Tuesday's NBA Player Props: Bets for Tatum & Nurkic

NBA player prop picks and predictions for Tuesday, December 12, including bets for Jayson Tatum and Jusuf Nurkic.

The Boston Celtics currently hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference. a lead they extended with a win over the Knicks on Friday. Tonight, they will get another Eastern Conference playoff team when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit. Jayson Tatum may be in for a big night.

The Suns have been waiting to debut their new Big 3 this season. It could happen tonight with Bradley Beal set to return and Kevin Durant questionable. Having the full complement of their stars could make it easy for Jusuf Nurkic to record a few assists.

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Jayson Tatum Over 25.5 Points (DraftKings)

After averaging a career-high 30.1 points per game last season, Tatum’s scoring down to 27.5 per game. That was to be expected a little bit with the additions of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis along with mainstay Jaylen Brown.

However, Tatum has averaged at least 26 points per game in each of the last four seasons. That means an average game from him over that span would clear this line.

More recently, Tatum has cleared this line in 12-of-21 games this season. He scored 26 points in all three meetings against the Cavaliers last year, averaging 33 points in those three games. It did not matter that the Cavaliers had the NBA’s No. 1 defense last season. This season, they have another strong defense but have slipped to seventh in defensive rating.

In their last five games, Cleveland has allowed power forwards Isaiah Stewart, Paolo Banchero, Caleb Martin and Kevin Love to go over their points lines. Banchero got bumped up to 23.5 points last night and he finished with 20 points after a slow start, but he scored 42 points against Cleveland last week.

That was with Evan Mobley in the lineup. Mobley has not played in Cleveland’s last three games and he may be held out again.

Cleveland is a 10-point underdog tonight. It is the second of a back-to-back on the road, but I expect the Cavaliers to be competitive provided Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen are in the lineup.

A competitive game will help this play as well. If Tatum plays his full complement of minutes, I have a hard time seeing him below 26 points tonight.

Pick: Tatum Over 25.5 PTS (-130)

Jusuf Nurkic Over 2.5 Assists (DraftKings)

Jusuf Nurkic is averaging 3.8 assists per game. Tonight’s line is essentially one below his season average, a possible indication of Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant being active. However, we will only need three assists from him tonight instead of four.

Nurkic has hit this line in six of his last seven and 16-of-22 games this season. Additionally, he has had two assists in three other games. He is not far off from an 86% hit rate, but is still hitting this line at a high clip. He may have the ball less tonight, but there are plenty of avenues for him to get three assists.

He could get assists off a dribble handoff play to either Booker or Beal to get their spots. They are both proficient in the midrange area. He could set up a cutting teammate for a layup.

He will have a size advantage in this matchup whether Kevon Looney or Draymond Green is defending him. If he is trapped a possession or two, that could lead to assists for threes for someone like Grayson Allen or Eric Gordon.

Nurkic had three assists in the Suns’ first matchup against the Warriors, but played just 17 minutes in the second matchup. The Suns’ team total is 118.5 points tonight. If they put on a show offensively tonight, I like Jokic’s chances of getting three assists.

Pick:  Nurkic Over 2.5 AST (-145)