In the first game back from the All-Star Break, Joel Embiid and James Harden led the way in a magical 110-105 comeback win over Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane’s Grizzlies. Philadelphia is now three games behind the Boston Celtics and two behind the Milwaukee Bucks.
Which means Philly fans will have good reason to tune into tonight’s ESPN double-header; and while we’re at it, throw a couple bucks down on our favorite non-Sixers.
Heat at Bucks (Milwaukee -1, Money Line -115)
Giannis Antetokounmpo only played a minute in the All-Star game before undergoing an MRI. We soon learned that the 2021 NBA Finals MVP had avoided serious injury. But the biggest news on tonight’s slate is still that Giannis is listed as doubtful for this big game with plenty of early playoff implications.
The Bucks are a respectable 6-5 in games Greek Freak sits out. Jrue Holiday has helped them maintain a winning record there, as the former Sixer and 2023 All-Star averages 24 points, 10 dimes, and 4.7 rebounds in Freakless battles.
The Heat, just 32-27, have struggled this season, after locking up the one seed back in 2021-2022. Kyle Lowry has been ruled out. But Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will be out there. And Butler may just have a statement to make, having not been named an All-Star... not even a reserve. He may not care, but it’s a bit weird to see a clear cut top ten player in the league not even get a reserve invite to Salt Lake City. James Harden may feel a certain way about that too.
Miami beat the Bucks in a game without Giannis back on Jan. 12. In a Single Game Parlay I’m taking Miami’s money line (+105). Bam Adebayo dropped 24-12 in that last game. So gimme his over 18.5 points (-230) and over 9.5 boards (-175). Butler was all over the glass in that one snagging 11 boards, so I love his over 4.5 boards (-260) here.
If Miami gets it done, the Sixers will be breathing down the necks of the Celtics and Bucks with a home game vs. Boston next on Saturday night.
If they win that, you might start to hear Joel Embiid’s name pop up in this MVP dialogue like our Undertaker rising Gif.
Thunder at Suns (Suns -8, Money Line -325)
Chris Paul gets a shot at his former teammate in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. We’ve got word that Kevin Durant (you may have heard of him) is preparing to make his Phoenix debut on March 1st. So they’ll remain shorthanded (now without Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson) until then.
From the perspective of Philadelphia, the Suns (32-28) are 8 games behind Philly. Which means if these two teams were to meet in the NBA Finals, the Sixers would have the inside track to host that best of seven series.
Just a tiny bit of incentive to pull for Shai and the gang here. Phoenix is one of the five teams given better title odds than the Sixers on DraftKings. The others are Boston, Milwaukee, Denver, and the Clippers. Philly is given +1100 odds to win it all.
The Thunder have won 12 of their last 20. In that span they’ve knocked off the Mavericks, Sixers, Nets, Nuggets, Cavaliers, and Lakers. Even though they’re young and just 28-30, they’ve gone big game hunting this season. They’d love to add Phoenix to their list of victims here. And I don’t think the Suns deserve to be favored by quite so much. An 8 point line feels like too much, doesn’t it?
With two wins and a loss since jettisoning out rising star Mikal Bridges, I think this game will relatively close.
Still, I’m taking a few extra points, just in case. In an SGP, let’s take OKC +13.5 (-210). Thunder player props are not up as of this writing, but you know we’d be looking to bet on SGA to shred. Keep your eyes peeled when those lines drop. For now, we’ll take CP3 to tally 9 dimes (-225), and Deandre Ayton to get us 18 or more (-17.5). Booker nailing 24 or more (-210) brings us to +230. If I sold you on the Thunder actually stealing this game, just bet their (+285) money line instead of the alternative line. That gets your SGP up to +750 and you can really have some fun.
Good luck, and go Jimmy Buckets.