Photo credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lou Williams
- 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 Thursday night: the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat.
- This piece will detail the impact of the injuries to Lou Williams, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and more.
There are two games tonight with several injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze both games in this article: the Houston Rockets at Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers.
Injuries: Justise Winslow (ankle) is questionable. Tyler Johnson (migraine) is probable. Goran Dragic (knee) and Dion Waiters (ankle) are out.
Injury background: Winslow missed the second half of Sunday’s win due to right ankle pain, and he didn’t practice Tuesday or Wednesday. He was originally classified as probable following Tuesday’s practice, but he was downgraded to questionable on Wednesday.
Tyler Johnson missed Wednesday’s practice due to a migraine.
Dragic underwent a knee procedure on Wednesday, and he’s expected to be out until the All-Star break.
Waiters was cleared for full contact practice on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in January.
Tonight’s impact: Winslow has been the primary ball-handler without Dragic in 12 of the last 14 games. Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson have all registered a 17.6% assist rate sans Dragic over the last month, and all three have taken turns running the offense.
If Winslow is unable to play, look for Tyler Johnson to slide into the starting lineup. He started ahead of Winslow in two of the last four games Dragic missed.
The Heat’s offense has stagnated without an established playmaker. When Dragic and Winslow have been off the court, the Heat have ranked in the bottom-10 percentile in effective field goal percentage (49%), turnover percentage (16.6%) and efficiency on shots around the rim (52.2%), per Cleaning the Glass.
Over the last month, Dwyane Wade has led the team with a 28.1% usage rate and 29% assist rate when Dragic hasn’t been on the court, per the NBA On/Off tool, and he gets the added benefit of three days since the Heat’s previous game. Signs point to Wade as the primary beneficiary tonight.
Hassan Whiteside’s standing in the rotation is up in the air, as he hasn’t played in the fourth quarter in seven of his last eight games. However, his ceiling should be elevated, as the Rockets are one of five teams allowing a top-10 percentage of frequency and efficiency of shots at the rim.
The Rockets are also one of seven teams yielding at least 51.0 points per game in the paint, and their rim defense hasn’t improved with the debut of Nene Hilario at the beginning of December. Even with the return of defensive coordinator Jeff Bzdelik and exile of Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets have recorded the fifth-highest Defensive Rating (115.0) over the last month.
According to the ESPN Schedule Alert, the Rockets are in a dangerous spot, rating 9.5 out of 10 on the Mah Scale:
Red alert, Rockets! This will mark their fifth game in eight days, their third game in four days and the second of a back-to-back set that requires eastward overnight travel across time zones, which is never fun. After playing host to the Wizards in Houston, the Rockets will head out that night for Miami — losing an hour along the way — to face the Heat the next night in a nationally televised game, no less. The Heat will enter this game with a three-day rest advantage.
The Rockets haven’t lost since moving Eric Gordon into the starting lineup, and they are presently 3.5-point favorites. If the schedule is as taxing as it appears, the Rockets could rest one of their veterans. If Winslow is cleared to play, taking the underdogs before any of that news breaks could prove prescient.
The Heat are 7-8 in games Dragic has missed, but they are 8-4 against Western Conference teams — going 6-2 without Dragic.
Clippers G Lou Williams (hamstring) is questionable.
Injury background: Williams missed the previous four games due to a sore left hamstring. He was expected to miss 1-2 weeks as of December 11.
Tonight’s impact: The Clippers have lost four straight sans Williams, and in those contests, they’ve recorded a league-worst 125.6 Defensive Rating and -17.2 Net Rating.
Since the beginning of December, the Clippers have ranked in the bottom-three in Defensive Rating, opponent effective field goal percentage and defensive turnover rate.
Tyrone Wallace and Milos Teodosic have both been added to the rotation in Williams’ absence, and Patrick Beverley has led the team with 4.3 assists per game.
When Williams and Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) have been off the court, the Clippers have cobbled together a neutral Net Rating. In the games Williams has missed, Wallace, Beverley and Mike Scott have been the only Clippers to average a positive FantasyLabs’ Plus/Minus on DraftKings, and only Tobias Harris has averaged at least 30.0 minutes per game (the Clippers lost two games by at least 24 points).
Williams will help stabilize the second unit if cleared to play. He leads all rotation players with a +4.0 Net Rating when he’s on the court. He’ll likely displace Teodisic and Wallace from the rotation if he’s not on a firm minutes restriction.
Following Monday’s loss, coach Doc Rivers contemplated altering the starting lineup. He changed his tune after Wednesday’s practice, stating, “No, I like where we are” regarding the starting five.
Montrezl Harrell and Williams led the Clippers in DraftKings points in the first game against the Mavs this season. In that game, the Clippers scored 110 points and Luka Doncic didn’t play.
The Mavs are 2-11 on the road this year. The Clippers have boasted a 9-4 home mark, but they’ve lost their last three at Staples Center. Los Angeles is currently favored by 3.5 points, which makes sense if Williams plays.