30 Apr

Where to watch Game 3, start time, TV channel, live stream online, prediction, odds

The Knicks quite literally snatched a Game 2 win out of the hands of the 76ers, coming up with a controversial late steal before Donte DiVincenzo knocked down a 3-pointer to give New York a thrilling victory. It was riveting basketball down the stretch, and the result was a 2-0 series lead for New York. The 76ers now have work to do as they host the next two games, starting with Thursday night’s Game 3.

The 76ers have received tremendous production from their two All-Stars, who both were listed as questionable before Game 2. Joel Embiid has been slowed by a knee injury throughout the series, but he’s still been able to put up 31.5 points, nine rebounds and six assists per game against the Knicks. Tyrese Maxey, meanwhile, has been the highest scorer in the series, posting 68 points in two games while shooting 54.2% from the floor. The problem for the Sixers is the rest of the team has combined to score 74 points in two games.

As we prepare for Game 3 of this Eastern Conference matchup, here’s what you need to know.

Knicks at 76ers: Where to watch Game 3
Date: Thursday, April 25 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia
TV channel: TNT | Live stream: TNT app
Knicks at 76ers storylines
Knicks: There was some elite shotmaking at the end of Game 2 on New York’s part, and had it not been for Jalen Brunson and DiVincenzo’s clutch 3s the Sixers would have the momentum ahead of Game 3. Instead, the pressure is now on Philadelphia to get a win at home, but that doesn’t mean the Knicks are without the need for some improvements, primarily the efficiency of Brunson. So far Brunson is shooting 29.1% from the field and 16.7% from deep across the two games, and while he’s averaging 23 points, he isn’t doing so efficiently. The Knicks need Brunson to get going offensively.

76ers: The Sixers need Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre to step up if they want a chance at closing the gap in this series. Harris is averaging just 8.5 points on 38.9% shooting from the field and 33.3% from deep, while Oubre isn’t doing any better at seven points per game and 35.7% shooting from the floor. Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid (who is again listed as questionable as he continues to nurse a knee injury) are both pulling their weight, but we’ve seen in two games now that those two alone can’t win, so it’s up other role players to improve going forward. Perhaps playing at home will have a positive impact on their production, because the Sixers will need all the help they can get at this point.

Game 3 prediction
The Sixers — facing essentially a must-win scenario — likely aren’t over how Game 2 ended, so that will probably be in the back of their mind for Thursday’s game. They can use it as motivation. I’m going with that, coupled with what will surely be a loud Philly crowd to get the Sixers going and get a win in this series. The Pick: Sixers -5.5

30 Apr

Warriors star wins honor over DeMar DeRozan

Stephen Curry has won the NBA’s 2023-24 Clutch Player of the Year award, the league announced Thursday night. The award, named after Los Angeles Lakers great Jerry West, is in its second year of existence. Last season, the first ever Clutch Player of the Year award was given to Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox. Now, the Warriors superstar is the award’s second winner.

Curry’s clutch heroics are nothing new. He has long-been among the NBA’s most-feared late-game shot creators, and when the award was initially conceived in 2022, we found that Curry would have been the likely winner for the 2015-16 season had the award existed at that point.

This season, however, Curry’s clutch excellence demanded recognition in the form of the Jerry West Trophy. He led all scorers with 189 total points and 32 made 3-pointers in clutch situations, which the NBA defines as games within five points with five minutes or fewer remaining on the clock. Though it wasn’t quite a buzzer-beater, Curry did hit one of the most incredible clutch shots of the season when he nailed this game-winner over the Phoenix Suns with 0.7 seconds remaining on the clock.

Still, Curry faced stiff competition from Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan. The Bulls forward scored 182 total points in the clutch this season while leading the league in both clutch free-throws made (65) and attempted (74). His Bulls also went 24-16 in the clutch this season compared to 15-29 in all other situations, essentially meaning that Chicago’s only path to consistent winning was keeping the game close enough for DeRozan to win it at the end. In the end, though, Curry’s edge in the counting stats could not be denied.

Curry got 45 first-place votes, while DeRozan got 34. Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the other finalist for the award, got 11 first-place votes and finished third.

