We're set for a big 10-game slate on the penultimate Friday night of the regular season, with almost every game having some kind of postseason stakes attached. The injury report does have quite a few big names on it, with some of those already confirmed absences. But thanks to 20 teams in action, we still have access to a deep player pool at each position and salary level.
Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest projected totals:
Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 231.5 points)
While this game does indeed carry the highest projected total on the slate, fair warning should be given this could turn into a laugher in Milwaukee's favor rather quickly. The tanking Rockets have listed 13 players on their injury report, including Kelly Olynyk, Christian Wood and Kevin Porter. There's a possibility Houston takes the court with essentially five backup players on the first unit, which would likely leave this game considerably short of the 279 total points these teams compiled when they met late last month. The Rockets do already check in allowing 116.4 points per road game and the Bucks put up an NBA-high 120.3 per home contest, so the metrics are there for the hosts to have a banner night, although a lot of the scoring could come from bench players in the second half.
New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers (Projected total: 228.5 points)
The Pelicans are just 1.5 games back of the Spurs for the final play-in spot, so the motivation level will certainly be high in this tough road battle. Meanwhile, the 76ers don't yet have the No. 1 seed in the East locked up despite the 2.5-game lead on the Nets. These sides combined for only 195 the first time they played, but New Orleans checks in allowing 115.9 points per road contest while the 76ers are averaging 117.2 per home game. The Pels have also been a strong scoring team on the road (114.5 PPG), but Philly has been one of the stingier road squads in the league with 108.8 points allowed per home contest and New Orleans will also be without Brandon Ingram (ankle).
San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings (Projected total: 227.5 points)
As mentioned earlier, the Spurs need to continue winning to ensure at least a play-in spot and they draw a generous defense in the Kings. Sacramento is allowing an NBA-high 120.7 points per home game and San Antonio has been a better road offense (112.5 PPG) than home (109.1 PPG). The host Kings also put up 115.2 per home game, while the two teams have combined for 247 and 226 points in their first two meetings. There's also a chance De'Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnesboth return from COVID-19 protocol and a groin injury, respectively, for Friday's contest, which would naturally up the overall scoring expectations for the home squad.
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: OUT
Anthony Davis, LAL (back)/ Status: GTD
Davis has said he expects to play despite exiting Thursday's loss to the Clippers with back spasms.
De'Aaron Fox, SAC (COVID-19 protocol)/ Status: GTD
If Fox is able to return to the floor Friday, it would likely send Delon Wright back to a bench role.
Donovan Mitchell, UTA (ankle)/ Status: OUT
In Mitchell's ongoing absence, Joe Ingles should remain in the starting five.
Jaylen Brown, BOS (ankle)/ Status: OUT
With Brown out again, Evan Fournier could remain on the first unit.
Christian Wood, HOU (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Wood were to sit out, Kenyon Martin could be a primary beneficiary.
Kelly Olynyk, HOU (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Olynyk sits out, Anthony Lamb could draw a start.
Jimmy Butler, MIA (illness)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Butler were to sit out a second straight game, Andre Iguodala would likely remain in the starting five.
Darius Garland, CLE (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Brandon Ingram, NOP (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Kevin Porter, HOU (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Porter's absence will likely lead to a start at point guard for Armoni Brooks.
Kristaps Porzingis, DAL (knee)/ Status: DOUBTFUL
With Porzingis likely out again, Dwight Powell should draw another start at center.
Harrison Barnes, SAC (groin)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Other notable injuries:
Mike Conley, UTA (hamstring)/ Status: OUT
Miles Bridges, CHA (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Gordon Hayward, CHA (foot)/ Status: OUT
Jae'Sean Tate, HOU (knee/COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: GTD
Derrick White, SAN (knee)/ Status: OUT
Devonte' Graham, CAR (knee)/ Status: GTD
Dennis Schroder, LAL (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Tyrese Haliburton, SAC (knee)/ Status: OUT
Norman Powell, POR (knee)/ Status: PROBABLE
Tristan Thompson, BOS (chest)/ Status: PROBABLE
Robert Williams, BOS (toe)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Wendell Carter, ORL (eye)/ Status: OUT
Steven Adams, NOP (toe)/ Status: GTD
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC (foot)/ Status: OUT
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, NO (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Victor Oladipo, MIA (knee)/ Status: OUT
Tyler Herro, MIA (foot)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Antetokounmpo could be a bit of a trap Friday with the Rockets potentially sitting out all five members of their first unit. If that does come to pass, it's doubtful Giannis can come close to delivering anywhere near a justifiable return on his salary. Jokic has a tough matchup on paper against the Jazz, but he's posted 68.3 and 74.9 FD points in two prior meetings versus Utah and is absolutely worthy of consideration even at his lofty salary. Doncic is another superstar who could have a bit of a blowout risk attached if Dallas gets rolling early against Cleveland. He'll also be on his third game in four nights and fifth in seven overall, which could really take its toll Friday. Tatum will take the floor without Jaylen Brown once again, which should make him even more popular than usual.
Healthy players with salaries in the high four figures capable of also delivering elite scores include Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,800), Julius Randle ($9,700), Zion Williamson ($9,600) and Joel Embiid($9,600).
Towns is coming off a "down" game by his standards where he posted just 33.3 FD points, and he only netted 37.5 against the Heat in the first meeting, so he could have some trouble offering a full return on investment. Randle faces a Suns team that's been tough defensively all season and that he put up 31.2 FD points over 38 minutes against during the prior meeting Apr. 26. Williamson could be one of the best fantasy-point-per-dollar plays in the elite level considering he sports a 33.3 percent usage rate and averages 50.0 FD points per 36 minutes with Brandon Ingram off the floor. Finally, Embiid is an interesting option on the other side of the matchup, but he only produced 29.3 FD points in 31 minutes against New Orleans back on Apr. 9.
In addition to the players just mentioned in the prior section, other likely chalk plays include:
Collin Sexton ($8,000)
Sexton should continue serving as the primary ball handler with Garland out.
Buddy Hield, SAC ($7,800)
Delon Wright, SAC ($7,000)
Wright is set to get plenty of attention coming off two monster games. But if Fox returns, Wright could head back to the second unit.
Kemba Walker, BOS ($7,600)
Walker should get plenty of attention with Brown out and coming off a 43.6 FD-point tally.
Mo Bamba, ORL ($6,900)
Bamba is set for another start and just produced 44 and 56.5 FD-point performances.
Both Ball and Marshall could be big beneficiaries of Ingram's absence.
Kenyon Martin, HOU at MIL ($5,600)
The Rockets' prospective list of absences is so extensive that I'll go ahead and actually suggest two of their players I expect to have sizable roles tonight. Martin is the first and he should have a starting role regardless of whether Wood and/or Olynyk play, considering the Rockets are likely down two wings in Tate and House. Martin racked up 48.0 FD points in a start Wednesday against the 76ers and also put up 32.8 FD points versus Denver in his other start this season. The young wing also dropped 22.2 to 29.8 FD points in three of the four games prior to Wednesday, and he's averaging 33.2 FD points per 36 minutes with Porter - who's the one main confirmed absence so far - off the floor this season. If some/all other big names also are eventually sidelined, Martin could have a truly massive role.
Dwight Powell, DAL vs. CLE ($5,000)
Powell has been excellent the last three contests with Porzingis out, scoring 33.4 to 38.5 FD points. The big man is averaging 32.7 FD points per 36 minutes with Porzingis off the floor. And although Powell is still involved very modestly offensively, his rebounding and ability to pile up steals and blocks helps frequently lock in his fantasy production. The Cavaliers make for a good target, as Cleveland is ranked in the bottom half of the league in offensive efficiency surrendered to centers (32.4 percent) while also allowing the sixth-most FD points per contest to the position in the last five (49.0). What's more, the Cavs are yielding the most steals (1.2) and fifth-most blocks (1.8) per game to centers for the season, while their pedestrian 44.1 percent shooting on the road should offer Powell plenty of chances on the defensive glass.
Armoni Brooks, HOU at MIL ($3,800)
Brooks is the aforementioned second Rocket to make it into this section Friday, as the young point guard should be set for a start with Porter already ruled out. Brooks is coming off having scored a career-high 20 points in his most recent game and has been at 22.9 or greater in four of his 14 appearances. The undrafted rookie is averaging 23.4 FD points per 36 minutes with Porter off the floor this season, and like Martin, could see an even bigger role if some of the other potential Houston absences materialize. The matchup against the Bucks isn't favorable from a positional standpoint, but - as alluded to before - there's a chance Brooks sees a load of minutes against Milwaukee's second-unit players in the second half.
Other value plays to consider: Mo Bamba, ORL at CHA ($6,900); P.J. Washington, CHA vs. ORL ($6,600); Marcus Smart, BOS at CHI ($6,200); Jakob Poeltl, SA at SAC ($6,000); Tim Hardaway, DAL vs. CLE ($6,000); Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA vs. DEN ($5,700)