays. Booker is the multiplier wildcard tonight.
A look at the game flow indicated a noticeable preference for Cameron Payne to play alongside Paul in the fourth quarter, and Booker has been the first elite to fade in the Suns' lopsided matchups. If we believe that Game 2 will be a tighter affair, then Booker's value increases. Those who think that the Suns will continue to roll may find better opportunities than Booker tonight.
Cameron Johnson, PHO ($8,500)
Mikal Bridges, PHO ($9,000)
P.J. Tucker, MIL ($7,500)
Pat Connaughton, MIL ($8,000)
Torrey Craig, PHO, ($7,000)
I will do everything I can to make Johnson and Bridges my two utility plays whenever possible. Next to Crowder, Bridges is the best option to fill in the minutes left by Saric. The Suns are confident with Bridges shifting into more of a slashing role at the four, and his usage will dwarf the likes of Craig, Frank Kaminsky and Tucker on the other end.
To make this duo happen, you have to make a sacrifice somewhere, and the question becomes whether sacrificing someone like Ayton at the 1.2x is worth this utility boost. The obvious swap appears to be Crowder, but this combo creates a serious correlation challenge for you if you take three Suns at similar positions.
With that in mind, it makes a bit more sense to take the road less traveled with Bridges and Tucker, which will allow you to get Ayton back at the 1.2x multiplier. Johnson's value is unquestioned, but his obvious popularity could hinder your chances in tournament builds.
Giannis is a safe 2x play, so swapping a 2x multiplier is likely not the best way to get unique today. I see merit in swapping around some 1.5x and 1.2x players, but Paul's mid-range game is a bit too good to pass up at 1.5x.
We've already illustrated how Jae Crowder is in a good position tonight with Saric out, and he may prove to be the biggest variable as a multiplier. The yet-to-be-mentioned Brook Lopez could also find himself among the more unique builds. As previously stated, players who couldn't sniff max value in Game 1 (Holiday, Middleton, Booker) will be less popular by default, and getting one of them into your lineup is another great way to get unique.