This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
This an evening chock-full of slower-paced games, with only the WAS/CHI game eclipsing a 230 O/U. You'll find some great revenge opportunities in that game tonight. At first glance, the Thunder double stack of Russell Westbrook ($10,300) and Paul George ($9,800) looms large, but I'm going to wait and see about Toronto's injury situation before I go there, and even if I do, I'm likely to only use Westbrook for reasons I'll illustrate below. Load management will now be an issue to contend with on a nightly basis, especially when dealing with elite players in back-to-back situations. James Harden ($11,900) is a player that fits that description tonight, so I'd advise using a bit of caution in those scenarios as we enter the final weeks of the season. For now, here are the notable injuries that we're aware of on Wednesday's nine-game slate.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) QUESTIONABLE: I suspect that we'll be able to safely call Giannis as a scratch as the day moves forward. If his ankle is of any concern, there's no need to put him on the floor against the cellar-dwelling Cavs. Many DFS pundits will tell you to take a look at Tony Snell ($3,200), but I think that's fool's gold compared to the nightly boost you'll get from Khris Middleton ($6,700) when Giannis is out. Middleton did play 36 minutes on Tuesday, however.
- Zach LaVine (thigh) QUESTIONABLE: This injury occurred during Monday's game against the Suns. There are usage spikes all over the board when LaVine sits, but with Otto Porter (shoulder) doubtful, Kris Dunn ($5,400) and Ryan Arcidiacono ($3,300) are my plays if this designation holds.
- Kevin Love (back) QUESTIONABLE: Cleveland is headed for blowout territory if Love is sidelined against the Bucks, and with nothing to play for, I have my doubts about seeing the big man take the floor tonight. Larry Nance (ribs) is also questionable, so I'd look to Marquese Chriss ($3,500) and Ante Zizic ($4,300) as prime candidates for increased usage.
- C.J. McCollum (knee) OUT: Although this will soon be an ongoing injury that won't garner a mention from me until he's closer to a return, it would serve us to take a brief look at who's benefited the most from his absence. No one has separated themselves, although Jake Layman ($3,300) garnered the last start. Moe Harkless ($4,400) had a decent game against the Pacers and is worth looking at as a pivot.
- Kyle Lowry (ankle) OUT: Lowry's overall health has been a concern for most of the season. The bulk of the offensive load should shift to Kawhi Leonard ($8,400), and Fred VanVleet ($4,700) would take over duties at point guard. The absence from Lowry may lead me also to plug in Westbrook, as I mentioned above.
- Justise Winslow (thigh) OUT: All hail the return of Goran Dragic ($5,300)! Winslow's injury has opened up an opportunity for the point guard to get back into the swing of things, posting a 57-DKFP double-double on Monday against the Thunder. I'm interested in him as a GPP flier against the Spurs tonight.
- Eric Gordon (rest) OUT: We learned about the potential for this scratch earlier in the week, so we'll stick with this assumption for now. As I said above, the game reeks of load management potential for the Rockets, and this is one of the last back-to-backs the Rockets will have this season. For that reason, I'm going to delay a few builds to see what Houston will do with Harden and Chris Paul ($6,900) before I make any determination here.
The rest of the injuries on the slate are ongoing situations that still hold value, but their pivots are readily apparent, so there's no need to illustrate them further, as we have some picks to make!
Damian Lillard, POR vs. DAL ($8,800): You know it pains me to slide past Bradley Beal ($9,400), who's become the gold standard at the two spot, but the value you gain from Dame with McCollum out of the picture is too enticing to ignore. Lillard put up 30 points and 15 assists against a stubborn Pacers defense on Monday. Their playoff push is now harder without McCollum, but they are 10-point favorites against the Mavericks. Lillard has averaged 51 DKFP over three games against Dallas this season.
Elfrid Payton, NO at ORL ($8,000): I apologize for going so high with the second pick, but I always love a revenge game. Payton joined the likes of Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain with his fifth consecutive triple-double on Monday, and he's an obvious plug-and-play as long as Jrue Holiday is out. I expect him to stick it to his former team tonight, and he could be in line to make it six straight triple-doubles.
D.J. Augustin, ORL vs. NO ($5,300): The pressure is on to give you value with the third pick. While I'm a big fan of Dragic on the low end, Augustin's reliable floor is worth the price you'll pay against the Pelicans, who rank 23rd overall against opposing point guards. You can count on him to at least hit 5x value at this price point, but he's not known for explosive totals. 35 DKFP would make him a welcome addition at this price.
Luka Doncic, DAL at POR ($8,900): Doncic's enjoyed a pretty healthy 45 DKFP per game over three contests against Portland, and while I'm being a bit sneaky by using his forward eligibility, he could end up with lower ownership amongst the other elites tonight despite his obvious value in this spot. I take a bit of an issue with his current price as there's enough volatility with Doncic to cause concern. This is why I'm more inclined to use him as a GPP play tonight and go for more reliable value (Lillard) in cash.
Jabari Parker ($6,000) and Bobby Portis ($5,700), WAS at CHI: Ah, the sweet taste of revenge graces our slate yet again. Both players had standout games against their former team when they last met, and now they'll get an opportunity to do it again in Chicago. While I think the duo is a bit too cost-prohibitive for a stack, I'm going to find a way to use them in the majority of my builds, likely alternating them among identical lineups.
Serge Ibaka, TOR at OKC ($5,400): Ibaka should come out swinging – ok, maybe I shouldn't encourage that! Let's just say he'll be ready to play after his three-game suspension, which, I have to say, he deserved. Anyway, that melee has no bearing on tonight's game against the Thunder, save the nine days of rest Ibaka received as a result. The team will be short-handed without Kyle Lowry, so every starter will need to step up. A rested Ibaka also leads me to think about fading George in this slot, as I mentioned above.
The position is stacked with talent tonight, and after a night of rest, you have to expect Joel Embiid ($10,000) to shine against the Celtics. Boston's history against Embiid is a bit up-and-down, and I can't find a good reason to fade him. If you're building up from center, he's an obvious play, but when I've been building with a Lillard/Payton stack, he becomes difficult to afford in those lineups. I can also easily argue a case for Nikola Vucevic at $9,500 due to his favorable history against the Pelicans. I will be stacking these two centers in one of my builds.
Rudy Gobert ($8,200) vs. DeAndre Jordan ($5,700), UTA/NY: I think this should be an interesting matchup between the two big men, and they both deserve mention as two centers who could be great low-ownership targets. Over 21 games played against each other, Jordan actually holds a 12-9 advantage over Gobert, and he also holds a 15-5-1 lead in the rebound count. True, I am taking these stats back to Jordan's days with the Clippers, but I think it's worth noting Jordan's distinct individual advantage over Utah's big man.
Clint Capela, HOU at MEM ($7,900): Capela only played 27 minutes on Tuesday so he should be in good shape to play a full complement in this back-to-back. His history against the Grizzlies is very compelling, with a 40.9 DKFP average over two contests. With Eric Gordon and possibly more players sitting, the Rockets starters will all have to step up a bit, and despite the potentially slow pace of this game, I like Capela in this spot.
Additional centers to consider: There's a viable argument for opting to use Ibaka and Portis' dual eligibility here, as I like their chances above other centers I could go with as additional mentions.