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When the NBA's Wednesday night schedule tips off, keep an eye on some of the most dynamic contributors on the court.
When the New Orleans Pelicans and the Boston Celtics face off, Jonas Valanciunas' shooting potential will be the focus. Jabari Smith Jr. looks to make an impact on the glass when his Houston Rockets face the Sacramento Kings. And Tyrese Haliburton looks to up his game when the Indiana Pacers take on the New York Knicks.
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The New Orleans Pelicans have struggled with injury throughout this season, but Jonas Valanciunas' production has been a mainstay for them. At DraftKings Sportsbook, Valanciunas is a +105 to clear 0.5 threes when he takes on the Boston Celtics.
Valanciunas is known as a paint bruiser, averaging 14.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 0.6 threes per game on 52.4% from the field and 34.2% from three. He's been positive over his last five games though, averaging 18.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 0.4 threes through New Orleans' 2-3 run. Against the Celtics, expect Valanciunas to have his fair share of looks from deep.
On the season, Valanciunas has cleared 0.5 threes in just 13 of his 41 performances this season. However, up against Al Horford and Robert Williams, expect Valanciunas to have his fair share of pop opportunities. For a player that's hit seven threes in one game this season, a positive matchup should be more than enough for him to hit just one three.
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Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr. hasn't had the most exciting season so far, but he's been more than willing to do the dirty work for a struggling Houston team. At PointsBet, Smith Jr. is a +105 to clear 6.5 rebounds when he takes on the Sacramento Kings.
On the season, Smith Jr. is averaging 11.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks on 38.3% from the field and 32.1% from three-point range. Over his last five games though, Smith Jr. is averaging just 9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.0 steals on 34.1% from the field and 25.9% from three.
Smith Jr. has been struggling on the offensive side of the ball, but he's been more than willing defensively. Against a Kings team that is more than willing to engage at Houston's pace, Smith Jr. should find a lot of success hitting the glass and pushing the ball.
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Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton will be looking to maintain his All-Star form when he takes on the New York Knicks. At FanDuel Sportsbook, Haliburton is a -102 to clear 29.5 points and assists combined.
On the season, Haliburton is averaging 20.3 points, 10.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds on 48.0% from the field and 40.2% from the three-point range. Over his last five games though, Haliburton has averaged 17.4 points, 11.0 assists, and 2.4 steals on 46.3% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range.
Key to Haliburton's success will be his ability to convert efficiently from the three-point range. He should find success given his guard play and New York's traditional lineup, but he'll still have to navigate their tough three-point defense.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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