Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dennis Smith Jr.
- 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 Tuesday night: the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks.
- This piece will detail the impact of the injuries to Dennis Smith Jr., J.J. Barea and more.
There are four games tonight with several injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze one key game in this article: the Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets.
Injuries: Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist) is out. J.J. Barea (ankle) will play. Maxi Kleber (toe) is questionable. Dirk Nowitzki (ankle) is probable.
Injury background: Smith Jr. first appeared on the injury report with a sprained shooting wrist on November 20. He’s missed six of 12 games since and has been ruled out for tonight’s affair.
Barea has missed two consecutive games with a sprained ankle but will suit up tonight.
Kleber has been on and off the injury report over the past month due to a sprained left great toe. He’s played more times than not.
Nowitzki hasn’t played more than nine minutes in a game this season following ankle surgery in April. Carlisle probably doesn’t even know Nowitzki is on the injury report, so don’t expect a firm update.
Tonight’s impact: The Mavs have lost all three games without Barea this season. They are also 2-10 on the road, where they rank 22nd in Net Rating (-6.8) and 28th in Offensive Rating (102.0), per Cleaning the Glass. Conversely, the Nuggets are 12-3 at home with a +11.6 Net Rating.
When Smith Jr. hasn’t played this year, Jalen Brunson has primarily started and every rotation player has averaged a positive FantasyLabs’ DraftKings Plus/Minus, led by Luka Doncic (+6.8), Dorian Finney-Smith (+6.7) and Brunson (+6.1).
Barea has consistently torched the Nuggets, exceeding salary-based expectations in seven of his last 10 meetings while averaging a FantasyLabs’ +6.60 DraftKings Plus/Minus, per the Trends tool.
Brunson profiles as a chalk play if Smith Jr. and Barea are both ruled out. He played 30.2 minutes in the game they both missed, and Doncic provided a team-high 49.0 DraftKings points.
In games Barea has played sans Smith Jr., he has led the Mavs with a 31.7% usage rate and 47.2% assist rate off the bench. He’s also been limited to 18.4 minutes per game.
He’s played all but eight of his minutes without Doncic over the past two weeks as Carlisle utilizes hockey substitutions — separating the starters and reserves. While Barea may be enticing, he and the rest of the Mavs reserves likely won’t play more than 18 minutes.
Nowitzki has played the first half only in each game this season, and Kleber has filled Nowitzki’s role in the second half both times. Nowitzki doesn’t know the plan for limiting his minutes, but if the trend continues, Nowitzki and Kleber will split power forward minutes in each half.
The Mavs lost by a combined five points in the two games at Denver last season, and they handled the Nuggets at home. They are currently five-point underdogs, but Barea could return to balance out the rotation. If Juancho Hernangomez is ruled out, the Nuggets will be extremely thin on the wing, ceding a sizable advantage to the Mavs at that position.
Nuggets F Juancho Hernangomez (abdominal) is questionable.
Injury background: Hernangomez has been diagnosed with a strained abdominal.
The Nuggets are already without Paul Millsap (toe), Gary Harris (hip), Will Barton (hip), Isaiah Thomas (hip), Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) and Michael Porter Jr. (back).
Coach Michael Malone doesn’t speak following shootaround, so we may not get news on his status until after the slate begins.
Tonight’s impact: Hernangomez moved into the starting lineup on November 11 ahead of Torrey Craig, who was starting for the injured Barton. Over that span, he’s led the Nuggets with a 63.3% true shooting mark while ranking second-to-last on the team with a 13.4% usage rate in 32.8 minutes per game.
Hernangomez has played at least 33 minutes in five of the last six games, and he’s exceeded salary-based expectations in eight of the last 10. His salary has reverted back to $4,700 on DraftKings.
With Millsap, Harris and Barton off the court, Nikola Jokic has dominated with 1.52 DraftKings points per minute, a 31.2% usage rate and a 34.8% assist rate — all team-highs. In the last four games without all three starters, the Nuggets have ranked 26th with a pace of 95.13, and Jokic has averaged 54.06 DraftKings points per contest.
When Hernangomez is removed from the equation, Jokic’s per-minute production on DraftKings increases to 1.61, but his usage and assist rates decrease. In the minutes Hernangomez, Barton, Harris and Millsap haven’t played, the Nuggets have still excelled with a +5.5 Net Rating due to their bench unit.
If Hernangomez is unable to play, Malik Beasley, Monte Morris, Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon or Nick Young could start. Malone has resisted starting Morris and Jamal Murray together, although they have played plenty of minutes in tandem and Morris has averaged 27.2 minutes per game in the last four.
Lyles has been the backup power forward to Mason Plumlee, and Nick Young has played spot minutes since joining the roster. Beasley hasn’t played more than 16 minutes in each of the last three games.
In the limited time Jokic and Plumlee have shared the court, the Nuggets have produced a 112.3 Offensive Rating and 98.1 Defensive Rating. While the team has found success, Jokic’s per-minute production on DraftKings has fallen to 1.3 alongside Plumlee.
When Murray has been on the court with Morris — who leads the NBA with a 6.21 assist-to-turnover ratio — over the last four games, Murray has averaged 1.07 DraftKings points per minute and improved his effective field goal efficiency by 6.5%. Morris has improved his per-minute production to 1.02 with Murray off-ball.