NBA Injuries To Track Early In The Playoffs: Play-In Edition

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on April 12, 2022 - Last Updated on April 14, 2022
NBA injuries

The NBA playoffs have finally arrived, but not every team enters healthy and whole. Many are dealing with injuries major or minor, with even a few superstars looming as question marks. Which NBA injuries do we as bettors need to track heading into elimination season?

We’ll eventually run through every team. To start, let’s look at those participating in the fake playoffs play-in tournament. We’ll see what markets are affected and which teams could present buy-low opportunities if their key guys come back sooner than expected.

NBA Injuries To Track: The Play-In Teams

Lineup data via Cleaning The Glass

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • C Jarrett Allen (finger)

Allen has been out since early March with a fractured finger. He’s already ruled out for the play-in against Brooklyn and it didn’t sound all that great for him to come back for a second play-in round in the event of a loss (the Cavs are underdogs).

Without Allen on the court but with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, the Cavs have actually performed better than their full season differential by a fair amount (+3.4 per 100 versus +1.9). Their game takes a different shape as the offense improved but the defense drops, no surprise when playing a smaller group of players.

Brooklyn Nets

  • PG Ben Simmons (back)

While the team maintains there’s “no timetable” for Simmons’ return, Adrian Wojnarowski reported he “could possibly be cleared to play” during the first round of the playoffs.

Simmons figures to fit perfectly as a secondary option/defensive presence behind two elite ball-handlers who will pick up the scoring slack he leaves. His looming return could represent a rare buy-low on the East’s most talented team. Keep in mind that despite their struggles, the Nets have an elite +13.2 differential with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving playing together.

LA Clippers

  • F Kawhi Leonard (knee)

Leonard looms as a potentially major swing figure, considering he’s probably a top-three player in the league when healthy. The Clippers could potentially become among the most dangerous teams in the league with him back in the fold.

However, it doesn’t sound like he’s all that close to a return after tearing his ACL in last year’s playoff run. He’s still just doing individual rehab work and hasn’t taken any contact. The Clippers would probably have to win at least one playoff series before we can even expect him to have a remote chance of a return. And that’s on top of the play-in tournament.

The Clippers price has dropped shortened pretty far as the market bakes in potential return. Most likely, you shouldn’t be tempted. Basically all sources and speculation paint Leonard’s return as unlikely.

Charlotte Hornets

  • F Gordon Hayward (foot)

Injury woes continue to plague Hayward, with another foot ailment the latest. Unfortunately, he’s exactly the type of player who gains value in the playoffs with the ability to switch multiple assignments on defense and score in a variety of ways.

Still Hayward has a negative net differential this season. The team likely shouldn’t miss him too terribly much against Atlanta, where they are underdogs.

Considering the team has opted to get Hayward’s foot in a cast, don’t expect to see him play another game this season.

Atlanta Hawks

  • F John Collins (foot)

Collins has missed more than two months with a foot injury. Note that he also has a lingering hand injury as well. Chris Kirschner reported Atlanta Coach Nate McMillan offered only “we’ll see” when asked if Collins could go versus Charlotte.

It sounds unlikely Collins goes, and even if he does, the team likely limits his minutes. Collins has about a neutral net rating. But, the team’s defense does improve a fair amount (39th percentile versus 26th) at the expense of the offense. If Atlanta does make the main tournament, Collins may return. See if you can grab under an inflated total.

New Orleans Pelicans

  • F Brandon Ingram (hamstring)
  • F Zion Williamson (foot)

Ingram sat out the team’s season finale but played a ton of minutes in the games prior to that. We would anticipate he will play his normal amount against the Spurs.

Williamson looks like a trickier and potentially more interesting case. He actually played a fair amount last season, averaging 33.2 minutes in 61 games. He made a massively positive impact with a net rating of about +8. Even his oft-criticized defense appeared to help the team as they were notably worse when he sat.

Is there any chance Zion returns? It actually sounds possible since he reportedly played in “controlled scrimmages.” Five-on-five work sounds pretty promising. Keep a close eye on this. The Pelicans have the talent to give someone a sweat, should they advance to the tournament and get their franchise player back.

Best of luck navigating NBA injuries in the postseason.

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Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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