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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Lineup Strategy for Nuggets vs. Heat Showdown on June 12

Matt LaMarca gives his top NBA lineup advice for Monday’s fantasy basketball contest on DraftKings between the Nuggets and Heat.

NBA: Finals-Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets are on the doorstep of their first NBA championship. They had never even made the NBA Finals in their previous 46 years, and they never won a championship in their nine ABA seasons, as well.

Of course, the Nuggets have never had a player like Nikola Jokic. He’s not just the best player in the league at the moment, but he has the potential to be one of the best players in history. It may be a bit premature to put him in that company, but he already has two MVPs and is leading all players in the postseason in scoring, rebounding and assists. I’m not sure if that’s been done previously, but if it has, it can’t have been done very often.

All that remains is one more victory vs. the Miami Heat, and they’ll have home-court advantage in Game 5. Of course, the Heat already managed to shock the world just by getting to the Finals, and they’re the only team to beat Denver at home during the playoffs. Can they do it again?

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $1.25M Finals Shootaround Special [$250K to 1st] (MIA vs DEN)

Denver Nuggets vs. Miami Heat

Captain’s Picks

Nikola Jokic ($24,000 CP): As always, the big question with Jokic is can you afford his price tag. He’s almost impossible to fade entirely — his median and ceiling outcomes are so much higher than everyone else’s — but can you afford to spend $24,000 on just one player? That’s nearly 50% of your salary cap, and it leaves an average of just $5,200 for your five utility spots.

So far in this series, the answer has been no. Jokic has been an optimal utility in all four games, and he’s been the highest-scoring player in all four contests. Still, that hasn’t been enough to pop as the optimal Captain. Even in Game 3, when he went off for a 30-20-10 triple-double and finished with 80.75 DKFP, it still wasn’t enough to land him in the Captain spot.

That probably makes Jokic best-suited for a utility spot in Game 5, but I’m still going to have exposure to him at Captain. He’s the best player in the world at the absolute peak of his powers, and he can crack 60 DKFP in his sleep. He didn’t even play particularly well in Game 4, struggling with both efficiency and foul trouble, and he still finished with 57.5 DKFP. There have been enough contributions from cheap sources in this series — Kevin Love, Christian Braun and Duncan Robinson have all had big games — that you can continue paying up for Jokic in Game 5.

Bam Adebayo ($14,700 CP): As much as I love Jokic, Adebayo stands out as a superior Captain choice for his price tag. He’s nearly $10,000 less than Jokic, and those savings are very helpful. It allows you to pair Jokic with another top-end option like Jimmy Butler or Jamal Murray at utility without sacrificing a ton of upside at the Captain slot.

Adebayo has had an up-and-down postseason, but he’s been at his best vs. the Nuggets. He’s scored at least 40.25 DKFP in all four games, and he’s been aggressive early and often on offense. Getting Jokic into foul trouble and on the bench is probably the Heat’s best chance of pulling off the upset, so expect Adebayo to stay aggressive in Game 5.

Overall, Adebayo has scored at least 21 points in all four games of this series, and he’s added double-digit boards in three of them. He’s also a solid passer for a big man, so he’s capable of racking up fantasy points in a number of ways.

UTIL Plays

Jimmy Butler ($11,800): Choosing between Butler and Murray as your third star is one of the hardest choices on this slate. Murray has been incredible so far this series, racking up a double-double in each of the first four games, but I’m still giving a slight edge to Butler. He was the better fantasy producer during the regular season, and he has a more well-rounded fantasy skill set.

With the Heat facing elimination and two days off before a potential Game 6, Butler also figures to play as much as humanly possible. He logged 45.4 minutes in Game 4, and it wouldn’t shock me if he played even more in Game 5. He’s yet to have a huge game in this series, but he’s gone off for more than 50 DKFP plenty of times during the playoffs.

Bruce Brown ($5,200): With Michael Porter Jr. seemingly lost at the moment, Brown entered the Nuggets’ closing lineup in Game 4. He finished the game with a series-high 29.6 minutes, and he responded with 21 points and 34.5 DKFP.

He’s likely headed for some shooting regression after knocking down eight of 11 shots on Friday, but he can afford some regression at his current price tag. Overall, he stands out as one of the better values on the slate outside of the top tier of players.

Jeff Green ($1,600): Uncle Jeff took just one shot in Game 4, but it was a big one. He knocked down a 3-pointer when Jokic was sitting with five fouls, extending the Nuggets’ lead to nine points with 6:21 remaining.

Green is not the most productive per-minute contributor at this point, but it’s very tough to find a player with the upside for around 20 minutes in this price range. We need salary savers if we’re going to roster guys like Jokic and Butler, and Green stands out as one of the best of the bunch.


Aaron Gordon ($7,200): Gordon is coming off arguably the best game of his career in Game 4. He finished with 27 points, seven boards and six assists on the largest stage possible, resulting in 47.25 DKFP. Gordon was the optimal Captain in Game 4, as well, so he delivered massive value for his price tag.

Gordon has been a vital part of the Nuggets’ lineup during the playoffs, but it seems unlikely he reaches the same heights for fantasy purposes in Game 5. Prior to erupting for at least 34.5 DKFP in both games in Miami, he had eclipsed 27 DKFP just twice in his previous 11 games.

His salary has also increased to $7,200, and while that’s not egregious, it’s still too high his median outcome. Stars-and-scrubs lineup builds are typically the preferred strategy during the playoffs, so fading Gordon at an elevated price tag and focusing on the premium DFS assets makes a lot of sense.


Counting out the Heat has been unwise all postseason, but I struggle to see how they pull off the upset. Their only win in this series was Game 2, and they shot a blistering 17-for-35 (48.6%) from 3-point range. Even so, they still had to overcome an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter, with Robinson going off for 10 points in the final frame. That kind of formula just isn’t sustainable, and the Nuggets still managed to nearly win that contest.

Other than that game, this series has been basically all Denver. They won by at least 13 points in both games in Miami, and they won by 11 points at home in Game 1. The Heat have played over their heads just to get to this point, but the talent discrepancy vs. Denver is too much to overcome.

When all is said and done on Monday, expect the Nuggets to pop champagne for the first time in franchise history.

Final Score: Nuggets 109, Heat 98

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $1.25M Finals Shootaround Special [$250K to 1st] (MIA vs DEN)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.