It’s a short five-game slate tonight. Let’s take a few risks.
First things first. There are two teams to avoid tonight — the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers. With the massive hubbub surrounding the fallout of the blockbuster James Harden trade on Wednesday, it’s unclear who will be available for either team and what their rotations will look like.
Taking risks on shorter slates is the way to cash out. Sure, you have to pick the perfect combination of these risks to make it worth your while, but we’re here to give you a primer.
Start here and have a successful Thursday night.
3.5 ASTS @ Philadelphia — UNDER (115 PTS)
Andre Iguodala doesn’t play the number of impactful minutes to ever go Over. And his prop line of 3.5 assists is mostly inflated based on his last game, a seven-assist outlier in an overtime loss against Philadelphia.
Otherwise, Iguodala has just nine assists in his seven other games. Why are we to think he’s suddenly going to become an integral passer in the Miami offense? Yes, key players (heck, nearly all players) are out for Miami right now as it battles various levels of COVID exposure. But we shouldn’t suddenly expect Iguodala to become a primary facilitator — especially on a team that won’t fire offensively like it would with its entire cast back on the floor.
Even though the roster is in flux and Iguodala is probably going to play more minutes than usual, go Under.
9.5 REBS vs. Miami — UNDER (90 PTS)
Dwight Howard’s minutes have fluctuated, largely coinciding with the health of Joel Embiid. But with Embiid expected back Thursday night (even if he’s still nursing that back injury), expect Howard to shift back to a complementary role off the bench.
Outside of a 24-minute game on Jan. 9 and a 35-minute game on Jan. 11, Howard hasn’t eclipsed 18 minutes on the court. He’s averaging 16.3 minutes per game, leaving him little time to accrue counting stats. Now, that’s also not to say that Howard can’t be a difference-maker on the glass in limited minutes. He’s big and athletic, so rebounding comes naturally.
Miami’s Bam Adebayo won’t play Thursday because of contact tracing related to COVID-19, so Howard’s toughest defender won’t be in his way. But with the expectation of limited minutes, take the Under.
18.5 PTS vs. Charlotte — UNDER (110 PTS)
The Raptors have lost all five games this month, and Kyle Lowry — traditionally not an efficient scorer as is — is having a poor shooting month. He’s shooting just 38.4 percent from the floor with only one game above 50 percent.
As such, Lowry’s scoring is down. A 24-point game has his January scoring average at 18.6 points, but he’s more likely to sit between 16-18.
His opponent on Thursday, Charlotte, is the seventh-best team in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency, allowing just 105.1 points per 100 possessions. For context, the Lakers and Mavericks are the league’s best in that category, allowing 102.3 points per 100 possessions.
With a tough matchup ahead, Lowry might struggle to break 18.5. Go Under.
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