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The Indiana Pacers beat the Boston Celtics behind a historic triple-double from Tyrese Haliburton, the first of his career, while the New Orleans Pelicans’ suffocating defense overwhelmed the Sacramento Kings and led them to victory. Two of four spots in the In-Season Tournament semifinal are now filled, and two more will be decided tonight.
Here are our favorite NBA player prop picks for Tuesday.
Lillard cashed over 6.5 assists in three straight (averaging 10.3 per game) and six of his last eight games. His pick-and-roll partnership with Giannis Antetokounmpo is not the complete package but looks much better than it did at the start of the year, and the gravity he holds on the perimeter and when moving downhill forces defenses to shade in his direction and leave his teammates open.
Even despite Lillard shooting 33.6% from three, the second-lowest of his career, the Milwaukee Bucks are still eighth in three-point percentage. That will help them against a New York Knicks defense that is ninth in three-point percentage allowed (35.6%), especially with Lillard’s threat as a driver.
Middleton has never quite gotten back to the heavy minutes or usage rate he enjoyed before his injury a couple of seasons ago, but he’s been incredibly impactful for the Bucks this year. He’s 23rd in individual net rating amongst players with 10+ games played and 15+ minutes per night, by far the best on the Bucks. That should put him in line for a large workload in a playoff-like atmosphere and matchup.
Middleton scored 12 points his last time out and has been trending under with four games under 13.5 in his last six. But for the reason we highlighted above, plus his size and ability to shoot over defenders, he should be a central part of the game plan on Tuesday.
Randle picked up his scoring recently but has been a menace on the glass all season, averaging 10.2 rebounds per game despite the Knicks playing at the second-slowest pace in the league. He has 40 rebounds in his last three games (including 10+ in all of them) and also hit double-digit rebounds in five of his last six games against the Bucks.
Milwaukee is fifth in pace of play and wants to get up as many shots as it can. The Knicks will have to do their best to avoid fouling Lillard and Giannis, but they’re first in rebound rate while the Bucks are only 13th. They’ll also know they’ll have to control the glass to stay within reach.
Although the Phoenix Suns played the Los Angeles Lakers twice already, this will be Booker’s season debut against LA. He scored 25 and 33 points against the purple and gold last season and is fresh off a 34-point outing against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.
The Lakers rarely double and figure to start Cam Reddish on Booker. Although Reddish has been disruptive, nobody can truly guard Booker, especially in single coverage. The added threat of Kevin Durant and a litany of shooters being just one pass away will also force LA to play honest defense, and Booker should take advantage of that.
Playoff time means LeBron time, and although it’s only December, these In-Season Tournament games are elimination games with up to $500k in missed winnings per player on a losing team. This game is probably going to slow down to a more deliberate tempo, which is exactly the situation in which LeBron becomes the true point guard and runs the offense.
LeBron had six and nine assists in two games against the Suns this season and recorded seven against the Houston Rockets in his last game. The Lakers’ three-point shooting has improved recently and can go a long way to cashing LeBron’s over if it stays hot.
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