30 Apr

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Mark Daigneault wins NBA Coach of the Year

Mark Daigneault has won the NBA’s 2023-24 Coach of the Year award. Daigneault, still only 39 years old, is the youngest coach to win the award since Doc Rivers did so as a 38-year-old in his debut 1999-00 season leading the Orlando Magic. Daigneault is now in his fourth season leading the Thunder, and his road to the top of the NBA has been somewhat unconventional.

He began as a student manager for the UConn Huskies, eventually parlaying that position into an assistant-coaching job at Holy Cross. After three seasons there, he worked as an assistant for Billy Donovan at Florida while also earning a graduate degree. He followed Donovan to the Oklahoma City organization in 2014, but served as the head coach for their G-League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, from 2014 through 2019. After just one season as a full-time assistant for the Thunder, he was promoted to head coach in 2020 following Donovan’s departure.

After presiding over a rebuild over the past several seasons, Daigneault’s Thunder finally vaulted into contention this season behind a possible MVP campaign from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the emergence of rookie big man Chet Holmgren. Thanks to a Nuggets loss to the Spurs on the second-to-last day of the season, the Thunder were able to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a blowout win over the Dallas Mavericks in their season finale. They are the youngest No. 1 seed in NBA history.

They are also among the most versatile. The Thunder were good at practically everything this season. They were one of only two teams to finish in the top four in both offense and defense, joining the 64-win Boston Celtics. No team forced more turnovers this season, but only six teams committed fewer of their own turnovers. They ranked in the top-eight in both made 3-pointers and points in the paint. Oklahoma City’s only discernible weakness has been rebounding, a sacrifice Daigneault has willingly made to maximize shooting and athleticism on the floor.

Daigneault was already named the NBCA Coach of the Year, as voted on by his fellow coaches. Now, he adds the media vote to his growing list of accolades. Daigneault was already widely considered among the NBA’s best young coaches. Now he has a trophy to prove it.

30 Apr

Jalen Brunson makes Knicks history, puts Sixers on brink of elimination with 47-point performance in Game 4

PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Brunson received MVP chants on the road, broke the New York Knicks’ 40-year-old franchise record for points in a playoff game and led his team to a win that put them up 3-1 in their first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Afterward, though, he had no interest in celebrating any of it.

He’ll happy to let Knicks fans do that.

“I’ll look back when I retire,” Brunson said. “Seriously, this is — it’s great right now. It helped us get a win, but it’s not going to do anything for us going forward.”

Brunson said that, when the buzzer sounded on the Knicks’ 97-92 win in Game 4 on Sunday, he had no idea that history had been made. His 47 points (on 18-of-34 shooting) topped Bernard King’s previous franchise playoff high (46) set in 1984.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Brunson said. “But unless [King] comes back and helps us win next game …”

Brunson laughed then reiterated that the record is not relevant to him right now: “I promise you, I’ll think about it later.”

In 43 minutes, Brunson scored one more point than he did in the series’ first two games combined, and he did it on 21 fewer field goal attempts. Including the 23 points on which he assisted, Brunson’s playmaking accounted for 72% of the Knicks’ points Sunday.

“We needed it,” said forward Josh Hart, who had the best 0-for-7, five-foul, five-turnover performance one could imagine. “Shit, his starting small forward, power forward — whatever the hell I am — ain’t make a shot. I was like Shaq at the free throw line. So, we needed it.”

New York won at Wells Fargo Center despite shooting 7 of 27 from 3-point range (25.9%) and 16 of 26 from the free throw line (61.5%). The Knicks despite Brunson’s teammates collectively scoring 40 points on 36.5% shooting. That doesn’t mean Brunson did all the work himself — down the stretch, the Knicks owned the glass and shut down Joel Embiid defensively while keeping the Sixers completely discombobulated on offense — but it does make for a tidy contrast with their first two victories.

Six days earlier, after going up 2-0 in the series, Brunson was trying not to dwell on his individual performance after being held in check for the second straight game. Philadelphia had thrown bigger, longer defenders at him, packed the paint and generally succeeded in taking him out of his comfort zone.

