Tonight, the New York Knicks will host the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are currently in great position to lock up the fifth seed, up 2.5 games on the Nets and three games on the Heat. That is in part because they hold a 2-1 lead in the season series over Miami. All three games have been tightly contested, and RJ Barrett has been a key factor in all of them. That just may be the case again tonight.
The Knicks and Heat are relatively secure in their playoff positioning; however, the Lakers and Bulls are not. The Bulls took round one in Los Angeles on Sunday. However, the Lakers did get LeBron James back in the lineup. James will look to help the Lakers even the season series against the Bulls and maintain positioning in the West.
Speaking of returns, the Suns are getting Kevin Durant back tonight. While I am excited to watch, the Timberwolves do not care and will be looking to spoil his return. Karl-Anthony Towns, whom Minnesota just got back in their own lineup, has had a ton of success against Phoenix in his career and is in a prime spot to do so again.
NBA Player Props & Picks
RJ Barrett Over 18.5 Points (-110)
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
R.J. Barrett is not a player whom I look to back often; however, when I do, it usually means he is playing the Miami Heat. Barrett has hit his points prop in all three meetings against the Heat this season. Over the last two years, he is averaging 25.6 points per game against Miami. That includes games of 46, 30, and 26 points.
Barrett has scored 20 points or more in six of his last 10 games, including the game against Miami last Wednesday. He was also hooked on 19 points in a blowout on Monday against Houston.
For tonight’s game, point guard Jalen Brunson’s status is still undetermined and likely will remain that way until shortly before tip. I am comfortable with this line either way. If Brunson does not play, the Knicks will need more scoring from Barrett. However, if he does, he will help Barrett get a few easier buckets like in Wednesday’s game.
The Knicks may need more scoring from Barrett if Julius Randle is ineffective against Miami again. Last week, Bam Adebayo gave him fits once again, and he scored 15 as we cashed on his under (26.5) sweat-free.
However, Miami has struggled against more perimeter-oriented forwards like Barrett. In their last two games alone, forwards Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Mikal Barnes and Cameron Johnson all went over their points lines as all scored at least 20 points. I expect Barrett to score 20 or more points in this matchup as well.
Pick: RJ Barrett Over 18.5 Points
LeBron James Over 24.5 Points (-120)
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
Perhaps unexpectedly, LeBron James returned to the Lakers lineup on Sunday against Chicago after missing 13 games with a right foot injury. He came off the bench for only the second time in his career but still played 30 minutes and scored 19 points. James is listed as questionable, but that has been the case for the majority of the games he has played in this season. However, it is worth monitoring before you lock in this bet.
If James does play, this line is too low. For starters, James is averaging 29.3 points per game this season. Now, that total is slightly inflated because of the damage he did when Anthony Davis was out.
However, James still has averaged 26 points per game when he has shared the floor with Davis this season. He also has averaged 25.9 points in his last 10 games. If James scores 26 points, he will clear this line even if he goes slightly below his season average.
The Lakers are also beginning a five-game road trip tonight, and they are currently ninth in the West. They are two games out of the sixth seed but also a half-game out of falling out of the play-in tournament altogether. Every game the rest of the way will be important for the Lakers, and I expect James to rise to the occasion. Additionally, he may have a little extra motivation for this one.
Pat Bev hit LeBron with the "too small" celebration after his clutch shot in the fourth 😳😳
His ten points helped the Bulls (+185 ML) upset the Lakers in LeBron's return game 👀pic.twitter.com/KGueSqojWO
— Ballislife Bets (@BallislifeBets) March 26, 2023
Pick: LeBron James Over 24.5 Points (-120)
Karl-Anthony Towns Over 19.5 Points (-115)
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Since returning from a calf injury that cost him 51 games this season, Karl-Anthony Towns has played in two games, scoring 22 and 14 points. He sat out Monday’s game in Sacramento, which was the second leg of a back-to-back. Towns is listed as probable for tonight’s game in Phoenix, and it is one that I anticipate he will not want to miss.
Towns faced the Suns twice in November, and he scored 24 and 11 points in the two games. However, the Suns are a team he has dominated throughout his career.
In 24 career games against the Suns, Towns is averaging 23.7 points and 11.3 rebounds. He has scored 20 points or more in 16 of those 24 games. Three games that he went under were played during his rookie season. Since 2018, Towns has scored 20 points in 11 of his past 13 games against the Suns.
While history is on his side, Towns presents a matchup problem to this version of the Suns. Center Deandre Ayton will have Rudy Gobert, leaving Kevin Durant and Josh Okogie as the two most likely defenders on Towns.
Durant isn’t a defensive liability by any means, but it will be his first game back in the lineup from a sprained ankle. Head coach Monty Williams may not want to place that burden on Durant defensively, but he may not have a choice. Okogie is a pesky defender, but Towns is eight inches taller. Towns can shoot him over on the perimeter or take him to the post.
We are getting -115 odds for a line that Towns is hitting two thirds of the time against Phoenix and should hit again tonight. However, Towns also has 11 games of 25 points or more and six games of 30 or more against the Suns. If you are interested in laddering his points, FanDuel is offering 25 points at +230 and 30 at +700.
Pick: Karl-Anthony Towns Over 19.5 Points