This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We've reached the end of the 72-game regular-season marathon, one that concludes with a 10-game Sunday evening slate that will try to tie up the remaining loose ends with respect to the play-in/playoff picture. There are still multiple teams with motivation to win and identifying which starters are likely to log a normal workload - and conversely, which reserve players will either see expanded opportunities or spot starts on teams that have nothing left to gain - will be key to DFS success.
Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest projected totals on Sunday night's slate:
Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks (Projected total: 232.0 points)
The teams combined for 226 points in a 119-107 Hawks win the first time they played, and Houston will send out a first team consisting almost entirely of reserves with the exception of Kelly Olynyk. Meanwhile, the Hawks would be playing for the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round if the Celtics can knock off the Knicks earlier in the day. But if that doesn't come to pass, Atlanta could opt to rest some players. The Rockets check in allowing 118.2 points per road game while Atlanta scores 115.2 per home contest, so the total here is understandable.
Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves (Projected total: 230.5 points)
This is another scenario where only one side may have something to play for. The Mavericks will clinch the No. 5 seed with a win and could face either the Nuggets or the Clippers in the first round. The first two matchups between these teams – both in Dallas's favor – have resulted in totals of 249 and 236 points and the T-Wolves - who have nothing to play for - are allowing a Western Conference-high 117.6 points per game. Meanwhile, Dallas is a more prolific team on the road (113.6 PPG scored) than at home (111.1 PPG). And considering the difference in motivation level between the two clubs, this could be a particularly fruitful night for Mavs starters provided a blowout scenario doesn't curtail their minutes.
Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 230.5 points)
This contest actually offers something at stake for both clubs, which could make it one of the best matchups of the night. The first two meetings only finished with combined totals of 217 and 211 points, so the total here is somewhat surprising. However, Portland checks in allowing 114.0 points per home game while scoring 114.8 points per contest there while the Nuggets are scoring 112.9 points per road contest. The Blazers also enter with the hot hand having scored an average of 120.7 points over the last three. Portland's motivation should particularly be high considering it needs a win to ensure it won't fall out of the No. 6 seed and into play-in territory.
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.
Joel Embiid, PHI (illness)/ Status: PROBABLE
While Embiid is probable health-wise, how much time he'd see is up in the air considering the 76ers have nothing to play for.
Jimmy Butler, MIA (back)/ Status: GTD
Christian Wood, HOU (ankle)/ Status: OUT
In Wood's ongoing absence, Kenyon Martin should draw another start.
Zach LaVine, CHI (knee)/ Status: GTD
If LaVine sits out a second straight game, Garrett Temple is likely to draw another start at shooting guard.
Ben Simmons, PHI (back)/ Status: GTD
If Simmons sits out, Shake Milton - who's probable with a knee injury - would earn the start at point guard.
Other notable injuries:
Donovan Mitchell, UTA (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Brandon Ingram, NO (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Zion Williamson, NO (finger)/ Status: OUT
De'Aaron Fox, SAC (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Shake Milton, PHI (knee)/ Status: PROBABLE
Kevin Porter, HOU (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Joe Harris, BKN (hip)/ Status: OUT
Lonzo Ball, NO (thumb)/ Status: OUT
Kevin Love, CLE (rest)/ Status: OUT
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC (foot)/ Status: OUT
Will Barton, DEN (hamstring)/ Status: OUT
Tyrese Haliburton, SAC (knee)/ Status: OUT
Harrison Barnes, SAC (groin)/ Status: OUT
Marvin Bagley, SAC (groin)/ Status: OUT
Richaun Holmes, SAC (knee)/ Status: OUT
Seth Curry, PHI (hip)/ Status: GTD
Kevin Huerter, ATL (ankle)/ Status: PROBABLE
Jerami Grant, DET (knee)/ Status: OUT
Isaiah Stewart, DET (personal)/ Status: OUT
Cory Joseph, DET (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Daniel Theis, CHI (hip)/ Status: GTD
Luguentz Dort, OKC (knee)/ Status: OUT
Khyri Thomas, HOU (lower leg)/ Status: OUT
Sterling Brown, HOU (head)/ Status: OUT
Avery Bradley, HOU (personal)/ Status: OUT
Danuel House, HOU (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Eric Gordon, HOU (groin)/ Status: OUT
David Nwaba, HOU (wrist)/ Status: OUT
Malik Beasley, MIN (hamstring)/ Status: OUT
We have seven players with five-figure salaries on Sunday's slate: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,100), Nikola Jokic ($10,700), Anthony Davis ($10,600), Kevin Durant ($10,400), James Harden ($10,300), Luka Doncic ($10,100) and LeBron James ($10,100).
