Nowell was listed as doubtful due to his tibia injury, and ultimately was ruled out as the Wolves prepare to play the LA Clippers. Nowell missed the last game, and with D’Angelo Russell and Ricky Rubio healthy, was unlikely to play big minutes. Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver should pick up his minutes as a result.
After missing the last four games due to a foot injury, Kawhi will make his return as the Clippers prepare to play the Minnesota Timberwolves. Batum will get a rest day according to coach Lue, as he had been averaging 28 minutes without Kawhi, and some games without Paul George and Marcus Morris. With Leonard back in the fold, Luke Kennard will move back to the bench and will have his minutes severely cut as he competes with Terrence Mann for time behind the Clippers star duo. George’s salary has come up across the industry, making it a tough ask as his usage and assist rate both come flying down with Kawhi on the floor. Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris will have decreased usage as well. Kawhi himself will be a good play in a great matchup against the Timberwolves, and should be able to play his usual role of minutes. With Batum out, Patrick Patterson will likely take his role and play minutes in the teens off the bench, while Morris and Kawhi likely pick up the rest.
Whiteside will make his second start of the year Sunday, replacing Jones in the starting lineup. Whiteside had been playing more minutes despite coming off the bench, so this should give him a higher upside, but likely still in the mid twenties.
The Rockets made a last-minute switch for their lineup; after reporting Brooks would start over Bradley, they flip-flopped back and decided to keep the same lineup they’ve been running with. Brooks will play off the bench and may lose a minute or two as a result.
A game-time decision, Dort will start Sunday against the Toronto Raptors. Dort should be in line for his usual minutes, but the Thunder do have Pokusevski back, so it may be slightly more crowded for Dort.
Ross was ruled out late for the Magic due to back spasms, and will miss the game against the Toronto Raptors. Mo Bamba was questionable due to a hip injury, but was ultimately cleared to play and should play his backup center minutes behind Wendell Carter Jr. The Magic are going to be very shorthanded, as they’re down to 11 healthy bodies, 3 of whom are centers. There is limited data in CourtIQ with all the injured players, but the minutes should be open in the backcourt. Already without James Ennis, Gary Harris, Dwayne Bacon, and RJ Hampton will all be playing big minutes. Cole Anthony will likely pick up more usage as well, as in 81 minutes with most of the injured Magic off the floor, he averages 1.28 FPM and a 32% usage, per CourtIQ. Chuma Okeke and Wendell Carter will fill out the starters, and both will be good plays as the Magic try to take advantage of the depleted Raptors with a roster that is shorthanded as well.
Cody Martin will get the start at shooting guard for the Hornets, while Carey Jr. will continue to start. PJ Washington will come off the bench now, and is a much bigger risk in his first game back.
Brooks will make his first start Sunday, as he’ll replace Avery Bradley in the lineup. Brooks is on a two-way contract, and as the Rockets go through their youth movement, are looking to give him a go. He should get a few more minutes, while Bradley loses a few as a result.
The Hornets had two players questionable ahead of their matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers, and will get one back. Washington was upgraded to available and will return after missing three games with an ankle sprain, while Graham will miss his second straight game with a quad injury. With Washington returning, he’ll likely start at the center position, moving Vernon Carey Jr to the bench, and possibly out of the rotation, as he and Bismack Biyombo will likely split the backup center minutes. With Graham sitting out, one of the Martin twins will likely start in his place; Caleb started one game, with Cody the next. The biggest winner with Graham’s absence is likely Terry Rozier; he averages 1.22 FPM with Graham, LaMelo, Hayward, and Monk off the floor per CourtIQ, up from his 1.05 FPM average. He leads the team with 30% usage, and will put up plenty of shots for the Hornets. Assuming Washington starts, he will be a good play, as well as Jalen McDaniels, and whichever Martin twin starts.
As expected, Pokusevski is available to play and will return from his three game absence with an arm injury against the Toronto Raptors. Poku will start in his return, and if Dort ends up playing, he will start also, while Isaiah Roby will move to the bench.
In his pre-game news conference, coach Daigneault mentioned that both Dort and Pokusevski would start if they were cleared to play against the Toronto Raptors. Isaiah Roby would move to the bench if both ended up playing. Dort is still questionable, while Poku is still probable, but the status of both should be confirmed before lock.
In a big surprise, RHJ will get the start for the Blazers, after signing his second 10 day contract. It hasn’t been announced who he will start for, but it feels likely to be Derrick Jones Jr. It’s unclear how many minutes RHJ will play, but he should probably be expected to have around 16-22 minutes. If Jones Jr. moves to the bench, he’s going to the biggest loser for the Lillard-less Blazers.
As expected, Bacon will get the start for Ennis Sunday. He had been losing some minutes as the Magic have gotten healthier, but now will have a chance to get some more minutes and could be a viable punt today.
Ennis was listed as questionable due to a calf injury, but was ultimately downgraded to out and will miss the game against the Houston Rockets. Dwayne Bacon willprobably start in his place, with Terrence Ross getting a few more minutes along with RJ Hampton. Ennis has averaged 29 minutes over the last five games, and has been a consistent starter for the team. Ennis doesn’t usually produce at a high rate; he’s around 0.75 FPM per CourtIQ. It’s more that the extra minutes that Ross, Gary Harris, and Hampton play that should make them more valuable.
Two changes to the Nets lineup as they play the Heat. Blake Griffin gets the start in place of Deandre Jordan, as they hope he can match up with Adebayo better. Bruce Brown enters the lineup in place of Jeff Green, as they elect to play smaller to matchup with the Heat guards better. Blake and Brown will get a few bumps, while Jordan is the biggest loser; Green could still play his usual minutes off the bench.