Thursday’s NBA Injury Report: Betting, DFS Impact of Joel Embiid, Ricky Rubio Injuries
Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joel Embiid
- The NBA Injury Report details the slate's key injuries and their betting and DFS impact.
- In this piece, we'll break down the impact of the injuries to Joel Embiid, Hassan Whiteside, Ricky Rubio and more.
Thursday’s NBA slate features six games with plenty of injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze three:
- Miami Heat at Houston Rockets: 8 p.m. ET
- Philadelphia 76ers at Oklahoma City Thunder: 8 p.m. ET on TNT
- Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets: 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT
Injuries: Hassan Whiteside (hip) and James Johnson (shoulder) are out.
Injury background: Whiteside was ruled out 90 minutes before Wednesday’s win due to a hip pointer. Johnson has missed three straight games after spraining his left shoulder. Neither traveled to Houston for tonight’s game.
Tonight’s impact: Whiteside has missed seven games this season, and Bam Adebayo has started each time. The Heat have gone 5-2 sans Whiteside, and when Whiteside, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson (traded) have been off the court, the Heat have cultivated a +6.8 Net Rating, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Heat have been outstanding on the offensive and defensive glass in the minutes without those players, but that data may be skewed given bench units. Nonetheless, they’ll benefit from the Rockets’ struggles on the defensive glass, defending the rim and limiting points in the paint.
The two-man pairing of Kelly Olynyk and Adebayo has sustained a +10.4 Net Rating, and both will likely get all of the center minutes. They are on the radar as value options, and Adebayo has produced at least 32 DraftKings points in two straight games. He’ll be the chalk at $4,000 on DraftKings.
In the games Whiteside has missed, Adebayo has averaged 31.71 DraftKings points in 30.9 minutes per game, per the NBA On/Off tool. Olynyk has added a FantasyLabs’ +6.3 DraftKings Plus/Minus, but much of that was prior to his addition to the starting lineup.
The Heat have already defeated the Rockets this season, but that was with the Rockets playing on the second night of a back-to-back and aided by Chris Paul suffering a hamstring injury. Both teams are playing on zero days rest this time. The Heat are currently 9.5-point underdogs, but the Rockets haven’t won by more than eight points in six of their last seven games.
Injuries: Joel Embiid (knee) and Boban Marjanovic (knee) are out.
Injury background: Embiid has been out the past three games as a precautionary measure for a sore left knee. The Sixers will re-evaluate him prior to Saturday’s game and provide another update.
Marjanovic suffered a right knee bone bruise during the final minute of Monday’s win, and he’ll be re-evaluated in about a week.
Tonight’s impact: It appears the center rotation will consist of Jonah Bolden, Mike Scott, Ben Simmons, Amir Johnson and Justin Patton. Bolden started the last game and played 18 minutes after committing five fouls. Marjanovic got 20 minutes, leaving 10 center minutes for Scott as Johnson received a DNP-CD on Monday.
The Sixers’ non-center starters have received plenty of minutes in Embiid’s absence, all playing at least 30 minutes in the last three games. Scott has played at least 30 minutes in two straight as the nominal backup center to help the spacing on offense.
The Thunder’s Defensive Rating has slipped to 111.6 since the beginning of January, and during that span, point guards, shooting guards and small forwards projected for at least 20 minutes have averaged a top-five Plus/Minus marks on DraftKings, per the Trends tool. Power forwards have averaged a league-high +6.95 DraftKings Plus/Minus.
Since Tobias Harris and Marjanovic have come aboard, Harris has led the Sixers with 1.28 DraftKings points per minute with Embiid and Marjanovic off the court in 61 minutes. Ben Simmons has ranked second with 1.2 DraftKings points per minute, but he’s failed to meet salary-based expectations in six of seven games with Harris in the lineup.
Steven Adams could be a valuable option, as the Sixers lack a defensive presence in the paint. When Marjanovic, Embid and the players no longer on the roster have been off the court, the Sixers have allowed a 37.5% offensive rebound rate — the zeroth percentile in 201 possessions. Their 120.6 Defensive Rating in those minutes is abominable, and they are presently 7.5-point underdogs on the road.
Jazz G Ricky Rubio (hamstring) is out.
Injury background: Rubio suffered a tight left hamstring in the second half of Wednesday’s win.
Tonight’s impact: Rubio missed six games earlier this season with a strained right hamstring. He also missed one game with a bruised knee and back. The Jazz went 7-0 without Rubio, winning six at home and defeating five teams with losing records.
Raul Neto and Royce O’Neale are options to start if Rubio is unavailable, and Neto drew the start in the first game Rubio missed with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately, Neto suffered a strained groin and left the Jazz without many options, prompting coach Quin Snyder to start O’Neale the subsequent five games.
The schedule doesn’t favor the Jazz tonight. They are playing on the second night of a back-to-back in Denver. The Jazz have already been in this position this season, and they lost 103-88 and were outscored 35-15 in the fourth quarter.
Rudy Gobert has played in a back-to-back in Denver three times since the 2016-17 season, and he’s averaged 25.0 DraftKings points in those games. The Jazz lost all three and averaged 90.67 points.
Donovan Mitchell will likely have high ownership if Rubio is unable to play, and he’s averaged 43.39 DraftKings points as the primary playmaker in Rubio’s absence this season. Neto may get overlooked, but his profile increases if Rubio doesn’t play. Neto has exceeded salary-based expectations on DraftKings every time he’s played at least 15 minutes this season.
The Jazz’s 108 implied total is on the high side, and the seven-point spread seems generous. Opponents have gone 1-4 when playing in Denver on the second leg of a back-to-back this season. Three teams have scored no more than 95 points and failed to clear 17 points in the final period. The Nuggets averaged a 22.5-point margin of victory in their wins, and they’re a league-best 27-4 at home.