During this crazy COVID-filled stretch of the season, there are some props that offer us an advantage each night.
There are some great games on this seven-game slate and tonight I have three prop-bets that I found appealing due to other players being out of the lineup. As always, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks.
Let’s dive in.
NBA Player Props & Picks
LaMelo Ball, Over 8.5 Assists (+115)
|Hornets vs. Rockets||Hornets -7|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
After starting off the season 13-8, the Charlotte Hornets have come back down to earth as they have lost nine of their last 13 games to bring their record to an even 17-17 this season. They get a chance to get back over .500 with a home matchup against the Rockets who have lost seven of their last nine games.
The Hornets are led by LaMelo Ball who leads the team in points per game (19.8), rebounds (7.5), assists (8.0) and steals (1.9) with his team-high 26.9% Usage Rate. He makes the Hornets go (literally) and this matchup for the Hornets is fantastic.
They have an implied total of 120.75 points while the game total is set at 234.5 points. Both are the highest on the slate tonight. The Rockets rank 28th in Defensive Rating and fourth in Pace. The Hornets rank second in Offensive Rating and Pace. Run baby run.
The Hornets also score the second-most points in transition with 28.6 per game. The Rockets lead the league with most points allowed in transition with 22.9 per game. Ball should get this Hornets team out in a hurry all night long. He leads the team in transition possessions with 3.9 per game.
The minutes for Ball have seemed to fluctuate a lot this season, especially recently. However, this is such a great matchup I feel Ball can surpass 8.5 assists even if he plays a limited amount. Ball has had nine of more assists in five of his last eight games.
You can take this prop at 7.5 assists tonight if the minutes since coming back from COVID scare you, but I love getting the juice at 8.5 assists in this fantastic matchup in a very up-tempo game.
Jaylen Brown, Over 27.5 Points (-105)
|Timberwolves vs. Celtics||Celtics -5.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
After blowing a lead and eventually losing on Christmas Day to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics look to bounce back on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Celtics are comfortable 5.5-point favorites.
The big news in this matchup is the new phenomenon the “COVID protocols”. The Celtics will be without Jayson Tatum tonight, while Marcus Smart is questionable (Keep an eye on his status the closer we get to lock). All of this news benefits Jaylen Brown who is in a great spot.
Brown has yet to play a game without Tatum this season, but in seven games without Tatum last season, Brown averaged 30.4 points per game and had an absurd 36.3% Usage Rate. He should absolutely dominate in this matchup.
The Timberwolves are also deep into the COVID protocols madness. Their young stars Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards are all out tonight due to the protocols. They also have starter Jared Vanderbilt and backup center Naz Reid out as well. Their make shift lineup will be in trouble against Brown and the Celtics tonight.
The Timberwolves rank seventh in Pace this season so this is an up-tempo matchup for Brown. He has had over 28 points in two of his last three games and those were with Tatum in the lineup. This line has moved in a couple spots, and I would feel comfortable taking this Brown prop at 28.5 points tonight.
James Harden, Over 47.5 PTS + REB + AST (-115)
|Clippers vs. Nets||Nets -4|
|Time | TV||10:30 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
The Eastern Conference leading Brooklyn Nets got a big Christmas Day victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and now face the other L.A. team in the Clippers tonight. They have had three games postponed before their Christmas Day game so most of their players are well rested.
This is a fantastic spot to get exposure to James Harden tonight as the Nets will once again be without Kevin Durant. Without Durant, Harden really gets to display his upside. In three games without Durant this season, Harden is averaging 32.3 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, and 8.7 assists per game. He also has a very juicy 38.2% usage rate.
It is impressive how much those numbers rise when Durant is out of the lineup. With Durant playing alongside Harden, he averages 20 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game, and 9.8 assists per game while having a 27% Usage Rate.
Not only are the Nets struggling with players out, but so are the Clippers who have a lot of key players out tonight. The main pieces are Paul George, Reggie Jackson, and of course Kawhi Leonard who isn’t fully healthy yet. Harden should have his way against this depleted Clippers team.
Harden is on a triple-double alert tonight and could easily score 30 points once again. The assists numbers are certainly down, but I like getting exposure to Harden in each and every way. I would take this prop up to 49.5 tonight.