This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We're set for a six-game slate Thursday night, one that has a pair of especially intriguing matchups in Celtics-Nets and Lakers-Mavericks. However, there's plenty of star power, with the Bucks, Heat, Cavs and Trail Blazers among the other teams taking the floor, more than enough to offset several big-name absences.
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Oddsmakers envision a largely competitive night if point spreads are any indication, as there are four games with lines of three points or fewer as of early Thursday. There should also be plenty of favorable DFS environments, considering there are four totals of 227.5 points or higher.
Injury Situations to Monitor
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LeBron James, LAL (ankle): PROBABLE
James is expected to take the floor and serve in his usual ultra-high-usage role in the absence of Anthony Davis, during whose current absence he's averaging 53.8 FD points per contest.
Kevin Durant, BKN (knee): OUT
In Durant's absence, the usage of Kyrie Irving should skyrocket, as should, to a varying degree, that of Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton (probable with a left shoulder impingement). Additionally, Yuta Watanabe should draw a start at small forward.
Damian Lillard, POR (ankle): QUESTIONABLE
If Lillard is out Thursday, Anfernee Simons could potentially take on primary ball-handling responsibility, while Shaedon Sharpe and Gary Payton (probable despite an ankle issue) could see more opportunities as well.
Bam Adebayo, MIA (wrist): PROBABLE
Adebayo is expected to suit up, but if he's limited or has a setback, Orlando Robinson could see plenty of run with Dewayne Dedmon (suspension) unavailable.
Tyler Herro, MIA (Achilles): OUT
In Herro's absence, Victor Oladipo and Max Strus could be primary beneficiaries.
Other notable injuries:
Nicolas Claxton, BKN (shoulder): PROBABLE
Jarrett Allen, CLE (illness): PROBABLE
Kelly Oubre, CHA (hand): OUT
Anthony Davis, LAL (foot): OUT
Khris Middleton, MIL (knee): OUT
Robert Williams, BOS (knee): OUT
Marcus Smart, BOS (knee): OUT
We have seven players with five-figure salaries that have a chance to play on Thursday's slate – Luka Doncic ($12,200), Joel Embiid ($11,500), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,400), LeBron James ($11,000), Jayson Tatum ($10,700), James Harden ($10,500) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($10,000).
Doncic came back from a one-game absence due to ankle soreness to rack up 69.7 FD points against the Clippers on Tuesday, and he'd put up 57 the contest prior as well. He also put up 59.3 FD points across 39 minutes against the Lakers in his previous meeting with them Christmas Day.
Embiid scored 53.7 FD points in only 23 minutes against the Pistons on Tuesday in his return from a three-game absence due to a foot injury, and he'd put up 55.1 to 76.5 FD points in the four-game stretch immediately preceding his time away.
Antetokounmpo scored a season-low seven points Wednesday against the Hawks, but he still put up 45.6 FD points over 34 minutes thanks to 18 rebounds and 10 assists. He's also scored over 60 FD points in four of the last seven games and is facing a Heat team decimated by injury.
James is averaging over 50 FD points per game during Anthony Davis' current absence and sporting a 35.3 percent usage rate, and he also scored 50.7 FD points across 34 minutes against the Mavs on Christmas Day.
Tatum has scored 54.1 and 67.8 FD points in two of his last three games, averaging 51.3 across his last 10 contests overall. He also generated 46.7 across 37 minutes in his prior meeting with the Nets.
Harden has scored over 50 FD points in three of his last four, including 55.9 in just 26 minutes against the Pistons on Tuesday in Joel Embiid's return from a three-game absence.
Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 46.8 to 52.5 FD points in three of his last four games, but he will face one of the toughest matchups in the league for point guards in the 76ers, which have yielded an NBA-low 20.5 offensive efficiency rating to the position.
Other likely chalk plays include:
LaMelo Ball, CHA ($9,700)
Ball bounced back from scoring just 26.4 FD points two games ago by scoring 47.8 FD points, and he'd put up 47.8 to 58.5 FD points in the five contests before his downturn as well.
Pascal Siakam, TOR ($9,600)
Siakam has tallies of 51 to 75.3 FD points in five of his last 11 contests, and he's also put up 45.8 and 45.1 FD points in his last two, all numbers that should keep him very popular Thursday.
Donovan Mitchell, CLE ($9,400)
Mitchell put together an unforgettable 96 FD-point performance four games ago and just racked up 70 against his old Jazz squad in his most recent game, so he should be in plenty of lineups Thursday.
Kyrie Irving, BKN ($9,300)
Irving boasts a 36.3 percent usage rate and averages 46.9 FD points per 36 minutes with Durant off the floor, and he's exceeded 40 FD points in six of his last seven games coming in.
Jimmy Butler, MIA ($9,200)
Butler went off for 68.4 FD points across 37 minutes against the Thunder on Tuesday, which should keep him highly rostered on Thursday's mid-size slate.
Spencer Dinwiddie, DAL at LAL ($6,700)
Dinwiddie comes into Thursday with back-to-back 30 FD-point outings, and he's eclipsed the 30-mark in six of his last 12 games alone. The veteran guard has been a much more productive, efficient player on the road as well, averaging 17.3 points on 49.1 percent shooting, including 44.2 percent from behind the arc. The Lakers have been more vulnerable of late to two-guards as well while allowing over 41 FD points per game to the position in the last seven, and Dinwiddie has proven very capable of overdelivering on his salary on multiple occasions by offering over a 5x return on his current figure in 12 games.
Dennis Schroder, LAL vs. DAL ($5,900)
Schroder is an intriguing option at his salary on the other side of the Mavs-Lakers tilt, as he checks in averaging 32.4 FD points per contest in the last six while putting up 20.2 points, 3.8 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest in that span and shooting a blistering 45.5 percent from three-point range. The Mavericks also give up over 45 FD points per game to point guards in the last seven contests, along with the fifth-highest three-point shooting (38.2%) on the road.
Max Strus, MIA vs. MIL ($5,500)
Strus should again enjoy a starting role Thursday with Caleb Martin (quadriceps) still out of action. In such a capacity Tuesday against the Thunder, the sharpshooter went off for 35.9 FD points across 42 minutes, his eighth time this season hitting or exceeding the 30-mark. Strus averages 24.5 FD points per 36 minutes with Martin, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro all off the floor (as will be the case Thursday), and the Bucks check in surrendering an elevated 43.4 FD points per game to small forwards in the last seven, along with the fifth-highest shooting percentage (46.9) to the position on the season.
ALSO CONSIDER: Victor Oladipo, MIA vs. MIL ($5,800); Kenrich Williams, OKC at PHI ($4,900)