Tuesday’s NBA slate features three games with a couple notable injuries and questionable players. We’ll hit on the following situations:
- Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat: 7:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV
- Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets: 9 p.m. ET
Injuries/news: Dion Waiters, James Johnson (conditioning) and Derrick Jones Jr. (groin) are out. Kelly Olynyk (quad) is probable. Jimmy Butler (personal) has been removed from the injury report.
Background: Butler missed the first three games of the season due to the birth of his daughter but has been removed from the report and is expected to make his debut tonight at home vs. the Hawks.
Tonight’s impact: The Heat have survived the early-season absences of several key players, including Butler, Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Derrick Jones Jr. Per Cleaning the Glass, they rank 10th after three games with a +5.5 Net Rating, including an impressive road win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Current odds: Heat -8 vs. Hawks; over/under 223.5 (via PointsBet — claim your 200% deposit match, an exclusive promotion for Action Network users)
Butler, who owned a +4.71 Real Plus-Minus mark last season in his time with the Wolves and 76ers, will clearly help the Heat, who have been playing over their heads early in the season thanks to surprise performances by young players Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn.
Nunn has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire NBA season. The 24-year-old went undrafted last year but signed and spent the season with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz. He was signed in April by the Heat and came on strong in the preseason. With Butler out to start the year, he was given a chance at a starting role and he’s seized it, putting up 24 points in the season-opener against the Grizzlies.
We currently have Nunn remaining in the starting lineup with Herro moving to the bench with Jimmy’s return. That will bolster a second unit that hasn’t performed well according to metrics but has a ton of potential now that there are two shot-creators in Herro and Goran Dragic.
DFS-wise, the biggest hit in value is likely to Nunn, who will likely have a usage decrease playing alongside Butler. Herro will player fewer minutes but should have an easier go against second units. We’re still projecting Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow as values at their reasonable DraftKings salaries.
Betting-wise, this line has increased from Heat -7 to -8 currently, likely due to the positive news about Butler. I think there’s a bit of value on the Hawks here, who have played incredibly well this season; I think the market is still underrating them. Last night they outplayed the Sixers for nearly the entire game but lost by two down the stretch to a team with more veteran players.
Trae Young has continued to make a sophomore leap, although he had struggles as the game went on last night, shooting 7-of-20 after starting off hot, and committing seven turnovers. Against one of the best defenses in the NBA, that’s understandable. Even on a back-to-back, I’m unsure the Heat are really 5-6 points better on a neutral court.
Injuries: Dwight Powell (hamstring) is questionable.
Injury background: Powell has yet to suit up this season due to a strained hamstring but has been upgraded to questionable for the first time for tonight’s road game in Denver.
Tonight’s impact: The Mavericks clearly believe in Powell being a part of the growth of this young core, as they handed him a three-year contract extension this offseason at solid money. We currently have him projected to start alongside Kristaps Porzingis in the frontcourt.
Current odds: Nuggets -6 vs. Mavericks; over/under 214.5 (via PointsBet — claim your 200% deposit match, an exclusive promotion for Action Network users)
Luka Doncic has looked every bit a potential generational superstar to begin his sophomore campaign, averaging a 29.3-10.3-7.3 line with 2.3 assists per game in 36.3 minutes. The Mavericks early on have been 10.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor vs. off.
And tonight he could get back an important player for him specifically in Powell, who is a solid rim runner in pick-and-roll settings. Porzingis also has that potential but has largely played outside, taking 7.3 three-point attempts per game so far. With Porzingis on the floor, the Mavs have actually taken 8.6% fewer shots at the rim than with him off.
With Powell, the Mavs can have their cake and eat it, too. Porzingis can space the floor and open up the offense, while Powell can put pressure on the rim in pick-and-rolls in a way Dallas has been missing so far. With Powell on the floor last year, the Mavs were 7.0 points/100 better on offense. They were much worse on defense, but the hope is the combination of him and Porzingis long term can hold up on that end.
It’s unclear if Powell will have a minutes limit upon his debut, which may or may not come tonight. He went through a full practice Monday, which bodes well for his chances at a return soon. We currently have him projected just over 20 minutes for tonight’s affair vs. the Nuggets.
DFS-wise, Powell’s inclusion would bump Maxi Kleber to a backup role but likely wouldn’t negatively affect the rest of the rotation. In fact, his addition could make the offense more efficient while slightly dinging the defense — that’s all good for fantasy. Luka looks like another fine play tonight at $9,500 on DraftKings; he’s easily outperformed his salary-based expectations in all three games this year.
Betting-wise, the spread of -6 feels about right if not a smidge high in Denver’s favor. The total has moved down to 214 after opening at 216, which isn’t surprising given the Nuggets have played at one of the league’s slowest paces so far and have been excellent defensively. This will be a good test on the road for Luka and a healthier starting unit.