NBA Injury Report: Betting, DFS Impact of Al Horford, Goran Dragic Injuries
Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Al Horford
- 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 teams with injuries to analyze on Friday night: the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
There are 14 games tonight with a lot of injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze two key situations in this piece: the Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls.
Injuries: Goran Dragic (knee) and Tyler Johnson (hamstring) are out. Hassan Whiteside (knee) is TBD.
Injury background: Dragic and Johnson didn’t join the Heat on their two-game road trip. Dragic had his knee drained on Monday, and Johnson suffered a strained hamstring during Monday’s practice.
Whiteside missed Wednesday’s practice due to knee tendinitis after collecting 23 rebounds in Tuesday’s loss. The Heat haven’t provided an update on his status for Friday’s game against the Bulls.
Tonight’s impact: Without Dragic and Johnson on Tuesday, Derrick Jones Jr. replaced Justise Winslow in the starting lineup and Kelly Olynyk was reduced to a DNP-CD. Winslow was presumably moved to the second unit to act as the primary ball-handler, but Dwyane Wade and James Johnson shared that responsibility with Winslow. Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder co-opted distribution duties among the starters, and Duncan Robinson rounded out the wing rotation.
When Dragic and Tyler Johnson have been off the court, Wade, McGruder, Richardson and James Johnson have all recorded assist rates between 21-27%, per the NBA On/Off tool.
The Heat have struggled without Dragic this season, going 1-4 in the games he’s missed and recording a -5.5 Net Rating when he’s been off the court, per Cleaning the Glass. Turnovers have been an issue without an established point guard on the roster, and they’ve averaged 100.8 points per game when Dragic hasn’t been available.
Bam Adebayo started the only game Whiteside missed this season and provided 30.5 DraftKings points in 29 minutes. If Whiteside can’t go, Olynyk would likely return to the rotation, and Adebayo will profile among the top value options at less than $4,000 on DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Bulls have allowed the fourth-highest 3-point attempt rate to opponents, which may be a boon for Wayne Ellington, who leads the Heat with 7.1 three-point attempts per game. He’ll be a decent flier in case he catches fire, and Richardson, who leads the Heat with 42.5% accuracy from deep, has recorded a team-high 38.58 DraftKings points in three games against teams allowing a 3-point attempt rate of at least 35% this season.
The Bulls have been blocked a league-high 6.9 times per game this season, and Whiteside leads the NBA with 3.1 blocks per game. The Bulls also rank last in offensive rebound rate and in the bottom 10 in true shooting, yielding Whiteside immense block and rebound upside if he plays. Whiteside has failed to convert at least half his attempts in three straight games, and his effective field goal mark has dipped 5.4% when Dragic hasn’t played.
Celtics C Al Horford (knee) is questionable.
Injury background: Horford was listed as probable prior to Wednesday’s contest due to a sore left knee. After pregame warmups, he confirmed he would play and produced 44.25 DraftKings points in 35 minutes.
Now he’s questionable in a revenge game against the Hawks with the same ailment.
Tonight’s impact: The Celtics’ rotation is presently in flux. Aron Baynes started the last two games ahead of Gordon Hayward, but Baynes played 19 combined minutes over those starts and was replaced at the start of Wednesday’s second half by Marcus Morris. Hayward also started the second half ahead of Jaylen Brown, who replaced Jayson Tatum 71 seconds later after Tatum attempted a contested mid-range jumper with 16 seconds left on the shot clock.
Baynes and Daniel Theis have been primary backup centers when Horford has been off the court. Baynes has played more than Theis, but when both were coming off the bench earlier this season, matchups would dictate who got playing time.
When Horford has been on the bench, Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier and Semi Ojeleye have been the only Celtics who’ve benefited from an increase in their true shooting percentage. The rest of the rotation players have suffered a sharp decrease in their efficiency, and the Celtics’ attempts at the rim have plummeted.
Marcus Morris has averaged a +5.70 DraftKings Plus/Minus in his last nine games against the Hawks and consistently provided value. If Horford can’t play, Morris will likely slide into more minutes, and he’s led the team with a +4.5% usage rate differential sans Horford.
In a departure from last season, Irving has been more productive this season without Horford in about a fifth of last year’s sample. In two games against the Hawks last season, Irving averaged 47.63 DraftKings points, and he’s averaged 47.05 DraftKings points in 11 games since last season when the Celtics have been favored by 6-10 points against a team with a losing record, per the Trends tool. The Hawks rank near the top of the league in pace and near the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency.
The Hawks are the one team Tatum has consistently performed well against, averaging 41.65 FanDuel points per game in four matchups last season without dipping below 38.0 FanDuel points in any contest. Steven’s leash on Tatum may appear short, but small forwards have averaged a league-high +5.26 DraftKings Plus/Minus against the Hawks when projected for at least 20 minutes.