The NBA on ESPN is back tonight at 6:30pm CT, as MVP contender Joel Embiid leads the red hot Philadelphia 76ers into The Land to take on Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers, before Steph Curry and the resurgent Golden State Warriors invade L.A. Live to take on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers at 9 PM CT.
You can bet your favorite spread, moneyline, total or game prop over with our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
76ers (-2.5, -140 ML) at Cavaliers (+2.5, +120 ML) | Total: 222
As of writing, 71% of bets are on the Sixers to cover the spread, while a similar 66% of the handle (money) is coming in on the same side, according to VSiN. In short, public and sharp (professional) bettors are generally in agreement on this one. As for the total, the public strongly favors the over, as 84% of bets are on over 227.5 points. Sharps share the same enthusiasm about the over, and are also backing it, as 83% of the handle is on the over.
The Picks: Sixers -2.5 | Over 222
It’s hard to bet against Joel Embiid and James Harden when they’re fully optimized on offense, picking on mismatches and making unselfish plays to get their teammates going, and that’s what we’ve seen from them recently. Philadelphia has scored 112, 120, 117, 147 and 133 in their last five games, all wins, posting a 129.7 offensive rating, the best in the NBA by five points.
Throughout the streak, Embiid is averaging a cool 37.0 points on 59.4/53.3/83.8 shooting splits, 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.2 steals while facing defenders such as Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Myles Turner, Rudy Gobert and Kristaps Porzingis. In two games against the Cavs this season, Embiid’s performance determined each outcome; despite facing a stout front-court in Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, I expect Embiid to keep it rolling, especially because of how well he’s shot jumpers over the last few weeks. James Harden has been right there with him, averaging 23.2 points on 45.9/43.2/91.4 shooting splits, 13.0 assists and 6.6 rebounds.
Expect them both to keep dominating, Philadelphia to cover, and plenty of points to be scored.
Warriors (+2.5, +115 ML) at Clippers (-2.5, -135 ML) | Total: 237
As of writing, 65% of bets have been wagered on the Warriors, along with 76% of the money. Both the public and the sharps are aligned here, with professional bettors on Golden State slightly more than the average ticket placer. It’s also a chance for the Warriors, 2-1 against the Clips this season, to secure a tiebreaker over a key Western Conference opponent tied with them in the standings at 36-33.
As for the total, 65% of the bets are on the over and 76% of the handle are also coming in on the over.
The Picks: Warriors ML +115 | Over 234
Picking the Warriors on the road? Am I crazy? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I expected the defending champs to find a rhythm and start to turn things around and that’s what they’ve done the last couple of games. They had an incredible comeback against the Milwaukee Bucks thanks to a historically clutch Stephen Curry performance, and then parlayed a Klay Thompson heater into a needed win over the No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns, whom the Warriors are now just 1.0 game back of.
The Clippers have found a rhythm to start this five-game homestand as well with wins over the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks ahead of tonight’s contest. The impressive part about the Clippers’ stretch is they’ve shown the ability to win both “muck it up” games and shootouts devoid of any defense, while Kawhi Leonard continues to prove that his body is holding up in high stakes games down the stretch of the season.
But ultimately, with Curry, Thompson and Jordan Poole all finding their stroke from deep, it’s a perfect combination for a classic back-and-forth first half before a vintage Warriors third quarter explosion that opens up the game before the Clippers tighten it up in the fourth.
While not the most popular angle for basketball bettors to take, I find it much easier to find an advantage against sportsbooks when researching player props. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one pick for each game that stands out. You can view DraftKings Sportsbook’s player props for each game here.
Sixers at Cavs
The Pick: James Harden over 10.5 assists (+115)
Harden has gone over this mark twice in his last three games and five times in his last eight games, and dished out 12 dimes in his lone appearance against the Cavs this season. Cleveland allows the 11th-most assists to point guards this season, and has struggled to limit the playmaking impact of high volume passers. With Embiid playing this well, and Georges Niang, Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton all setting the world on fire from deep, it’s a good spot for Harden to go big in the assist column.
Grizzlies at Nuggets
The Pick: Stephen Curry over 5.5 rebounds (-135)
Chef Curry has been filling it up as a scorer, but he also is quietly impacting the game on the glass. Steph has grabbed at least six rebounds in eight of his last 10 games played, and came down with six boards in his only matchup against the Clippers this season. Given that L.A. has the league’s 12th-highest 3-point rate (39.0%), there will be plenty of long rebounding opportunities for Curry to grab it and go.