Welcome to another NBA Wednesday, where there are a few intriguing players to target on tonight’s slate.
Kyrie Irving’s back, Anthony Edwards has been a rollercoaster of production the past few games, and Harrison Barnes is, well, kind of boring. But those are the guys were talking about for tonight’s action, so strap in and get ready.
Let’s talk props.
25.5 PTS @ Cleveland — UNDER (105 PTS)
In what appears to be Kyrie Irving’s first game back after an extended absence, let’s not assume he’ll just go right back to his usual scoring self. For one, he’s missed seven games over the past two weeks. Conditioning shouldn’t be an issue, as the past two games he missed were due to him getting back into game shape.
What we should be most concerned about here is that he’s returning to a team that suddenly has a James-Harden-sized mouth to feed. There could very well be a point later in the season when Harden, Irving and Kevin Durant can co-exist on offense with some fluidity, but let’s not bank on that trio firing on all cylinders in their first game.
Shlomo Sprung of Forbes wrote a great piece on Tuesday about how the trio can co-exist. This bit about usage rates was particularly interesting:
“Firstly, they need to share some of their role in the Nets’ offense. In his two games with the team, Harden had a 35.4% usage rate, which would rank third among all NBA players over the full season to date. In his 11 games, Durant was at 32.4% and Irving was at 30.6% in his seven games. Obviously, three players can’t take up 98.2% of a team’s offense when on the floor together. So something’s gotta give.”
Given the skillsets, Irving might be the one who takes somewhat of a backseat. Will he still score 20? Probably. But 25-plus points could be asking for too much. Take the Under here.
11.5 PTS vs. Orlando — UNDER (110 PTS)
The No. 1 overall pick out of Georgia is probably the Rookie of the Year frontrunner. But goodness has he been inefficient.
In his past three games, he’s shooting 6-for-30 (20 percent) from the floor, including an 0-for-8 night against the San Antonio Spurs. In total, he’s shooting 34.7 percent in January, down from a more palatable 41.8 percent in December.
Although Edwards’ minutes might fluctuate on a nightly basis (he’s ranged anywhere from 17 to 31 minutes this month), he’s going to get his opportunities. He’s exceptionally talented, and the Timberwolves are going nowhere fast.
But given the recent inconsistencies and the fact that he’s only reached 15 points three times in eight games this month, take the Under here. Plus, he doesn’t get to the free throw line with nearly enough consistency to buoy his scoring average.
Could he go for more? Sure. But like Trae Young last week, I feel more comfortable taking the Under on a streaky shooter in the midst of a slump.
22.5 PTS + ASTS @ Los Angeles Clippers — UNDER (100 PTS)
For Harrison Barnes, this is more of an intuitive hunch than anything else. He’s not the Kings’ primary scorer. That’s De’Aaron Fox, who is averaging 14.8 shots and 20.4 points per game in January. Buddy Hield also takes more shots per game than Barnes. And Barnes isn’t the team’s primary ball-handler or distributor, ranking third on the team in assists behind Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
Barnes has eclipsed 22.5 PTS + ASTS in just five of his 14 games this season, and it’s almost always anchored by a point total that breaks the mark on its own. His scoring has been significantly down the past three games, during which he’s averaging 10.7 points on 31 percent shooting.
Nothing about Barnes jumps off the page, and the Clippers play at a snail’s pace — they’re one of just four teams in the league to average fewer than 100 possessions per game.
Go Under for Barnes.
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