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The Western Conference will continue the third annual NBA Play-In tournament and this marks the second year using the current format. Teams seeded #7 through #10 qualify for the tournament and the outcome will determine the final two teams to make the playoffs in the conference. Meeting in the 7-8 matchup is the Pacific division LA Clippers and the Northwest division Minnesota Timberwolves.
Clippers SIC Health Score - 85.6
The Clippers faced an uphill battle from the jump knowing that perennial forward Kawhi Leonard was likely to miss the entire regular season and in knowing this, expectations were modest. However, the Clippers have played much better than “modest” this season, keeping their level of play high even during a harrowing stretch beginning with the news broken on Christmas Day.
Two-way superstar Paul George (FD $9,600) was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow and in the 43 games missed, the Clippers remained afloat winning 19 of those games and never falling out of playoff contention.
Since his return March 29th, George has played well averaging 22.6 points per game and 6.8 assists while continuing to be a prowess on the defensive end racking up just under 3 steals a game.
Points have come from all over the roster due to both Clippers stars missing time meaning players like veteran point guard Reggie Jackson (FD $5,700) and sharpshooter Luke Kennard (FD $4,200) have had to step up offensively. Jackson has done well averaging 16.8 ppl which is the most he has since the 2015-2016 season while Kennard has shot lights out from 3PT distance leading the team with 190.
A reliable source of points that has recently returned from injury is former Blazer Norman Powell (FD $6,200). Powell was acquired at the trade deadline but fractured his left foot in just his third game for his new team but has gone over 20+ points in the two games since returning.
Timberwolves SIC Health Score - 88.9
The Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves in an unfamiliar situation this season, a potential win away from entering the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-2018 season and second time since reaching the 2004 Western Conference finals.
The Wooden Night Dogs doubled their season win total from last year due to the emergence of Anthony Edwards (FD $9,100) coupled with Towns playing in 70+games for the first time since the 2018-2019 season.
The former first overall pick has emerged as a bonfire superstar in just his second year raising his averages in points and assists. Besides a stint on the sidelines due to COVID-19 protocols and a left patella issue, Edwards has faired well health wise contributing to the Wolves moderately successful season.
The star of the team, C Karl-Anthony Towns (FD $9,700), has had injury issues the past few seasons including a knee issue and wrist fracture preventing him for hitting his full potential but this season he was able to avoid injury playing in a total of 74 games. The All-Star averaged 24.6 points and just under 10 boards while contributing a career high 150 threes made.
The biggest injury issue in what has turned into quite the health roster is playmaking guard D’Angelo Russell and his bothersome hamstring. Russell missed the final two games of the season but the last was excused as a non-COVID illness. Regardless, we expect the guard to play but the severity of the issue may cause him to play less than his usual minutes and open the door for players like G Malik Beasley (FD $4,300) to contribute.
Both teams have exceptional SIC scores and with the differential of the scores less than 4 points, expect a close knit affair between the two Western squads.
Best Injury-Based FanDuel Plays
Clippers +3 - The Clippers have played through injuries well all season, with George and Powell not missing a beat since returning expect the Clippers to fight and score more fluidly
Malik Beasley O9.5 Points - If Russell is just tad hampered more than the team is letting on, Beasley will easily go over ten points, eclipsed this prop number in 4 of the last 5 games