The NBA world has been waiting for this moment. Ben Simmons will return to Philadelphia. Simmons and the Nets will take on his former team tonight. Simmons expects a ton of boos from the crowd.
Joel Embiid was one of the few teammates to run Simmons out of town. James Harden was traded from the Nets. Both players will miss their game against the Nets while Simmons plays.
I’ve added my best bet for the Nets and 76ers game and another best bet for the Lakers and Suns game. Consider these plays for tonight’s small NBA slate.
(Odds courtesy DraftKings)
Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The Nets have won two straight games over Portland and Memphis. Against the Grizzlies, Kyrie Irving returned, and Ben Simmons scored a season-high 22 points. The Nets now have a starting lineup that features Irving, Simmons, Durant, Joe Harris, and Royce O’Neale. Nic Claxton likely enters the starting lineup if healthy enough to return.
Anyway, the Sixers will be shorthanded. James Harden has already been out for a while, but Joel Embiid is sitting with a left midfoot sprain. It sounds like he doesn’t want that Ben Simmons smoke to me.
Tyrese Maxey will also be out due to a minor fracture in his left foot. The Nets are improving offensively. Even without Irving, the Nets ranked in the top 10 in most categories offensively but offensive rebounds. And with Ben Simmons starting to gain his confidence back, the Nets could be a top-ten offense moving forward.
On the other hand, the Nets have struggled on the defensive glass. But with Claxton returning and the 76ers also struggling to earn offensive rebounds, that shouldn’t be a huge problem. The Nets have held opponents to a 51.8% effective field goal percentage, which is fourth in the league. Although Philadelphia gets to the line at a high rate, without Embiid, that rate will drop drastically.
Let’s back the Nets on the road.
Bet: Nets -8 (-110 at DraftKings)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns
The Los Angeles Lakers are 3-0 without LeBron James. James is currently listed as questionable for tonight’s game.
Los Angeles scored at least 116 points in their last three games. They’ve knocked off the Nets, Pistons, and Spurs. Those aren’t incredible wins, but they were much-needed wins for the Lakers. Los Angeles has limited turnovers and gets to the foul line at a high rate. The offense isn’t taking the highest percentage shots, but the offense moves better when LeBron isn’t on the floor.
I’m a huge LeBron supporter. But he’s starting to age. He’s becoming lazy. His shot selection isn’t great, and he’s not getting everyone involved in the offense like he used to. That’s a fair assessment of LeBron.
Meanwhile, his pal, Chris Paul, will also miss tonight’s game. The Suns have struggled without Paul, winning just two of their last five games. It’s been the defense that has struggled.
Both offenses have been tearing it up. But Phoenix hasn’t played well defensively, allowing four of their last five opponents to shoot at least an effective field goal percentage of 54.8%. That won’t help limit damage against the Lakers, who are better offensively without James.
Therefore, I’m backing the Over 227 as long as James is out.
Bet: Over 227 (-110 at DraftKings)
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