Tuesday night’s NBA slate features seven games with injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze the following two:
- Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers: 7 p.m. ET
- Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets: 10:30 p.m. ET
Injury: Jimmy Butler (rest) is out.
Injury background: Butler will be held out of Tuesday’s game vs. the Cavs for rest purposes. Coach Brett Brown elected to go with James Ennis in the final four minutes of Sunday’s win after Butler appeared to be bothered by a foot injury.
Boban Marjanovic is available to play after missing the previous six games due to a right knee bone bruise.
Tonight’s impact: Ennis is expected to replace Butler in the starting lineup for his first start as a member of the Sixers. Since joining the team, he has yet to play 20 minutes and has averaged just 0.72 DraftKings points per minute.
Tuesday will mark the first game without Butler since Tobias Harris was acquired. With Butler off the court in that span, Harris and J.J. Redick have benefited from the largest increase in usage rate, per the NBA On/Off tool.
Joel Embiid (knee) returned from an eight-game absence and didn’t miss a beat with 33 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes on Sunday. His individual matchup could be enhanced if the Cavs remain thin in the frontcourt with Tristan Thompson (foot) and Larry Nance Jr. (rib) dealing with injuries and Kevin Love resting.
After Tuesday’s game, the Sixers are off until Friday, alleviating any concerns about scaling back minutes for key players. However, the 14.5-point spread could limit playing time for the starters.
With Love off the court for the Cavs, the team’s Net Rating drops from 2.0 to -11.3 this season. Traveling on the road in the second leg of a back-to-back also hinders Cleveland’s chances of remaining competitive.
The Sixers have been considerably worse with Butler off the court this season, and taking the over becomes an appealing play, as Philly’s Defensive Rating is nearly four points worse without Butler.
Injuries: Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) and Andrew Wiggins (quad) are questionable. Luol Deng (Achilles) is out.
Injury background: Towns received positive news from an MRI that showed no serious damage to his knee, but he’s still questionable on Tuesday after missing Sunday’s win. After playing in every game in his career, he has now missed three games over the last 2.5 weeks.
Wiggins is questionable due to a bruised left quad that has sidelined him for the previous two games, while Deng will miss his seventh straight.
Tonight’s impact: Towns and Wiggins were both absent on Sunday, and Taj Gibson and Keita Bates-Diop entered the starting lineup. Gibson erupted for 42.5 DraftKings points and has provided a FantasyLabs +10.59 Plus/Minus over his last 10 games, while Bates-Diop easily exceeded his salary-based expectation for the second straight game.
If Towns is unable to suit up, Gibson remains affordable on FanDuel at $5,500. At $3,400 on DraftKings, Bates-Diop makes for a strong value option if the Wolves remain thin on the wing, especially if the team opts to keep him as a consistent part of the rotation.
Minnesota is essentially eliminated from the postseason with less than a 1% chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight. It’s possible that coach Ryan Saunders uses the final stretch to prioritize Bates-Diop’s development.
Jeff Teague is another primary beneficiary if Towns and Wiggins are ruled out. He recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists on Sunday and has seen a massive +11% usage rate increase with Towns, Wiggins and Robert Covington (knee) off the court this season.
For DFS, the main difficulty is that Towns and Wiggins are game-time decisions in a 10:30 p.m. ET tipoff, meaning their statuses will be unknown when rosters lock. The best course of action is to have exposure to multiple outcomes, as the uncertainty will likely create low ownership in tournaments.
Photo credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague