We're set for the first of back-to-back two-game play-in slates Tuesday, and the good news is both contests have elevated totals. However, there are a couple of notable Pacers injuries that could eventually turn into confirmed absences and ding offensive expectations for Indiana's contest against the Hornets. A two-game ledger also requires us to sharpen up our lineup-building process and both steer clear of bad chalk, and identify a value option or two that could be on the less popular end of things.
Here's a closer look at the two games on Tuesday night's slate:
Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers (Projected total: 227.0 points)
Only one of the three regular-season meetings between the teams finished with a total north of 220 points, so this figure could ultimately prove a bit elevated if both Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis were to sit out with their injuries. However, the Pacers do check in allowing 115.3 points per game, including 115. 6 per home contest, while the Hornets are yielding 114.3 per road game. Indiana also averages a solid 112.8 points per home game, so if at least one of Sabonis or Brogdon suits up, this projected number is one that could be lived up to.
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics (Projected total: 233.5 points)
The Wizards have been part of the games with the highest projected total on a slate all season, unsurprising considering they finished campaign allowing an NBA-high 118.5 points per game and also averaging an NBA-high 108.1 possessions per contest. They were also prolific on the offensive end with 116.6 points per game, but they found the Celtics had their number on defense. Boston surrendered tallies of 107, 104 and 110 while taking two of three from Washington during the regular season, numbers that are modest by Russell Westbrook and company's standards. The one caveat is that the two teams last met Feb. 28, prior to the Wizards beginning their impressive second-half push, and Westbrook took matters to another level while averaging 23.6 points, 13.9 assists, 13.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals over his last 20 contests.
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.
Domantas Sabonis, IND (quadriceps)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Sabonis entered Sunday's season finale with a knee issue and emerged with a quadriceps injury after logging 39 minutes. If he were to sit out, the usage of the remaining members of the starting five would rise considerably, while Goga Bitadze would potentially draw a spot start at center.
Malcolm Brogdon, IND (hamstring)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Brogdon were to sit out again, Caris LeVert would continue as the primary ball handler and enjoy a robust level of usage.
Robert Williams, BOS (toe)/ Status: PROBABLE
Williams' expected return should see him take on a solid allotment of minutes off the bench.
Other notable injuries:
Gordon Hayward, CHA (foot)/ Status: OUT
Myles Turner, IND (toe)/ Status: OUT
Jeremy Lamb, IND (knee)/ Status: OUT
Raul Neto, WAS (hamstring)/ Status: PROBABLE
Aaron Holiday, IND (toe)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Edmond Sumner, IND (knee)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
As previously alluded to, Westbrook was outstanding over the last month-plus of the season and will naturally continue to enjoy a massive role. Beal is expected to play and is off the injury report, but he could still be hampered to an extent. Sabonis' condition will naturally have to be monitored throughout the day, but he would be set for a large role if he does suit up, particularly if Brogdon sits out again. Tatum is sporting a 34.5 percent usage rate and averaging 47.9 FD points per 36 minutes without Jaylen Brown on the floor, and in a game where he should have extra possessions to work with, that makes him even more valuable. Finally, Beal did manage to score 25 points in 35 minutes despite his balky hamstring in the season finale, but his mobility appeared compromised at times.
Healthy players with salaries in the high four figures capable of also delivering elite scores includeCaris LeVert ($9,200) and Kemba Walker ($8,200). LeVert will be especially valuable if Brogdon sits again (44.4 FD points per 36 without Brogdon), and even more so if Sabonis is also sidelined. Meanwhile Walker, like Tatum, benefits from Brown's absence and should be well rested after sitting out the last three games of the season.
In addition to the players just mentioned in the prior section, other likely chalk plays include:
P.J. Washington, CHA ($7,200)
Washington finished the season averaging 34.5 FD points over his last 10 games and continues to carry a reasonable mid-level salary.
Terry Rozier, CHA ($7,200)
Rozier scored over 50 FD points in two of the last five games of the season, including the finale, which should be fresh in the minds of DFS players.
LaMelo Ball, CHA ($7,200)
Ball is popular on name alone, but he also finished the season averaging 34.8 FD points over the 10 games he played after returning from a long injury absence.
Oshae Brissett, IND ($5,700)
Brissett tallied a career-high 31 points in the finale Sunday on his way to 47.5 FD points and could be set for a sizable role if Edmond Sumner and/or Sabonis are out.
Robert Williams, BOS ($5,500)
Williams could be popular in his return due to salary and the favorable frontcourt matchup against the Wizards.
Marcus Smart, BOS vs. WAS ($5,700)
Smart missed the last three games of the regular season to rest his troublesome calf, but he's off the injury report and ready to go for what should be a solid DFS game environment against the fast-paced Wizards. Smart played in only one of the Celtics' three games versus the Wizards this season but performed well, posting 29.5 FD points over 36 minutes. He's averaging 32.0 FD points per 36 minutes with Brown off the floor this season as well, and Washington checks in having allowed the third-highest offensive efficiency (25.4 percent) to shooting guards for the season, including NBA-high 41.1 percent three-point shooting to the position. Additionally, the Wizards yielded 60.5 FD points per game to twos over the last 10 games, furthering Smart's case at a very reasonable salary.
Rui Hachimura, WAS at BOS ($5,100)
Hachimura posted 32.5 and 23.3 FD points in two of his three encounters with the Celtics this regular season, and he averaged 25.9 FD points over the last six games of the campaign while shooting 51.7 percent over that span. He delivered over 5x value on 25 occasions this season, and while Boston was generally tough against power forwards overall, they did display vulnerability to floor-spacing bigs by giving up the sixth-highest three-point shooting percentage (37.4) to fours.
Doug McDermott, IND vs. CHA ($4,700)
Teammate Oshae Brissett is also on my radar, but he carries a salary $1K higher than McDermott's and isn't guaranteed a starting role. McDermott should be running with the first unit at the four, however, and he'll see an even bigger role if Sabonis sits out with his quad injury. McDermott checks in averaging 25.1 FD points over his last four games, a span during which he shot 52.7 percent, including 42.9 percent from distance. He also produced a tally of 36.7 FD points in one of the contests during his current 10-game starting stint, and he already boasts one haul of 33.0 FD points against the Hornets this season. Charlotte also checks having allowed the fifth-highest offensive efficiency (26.8 percent) to power forwards for the season and 54.5 FD points per contest to fours in the last 10 games, along with the sixth-highest three-point percentage (38.8 percent) of any road team.