Kawhi Leonard was a late scratch last night, as he reportedly tweaked his back warming up for the Clippers’ game against the Celtics. Hopefully you removed him from your lineups in time.
Our other two picks — Jonas Valanciunas and Nikola Jokic — were big hits. Valanciunas smashed his Over, finishing with 16 rebounds against a Wizards team with no answer for his skill on the glass.
Jokic exceeded his PTS + REBS combo, too, finishing with a combined 21. Here’s the thing: If Jokic is playing and his prop is not absurdly high, I will always play him as a high upside guy. It’s simple.
The process is working, so let’s get back at it for tonight’s 10-game slate.
39.5 PTS + REBS + ASTS at Houston — OVER (105 PTS)
Just like Jokic, Kyrie Irving is always an upside play, especially with the role he’s assumed in this Nets offense. James Harden’s arrival made us all think that Irving might be the No. 3 scoring option in the Big Three, but he’s actually settled into the secondary scorer’s role.
He’s extremely consistent. He averaged 27.3 points per game in January and 27.1 points per game in February, and he dropped exactly 27 points in his first game of March. There is a little variance there, as he can go off for 30-plus on a given night — and a team like Houston might give him that opportunity.
Irving makes his living with the ball in his hands, but he’s also an unselfish, creative passer. With guys like Harden and Kevin Durant to defer to, his assist chances go way up because of their efficiency.
Irving exceeds this prop total with a 30-point, 10-assist game, which is something he’s certainly capable of. Then factor in the five or so rebounds he’ll accrue, and I like his chances here.
Play his Over.
8.5 REBS + ASTS vs. Chicago — OVER (105 PTS)
Talk about upside. Few young players in the league have blossomed like Brandon Ingram over the past few years, and he could still be growing as a player. He’s long and athletic, and while he’s not really someone who will bump bodies down low, it’s both of those traits that make him an occasional threat on the boards.
Ingram is certainly capable of posting eight or so rebounds or assists on a given night, so marrying those two totals together gives us a pretty safe floor. What makes it safer is that Chicago plays at a high pace (103.5 possessions per game), giving Ingram extra chances to accrue counting stats.
New Orleans is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the NBA (113.8 points per 100 possessions), so assist chances are always abound. I like Ingram tonight.
31.5 PTS at Portland — OVER (110 PTS)
Stephen Curry plus Portland equals a potentially monster game.
I harp on it a couple times per week. Portland can’t play defense. The Blazers rank 28th in the league in terms of defensive efficiency, allowing 113.7 points per 100 possessions.
Curry averaged 32.1 points per game in February, and he’s the staple of consistency. He played Portland on back-to-back nights in early January, scoring 26 points the first game before exploding for 62 points in the second game.
That alone leaves me confident that Curry can carve his way through this defense. I’m taking his Over.
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