Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid
- The NBA Injury Report is a daily piece that runs through the slate's key injuries and their betting and DFS impact.
- There are two key games with injuries to analyze on Tuesday night: New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Clippers.
- This piece will detail the impact of the injuries to Joel Embiid, Gary Harris and more.
There are five games tonight with several injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze two games in this article: the New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets and the Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Clippers.
Sixers C Joel Embiid (Knee) is Questionable
Injury background: Embiid missed Sunday’s loss with a sore left knee.
Tonight’s impact: Embiid has missed two games this season. On both occasions, Amir Johnson started but offered minimal contributions in limited minutes. He was replaced at the start of the second half by T.J. McConnell in Sunday’s 34-point loss. Wilson Chandler guarded Jusuf Nurkic, who attempted four shots, grabbed three boards and committed three fouls in the third quarter. The Clippers have started Boban Marjanovic the last three games, and if Embiid is unable to play, expect more Jonah Bolden to counteract Marjanovic.
When Embiid and Markelle Fultz have been off the court since Jimmy Butler made his Sixers debut, Butler has led the team with a +7.8% usage rate differential and 1.31 DraftKings points per minute, per the NBA On/Off tool.
Coach Brett Brown typically plays Ben Simmons with Butler when Embiid is off the court, but he staggered both on Sunday, removing Butler first.
J.J. Redick has been most negatively impacted Sixer when Embiid doesn’t play. Redick’s effective field goal differential of -10.3% is the worst among rotation players sans Embiid.
Without Embiid, the Sixers’ Net Rating has sunk to -8.0 and their Defensive Rating has plummetted to 115.2, per Cleaning the Glass. Conversely, their pace has spiked to a team-high 106.77 possessions per 48 minutes since acquiring Butler, per NBA.com.
Embiid dominated the Los Angeles circuit last season. He posted 57.0 DraftKings points in Los Angeles against the Clippers. Two nights later, he exploded for 90.75 DraftKings points against the Lakers in the Staples Center.
In three career games against the Clippers, Embiid has averaged a career-high 62.25 DraftKings points, per the Trends tool. His 40.7% usage rate against the Clippers qualifies as his highest against any team, per Basketball-Reference. Simmons played in all three games and provided 41.17 DraftKings points per game.
Last November, Embiid explained his Los Angeles dominance:
“All my close friends live in L.A., so before that, I wasn’t really doing anything, I was frustrated because I wasn’t in basketball shape and I wasn’t having fun on the court. So I won’t lie, I decided to go out, have fun a little bit. And that just kind of gave me the energy back, and the next game against the Clippers, I had more than 30 points , and then the following game I had more than 40 , so I think it’s just about having fun and making sure I can control what I can.”
If you suspect Embiid won’t play on the front end of a back-to-back, targeting Butler in tournaments is the prudent move. However, Embiid’s utter dominance of the Clippers also makes him an elite tournament threat. If nothing is reported following shootaround, don’t expect an update until well after lineup lock because the game tips shortly after 10:30 pm ET.
Nuggets G Gary Harris (Hip) is Questionable
Injury background: Harris suffered a right hip injury on December 3rd and has missed 11 consecutive games.
Tonight’s impact: Harris has been participating in practice in a limited capacity for close to two weeks, and the waiving of Nick Young, who was signed with a hardship exemption, signifies Harris is close.
Following Monday’s practice, Harris said:
“It has been feeling good so they have been able to progress me a little bit faster than normal. So far so good and I will just continue to take it one day at a time.”
The Nuggets won’t hold shootaround today. Harris could eventually be designated a game-time decision as he goes through pregame warmups before making a decision on his availability.
Torrey Craig has started with Harris sidelined, and despite averaging 28.3 minutes per game, he ranks last among Nugget rotation players with 17.4 DraftKings points per game over that 11-game span.
After being replaced in the starting lineup by Juancho Hernangomez on November 11th, Craig played fewer than 10 minutes in the eight games Harris played before the hip injury. Craig’s playing time will be in jeopardy when Harris returns. Trey Lyles also appears on the outs now that Paul Millsap is available to play.
When Harris has been on the court this season, the per-minute production of every rotation player sans Monte Morris has declined, and only Hernangomez’s usage rate has increased. Craig’s 12.5% usage rate currently ranks 409th — or 29th lowest among players who are averaging at least 15.0 minutes per game and have played 15 games. Replacing Craig’s minutes with almost anyone should impact the possessions for the rest of the starters.
Millsap didn’t start on Friday after an extended absence, and the same logic could apply to Harris. Malone has spoken about easing Millsap, Harris and Barton into things, and Malone said he’ll look to start Millsap when he gets his rhythm back.
The Nuggets, a team with the third-best winning percentage, are presently favored by 14 points against the Knicks, a team with the third-worst record in the league. The Nuggets are 14-3 at home, while the Knicks are 5-16 on the road and have lost seven straight games overall by an average of 12.85 points.
The Nuggets possess a +11.0 home Net Rating — second best in the NBA — while the Knicks, who may be without Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle, questionable), claim the worst Net Rating (-12.1) and Defensive Rating ( 117.7) on the road.
The Nuggets also feature a competent bench unit, which can help maintain any lead the starters generate prior to garbage time.