There are 10 games tonight with a lot of injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze two key situations in this piece: the Philadelphia 76ers at Detroit Pistons and the Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns.
Sixers C Joel Embiid (rest) is out.
Injury background: Embiid is resting on Friday despite the game not being part of a back-to-back. Coach Brett Brown stated that it was clear Embiid is fatigued, and the team is preserving his health.
Tonight’s impact: The most significant impact of Embiid’s absence might be related to opposing big man Andre Drummond. In two prior matchups this season, Drummond has made just nine of his 28 field goal attempts while getting abused by Embiid on the defensive end. On the heels of a 39-point performance, Embiid tweeted that he owns real estate in Drummond’s head.
Coach Brown said he is unsure of who will draw the start in place of Embiid, but Mike Muscala and Amir Johnson are the two options. This will be the first game without Embiid all season, and Muscala has started twice at power forward. He’s averaged just 7.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 32 minutes per start.
Jimmy Butler has seen a usage bump of +9.3% with Embiid off the floor since joining the Sixers, resulting in an average of 1.33 DraftKings points per minute. He’s seen a price decrease of $1,200 over the past month on DraftKings, and his current $7,400 salary comes with a FantasyLabs Bargain Rating of 93%.
Ben Simmons has averaged 1.25 DraftKings points per minute without Embiid and is also severely underpriced, making him one of the strongest plays on the site.
The Sixers offense has averaged 2.5 fewer points per 100 possessions in general with Embiid off the floor, and the Pistons currently rank 11th in defensive efficiency. Not only does the offense slip, but the team’s Defensive Rating drops from 101.7 to 107.1.
Their resulting implied team total of 107.0 points is more than 6.5 points lower than their regular season average (113.7).
Heat C Hassan Whiteside (personal) is out.
Injury background: Whiteside did not travel with the team to Phoenix for Friday night’s game, as he is awaiting the birth of his child. Wayne Ellington (personal) also didn’t travel to Phoenix, but both players are expected to rejoin the team at some point during the six-game road trip.
On the bright side, Goran Dragic (knee) has been upgraded to probable after missing the previous eight games.
Tonight’s impact: Dragic will most certainly return to the starting lineup to replace Ellington as Josh Richardson slides to shooting guard. There has yet to be a confirmed starter announced for Whiteside, but the options are likely between Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk.
When Whiteside and Ellington have been off the court this season, Adebayo has led the Heat with 1.09 DraftKings points per minute. He has also fared well on the road this season, leading the team with a FantasyLabs +8.11 DraftKings Plus/Minus.
While FanDuel appropriately priced Adebayo up, DraftKings failed to adjust, and at $4,200 he’ll likely be the highest-owned player on Friday’s 10-game slate.
The matchup is also outstanding, as the Suns currently rank 27th in defensive efficiency against opposing centers. After the Suns scored just nine points in the first quarter of Tuesday’s loss, coach Igor Kokoskov benched rookie Deandre Ayton, who has been dreadful defensively. Unfortunately, the offense was once again held to nine points in the first quarter on Thursday.
Minutes will be the primary downside for Heat players if the game gets out of hand, even though the current spread is just 7.5 points. The Suns have now reeled off seven consecutive losses, with six of those carrying double-digit margins.