The complete voting results for the 2023-24 Kia NBA Clutch Player of the Year. pic.twitter.com/vAEzGmiZS3

— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 25, 2024
This was one of the few remaining honors in the NBA that Curry hadn’t already won. He entered this season with two MVP awards, two scoring titles, four championships, eight All-NBA selections and 10 All-Star choices. Now he has another trophy to add to his mantle, which may be getting even more crowded when he attempts to win his first Olympic gold medal for Team USA this summer.

30 Apr

2024 NBA playoff picks, Game 3 best bets from model

The Los Angeles Lakers will try to bounce back from a devastating Game 2 defeat when they host the Denver Nuggets on Thursday in a crucial Game 3 of their 2024 NBA playoffs series. In Game 2, Los Angeles led by as many as 20 points in the second half before Denver rallied for a 101-99 win. The defeat was the largest blown lead by any team in an NBA postseason game in the last 25 seasons. The Nuggets lead the best-of-seven first round Western Conference playoff series 2-0.

Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The Lakers are listed as 1-point favorites in the latest Nuggets vs. Lakers odds, per SportsLine consensus, while the Over/Under for total points scored is 217. Before making any Lakers vs. Nuggets picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters the second week of the 2024 NBA playoffs on a sizzling 90-58 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning more than $2,800. Anyone following the model has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Nuggets vs. Lakers and just locked in its picks and Game 3 predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Lakers vs. Nuggets:

Nuggets vs. Lakers spread: Los Angeles -1
Nuggets vs. Lakers over/under: 217 points
Nuggets vs. Lakers money line: Denver -105, Los Angeles -115
DEN: Nikola Jokic ranked second in the NBA this season in triple-doubles (25).
LAL: Anthony Davis ranked third in the league in rebounding (12.6 per game).
Nuggets vs. Lakers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Nuggets can cover
The reigning NBA champs have dominated the head-to-head series against Los Angeles recently as Denver has beaten the Lakers 10 straight times. That stretch includes a four-game sweep against Los Angeles in last season’s Western Conference Finals and three wins during the 2023-24 regular season. The Lakers haven’t beaten the Nuggets since Dec. 16, 2022.

In addition, Denver may have found a way to slow Davis and the Los Angeles offense in Game 2. After giving up 68 points in the first 26 minutes, Nuggets coach Michael Malone switched Aaron Gordon onto the Lakers big man. After that, Denver allowed just 31 points in the final 22 minutes. See which team to back at SportsLine.

Why the Lakers can cover
LeBron James remains an elite player. From the All-Star break to the end of the regular season, the 39-year-old James averaged 27.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 9.5 assists while shooting 58.4% from the field, 45.0% on 3-pointers, and 76.9% from the free-throw line. So far this series, he is averaging 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 10.0 assists while shooting 54.5% from beyond the 3-point arc.

In addition, Davis has been elite offensively so far in this series. The 31-year-old Davis has scored 32 points in each of the first two games while averaging 12.5 rebounds. He is also shooting 61.9% from the field and 92.3% from the free-throw line. See which team to back at SportsLine.

How to make Lakers vs. Nuggets picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 219 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits over in 50% of simulations. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

So who wins Lakers vs. Nuggets, and which side of the spread hits over 50% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Nuggets vs. Lakers spread you need to jump on, all from the model on a 90-58 roll on top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.

25 Feb

Bold predictions for NBA regular-season stretch run, including Jayson Tatum’s MVP push, 76ers in Play-In

A lackluster NBA All-Star break is now in the past, and real basketball has begun again. While this portion of the schedule is colloquially known as the second half, we’re well past the halfway point of the 2023-24 season. There’s less than two months remaining in the regular season, and it will be a mad dash to the finish line, with plenty of playoff spots and seeding battles still to be determined.

As we look ahead to the end of another exciting season, here is our staff’s boldest predictions for the regular season’s home stretch:

Jayson Tatum will win MVP
Does saying the best player on the team with by far the best record in the league will win MVP qualify as a bold prediction? I’m not entirely sure, but given his long-shot odds (+1400 at Caesars Sportsbook) and the fact that he got zero first-place votes in ESPN’s straw poll earlier this month, I’m going to allow it.

