It’s a loaded 10-game slate Friday night, and we’re smashing the Over on two stars while slamming the Under on a player who’s seen better days.
It was a rough night for our riskier picks on Thursday. Damian Lillard, facing an Over of 30.5 points, finished with 30. And Victor Oladipo managed five assists after we chose the Under at 3.5. DeAndre Ayton, at least, did what he was supposed to and grabbed more than 10.5 rebounds.
As we do after any unsuccessful night, we evaluate what went wrong in our process and move on to the next one. Let’s get back after it.
34.5 PTS vs. Atlanta — OVER (95 PTS)
Can we please talk about how Bradley Beal put up 37 shots on Wednesday? That’s the most shots in a game by a player this year. For perspective, Kobe Bryant holds the single-game record with 50 shot attempts in a game. Beal’s career high is 38 (Dec. 23, 2019), and he also shot 37 attempts once before (Dec. 5, 2017). Oh, and he took 36 shots on Jan. 13, 2019.
On the season, he’s attempting 26.1 shots per game and converting 48.1 percent of his attempts.
All this is to say that I’m always confident in a guy with insane volume who also converts at a reasonably high clip. Add in the fact that the Wizards aren’t great, and more often than not, Beal will be tasked with firing away to keep his team in the game.
Beal is truly the team’s lone offensive star, even with Russell Westbrook in the fold. He’s averaging 38 points per game in January (admittedly buoyed by a 60-point outburst), but a game against Atlanta gives him another chance at a big night.
Take the Over.
16.5 REBS + ASTS @ Oklahoma City — OVER (105 PTS)
James Harden has taken his assist totals to the next level in seven games with Brooklyn, averaging 11.9 dimes per game — including 15 assists in an overtime win on Wednesday.
Harden has hardly taken a back seat on offense, but it seems as if the formula that’s working right now is allowing Kevin Durant to operate off ball with Harden and Kyrie Irving somewhat splitting ball-handling duties. And given Irving’s skillset as a dribble-drive creator, that leaves Harden — who is an excellent passer — acting as the primary distributor.
That’s to say that a double-digit assist game from Harden is always a possibility, especially in this offense. That just leaves him needing a handful of rebounds, of which he’s averaged 7.4 per game on a Nets team that needs him to rebound more than he was with Houston.
Let’s take the Over here.
13.5 PTS vs. Los Angeles Clippers — UNDER (110 PTS)
It’s easy to be an Aaron Gordon fan, with memories of his past Slam Dunk Contest performances making him an easy favorite among the NBA faithful. But he’s in the middle of his worst offensive season in terms of efficiency in his career.
Gordon has never been a particularly efficient scorer, though he’s had palatable seasons of 47.3 percent (2015-16) and 45.3 percent (2016-17). This year, he’s down to 43.2 percent — and it’s been really bad the last two weeks.
He’s shot 36.4 percent or worse from the floor in five of his last six games and exceeded 13.5 points just twice. At this point, you all should know how I make my picks. I look for trends and streaky shooters. Someone in this type of slump is not someone I’m going to be confident in, even with a low point total of 13.5.
There’s a bit of upside for Gordon, as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will likely miss most of this road trip due to COVID-19 protocols. Still, I don’t love Gordon’s path to a productive night.
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