The path to the NBA Finals continues Thursday with two more national TV games on TNT. Many of the usual suspects are on again tonight with the Lakers facing the 76ers and the Warriors hosting the Timberwolves. Each week throughout the season, TheLines will look at some matchups for the televised slates and try to figure if there are any TNT NBA player props worth a look.
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LA Lakers At Philadelphia 76ers
This game has a very interesting matchup happening up front. Both teams have gotten extremely elite production out of the center position, but it comes in two very different packages.
For the Lakers, shifting LeBron James to center has unlocked a moribund offense, helping them reach respectable levels. James actually has elite center skills on offense — his post-ups and roll-man usage has resulted in outstanding — but it’s obviously coming in a smaller package. His rebounding is below-average for a big, per Cleaning The Glass, and the Lakers defend the rim at the third-worst level in the league as far as attempts. They allow a higher than average rate of conversions there too.
Anthony Davis could help solve these problems but he’s likely still on a minutes limit. In his first game back, he played 25 minutes and scored 8 points.
Joel Embiid Props
All of that looks like fantastic news for Joel Embiid. He has vaulted himself toward the front of the MVP race with his stellar recent play. After a slightly slow start, he’s up to 29/11/4, just a bit better than last year’s averages, when he was probably the most impactful player in the league on a rate basis.
Embiid is a monster in the mid-range but hasn’t been living at the rim much this year. That could change in this matchup. When he does get close, he converts at a good clip.
Playing way up in pace here — the Lakers are fifth-fastest while Philly is second-slowest — this sets up as a dream spot for Embiid. Make sure his rebounding and scoring props reflect a potentially huge night. If you have access to alternate totals, this might be a good time to give them a look.
LeBron James Props
It’s more difficult to project a big day for James, even if you can never rule that out. Again, the Lakers play way down in pace here against a decent defensive team.
While LeBron’s been doing his usual awesome production, it has come in a slightly different form. Since Davis went down, he’s putting up 32/9/6. The assists would be his lowest mark since 2013-14, and it makes sense since he’s being used more as a finisher this year.
If that continues here, it might be good to look for an under on his assists in particular.
Minnesota Timberwolves At Golden State Warriors
The Warriors had found themselves in a bit of a slump but may have righted the ship in a big way on Tuesday. They completely throttled the Mavericks, 130-92, their third straight win after a 3-6 stretch.
We’ve covered the Warriors a bunch in this space and all of the usual stuff still applies. They play at a slow pace without Draymond Green, who remains out, and they play elite defense. They particularly excel at walling off the rim, as no team allows fewer attempts there.
Minnesota is generally a middle-of-the-pack bunch although they do play on the faster side, which might help pump up some Warriors’ stats.
Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns Props
Second-year pro Anthony Edwards slightly leads the team in usage over Karl-Anthony Towns. Edwards is coming off one of his best games of the season as he dropped 40 on Portland in a win on Tuesday.
The budding star might find the going a bit tough here, though. He’s not great at scoring in the mid-range, where the Warriors usually force opposing scorers. The big question is whether the way will be more clear without Green around.
Kevon Looney is pretty much the only real big man the Warriors have left. He’s solid on D but a bit slow, and with a tough matchup against Towns could find himself in foul trouble if he’s not careful.
Overall, this looks like a bad matchup for Edwards but a good one for Towns. The Warriors have plenty of capable bodies on the wing, but Towns could feast if he can shake Looney or overpower smaller defenders.
Look for him to take advantage of the Warriors’ lack of size. If they swarm him with multiple bodies, he’s been a pretty good passer this year as well, so an assist prop might be worth a look on the over.
As usual, most of the prop focus on the Warriors end will focus on Stephen Curry.
Curry looks to be in a fairly good spot here playing up in pace even against a decent defense. More specifically, though, the Wolves have not done that well defending opposing 3-point shooters, allowing the fifth-highest rate of attempts.
They’re also missing top defensive pest Patrick Beverley, in all likelihood, although he might return on some kind of minutes restriction.
One thing to look for here is Curry’s steals prop. Minnesota has done a poor job taking care of the ball, ranking 26th in turnover rate. Curry might be a decent bet to go over his steals.