Jayson Tatum has been a key part of the Celtics’ incredible season. Getty Images
The Celtics are already on 64-win pace and have the second-easiest schedule remaining in the league, including two matchups against each of the Pistons, Wizards, Hornets and Trail Blazers. There’s a good chance they become the first team since the 2018 Rockets to win 65 games. Tatum, meanwhile, has historically put up big numbers down the stretch. March (24.1 points per game, 60.7 true shooting %) and April (24.2 points, 59.2 TS%) are the highest-scoring and most efficient months of his career.

Tatum’s candidacy was a national story during the All-Star break, and the narrative will keep building in his favor if both he and the Celtics really catch fire down the stretch. At a certain point, it may become undeniable. — Jack Maloney

Déjà vu for the Warriors
The Golden State Warriors will go on a post-All-Star run reminiscent of last season’s, in which they won 15 of their final 23 games and jumped from 10th place to sixth. This time, the turnaround has already started — if they hadn’t blown a fourth-quarter lead against the Los Angeles Clippers last Wednesday, they would’ve entered the break on a seven-game winning streak — and, with 28 games left on the schedule, they have a chance to make up even more ground.

The Warriors are primed to go on a post All-Star week run, writes James Herbert. Getty Images
I’m optimistic about the Warriors because, since Draymond Green returned from suspension, their pieces have finally seemed to fall into place. I like the idea of Klay Thompson and Chris Paul working against second units, and I love the way Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski have been playing. Also, based on cumulative opponent winning percentage, Golden State has an easier post-ASG schedule than any other team in the mix for a playoff (or Play-In Tournament) spot in the West. — James Herbert

The 76ers will fall to the Play-In Tournament
Philadelphia is 6-15 without Joel Embiid this season, and nobody seems quite certain on when he’ll come back (if he does at all). Currently, the 76ers are only 1.5 games ahead of the Magic and two in front of the Heat in the standings. And while Philadelphia has the ninth-hardest remaining schedule, Miami’s ranks 27th and Orlando’s ranks 30th. Miami is 2-0 against Philadelphia this season, so the Heat are just one win away from the tiebreaker. Philadelphia would still be extremely dangerous from a Play-In Tournament slot if Embiid is healthy, but the rest of its regular season does not look all that promising. — Sam Quinn

Tyrese Maxey has been an integral part of keeping the 76ers alive in Joel Embiid’s absence. Getty Images
The Clippers will finish with the best record in the West
Where were you the day James Harden was traded to L.A.? Hopefully not making memes and calling it a bust, because after a 3-7 start in the Harden era, the Clippers are rolling. Currently, they are just 2.5 games out of the Western Conference’s top seed, and it isn’t inconceivable to think that they could reach the top of the mountain by season’s end. Kawhi Leonard has played like an MVP, Paul George is at his All-Star self and Russell Westbrook has settled into his bench role. Never mind that Harden has been excellent. Yes, his 3-point attempts are down this year (6.7), but his three-point percentage has never been better (42%).

While Los Angeles owns the 11th-hardest remaining schedule, one just has to look toward the team’s nine-game winning streak as proof that anything is possible. Over that nine-game streak, which is tied for the longest in the NBA this season, the Clippers dismantled the Nuggets, Kings, Knicks, Pacers and Mavs. West, beware. — Johnny Flores

25 Feb

Who can push Victor Wembanyama or Chet Holmgren for the No. 1 spot?

The NBA has returned from its All-Star break slumber, which means we’ve entered the home stretch of the regular season. Teams are getting serious about jockeying for playoff spots, others are getting serious about their draft positions and the races for all the major awards are becoming more crystalized. And while the Rookie of the Year race typically isn’t as exciting as Most Valuable Player or Defensive Player of the Year, this year’s race has turned out to be one of the more memorable ones. For a big portion of the season, it wasn’t as obvious as to who would win the award, but with roughly 30 games left on the schedule, the rankings are becoming more clear.

This year’s class has shown us that the 2023 NBA Draft had a wealth of young talent. Many of the players listed here and featured in my weekly rookie rankings have the potential to be All-Stars, win MVP, and become important role players with lengthy careers. All of these players have bright futures ahead of them, but only one can go home with the Rookie of the Year hardware. With that in mind, here’s the Rookie of the Year rankings as the NBA kicks back into gear for the last month and a half of the regular season.

