This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We get back into the NBA swing of things following the All-Star break with a big nine-game slate Thursday night. The night should be an especially competitive one, given players, even those that were part of the All-Star festivities, have gotten an all-important chance to reset and refresh their legs for the stretch run. Plenty have also had a chance to heal up nagging injuries, and those trade to new locales at the deadline have had a chance to acclimate to their new environments.
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In line with what could be expected when a collection of well-rested teams get together, we have a night of relatively narrow spreads and high projected totals on tap Thursday. Seven of the nine games have lines of six points or less, while five games have projected totals of 232 points or higher, and only one is under 226 points.
Injury Situations to Monitor
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Anthony Davis, LAL (foot): PROBABLE
Davis is fully expected to play through his probable designation and fill his usual high-volume role.
LeBron James, LAL (foot): PROBABLE
James isn't carrying the usual probable designation due to his bothersome ankle for a change, and he's fully expected to play through what is termed as mild foot soreness.
Jamal Murray, DEN (knee): QUESTIONABLE
If Murray can't play through some swelling in his surgically repaired knee, Reggie Jackson and Bruce Brown could see plenty of time at point guard.
OG Anunoby, TOR (wrist): QUESTIONABLE
If Anunoby is able to return Thursday, it could lead to the exit of Precious Achiuwa or Jakob Poeltl from the starting five.
Other notable injuries:
Stephen Curry, GSW (lower leg): OUT
Zion Williamson, NOP (hamstring): OUT
Aaron Gordon, DEN (ribs): OUT
Andrew Wiggins, GSW (personal): OUT
Jusuf Nurkic, POR (calf): OUT
Anfernee Simons, POR (ankle): OUT
Collin Sexton, UTA (hamstring): OUT
Steven Adams, MEM (knee): OUT
Devin Vassell, SAN (knee): OUT
Tre Jones, SAN (foot): DOUBTFUL
We have nine players with five-figure salaries on Thursday's slate – Luka Doncic ($12,000), Nikola Jokic ($11,800), Joel Embiid ($11,700), Anthony Davis ($10,900), Jayson Tatum ($10,700), Damian Lillard ($10,500), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($10,200), LeBron James ($10,100) and Ja Morant ($10,000).
Doncic scored 55.4 and 65.3 FD points in the last two games before the All-Star break and has meshed well with Kyrie Irving over a small sample thus far. He also lit up the Spurs for 86.7 FD points the last time he saw them New Year's Eve.
Jokic could see even higher usage than usual with Aaron Gordon (ribs) already ruled out and Jamal Murray (knee) questionable, and he'll enter Thursday's game having scored 53.4 FD points or more in four of the last five games before the pause in play.
Embiid was able to get some rest for his perpetually sore foot during the break despite playing 27 minutes in the All-Star Game and thriving with a 51.4 FD-point haul. The big man also scored 58.6 to 65.2 FD points in three of the four games prior to the ASB.
Davis eclipsed 50 FD points in each of the last two games before the break, but it's worth noting he was contained to 38.7 FD points in 35 minutes by the Warriors three games ago.
Tatum set an All-Star Game record with 55 points on Sunday and also fought through an illness to score 55.3 FD points against the Pistons before the ASB.
Lillard scored 44.6 FD points over 23 minutes in Sunday's All-Star Game and recorded 50.9 or higher in each of his last four games before the break. He'll also take the floor without Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic on Thursday, a scenario in which he averages 58.4 FD points per 36 minutes while boasting a massive 40.6 percent usage rate.
Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging career highs in multiple categories and scored 40.5 to 63.1 FD points in the last four games before the ASB.
James made it back into action in the last game before the ASB and scored 36.2 FD points before playing in Sunday's All-Star Game, so he should be ready for a full workload coming out of the pause in play.
Morant has been a virtual lock for at least 40 FD points each night throughout the season and scored 41.1 across 36 minutes versus the 76ers in his previous encounter with them Dec. 2.
Other likely chalk plays include:
Kyrie Irving, DAL ($9,900)
Irving has hit the ground running in Dallas and scored over 50 FD points in each of the last two games before the All-Star break.
James Harden, PHI ($9,800)
Harden scored 44.8 to 54.4 FD points each of the last six games before the ASB and should continue as popular as usual coming out of the layoff.
Domantas Sabonis, SAC ($9,600)
Sabonis put up 42.3 to 54.5 FD points in each of the last five games before the ASB and should therefore be highly rostered again as play resumes.
De'Aaron Fox, SAC ($9,400)
Fox rattled off four straight 30-plus-point efforts before the All-Star break, resulting in an average of 49.6 FD points over that span.
Pascal Siakam, TOR ($9,300)
Siakam averaged 50.8 FD points in the last four games before the All-Star break, a stretch during which he shot 61.8 percent, including 64.7 percent from behind the arc.
Malaki Branham, SAN at DAL ($5,500)
Branham looks set for another start at point guard Thursday with Tre Jones (foot) labeled doubtful to play, making the rookie a highly appealing value at his salary. Last June's 20th overall pick ran with the first unit in the last seven games before the break and put up averages of 17.6 points (on 49.5 percent shooting, including 39.0 percent from distance), 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 28.6 FD points per contest in that span. Branham also posted 30.7 FD points in 32 minutes off the bench against the Kings in the game prior to that stretch and the Mavericks check in ranked in the bottom half of the league with a 26.6 offensive efficiency rating surrendered to point guards while also conceding 46.6 FD points to ones in the last seven games prior to the All-Star break.
Donte DiVincenzo, GSW at LAL ($5,300)
Andrew Wiggins will sit out another game Thursday due to a personal matter, which once again puts DiVincenzo in play at a very reasonable salary. The versatile wing had some spike performances in the last several weeks before the All-Star break, averaging 12.0 points, 4.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest while shooting 50.0 percent, including 51.4 percent from three-point range in his last 13 games. DiVincenzo eclipsed 25 FD points on six occasions in that span, and as was the case in the Warriors' final game before the ASB, he could draw the start at two-guard against a Lakers team that allowed 43 FD points per game to the position in the last 15 games.
Shaedon Sharpe, POR at SAC ($4,500)
Sharpe may draw the start in place of Anfernee Simons (ankle) Thursday, and he'll check in having averaged 13.8 points (on 61.8 percent shooting, including 56.3 percent from three-point range), 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal across 26.3 minutes in his last four games before the layoff. The rookie seventh overall pick has been showing plenty of upside throughout the season and has eclipsed 20 FD points on nine occasions despite averaging a relatively modest minutes per contest. Sacramento also checks in allowing the sixth-highest offensive efficiency rating to backcourt players (52.1), and they've yielded 42.9 FD points per game to two-guards specifically in the last 15 games.
ALSO CONSIDER: Kevon Looney, GSW at LAL ($5,700); Bruce Brown, DEN at CLE ($5,500); Josh Green, DAL vs. SAN ($5,200)