This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Although we do have one postponement in the Mavericks-Rockets, there's still a solid nine-game slate on tap Friday night providing an abundance of options for tournaments and cash games. A ledger the size of Friday's even opens up the possibility of trying one's hand at some smaller mini-slates offered by FanDuel, where one can focus on just a handful of contests that may have very appealing possibilities.
One undeniably positive aspect of an extensive menu of matchups is the fact there will be some excellent game environments for DFS purposes. Friday is certainly no exception, as all games carry projected totals north of 220 points. Additionally, several contests carry point spreads of five points or less, which predicts plenty of competitive scenarios where the higher-salaried players log a full workload of minutes.
Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest projected totals on Friday's slate:
Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 233.0 points)
The Bucks went into Thursday night's matchup against the Raptors averaging an NBA-high 121.8 points per home game and 113.0 per contest overall, while the Thunder check in allowing 113.6 points per contest overall making this projected total a seemingly realistic one. Both squads also rank in the top-10 in pace and should be at near full health now that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has returned to action for OKC. Milwaukee does project to continue without Jrue Holiday (health and safety protocols) for this contest, but the Bucks had still managed to score 113 to 125 points in four of the five contests he'd missed heading into Thursday's action.
Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans (Projected total: 229.0 points)
The Suns remain one of the league's stingiest defensive teams by allowing only 108.0 points per contest, fourth fewest in the NBA. The Pelicans are much more generous having surrendered 114.5 per contest overall. In turn, the Pels are also scoring 114.6 points per game - including a 120.7 over the last three contests - while the Suns are averaging a solid 111.3 per game, including 117.7 their last three times on the floor. Each squad is playing at some of the slowest paces in the league, but this game could well live up to offensive expectations with names like Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson all on the floor.
Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics (Projected total: 226.0 points)
The Celtics are naturally nowhere the same defensive team they are when Marcus Smart (calf) is healthy, and Boston just gave up 122 points to the Hawks on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Atlanta has slipped after a strong start to the season on the defensive end and now surrender 112.9 points per contest, including 113.8 per road game. The Hawks are also scoring an impressive 115.5 points per road game, another metric that helps support the idea of a higher-scoring tilt in this spot. Boston should also have Kemba Walker back in the lineup after he sat out what was the second game of a back-to-back set Wednesday, which should help increase their firepower.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written, check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Kawhi Leonard, LAC (lower leg)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Leonard sits out a fourth straight game Friday, Marcus Morris and Lou Williams could especially benefit while the usage of the remaining healthy members of the starting five should be particularly elevated.
Ben Simmons PHI (illness)/ Status: PROBABLE
Simmons is expected to suit up and play without restrictions Friday.
Paul George, LAC (toe)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If George manages to return from his seven-game absence and Leonard doesn't suit up, the former would be in line for elevated usage immediately. If George remains out, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard should continue to benefit.
Jaylen Brown, BOS (knee)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Kyle Lowry, TOR (thumb)/ Status: GTD
If Lowry sits out a second straight game Friday, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and DeAndre' Bembry could all benefit to varying degree as could Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby in terms of increased opportunity.
Draymond Green, GSW (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Evan Fournier, ORL (back)/ Status: PROBABLE
Fournier is expected to play his second straight game Friday after returning from his five-game absence Wednesday.
Paul Millsap, DEN (knee)/ Status: OUT
In Millsap's third straight absence, JaMychal Green could draw another start at power forward.
Mike Conley, UTA (hamstring)/ Status: GTD
Jrue Holiday, MIL (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: GTD
D'Angelo Russell, MIN (quadriceps)/ Status: OUT
Other notable injuries:
Marcus Smart, BOS (calf)/ Status: OUT
JaMychal Green, DEN (shoulder)/ Status: PROBABLE
Dillon Brooks, MEM (thigh)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Steven Adams, NOP (ankle)/ Status: DOUBTFUL
Will Barton, DEN (personal)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Nicolas Batum, LAC (concussion)/ Status: GTD
Andre Drummond, CLE (team decision)/ Status: OUT
Blake Griffin, DET (team decision)/ Status: OUT
Taurean Prince, CLE (ankle)/ Status: GTD
James Ennis, ORL (groin)/ Status: PROBABLE
Rajon Rondo, ATL (back)/ Status: OUT
Luke Kennard, LAC (knee)/ Status: GTD
George Hill, OKC (thumb)/ Status: OUT
Gary Harris, DEN (thigh)/ Status: OUT
There's a quartet of players with five-figure salaries on Friday's slate, with Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,300), Nikola Jokic ($10,600), Joel Embiid ($10,300) and Stephen Curry ($10,000) all fitting the bill.