  1. Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors
    When you get elevated to the starting lineup in place of future Hall of Famer Klay Thompson to share the backcourt with another future Hall of Famer in Stephen Curry, you know you’re doing something right. Podziemski isn’t putting up the numbers some of his fellow draft classmates are, but he’s impacting winning for a Warriors team that has sorely needed someone else to step up so it doesn’t just all fall on Curry’s shoulders.
25 Feb

‘Stop all the tough-guy stuff’

With 12 seconds remaining and the game firmly in hand for the Golden State Warriors, Lester Quinones went up for a worthless layup that Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges – in accordance with what Draymond Green later called a “dumb unwritten rule” that you’re not supposed to score at the end of a game that’s no longer in question – did not appreciate.

Bridges went up and swatted the ball away. Got called for a goaltend. Had some words and a little shove with Quinones, who was only shooting in the first place because there was a difference between the shot clock and the game clock. And the next thing you knew, a scuffle was breaking out as resident tough guy Grant Williams, whom Charlotte acquired at the trade deadline in a deal with the Mavericks, came running into the fray.

Here’s the zoomed-out view:

The reaction from Kerr and Steve Clifford as this bizarre scuffle occurred is hilarious.

The embrace to the freeze to the WTF.

Can’t believe Grant Williams was involved. pic.twitter.com/P6NO52cFPA

— Tim Ryan🦤 (@TheSportsHernia) February 24, 2024
Here’s the zoomed-in view, where you can plainly read the lips of Quinones as he shares some, shall we say, choice words with Williams:

Lester Quinones to Grant Williams: “You a b****.” 😳

The Warriors and Hornets got into a scuffle late in the fourth quarter.

(via @NBCSWarriors)

— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) February 24, 2024
Question: What’s with Williams and his penchant for forehead warfare? It’s the same way he locked horns with Jimmy Butler in last year’s conference finals. Does he think he’s some sort of ram?

Grant Williams trash talking Jimmy Butler with the Heat down 9 in an Eastern Conference Finals playoff game on the road, then Jimmy isoing him the rest of the game until they won https://t.co/3gLQMKALMd pic.twitter.com/PlUNPBlp1N

— Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) August 28, 2023
Anyway, the game ended with Williams waving to the Warriors’ bench as he was escorted off the court in a 97-84 win for Golden State, which has now won 10 of its past 12 games. Afterward, Draymond Green, who knows a thing or two about flying off the handle, had some choice words of his own for Williams.

“Grant Williams gotta stop it, man. Being like this tough guy is going absolutely wrong for him,” Green said. “Like, he’s a really nice guy. For some reason, he keeps trying to jump on the unlikeable side, and I must tell you, it’s not always fun over here. And so, I don’t know man, he need to figure it out. I mean, talking too much kind of got [Williams] out of Dallas. Like, overdoing it. And he’s over there [in Charlotte] talking too much now. He might want to slow down and stop all the tough-guy stuff.

“Pray for Grant Williams,” Green said in closing.

Draymond’s full comment:

“Being this tough guy is going absolutely wrong for him … Talking too much kind of got you out of Dallas … “

Draymond went in on Grant Williams 😳 pic.twitter.com/SbtAT7k5oh

— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 24, 2024
So here’s the thing: Green is right about this sore-loser idea that you can’t score at the end of a game no longer in question. It is dumb. It’s just like not being able to steal in baseball when you’re winning by some undefined amount of runs. Please. We’re talking about multi-millionaire professionals. There are no orange slices and juice boxes at halftime. If you don’t like your opponent scoring when they’re already beating the hell out of you, don’t let them beat the hell out of you in the first place. Cut the crybaby stuff.

Green is also right about Williams trying too hard to go heel. He was a yapper in Boston, and ESPN’s Tim McMahon recently noted that Williams was shipped out of Dallas because he “rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.” Williams was a good player in Boston and still has a long NBA career in front of him, but he doesn’t have the cache to pull off this act.

That said, the only thing Williams did here is come to the defense of a teammate, even if his teammate was in the wrong, and it’s certainly ironic that Draymond Green would be the one to school someone else on the finer virtues of NBA etiquette.

