This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
In a way, Saturday's slate is one of the most interesting of the season, as we have the rarity of five afternoon games and only one night clash in Heat-Bucks, a contest that isn't part of DraftKings' main ledger. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that there are potentially plenty of players slated to sit out for rest on teams that have nothing left to play for, as well as some big potential absences on squads that still have incentive. All in all, it makes for what should be an intriguing afternoon of DFS play, even as the uncertainty is such that only one contest has a projected total as of early Saturday morning.
Here's a closer look at two games on Saturday's afternoon slate where each team still has something to play for concerning play-in/playoff positioning:
Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks (Projected total: 212.5 points)
The Hornets are presently ahead of the Pacers on a tiebreaker for the No. 8 seed, and Indiana's game tips off an hour after Charlotte's on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Knicks are tied record-wise with the No.5-seeded Heat but behind on tiebreaker after getting swept by Miami this season. Each club has two games left to play, so New York could still vault the Heat but needs victories in both of its final pair contests to have a realistic chance. The Knicks could be missing Derrick Rose for this contest while the Hornets are still down Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward. The season series between the clubs is tied 1-1.
Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana Pacers (Projected total: OTB)
The Lakers have two of the biggest injury question marks of the afternoon, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis both sporting questionable tags. The defending champions have finally built up some momentum with a three-game winning streak, but to escape their present No. 7 slotting, they'll need to win their final two games – No. 6 seed Portland already has 41 wins with just one game left and has the head-to-head tiebreaker on Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Pacers, as mentioned earlier, could hold off Indiana for the No. 8 seed but can no longer catch No. 7 Boston because of tiebreakers on that end. The Pacers have several notable health issues themselves (detailed below) that could make their task in this spot tough. The Lakers hold the 1-0 series lead on the Pacers after having forged a 105-100 win March 12.
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.
LeBron James, LAL (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If James sits out, Kyle Kuzma, who's probable, will run with the first unit again, while Anthony Davis would also enjoy elevated usage if he can play through his groin injury. James was able to practice Friday, but he's appeared set to suit up in each of the previous two games and then not played.
Anthony Davis, LAL (groin)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Davis was downgraded from probable to questionable Friday, adding a good deal of doubt to his potential availability Saturday. If he sits out a second straight game, Markieff Morris should draw a start at power forward.
Malcolm Brogdon, IND (hamstring)/ Status: OUT
Domantas Sabonis, IND (knee)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Caris LeVert, IND (knee)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Kemba Walker, BOS (neck)/ Status: OUT
Jayson Tatum, BOS (ankle)/ Status: PROBABLE
DeMar DeRozan, SA (rest)/ Status: OUT
Deandre Ayton, PHO (knee)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Ayton sits out a second straight game, Dario Saric could draw a start at center.
Other notable injuries:
Dejounte Murray, SA (back)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Jakob Poeltl, SA (rest)/ Status: OUT
Marcus Smart, BOS (calf)/ Status: OUT
Evan Fournier, BOS (knee)/ Status: PROBABLE
Dennis Schroder, LAL (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: GTD
Kyle Kuzma, LAL (back)/ Status: PROBABLE
Derrick Rose, NYK (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Miles Bridges, CHA (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Gordon Hayward, CHA (foot)/ Status: OUT
Daniel Theis, CHI (hip)/ Status: OUT
Malik Beasley, MIN (hamstring)/ Status: OUT
Robert Williams, BOS (toe)/Status: OUT
Myles Turner, IND (toe)/ Status: OUT
Edmond Sumner, IND (knee)/ Status: OUT
We have seven players with five-figure salaries on Saturday's slate – James Harden ($10,800), Anthony Davis ($10,500), Domantas Sabonis ($10,400), LeBron James ($10,300), Nikola Vucevic ($10,200), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,100) and Kevin Durant ($10,000).
Harden rattled off 52.3 DK points across 26 minutes in his return from his month-plus absence against the Spurs. Reports are that he and Durant will play alongside Kyrie Irving with Brooklyn still trying to protect its No. 2 slotting from the Bucks and the Big Three trying to build rapport. How long he and KD go into the game remains to be seen given each's injury history and the fact the now-eliminated Bulls may not put up much resistance. The health of Davis, Sabonis and James will naturally have to be watched carefully before tip-off. Sabonis could once again be in an excellent position to thrive if he does play, with Brogdon already out and LeVert possibly sitting as well. Meanwhile, James or Davis would benefit from the absence of the other. Then, Vucevic and Towns are supremely talented big men with nothing left to play for, but given their usual body of work, they are still worthy of consideration.
In addition to the players just mentioned in the prior section, other likely chalk plays include:
LaMelo Ball, CHA ($8,400)
Ball has scored 37.0 to 45.5 DK points in three of his last four games and should be heavily involved once again.
Anthony Edwards, MIN ($7,900)
Edwards has flashed a massive ceiling this season and just scored over 50 DK points in his last outing.
P.J. Washington, CHA ($7,400)
Washington has had a relatively quiet game last time out but is still averaging 38.1 DK points per contest over his last five games.
T.J. McConnell, IND ($6,600)
McConnell scored 44.3 DK points in his most recent matchup and could have an even bigger role if Sabonis and/or LeVert sit out.
Evan Fournier, BOS ($6,200)
Fournier has been playing well and is set for big usage with Smart, Walker and Brown out.
Thaddeus Young, CHI at BKN ($5,600)
Young is playing on one of those teams that has now been officially eliminated, but the veteran should still be in a position to produce with Daniel Theis (hip) out again Saturday. Young should draw the start and could benefit from a matchup versus a Nets squad that's ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency allowed to frontcourt players (82.4 percent) and has allowed 62.0 DK points per game over the last 10 to players with power forward designations. Young drew the start against the Raptors on Thursday and put up 31 DK points over 28 minutes, and he posted 22.8 over 24 minutes off the bench against Brooklyn two games ago. Young has already provided over a 5x return on his current salary in 40 games this season, and the pace of Saturday's contest could well help him do it again.
Justin Holiday, IND vs. LAL ($4,600)
As alluded to earlier, the Pacers could be extremely short-handed Saturday, and Holiday could become one of the better point-per-dollar plays on the slate. The veteran wing is already coming off racking up 45.3 DK points over 39 minutes against the Bucks on Thursday, and he'd scored at least 22.3 DK points in four of the previous seven contests as well. Holiday should be set for a start at small forward under any circumstance Saturday. If LeVert and Sabonis join Brogdon and Turner as unavailable for Indiana, it's worth noting Holiday is averaging 40.4 DK points per 36 minutes without that quartet of teammates on the floor this season.
Cameron Payne, PHO at SA ($3,900)
Payne is averaging 22.5 minutes off the bench in his last four games and has scored 24.3 to 41.0 DK points in those contests, all while shooting an incredible 64.1 percent, including an absurd 73.3 percent from three-point range. The veteran guard's hot streak isn't just an outlier, as he's draining 43.6 percent of his shots from distance on the season after posting a 51.7 percent success rate from behind the arc in his brief eight-game sample last season. The Spurs have been particularly vulnerable to three-point shooting at home (39.1 percent allowed) and yield the sixth-most DK points per game (61.9) to players with point guard designations this season. Additionally, with Phoenix locked into its No. 2 seed, Payne is an example of a player that could see more run than usual Saturday.
Other value plays to consider: T.J. McConnell, IND vs. LAL ($6,600); Talen Horton-Tucker, LAL at IND ($5,200); Jae Crowder, PHO at SA ($5,200); Payton Pritchard, BOS at MIN ($3,800); Drew Eubanks, SA vs. PHO ($3,100)