Antetokounmpo could still be without Jrue Holiday, enhancing the Greek Freak's already massive appeal. Meanwhile, Jokic, Embiid and Curry all face highly advantageous positional matchups.
There are also several players with salaries in the high four-figures who have the ability to deliver elite scores, including Kawhi Leonard ($9,800), Nikola Vucevic ($9,700), Ben Simmons ($9,600), Zach LaVine ($9,500), Jayson Tatum ($9,400), Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,300) and Trae Young ($9,200).
From that group, Leonard may well be forced to sit out another game, but Vucevic, Simmons and Tatum are in very favorable matchups while LaVine and Towns come in playing extremely well and Young just put up 40 points against the same Celtics' squad he'll see again Friday. Likewise, Tatum dropped 35 on the Hawks in Wednesday's first game and could potentially play without Jaylen Brown (knee).
All the names mentioned in Elite Players section are naturally going to be very popular Friday, but rostering should still be reasonably spread out with 18 teams in action.
In terms of injury-influenced chalk, Malik Beasley and Khris Middleton should all see some additional clicks on their names due to the absences of Russell and the likely one for Holiday, respectively. Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are likely to also receive a lot of attention if Kyle Lowry misses another contest Friday while Paul George would likely be rostered even more than usual if he manages to return from his multi-game absence and Kawhi Leonard doesn't - and vice versa. Additionally, look for Jarrett Allen to find himself on plenty of rosters in his new role as starting center.
Jordan Clarkson, UTA at LAC ($5,900)
Clarkson is just two games removed from racking up 45.5 FD points against the 76ers on Tuesday, and he followed up that spectacular performance with 31.3 FD points over 33 minutes versus this same Clippers squad on Wednesday. He's been over 30 FD points in three of the past four, and he's offered more than 5x his current salary in nine of 29 games while coming within two FD points or fewer of accomplishing it on another four occasions despite a bench role. Los Angeles also checks in ranked in the bottom half of the league in offensive efficiency allowed to both second-unit players (42.3 percent) and point guards (26.5 percent), and the Clips have surrendered 47.8 FD points per game to ones on the season.
Darius Garland, CLE vs. DEN ($5,400)
Garland should be well rested after the Cavs last took the floor Monday versus the Warriors following the postponement of their Wednesday game against the Spurs. The second-year point guard is flashing improved production across the board this season, and there's no doubting his ability to outpace his current salary by a hefty margin with three tallies of greater than 30 FD points in his last six games alone. However, there's some volatility to Garland's game, considering he's put up 17.7 to 23.4 FD points in the other three contests during that sample, with the first figure actually coming against Denver. Nevertheless, those looking to steal some upside in tournaments would do well to consider Garland, as the Nuggets are allowing the fifth-highest offensive efficiency to PGs (29.0 percent) and 43.3 FD points per game to the position. What's more, Denver is tied for the fourth-highest shooting percentage allowed on the road (48.5 percent).
Ricky Rubio, MIN vs. TOR ($5,300)
Rubio continues to draw starts in place of D'Angelo Russell (quadriceps), with the veteran coming off having recorded a season-high 45.1 FD points against the Pacers in Wednesday's overtime loss. Rubio has scored 21.8 to 27.8 FD points in his other four starts thus far in Russell's stead and compiled 35.3 off the bench against the Mavericks in the game prior to that stretch. He'll draw a matchup against what should be weary Raptors' team playing its third game in four nights and possibly missing Kyle Lowry (thumb). Toronto is already allowing the eighth-most FD points per game to point guards (51.2), including 56.0 per contest over the last five.
Other value plays to consider: Andrew Wiggins, GSW at ORL ($6,500); OG Anunoby, TOR at MIN ($6,400); Darius Bazley, OKC at MIL ($6,100); Norman Powell, TOR at MIN ($5,800); Saddiq Bey, DET at MIN ($5,800); Bobby Portis, MIL vs. OKC ($5,500); Daniel Theis, BOS vs. ATL ($4,900)