You might recall that Green was suspended a little more than three months ago for running into what was a nothing scuffle, which he had nothing to do with, and dragging Rudy Gobert out in a chokehold. Not long after that, he was suspended again, this time indefinitely, for smoking Jusuf Nurkic across the face. This is the same guy who knocked out his own teammate for crying out loud, and he’s here to comment on what Williams did wrong in Dallas.

I don’t know if Green just can’t see the hypocrisy of his words or if he thinks he’s standing on some higher ground because he is, in his eyes, a “real” tough guy while Williams is putting on an act, but either way, it’s hilarious. Green is the last guy that needs to be telling fellow players to tone down the shenanigans. Give me a break. What we have here is a classic case of right message, wrong messenger.

25 Feb

Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama makes 5×5 history as his rookie season continues to exceed hype

Victor Wembanyama is something, man. At 20 years old, I already have him as one of the best 25 players this season. Even if you disagree with that ranking, there’s no disputing how incredible he’s been for the Spurs as a rookie.

It’s not even March, and Wembanyama is already the first player in history to record 150 blocks, 150 assists, and 75 made 3-pointers in a single season. Just before the All-Star break, Wembanyama carded 27 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, five assists and two steals against the Raptors on 71% shooting. No other player in history has met those single-game benchmarks.

Now, in his second game coming out of the All-Star break, Wembanyama has become the youngest player ever – and just the 15th in total – to join the exclusive 5×5 club, which requires the recording of at least five points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in a single game.

He did it on Friday night in a loss to the Lakers … in the fewest minutes ever.

Victor Wembanyama is the YOUNGEST player in NBA history to record a 5×5 (PTS-REB-AST-STL-BLK) game 📊

Wembanyama completed this 5×5 game in 30 minutes and 55 seconds, the fewest minutes ever played in such a game 🤯 pic.twitter.com/oenPznGOKM

— NBA (@NBA) February 24, 2024
The last player to record a 5×5 game was Jusuf Nurkic in 2019. The only other rookie to pull it off was Jamaal Tinsley in 2001.

What’s crazy: Wembanyama missed a 5×5 game by just one assist on Thursday, posting 19 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, five steals and four assists against the Kings.

Think about that. Only 14 other players in history have pulled this off, and this dude, a 20-year-old rookie, nearly did it on consecutive nights. He joined Michael Jordan as the only player in history to even record five blocks and five steals in back-to-back games, and yet, all he’s concerned with is the outcome of the games, neither of which went in San Antonio’s favor.

Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama on joining Michael Jordan w/ back-to-back 5-steal, 5-block games: “I wonder if he did it in wins, not losses. To me, it’s secondary. Hopefully… we can look back & think this is a good performance. As of today, I can’t be satisfied with a loss.” pic.twitter.com/ITAd0bupxr

— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 24, 2024
Wembanyama entered the NBA as the most hyped rookie since LeBron James. It seemed impossible that he could live up to the hype immediately. Somehow, he’s actually exceeding it.

He leads the league in blocks, on pace to become the first rookie since Manute Bol in 1986 to do so. Since the Spurs did away with the Jeremey Sochan point guard experiment and started playing Wembanyama at center, he has exploded.

Since the start of January, a stretch of 23 games, Wemby is averaging just under 23 points and 10 boards with 3.7 assists, 3.4 blocks and 1.7 steals. He’s shooting 49 percent, including 35 percent from 3 on over five attempts per game. He is doing this in barely 27 minutes per game, which is pure insanity.

Extrapolate those numbers to per 36 minutes, and Wemby’s ledger reads like this: 30.1 points, 13 boards, 4.9 assists, 4.5 blocks, 1.8 steals. Play this guy 36 minutes, and he is damn near averaging a 5×5 for crying out loud.

There’s a strong argument to be made that Wembanyama is already the most intimidating defensive player in the league. When you add this kind of offense to it, well, as LeBron James said on Friday, “he doesn’t have a ceiling.”

“He can do whatever he wants in his career,” James said of Wembanyama. “…You got guys in our league that you have to account for any time you get around the rim or around the perimeter in our league history, and he sits right at the top, if not around the top, with all the greats.”