After the two games at Madison Square Garden, it was clear that New York needed to make Brunson’s life easier. He’d missed lots of shots that he can make, but he hadn’t gotten many open ones. When he went downhill on the pick-and-roll, he’d almost always have Kelly Oubre Jr., Nicolas Batum or Tobias Harris trailing him and contesting from behind. “They’ve done a great job all series just pursuing the ball,” Brunson said Sunday, noting that he had to figure out “where I can be effective and how I can keep myself on balance, keep them off balance.”

The tough, contested 2s in tight spaces are fine as a last resort, but they’re not a huge part of any healthy shot diet.

Less than 2 minutes into Game 4, Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein screened Harris out of the picture, and Brunson made a pull-up jumper. On his team’s next offensive possession, Brunson found another clean look off a pick-and-roll with Hartenstein, thanks in part to a miscommunication between Oubre and Embiid. A couple of possessions later, Hartenstein screened Brunson open well behind the 3-point line, and the 27-year-old All-Star knocked down a pull-up 3.

“I think that was that was the biggest emphasis after the first two games: just trying to get him open more,” Hartenstein said. “So, I think I’ve been doing a good job just trying to get him easier looks and then, especially at the end of the game, he’s kind of in a rhythm and then he can maybe hit more of those ISO shots that he’s been hitting late.”

If you ask Hartenstein, it’s his responsibility to create space for Brunson to do his thing. If you ask Brunson, you get a different answer. Both have been in problem-solving mode for the past week.

“Yeah, constant communication, making sure that we’re always on the same page,” Brunson said. “The bigs, they’ve been doing a great job doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s on me to create space; it’s on me to come off with speed. I can’t ask them to hold the screen, set the screen — that’s when it gets tricky, where a ref might call offensive [foul] or a moving screen or whatever. But I had to just set my man up, make sure he hits the screen, create space and then attack from there.”

When he’s at his best, like he was Sunday, it looks like there are no answers for Brunson. He patiently seeks out matchups he likes, baits defenders into leaving their feet, finds ways to get to the free throw line and makes the kinds of shots that demoralize opponents.

In the fourth quarter, almost immediately after returning from the locker room — he banged knees with Kyle Lowry on the last possession of the third quarter but said postgame that he’s “all good” — Brunson isolated against Embiid. Late in the shot clock, without an advantage, the 6-foot-2 guard rattled in a wrong-footed floater over the 7-footer.


The first 40p, 10a game in Knicks postseason franchise history!

NYK-PHI | Game 4 on ABC pic.twitter.com/k9V7nGsUDq

— NBA (@NBA) April 28, 2024
It was simultaneously shocking and unsurprising as Brunson has bailed out New York on countless possessions.

“It’s huge for us,” Hart said. “That’s something that we need. Sometimes, we don’t always play the fastest. So, if we get down in those late-clock situations, we need him to be able to create for not just himself but for other people. And he’s able to use the angles that he gets to his advantage.”

Hart said that Brunson “wasn’t himself” at the beginning of the series, and the Knicks need to continue “finding him ways to get clean looks, making sure we’re screening.” It is fortunate that they were able to get a couple of wins before Brunson got going, but they prefer playing this way.

“That’s our engine,” Hart said.

30 Apr

James Harden’s masterful clutch performance saves L.A. from historic collapse

We’ve all heard it. James Harden has heard it. Even James Harden’s mother has heard it. And, when delivered properly, the criticism is largely justified.

Harden’s repeated disappearing acts in playoff games with the highest stakes has marred his otherwise legendary statistical career. He’s had great postseason performances, to be sure, but in elimination and closeout games, he doesn’t have the track record that his talent and regular-season production would suggest.

One game isn’t going to change that, but Harden did his best to shift the narrative in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Clippers’ 116-111 Game 4 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, scoring clutch bucket after clutch bucket to save his team from the embarrassment of losing a game in which they led by 31 points — no NBA team has ever lost by blowing a bigger lead in the playoffs.

