Photos from USAToday Sports. Pictured: Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams.
- The 2018-19 NBA season will tip off tonight with 76ers-Celtics and Thunder-Warriors.
- There are three key injuries to monitor, including Russell Westbrook, and we break down the betting and DFS implications of each below.
The 2018-19 NBA season kicks off tonight with the Boston Celtics hosting the Philadelphia 76ers and the Golden State Warriors hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder. There are a few notable injuries to watch, and below we detail the betting and DFS impact of each.
Thunder PG Russell Westbrook (knee) is out.
Impact: Westbrook’s absence had a seismic effect on the Thunder last season, as they were not only 10.9 points per 100 possessions worse with him off the court, but they played at a significantly slower pace. They would’ve ranked sixth in pace with him on the court; with him off, they dropped to dead last by a wide margin.
OKC’s offense will run almost exclusively through Paul George and Dennis Schroder with Westbrook out. George had a 40.7% usage rate in the two games Russ missed last season while averaging a team-high 1.48 DraftKings points per minute. His DraftKings point totals in those two games? 50.3 and 55.8.
Schroder settled into a featured role during the preseason, ranking ninth in usage rate at 29.9% among all players who averaged at least 20 minutes per game. That’s not too far off from the 32.5% usage rate that Westbrook posted last season. Schroder projects to have a comparable role within the Thunder’s offense as he’ll now be forced to take on a large amount of the ballhandling and scoring load.
Thunder C Steven Adams (back) is questionable.
Impact: Adams suffered a back injury during practice on Sunday and was held out of Monday’s session as a result. A decision on his status will come later on Tuesday and he appears to be headed for a game-time decision.
Nerlens Noel would get the start at center should Adams end up being ruled out, and he had a productive preseason, averaging 10.0 points, 13.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes. Noel is especially enticing on FanDuel ($4,000), where steals and blocks are worth an extra point apiece.
76ers PF Mike Muscala (ankle) is out.
Impact: Coach Brett Brown won’t go with a traditional big man to replace Muscala’s minutes, stating that T.J. McConnell will see the biggest bump with him out. Expect the 76ers to slide Ben Simmons or Robert Covington down in the lineup as the backup 4 behind Dario Saric.