For many teams, regular season games heading into the All-Star break can be opportunities to extend the layoff, recover from nagging injuries, and get a little R&R in before the stretch run and the playoffs. However, there’s no rest for the weary with playoff teams jockeying for position.
In the East, only one game separates the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers from the third and fourth seed and a likely meeting with the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs. The Cavs travel to Philly on a seven-game heater after playing .500 ball in January. While the Sixers can boast having arguably the best big man in the game in Joel Embiid, Cleveland can lay stake on fielding the most menacing frontcourt duo in the league in Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. During their winning streak, they’ve been the backbone of the stingiest defense of the month, allowing just 103.7 points per 100 possessions. However, Embiid has averaged 33.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists during the 76ers’ 16-5 stretch since the turn of the year.
In the west coast nightcap, Pelicans-Lakers won’t feature as much length, but that doesn’t mean the matchup isn’t big. With both teams nursing injuries to All-Star starters — LeBron James has missed the last three games with left ankle soreness since breaking the all-time scoring record and Zion Williamson suffered a setback in his recovery from a hamstring strain — wins are at a premium as both teams battle to stay in the playoff picture in the West. New Orleans is clinging to the 7th seed after a ten-game losing streak derailed them last month. LA has lost six of nine since the return of Anthony Davis, including a 131-126 nailbiter at Smoothie King Center eleven days ago.
Right now, Cavaliers-76ers is a pick ‘em. Embiid is listed as questionable, but he’s had that injury distinction with an ankle injury over the last the two weeks and still played. LA is a 3.5-point favorites at The Crypt tonight hosting the Pelicans with the new-look Lakers taking the floor for the first time since the trade deadline.
There will be excitement in the air with all the new blood for the Purple & Gold, but our friends at DraftKings have some fun quick single game parlays for a former Laker playing against his old team. Per StatMuse, Brandon Ingram has averaged 25.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 10 games against the Lakers in his career. including 35/4/3 in their last meeting on February 4th. If he can get close to that output tonight (30+ points, 5+ rebounds, 5+ assists, 2+ steals, 1+ block), DraftKings is giving you +4500! And by comparison, if LeBron James suits up tonight, for the same output, DraftKings has that quick SGP at +1500.