25 Feb

2024 NBA picks, Feb. 24 best bets from proven model

An Eastern Conference tilt features the New York Knicks (34-22) hosting the Boston Celtics (44-12) on Saturday night. Boston is leading the conference as the No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, New York is currently the fourth seed. The Celtics have won three straight games over the Knicks. On Dec. 8, Boston defeated the New York 133-123. OG Anunoby (elbow), Julius Randle (shoulder) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle) are all out for New York.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden in New York. Boston is the 6-point favorite in the latest Celtics vs. Knicks odds via SportsLine consensus. The over/under for total points is 224.5. Before making any Knicks vs. Celtics picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions from SportsLine’s proven model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters Week 18 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 60-36 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,300. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Knicks vs. Celtics. You can head to SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Celtics vs. Knicks:

Knicks vs. Celtics spread: Celtics -6
Knicks vs. Celtics over/under: 224.5 points
Knicks vs. Celtics money line: Celtics -241, Knicks +195
BOS: 2-0-1 ATS against Knicks this season
NYK: 15-11-1 ATS overall this season
Knicks vs. Celtics picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Celtics can cover
Center Kristaps Porzingis has been a great addition to the Celtics frontcourt this season. Porzingis’ length gives opposing ball handlers trouble in the lane and he has a smooth jumper to space the floor. The 28-year-old averages 20.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. On Feb. 9, Porzingis had 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Guard Derrick White is another contributor in the backcourt. White can score from all three levels but scans the court well as a facilitator. The Colorado product logs 15.8 points, 4.7 assists, and shoots 39% from downtown. He’s scored 27-plus in back-to-back games. See who to back at SportsLine.

Why the Knicks can cover
With Randle out, guard Jalen Brunson is the clear-cut leader of this team. The Villanova product consistently scores in the paint and has a dependable jump shot. Additionally, Brunson will get his teammates involved. He’s eighth in the NBA in scoring (27.5) and 13th in assists (6.6). On Feb. 22, Brunson notched 21 points and 12 assists.

Forward Bojan Bogdanovic brings a true 3-point threat onto the court. Bogdanovic owns a sweet-shooting stroke, knocking down spot-up and pull-up triples. The 34-year-old is averaging 19.8 points, 2.3 assists and makes 41% of his 3-point attempts. Bogdanovic totaled 22 points and went a perfect 6-of-6 from downtown in Thursday’s victory over the 76ers. See who to back at SportsLine.

How to make Knicks vs. Celtics picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 229 points. The model also says one side hits in over 60% of simulations. You can only see the picks at SportsLine.

25 Feb

‘It’s just as much about the fans’

LeBron James may be 21 years into arguably the greatest NBA career any player has ever had, but all good things come to an end eventually. Whether it’s in one year or several, James will eventually play his final NBA game, and as he claimed at All-Star Weekend, he’s not exactly sure how he wants that to play out.

“I don’t know how many seasons I have left. I know it’s not that many. I was asked this question a couple days ago, ‘Will you take the farewell tour or just ‘Tim Duncan’ it?’ I’m 50-50,” James said. Duncan, famously, did not publicly reveal his retirement plans during the 2015-16 season. His San Antonio Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder and he quietly retired afterward.

During that same season, Kobe Bryant went on one of the most extravagant retirement tours the NBA has ever seen. Teams gave him gifts as he arrived in arenas for the final time, and the whole affair culminated with a 60-point finale in his last game against the Utah Jazz.

Bryant wasn’t the first player to do a retirement tour. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a famous one of his own at the end of his legendary career, and New York Yankees legends Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera both had extravagant sendoffs. But Duncan and Bryant, both due to their stature and their differing preferences, have become the modern example of the retirement spectrum. James, publicly at least, has indicated that he currently falls somewhere between the two.

Fortunately, another basketball legend has some advice for him. WNBA icon Sue Bird followed Bryant’s path and had a tour of her own for her final season, and in an appearance on Sports Media with Richard Deitsch, she advised James to do the same.

“When I look back I still have fond, fond, fond memories,” Bird said of her tour. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so glad I announced when I announced and I got to experience the farewell tour, and I was actually anti-that at one point a couple of years prior, so that was interesting for me to experience it in that way. My only regret is how the season ended because we lost.

