The 2021 NBA Finals begins Tuesday night, with an unlikely matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s been a long and tumultuous road for both teams in getting to this point — this has been one of the more unusual postseasons in recent memory, with the seemingly endless barrage of major injuries across the league. The Suns are fully healthy by all accounts at this point, but the Bucks are still waiting to find out if Giannis Antetokounmpo will be ready to take the court again after the knee injury he suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals. That status update will surely dictate much of how this series plays out, and it’ll of course be a major factor to consider for DFS players as they get ready for the large contests that coincide with Game 1.
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$2.25M Fantasy Bball Millionaire
The DraftKings Championship Series featured tournament for Game 1 between the Suns and Bucks is yet another millionaire contest, with a $25 buy-in and over $2.25M in total prizes. The winner of this tournament will receive the usual million-dollar top prize, as well as a ticket to DraftKings Championship Series - Fantasy Tournament of Champions, which is tentatively scheduled for early 2022.
Will Antetokounmpo play?
As mentioned above, the strategy for the upcoming slate is going to vary greatly depending on the health and status of Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200). He initially hurt his knee in Game 4 vs. the Hawks. Khris Middleton ($10,400), Jrue Holiday ($9,200) and the rest of the Bucks then stepped up in a big way to win the series without their star player.
With a potentially long series ahead of us, it seems safe to assume Antetokounmpo won’t be out there for Game 1 unless he’s somewhere near 100%, which means he’d probably be a strong target for showdown contests if he’s on the court. In that scenario, Middleton, Holiday and many other Bucks would be overpriced — at least relative to what they cost in games Antetokounmpo participates in — so this would likely lead to Suns-heavy lineups being a more popular showdown strategy due to the cheaper prices.
What happens if Antetokounmpo is out?
If Antetokounmpo does miss this game, however, Middleton and Holiday would seemingly become the focal points of the slate. Brook Lopez ($7,400) and Bobby Portis ($6,800) have also taken on an increased role over the last few games, so they would probably become priorities for many DFS players, as well. Lopez’s playing time is often inconsistent when Antetokounmpo is healthy, but he’s been relied upon more for his defense in games where Antetokounmpo isn’t there to help protect the rim. Portis actually didn’t play much at all in the second round vs. the Nets, but his role ballooned vs. the Hawks — he’ll almost certainly remain in the starting lineup for the NBA Finals for as long as Antetokounmpo isn't on the court.
From a matchup perspective, one thing that will be interesting to keep an eye on is which of the Suns star players Holiday winds up guarding. Holiday is among the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, and his skill set would be extremely useful against either Chris Paul ($9,800) or Devin Booker ($9,600). The decision between Paul and Booker in lineups may come down to which of them can avoid Holiday more throughout the game. Either way, there are a handful of high-level fantasy producers in this matchup — including Deandre Ayton ($8,400) — and it’s going to be interesting to see how lineups are put together with all of these great players to choose from.
For more info on the series and all of the events, visit our DraftKings Championship Series Information page.
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