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There are nine games tonight with a lot of injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze two key situations in this piece: the Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors at Portland Trail Blazers.
Sixers SG Jimmy Butler (groin), PF Mike Muscala (illness) are questionable.
Injury background: Butler missed Wednesday’s game after suffering a strained groin on Monday, and he’s officially questionable for Friday. Muscala is dealing with an upper respiratory infection and is also questionable after missing one game.
Tonight’s impact: Coach Brett Brown inserted Furkan Korkmaz into the starting lineup to replace Butler on Wednesday, and Korkmaz responded with 36.25 DraftKings points in 35 minutes.
He’ll be in line to make his second career start if Butler remains out, and he has averaged a respectable 0.90 DraftKings points per minute this season. His price ($3,900) and multi-positional eligibility on DraftKings remain favorable.
Muscala has averaged a career-high 24.1 minutes per game this season, and his absence allowed Brown to play small against the Nets; backup big man Amir Johnson was held to just eight minutes. The Sixers are receiving reinforcements on Friday, as PF Jonah Bolden has been recalled from the G-League.
As expected, Landry Shamet and T.J. McConnell received a boost in playing time with a thin rotation, and McConnell provided 24.5 DraftKings points in 29 minutes. He has recorded a +4.09 DraftKings Plus/Minus over his last 10 games and could exceed value again with a possible extended role.
Joel Embiid exploded for 66.75 DraftKings points on Wednesday, while Ben Simmons also exceeded his salary-based expectation with 53.0 fantasy points.
If Butler is unable to suit up, both Embiid and Simmons will continue to see their rates rise. However, neither player cracked 46.0 DraftKings points in the prior matchup, and the Pacers currently rank second in Defensive Rating this season.
Raptors SF Kawhi Leonard (hip) is questionable, C Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) is out.
Injury background: Leonard was held out for both legs of the back-to-back earlier in the week due to a bruised right hip. He’s currently questionable on Friday, while Jonas Valanciunas will miss at least four weeks after suffering a thumb dislocation on Wednesday.
Tonight’s impact: With Leonard sidelined, Fred VanVleet entered the starting lineup during the back-to-back set and totaled 56.75 DraftKings points. He has now led the team with an additional 4.4 minutes per game in seven contests played without Leonard this season.
Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka have been the primary beneficiaries of Leonard’s absence, with Lowry registering a team-high +11.1 DraftKings Plus/Minus differential. Ibaka has benefited from a team-high +5.7% usage rate increase without Leonard, and he already makes for a strong option with minutes stability sans Valanciunas.
Greg Monroe is expected to enter the rotation for backup center minutes and could be worth a tournament flier at min-price on FanDuel, as he’s averaged 1.15 FanDuel points per minute this season and 1.06 throughout his career.
The team has also recalled Chris Boucher, who continues to set records in the G-League. However, his raw talent and inexperience in the NBA dwindles his ceiling for now.
While at first glance the Blazers appear to be an intriguing pick as four-point underdogs at home with Leonard questionable, caution should be applied: The Raptors have won seven of eight games without Leonard this season with wins over the Lakers, Jazz, Clippers and Warriors.