“Otherwise, no, whoever this applies to, I could not recommend this more. I tell Diana, ‘I cannot recommend this enough,’ if I talked to LeBron right now, I’d be like ‘Bro, I could not recommend this enough.’ Because what I realized is a couple of things. One, it’s just as much about the fans and them being able to say goodbye to you. And I always thought of it like, ‘I don’t know if I want this attention.’ You have to almost see outside of yourself and understand that this is going to be meaningful for so many people. The second thing, I will say, it can be a lot. It can be a lot, but I just think the pros outweigh the cons. I’ll finish with, it is each individual’s choice, you have to be up for it, or game for it. I would just always argue that there might be things you personally gain or things you learn about yourself, your career, your relationship with the fans without this experience.”

Given his longevity, fans need that opportunity to say goodbye to James more than they have for any other star in league history. He’s been around for over two decades with no end in sight. He’s already played against 40% of all players in NBA history, and that number is going to creep closer to a 50-50 split the longer he stays in the league. There are quite a few adult fans that have never experienced an NBA without James in it.

Fortunately, while James himself hasn’t made a commitment in one direction or another, the general consensus seems to be that he is likelier to do one than not. Yes, he hinted at retirement consideration after losing the Western Conference Finals last season, but those comments were dismissed so heartily by the rest of the league that Nuggets coach Michael Malone even joked about them at after Denver won the title.

James has never been subtle. Whatever he does, he does it with flair. The thought that the player behind “The Decision” might retire without any fanfare seems very unlikely. If Bird’s comments help push him over the top, then all the better.

24 Jan

2024 NBA picks, Jan. 23 best bets by proven model

A Western Conference tilt has the Los Angeles Lakers (22-22) and the Los Angeles Clippers (27-14) squaring off on Tuesday. The Clippers are currently sitting as the No. 4 seed in the conference, while the Lakers are in the ninth spot. The purple and gold have won both contests against the Clippers this season, and on Jan. 7, the Lakers topped the Clippers 106-103. LeBron James (ankle) is out for the Lakers, while Ivica Zubac (calf) is out for the Clippers.

Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The Clippers are 9.5-point favorites in the latest Lakers vs. Clippers odds, per SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 234.5. Before making any Clippers vs. Lakers picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters Week 14 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 48-25 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning over $2,200. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Lakers vs. Clippers and just locked in its picks and NBA predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Clippers vs. Lakers:

Lakers vs. Clippers spread: Clippers -9.5
Lakers vs. Clippers over/under: 234.5 points
Lakers vs. Clippers money line: Clippers -405, Lakers +317
LAL: The Lakers are 2-0 against the Clippers this season
LAC: The Clippers are 13-9 ATS at home this season
Lakers vs. Clippers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Clippers can cover
Forward Paul George brings an effortless offensive game onto the floor. George’s jumper is pure from both the mid-range area and beyond the arc. The Fresno State product’s ball handles give him the ability to create his own shot from all three levels as George puts up 23.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. In the Jan. 16 game against the Thunder, he racked up 38 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.

Guard Russell Westbrook is a spark plug off the bench who plays the game at a quick pace and will get the ball to his teammates. The nine-time All-Star excels when he gets downhill attacking the lane. Westbrook averages 11.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. In his last outing, the 35-year-old tallied 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. See which team to pick here.

Why the Lakers can cover
Forward Anthony Davis has been a productive player both offensively and defensively. Davis defends the paint at a high level and has the skill set to consistently create his own shot. The eight-time All-Star leads the team in points (24.9), rebounds (12.2), and blocks (2.4). On Jan. 17 versus the Mavericks, Davis logged 28 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists.

Guard Austin Reaves is an effective ball-handler in the backcourt. Reeves gets into the lane consistently and draws contact to get to the free-throw line. The Oklahoma product can also knock down perimeter jumpers. He averages 15 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. In his last game, Reeves totaled 15 points and went 3-of-4 from downtown. See which team to pick here.

How to make Clippers vs. Lakers picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Under on the total, projecting 231 combined points. The model also says one side of the spread hits in over 50% of simulations. You can only see the model’s NBA picks at SportsLine.