This article is part of our NBA Injury Analysis series.
Jeff Stotts, certified athletic trainer and RotoWire's injury guru, checks in on the injuries impacting fantasy basketball in Week 19.
The All-Star has struggled with his back since the break, logging just four total minutes in Philadelphia's two games since reconvening. The injury was initially described as tightness, an explanation that could be linked to a muscle-related injury but is really more of a symptom than an actual injury. Terms like pain, tightness, and spasms are all often utilized when it comes to back injuries with each symptom a key component of a sequence known as the pain-spasm-pain cycle.
When an injury occurs, it usually elicits pain. This pain causes the neighboring muscles of the back to contract in spasms. Unfortunately prolonged spasms increase pain, which subsequently increases tension in the area. More tightness means more pain, and the entire sequence begins again.
Breaking the pain-spasm-pain cycle is often the first step in treatment for lower back injuries. Once the symptoms have subsided, locating and fixing the root of the problem is key in preventing the cycle from reoccurring. Simmons is slated to undergo additional testing, including an MRI, in the near future. The results will ultimately dictate just how long Simmons will be out.
He has already been ruled out for Monday's game against the Hawks and his availability for the remainder of the week remains in doubt. Shake Milton could be a nice stream this week with four games on tap for the Sixers.
The Mavs' All-Star did not play Saturday night due to soreness in his previously sprained right ankle. The decision to sit Doncic appears precautionary as the Mavs also opted to sit teammate Kristaps Porzingis. Look for Dallas to continue to take a conservative approach with its two young stars with a return to the playoffs looking like a strong probability. Players like Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. become valuable streaming options if and when Doncic sits again. Dallas has three sets of back-to-backs remaining, including one at the end of this week.
George has been unable to shake a lingering hamstring injury and has now missed 10 of Los Angeles' last 18 games. Hamstring injuries are notoriously fickle and are often aggravated or re-injured. Premature return to play is common as the athlete often reports feeling better, though the scar tissue that has developed at the injury site remains weaker than healthy muscle tissue. George has amped up his workload in practice and could be back as soon as Monday night. However, look for the Clippers to carefully manage his workload. The same goes for George's teammate, Patrick Beverley, who continues to battle a nagging groin strain.
With Kevin Durant already out for the year, the Nets took another hit last week when it was determined Irving would need season-ending surgery on his problematic shoulder. Irving has dealt with impingement and bursitis in his right shoulder for a majority of the season, opting for a cortisone injection in December.
Sadly cortisone, an anti-inflammatory medication, isn't a cure and the problem resurfaced over the break. Surgery appears to be the only way in which Kyrie can address the injury directly and the six-time All-Star is slated to go under the knife in the coming days. The exact procedure needed should help clear up some uncertainty still surrounding the nature of the injury and allow for a better timeline to be determined. In the meantime, look for the usage rates of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert to receive a sizable boost for the remainder of the season.
The Grizzlies have been one of the most surprising teams of the season, led by the young nucleus of Jackson and rookie Ja Morant. Unfortunately, maintaining their hold on the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference just got a lot more difficult with Jackson sidelined with a knee sprain. The team did not specific which ligament was injured but did state that he will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The key word in the press release is "re-evaluated," meaning a return to play could take even longer. Look for this absence to extend into mid-to-late March with Memphis' place in standings likely influencing his recovery timeline.
Only an injury could cool off the red-hot Lillard. The Blazers guard suffered a groin strain in the team's final game before the All-Star break. The injury was significant to knock Lillard out of the exhibition in Chicago and, so far, Portland's first two contests following the hiatus. He is likely to miss at least another game or two recovering.
The groin is a group of muscles known as the adductors. The adductors muscles are responsible for pulling the leg inward toward the body in a direction known as adduction. In basketball, the adductors play a vital role in lateral (side-to-side) movement as well as jumping.
Like mentioned with George and his hamstring woes, ensuring the groin is fully healed will help Lillard avoid a re-injury or secondary problem. In the meantime, C.J. McCollum has emerged as a valuable fantasy option. McCollum is averaging 34.0 points, 4.5 made three-pointers, 11.0 assists, and 7.5 rebounds in Portland's two games without Lillard.
The Warriors confirmed Thompson will not return this season as he recovers from the torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) suffered in last year's NBA Finals. As a result, anyone holding onto Thompson in hopes of a late season return can now send him back to the waiver wire. Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom for Golden State as the team is expected to welcome Stephen Curry back into the lineup on Sunday, March 1. Curry has played in just four games due to a fractured hand that required surgery to mend.
The Celtics guard recently had his problematic knee drained and remains listed as out. Walker's knee woes date back to his collegiate days and have been an ongoing problem throughout his professional career. He has undergone multiple procedures to address cartilage issues and a recurring cyst within the joint. Even when Walker does eventually return to the lineup, the risk of a flare-up or setback will loom. He's too valuable to drop, of course, but understand that Walker comes with a fair degree of inherent injury risk. Walker's absence has shifted Marcus Smart to the starting lineup and forced Jayson Tatum to take on the role of primary scoring threat for the Celtics.