We're back with the second edition of Injury Impact this week. At this point of the year, the schedule and standings are important factors on how many players will be active for a given game. In case you missed it on Tuesday, here's the Western Conference look around the league. Today, we're diving in on the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks (B2B: Mar. 31-Apr. 1, Apr. 6-7)
The Bucks have a four-game lead on the Raptors for the No. 1 seed, and they’ll almost certainly have that locked up for the Apr. 6-7 B2B. For some or all of the regular season, they’re not going to have Malcolm Brogdon (heel), Nikola Mirotic (thumb), Pau Gasol (ankle), Tony Snell (ankle) and Donte DiVincenzo (heel). Giannis Antetokounmpo has also dealt with some knee and ankle issues, so he will likely see some maintenance days. The upcoming B2B has two road games with the Hawks on Sunday and the Nets on Monday. Eric Bledsoe had also been battling some foot issues earlier this year and didn’t play in a B2B game on Mar. 2 due to a back issue. Khris Middleton has been in the lineup for every game since the All-Star Game, and Brook Lopez hasn’t missed a game all season. All of their four studs could be resting at some point. Either way, Pat Connaughton has been one of the hottest pickups as expected, averaging 10.6 points, 6.4 boards, 2.3 dimes, 0.9 steals and 2.2 treys on a 55/52/83 shooting line over his last nine. He’s been a top-50 player in standard leagues over that time.
Toronto Raptors (B2B: None)
Like the Bucks, the Raptors are basically set with their seed at No. 2. They are four behind the Bucks and they have a 4.5-game cushion on the 76ers. No player has received more rest than Kawhi Leonard, who is not going to play today even in a non-back-to-back set. Leonard has been more likely to sit in road games, and the Raptors only have one more national TV game the rest of the way (Heat on NBATV on Apr. 7). The Raptors are on the road for five of their remaining seven games, so you can pencil Kawhi as out for several games the rest of the way. Besides him, the Raptors are fairly healthy except for OG Anunoby (concussion), who is questionable tonight. Coach Nick Nurse said he is going to experiment with his rotation. Regarding Kyle Lowry, Nurse said Lowry playing is up to the guard, but it makes sense to sit him given how he’s 33 now and he’s had a lot of injuries in his career. Fred VanVleet needs to be owned while we should see a few Norman Powell spots. Some of the frontcourt guys could be rested later in the year, too.
Philadelphia 76ers (B2B: Apr. 3-4, Apr. 9-10)
The 76ers are getting Ben Simmons back today while they could get James Ennis (quad) and Mike Scott (back) in the rotation, too. The team will likely be resting Joel Embiid in part of the two upcoming back-to-back sets, and they’re also almost a lock to be the No. 3 seed with the Pacers now 4.5 games behind them. Coach Brett Brown usually splits up the minutes when Embiid sits, so there really isn’t an add to make. Of course, the other studs on the 76ers get more usage with Embiid’s 32.1 out of the picture in those games he’ll sit, so that'll affect some DFS lineup decisions.
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Indiana Pacers (B2B: Mar. 29-30)
Things are not going well in Indiana with the Pacers losing five of their last six games. Although, the schedule wasn’t kind to them with losses at Denver, at Portland, at the Clippers and at OKC last night. The team had been able to tread water without Victor Oladipo (knee), but losing Darren Collison briefly was a negative because of Cory Joseph’s struggles. Collison did return on Wednesday and should be ready to go the rest of the way. Interestingly, coach Nate McMillan said he asked his players about rest and was planning to give guys games off, but then his team was able to change his mind. If they can stay healthy, the Pacers players should get plenty of games until the last couple days of the season.
Boston Celtics (B2B: Mar. 29-30)
The Celtics have openly said they’re going to rest Al Horford and Kyrie Irving. Presumably, that B2B set will have at least one of those guys out, especially Horford. You would think the Celtics go all out against the Pacers at home on Mar. 29, so the Nets could catch some breaks in Brooklyn on Saturday. Robert Williams (back) is likely going to need some time off, so Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes would man the five when Al sits out. Of course, Terry Rozier would be an easy option when Kyrie sits. Jaylen Brown has also shown some flashes lately.
Brooklyn Nets (B2B: Apr. 6-7)
The Nets were healthy for about three days earlier this month, but now Allen Crabbe’s knee is acting up again and he is out indefinitely. Shabazz Napier is also out with a hammy issue, but he may not even be in the rotation. The Nets won’t be able to improve on their No. 6 seed, but they could fall out of the playoffs with the No. 9 Heat just 1.5 games behind them. That should keep their guys in the lineup. Pickups wise, it’s been DeMarre Carroll as the No. 4 non-center option behind D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Ed Davis is a viable stream for boards with some blocks mixed in.
