Tonight’s ESPN NBA doubleheader is upon us and it’s time to decide who to bet on. The Philadelphia 76ers host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 4:30 p.m. (PST) followed by the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the New Orleans Pelicans at 7:00 p.m. (PST). These matchups could be close, so let’s review deadline roster changes and injuries as we dive in, starting, as always, with the early game.
CLE Spread: +1 (-110) Moneyline: +100
PHI Spread: -1 (-110) Moneyline: -120
Things to consider…
1) As has become commonplace in recent weeks, Sixers center Joel Embiid (left foot soreness) carries a “questionable” designation heading into tonight’s matchup. This has not stopped him from competing in every contest since acquiring that status, though, so expect that he will likely play regardless.
2) The Cavaliers’ big men, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, have been on a roll. Through Cleveland’s last 13 games, they have averaged 19-and-9 and 18-and-11 respectively, all while anchoring the defense. The Cavaliers are currently on a seven-game winning streak – the second longest active streak in the league.
3) Each team made small moves around the trade deadline. The Sixers traded wing Mathisse Thybulle to the Portland Trail Blazers and signed G-League standout Mac McClung to a two-way deal. The Cavaliers agreed to a deal with veteran wing Danny Green on the buyout market. All of these transactions are fringe and should not impact the outcome of tonight’s game.
Main takeaways: This game could be extremely tight but while Cleveland has the momentum, Philadelphia has homecourt advantage. The Sixers’ 22-8 home record is nothing to sneeze at. This could be the biggest difference maker on a night like tonight.
And now, the late game.
NOP Spread: +4 (-105) Moneyline: +150
LAL Spread: -4 (-115) Moneyline: -175
1) Pelicans forward Zion Williamson reaggravated his hamstring injury and will be reevaluated in a matter of weeks. However, we already knew he would miss tonight’s contest. The bigger news is guard CJ McCollum (sprained right ankle) being questionable. If he is unable to play, expect to see big minutes from Jose Alvarado in his stead.
2) In that vein, Lakers forward LeBron James (left ankle soreness) is questionable to play as well. He sat out the team’s last contest against the Trail Blazers and could very well miss this game as well, resting up for NBA All-Star weekend. Still, the upgrade from “out” to “questionable” bodes well for his availability.
3) The Lakers look a little different post-deadline. With the additions of D’Angelo Russell and Mo Bamba, and the subtraction of Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles looks to be more competitive moving forward. That said, growing pains are to be expected as the new assets learn to jell.
Main takeaways: The Pelicans should be at an advantage here, but a lot rides on McCollum’s availability. Yet, even if he is unable to play, I personally think New Orleans still has the leg up. It is probably wise to put your money on the Pelicans, but make sure to monitor player availability as we near tip-off if you are unsure.