One star point guard is in and one is out as the good version of the Nets heads to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies without Ja Morant. Then, the Lakers try to keep finding the lineup formula, this time in a difficult spot against the 76ers. What do ESPN NBA player props have to say about tonight’s TV games?
Each week throughout the season, TheLines will look at some matchups for the televised slates and try to figure if there are any ESPN NBA player prop bets worth a look. You can search ESPN NBA player props using our tool below and click on the odds anywhere in this post to bet now.
ESPN NBA player props tool: Search By Player Name
Brooklyn Nets At Memphis Grizzlies
Tuesday’s news provided early clarity on an impactful injury, a rarity in the NBA in which day-to-day seems the norm. Ja Morant will sit on Wednesday, and we can now plan our approach to the major markets and prop markets knowing this key info.
On the other sideline, the good version of the Nets gets to show up with Kyrie Irving available. While wins and losses don’t tell the story, the point differential does. Despite being 3-1 in their last four home and road games each, the Nets are +76 on the road and just +14 at home.
Interestingly, the Grizzlies have actually been better without Morant, in a sample of almost 3,000 possessions this season. The offense gets a little worse, but the defense becomes elite on par with Cleveland’s top-five unit – per Cleaning The Glass. That’s something to keep in mind since it may mean the market overreacts to Morant being out.
Memphis’ league-leading pace may also slip without its lightning bolt of a point guard. Given those two things, under the early total of 234.5 is worth a look (current total: ).
Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving Props
Dallas Coach Jason Kidd unveiled an aggressive doubling strategy that forced the ball out of Kevin Durant’s hands last week and helped the Mavericks to a win. Incredibly, Goran Dragic and Bruce Brown fired up almost as many shots (16 apiece) as Durant (20).
It remains to be seen whether other teams copy that strategy, but it won’t work when the Nets hit the road, as they do here. Irving has two games with 50-plus points (on 35-for-50 shooting!) in the past three, and letting him catch the ball with an advantage seems like certain death for a defense right now.
Memphis’ best defensive players are on the interior, while they are a bit leakier on the perimeter. Allowing too many 3s has been a problem at times. That would seem to favor Irving a little more than Durant as far as having a big game, but it’s really anyone’s guess here how the shot distribution goes.
This does seem like a matchup where they will need Andre Drummond on the floor more to make sure they don’t get run over on the glass — Memphis leads the league in rebounding rate. That could push Durant’s boards down a bit.
Dillon Brooks Props
You may be surprised to learn that the second-highest usage rate on the Grizz belongs not to Jaren Jackson Jr. or Desmond Bane, but actually to Dillon Brooks – and by no small amount. When Morant sat against the Rockets, Brooks jacked up a monstrous 18 shots in just 25 minutes, a continuation of that trend.
Brooks is not especially efficient because he takes a lot of mid-range jumpers and doesn’t shoot a great percentage from deep (33% this year, 35% career). However, if he’s going to take that kind of volume, another prop around 20 points, which is where his number sat against Houston, might look silly come game time.
Philadelphia 76ers At LA Lakers
This might be the toughest game of the year to discuss at this point because three superstars are all listed day-to-day.
That’s been an ever-present reality for LeBron James basically since the calendar turned, but he keeps fighting through and is producing huge numbers like his 38-11-12 line against the Cavaliers on Monday.
Meanwhile, both Joel Embiid and James Harden took the same night off, though the team prevailed in surprising fashion against Miami.
At this juncture, we would expect all three to play, but any of them could get ruled out before game time.
Subscribe to TheLines / PlayPicks YouTube channel to watch the NBA Coast 2 Coast podcast every day during the NBA season.
Joel Embiid And James Harden Props
The matchup that sticks out like a sore thumb here is that of Embiid against this Lakers defense. How can this team hope to contain him?
The team has tried starting Dwight Howard lately and the results have been predictably atrocious. In the team’s win on Monday, Howard managed to log a -13 in just 12 minutes while most of the rest of the starters ended up comfortably positive.
But, he’s the only player who can physically match up with Embiid here. The Lakers’ choices basically boil down to playing small and letting Embiid stuff everyone through the basket or play Howard more and watch him drag down the team’s offense while racking up fouls. Neither seems very attractive, and both seem likely to pump up Embiid’s stats.
If you’re looking for Harden overs, fear not. The Lakers allow tons of above-the-break 3s and can’t defend the rim at all either. So, basically, Harden will get wherever he wants.
Given the magnitude of some of the Lakers’ recent losses, the biggest concern is probably whether the game gets out of hand early. That can never be discounted when talking about a team that found nearly a 30-point deficit in the first quarter against Toronto.
LeBron James And Russell Westbrook Props
For a team with Embiid anchoring the defense, the Sixers surprisingly do not do a great job protecting the rim.
That’s great news for both Russell Westbrook and LeBron, particularly when the latter serves as the only big man, if the team thinks it can get away with that against Embiid. Regardless, they should find some space as long as Howard is off the floor, and again – he won’t likely last long even if he plays a bunch.
What does this mean for props? Well, again, the possibility of a blowout always looms. But, LeBron and Westbrook should find their fair shares of easy points here in theory.
Since the Sixers are pretty strong defending the 3-point line, where LeBron racks up a ton of assists, we might expect a slight downturn in his dimes here. Since Philly has been playing even more slowly than usual lately, that might be even more true here.