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.
On Thursday, what should be the greatest new rivalry in the NBA hits the court for the first time as high-profile trade partners Philadelphia and Brooklyn clash. Then, two championship hopefuls from the West play as Golden State heads to Denver.
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Brooklyn Nets At Philadelphia 76ers
While we won’t get to see all of the actors in the recent drama — Ben Simmons reportedly remains “without a timetable” — we will still see plenty of star power for what should be a quality first act in a heated rivalry.
There’s definitely a contrast in pace here, with Brooklyn playing pretty fast in a small sample with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back on the court together. Meanwhile, already slow Philly has been even slower than usual of late.
Speaking of Durant and Irving, we do have a growing sample of the Durant/Irving lineups without James Harden this year. They’ve only fared pretty well after crushing it last year — around +6 per 100 possessions after they were in double digits — which is something to continue monitoring. The Sixers, on the other hand, have been off the charts with Harden and Joel Embiid, +29.4 per 100, according to Cleaning The Glass.
If you think the Sixers can keep anything close to that up then -4.5 looks pretty good here.
James Harden And Joel Embiid Props
The big issue for the Nets, particularly with Durant and Irving on the floor, has been defense. Too many fouls appears to be a prime part of the problem. Their below-average free-throw rate allow crashes to a fourth-percentile level with those two, according to Cleaning The Glass.
Well, the Sixers happen to have a pair of players who draw fouls at prodigious rates. Embiid in particular has been parading to the line. He has averaged an amazing 15.33 free throw attempts per game since Harden debuted. That’s well above his already league-leading 11.7
A Nets team totally lacking in quality size looks like a prime target for Embiid. He’s also notably dominated Andre Drummond in the past. Maybe Drummond can keep him in check on the boards if he stays out of foul trouble but look for a huge number on Embiid points here.
Harden has been known to draw a few fouls in his time as well. Playing up in pace, we should definitely see a high points total by his name.
Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving Props
The picture is less clearly rosy for Durant and Irving. It’s more of a mixed bag with some positive indicators and some negative.
On the one hand, both players are playing down in pace against a good defense here.
On the other, they are both mid-range gods who thrive in the area where Philly does a pretty good job shepherding opposing scorers. They should have plenty of looks in their spots, and if they catch fire like Irving did in the last game (he went for 50), they can rack up points.
One thing to note: despite Embiid’s prowess on the boards, the Sixers rebound the ball poorly overall. If Embiid can get Drummond in foul trouble, then Durant might be a decent bet to go over his rebounding prop.
Golden State Warriors At Denver Nuggets
The Warriors and Nuggets look pretty similar statistically, with the key difference being the Warriors sport an elite defense while the Nuggets land in the middle of the pack.
Of course, recent form has not been so great for Golden State, as they’ve been fighting just to stay a top-four seed after it looked like they’d compete with Phoenix for the West during the first couple of months.
Meanwhile, the spectacular (MVP-worthy?) play of Nikola Jokic has kept the Nuggets above the play-in line. They do have a bit of a scheduling disadvantage here traveling home for a back-to-back.
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Nikola Jokic Props
While Golden State has pretty good rebounding numbers overall, the boards have been a problem for them since Draymond Green went down. They’ve been allowing too many offensive rebounds, which makes sense since Green is one of the only plus rebounders on the team who plays big minutes.
Jokic has a good chance to thrive on the glass here. He has grabbed an above-average rate of offensive boards this year, an important indicator since that’s often a stylistic choice by the coach.
Scoring-wise, Jokic also excels in the mid range, where the Warriors frequently force opposing players to shoot. He’s a master of the floater and mid-post shots and should get plenty of looks. But, a tough Warriors defense will present a challenge.
Stephen Curry And Klay Thompson Props
Defensively, the central question when playing the Warriors — especially now that Klay Thompson has returned — is how well do you defend the 3-point line? In the Nuggets’ case, they get middling marks, allowing an average number of attempts but a low percentage of makes.
The latter could easily be dumb luck, especially as this does not profile as a good defensive team on the perimeter.
These teams actually played on Monday, but the Warriors essentially punted the game by resting most of their key players. Still, they managed to stay competitive in part due to jacking 40 triples and making 17 of them.
What’s going to happen here is Stephen Curry and Thompson take those instead of Jordan Poole and Moses Moody?
Keep an eye out for 3-point props here, but they are usually set pretty high for these two marksmen. Good luck navigating TNT NBA player props.