Detroit Pistons (B2B: Apr. 9-10)
The Pistons had been sitting Blake Griffin in some B2B sets, but they won’t have to deal with one until the final two days of the season. They have a massive game tonight against the red-hot Magic, and their schedule isn’t very friendly over their next six (Magic, Blazers, at Pacers, Pacers, at Thunder, Hornets). The Pistons have a clean injury report, so expect their studs to be ready to roll.
Orlando Magic (B2B: None)
Break up the Magic. They are tied with the Clippers for an NBA-high active win streak of six games. They still have a tough three-game stretch on the road with the big game in Detroit on Thursday, heading to Indiana on Saturday, and then to Toronto on Monday. The Magic have some bench guys out with Mo Bamba (leg), Markelle Fultz (shoulder) and Isaiah Briscoe (knee) still out. Surprisingly, Michael Carter-Williams has been big time on defense to earn more minutes as a possible non-scoring fantasy stream.
Miami Heat (B2B: Apr. 9-10)
The Heat have played some decent ball lately, but the surging Magic have bumped them out of a playoff spot. They’re just 0.5 games behind the Magic, so they are another team that has very little rest risk. Rodney McGruder (knee) continues to be held out while Justise Winslow could be back today after missing the last two weeks. Josh Richardson (heel) is also on the injury report and he is listed as out. With Winslow expected back, it's almost a straight swap of Richardson to Winslow.
Charlotte Hornets (B2B: Mar. 31-Apr.1, Apr. 9-10)
Thanks to Jeremy Lamb’s miraculous shot to beat the Raptors on Sunday, the Hornets are just 1.5 games out of the No. 8 spot. The Hornets injury report also got a bit lighter today with only Cody Zeller (knee) out and Jeremy Lamb (ankle) probable. Coach James Borrego has gone with a younger rotation over this current four-game winning streak. That’s led to Miles Bridges being a strong pickup while Willy Hernangomez and Malik Monk are on the radar. Nicolas Batum is going to return today, so it may be tougher to trust both Willy and Monk -- they would be more likely to use a no-center lineup over Willy. Kemba Walker looks to have a clear path to minutes.
Washington Wizards (B2B: None)
The Wizards will be eliminated from the playoffs with an Orlando or Miami win tonight, but the good news for fantasy is that they’re done with B2B sets. Trevor Ariza has suffered two groin injuries in the past week, so it would make sense to shut him down. Last night, we saw Jordan McRae step up with a season-high 21 points, so he could be someone to watch. Troy Brown has lost some of his luster, though. Earlier this week, coach Scott Brooks did say that he was going to limit Bradley Beal’s minutes, but he played 37 in each of the last two games. He should be all set for most of his season-long leagues, but DFS players may want to be careful.
Atlanta Hawks (B2B: Apr. 2-3)
Besides the non-rotation depth at center, the Hawks are healthy, and they’re on a three-game winning streak. The team wants to finish strong and fantasy owners with Hawks on their roster should feel comfortable counting on them.
Chicago Bulls (B2B: Apr. 9-10)
When life hands you Lemons, well, yeah. The Bulls are so thin right now that they just signed Walter Lemon Jr. to a contract for the rest of the year. On Wednesday, they missed 100% of what they likely hoped their starting lineup would be with Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. all out. Instead, they started Shaquille Harrison, Antonio Blakeney, Wayne Selden, Brandon Sampson and Robin Lopez. Yikes.
That aside, Markkanen’s issue isn’t just about tanking. He is going to wear a heart monitor during supervised workouts in the coming days because of his rapid heart rate. Hopefully, he’s going to be OK for next season. Coach Jim Boylen said he expects LaVine to play again this season, but fantasy owners shouldn’t bet on it. It’s also more likely that Otto is out for the year.
Besides Robin Lopez and Shaq Harrison, there aren’t any slam-dunk Bulls to own. Wayne Selden would be the No. 3 guy to own after his 34 minutes on Wednesday, and Blakeney could be someone to watch just on volume. The Bulls can do no worse than the No. 4 lottery spot, but they could move up to No. 3 with a lot of losses while the Cavs pick up a few wins.
Cleveland Cavaliers (B2B: Apr. 4-5)
The Cavs are not expected to have Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith and John Henson this year, but Henson is starting to do some work in warmups. Kevin Love is likely going to sit out on that upcoming B2B, but he’s been productive when active. Although, the Cavs have just a 1.5-game gap on the Bulls to keep their top lottery odds of 14%.
New York Knicks (B2B: Apr. 9-10)
The Knicks have a lot going on with some of their young guys. Kevin Knox (ankle) and Dennis Smith Jr. (back) are questionable for tonight, but don’t be surprised to see them sit. Noah Vonleh (foot) is out for at least another week and he might be shut down, and the same goes for Frank Ntilikina (groin). Damyean Dotson and Emmanuel Mudiay look to be the only reliable guards in fantasy for NY while Mario Hezonja should also get attention in deeper leagues. Mitchell Robinson’s minutes are down a little, but it doesn’t really matter in season-long leagues with his insane block numbers. The Knicks are a near lock for top lottery odds of 14%.