Giannis's workload is almost certain to be affected by the Nets-Cavaliers game, which will be in the final period by the time Milwaukee and Chicago tip off. A Nets' win locks up the No. 2 seed for Brooklyn and would make the Bucks' game inconsequential. Jokic should play a normal amount of minutes and already has tallies of 42.3 and 57.5 FD points against Portland this season. Davis and James are both finally off the injury report and will be playing a short-handed Pelicans team at the exact same time the Blazers are playing the Nuggets, meaning the two stars should be going all out to try and help the Lakers get a win that would give them a chance at escaping the play-in level (if the Blazers also lose). Durant and Harden will likely play a close-to-normal workload barring a blowout scenario, as the Brooklyn must win to ensure the No. 2 seed. Finally, Doncic should also see normal minutes or close to them with Dallas looking to lock up the No. 5 spot.
Healthy players with salaries in the high four figures capable of also delivering elite scores include Damian Lillard ($9,900), Kyrie Irving ($9,700), Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,600) and Nikola Vucevic ($9,400).
In addition to the players just mentioned in the prior section, other likely chalk plays include:
These six should log the majority of the minutes for a very tight Rockets rotation in the finale and should therefore all be popular to varying degrees.
Anthony Edwards, MIN ($8,500)
Edwards' salary has risen, but he's coming off back-to-back 40 FD-point efforts and should be motivated in the finale as he looks to make one final case for Rookie of the Year over LaMelo Ball.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, NO ($6,800)
The Pelicans will sit Ball, Ingram and Williamson again and NAW is coming off having scored 52 FD points.
Louis King, SAC ($5,200)
King could be on the radar of value hunters after putting up 56.3 FD points out of nowhere versus the Grizzlies on Friday and the Kings are once again sitting out Fox, Haliburton, Barnes, Bagley and Holmes.
Thaddeus Young, CHI ($5,000)
Young has scored 30.3 and 43.6 FD points in his last two games and still carries an extremely reasonable salary. Could draw a start with Daniel Theis (hip) a game-time decision.
Jalen Brunson, DAL at MIN ($5,200)
Brunson is enjoying a steady role off the bench, which has led to career highs in minutes (24.9), points (12.6), rebounds (3.4) and assists (3.5) along with career-best 52.4 percent shooting - including 40.3 percent from three-point range. The third-year pro just posted 32.0 FD points against the Raptors and has averaged 24.6 FD points partly on the strength of 57.9 percent shooting and 52.0 percent from three-point range over the last eight contests. The Timberwolves make for excellent targets Sunday, considering they allowed Brunson 37.7 FD points across 30 minutes the last time they met, are ranked in the bottom-10 in offensive efficiency allowed to second-unit players (44.6 percent) and give up the second-highest offensive efficiency to backcourt players (53.8 percent).
Bruce Brown, BKN vs. CLE ($5,200)
Brown has racked up three straight double-doubles while running with the first unit, with the last two starts coming as a result of Joe Harris' hip injury. Harris will remain out Sunday, giving Brown a chance to improve on the 36.0 FD points he's averaged over the last three while facing a Cavaliers squad that's given up the third-most FD points per game (44.7) to small forwards on the season - including an Eastern Conference-high 55.9 over the last 10. Cleveland has also yielded the third-highest offensive efficiency (24.7 percent) to threes for the season and Brown has already flashed a ceiling north of 40 FD points on multiple occasions.
Aaron Gordon, DEN at POR ($4,800)
Gordon should be refreshed after resting for the game against the Pistons on Friday, and he'll check into the finale having produced 34.7 and 26.6 FD points in his last two. Gordon's offensive contributions have certainly fluctuated at times since joining the Nuggets, but he posted 27.7 FD points against the Blazers in one prior meeting this season and Portland checks in allowing the seventh-highest offensive efficiency (26.3 percent) to power forwards, along with the fifth-most FD points per game (58.6) to fours over the last 10 contests. Gordon has delivered at least 5x return on his current salary on 28 occasions this campaign, and given he's a starter with what should be a normal workload, he certainly could give you some safety in your lineup at a very affordable investment.
Other value plays to consider: Jarrett Allen, CLE at BKN ($6,400); Tim Hardaway, DAL at MIN ($6,000); Naji Marshall, NO vs. LAL ($5,800); Armoni Brooks, HOU at ATL ($5,300); Thaddeus Young, CHI vs. MIL ($5,000); Shake Milton, PHI vs. ORL ($4,800); Marcus Morris, LAC at OKC ($4,700); D.J. Augustin, HOU at ATL ($4,000)