In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, with the game in the balance and the momentum tilting toward the home Mavericks, Harden delivered 13 crucial points to even the series at 2-2 heading back to Los Angeles. He finished with 33 points, seven assists and six rebounds on 12-for-17 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.

In a game which Kawhi Leonard missed due to knee inflammation, Paul George was absolutely brilliant with 26 first-half points, and his fadeaway 3-pointer from the corner with just under two minutes left was perhaps the most impressive display in a matchup riddled with brilliant individual shot-making.


UNDER 2 MINUTES TO GO ON ABC 🍿 https://t.co/JTsucw3JIr pic.twitter.com/yv9BWoMcHi

— NBA (@NBA) April 28, 2024
But when it came down to clutch execution, it was Harden — not George — whom the Clippers trusted to carry them home. The man known as “The Beard” found a hole in the Mavericks’ defense and did what he’s done for the majority of his career: exploit it until they prove they can stop it.

And they couldn’t.

Harden continually got past his initial defender and hit five feathery floaters before the big man could step up to contest his shot. It was almost like watching a GIF on loop, as the future Hall of Famer did the same thing over … and over … and over … to tear away Dallas’ hope for completing the epic comeback.

This was straight-up vintage Harden — getting his defender on his hip, putting him in jail with hostage dribbles, then forcing the big to choose between a floater and a lob for a dunk. More times than not, the big will live with giving up the floater, because it’s an incredibly difficult shot — especially in the final minutes of a crucial playoff game. But Harden, who played 40 minutes on Sunday, made it look easy.

Needless to say, the Clippers had to get this win. They did not want to go back to L.A. down 3-1 with Leonard’s status in jeopardy for the remainder of the series, even though they’ve won both games against Dallas without their best player. Harden has put up strong postseason performances before, but his confidence and dominance in the clutch on Sunday must reassure the Clippers and their fans moving forward.

After his most recent postseason no-show with the Philadelphia 76ers, Harden excused his lackluster clutch play by saying, “we ran our offense, the ball just didn’t get back to me.” Well, on Sunday, whether by design from head coach Ty Lue or just confidence from teammates, Harden WAS the offense, hearkening back to Harden’s brash proclamation before he even played a single game for the Clippers: “I’m not a system player — I am a system.”

At least for Sunday’s Game 4 win, Harden spoke it into existence. We’ll see how long “the system” can keep functioning at this level as the series gets longer and the pressure continues to build.

30 Apr

2024 NBA playoff picks, Game 4 best bets from proven model

The No. 3 seed Minnesota Timberwolves will try to put the finishing touches on an impressive first-round series when they face the No. 6 seed Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. Minnesota has won three straight games by double digits to get within one win of a sweep in the Western Conference series. The Timberwolves outscored the Suns by 16 points in the third quarter on Friday en route to a 126-109 win. Phoenix averaged 116.2 points per game during the regular season but averages less than 100 points in this series.

Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET. Phoenix is listed as a 1-point favorite in the latest Suns vs. Timberwolves odds from SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 213.5. Before making any Timberwolves vs. Suns picks or NBA predictions, 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 entered 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 Suns vs. Timberwolves and just locked in its picks and Game 4 predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Timberwolves vs. Suns:

Suns vs. Timberwolves spread: Phoenix -1
Suns vs. Timberwolves over/under: 213.5 points
Suns vs. Timberwolves money line: Minnesota -107, Phoenix -113
MIN: The Timberwolves have covered the spread in six of their last eight road games
PHX: The Suns are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven home games against Minnesota
Suns vs. Timberwolves picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Suns can cover
Phoenix still has a talented roster filled with superstars who can help turn this series around. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker both averaged 27.1 points per game during the regular season, while Bradley Beal added 18.2 points and 5.0 assists. Beal had 36 points in a win at Minnesota to close the regular season, and he added 28 points in Friday’s Game 3 loss.

Fourth-leading scorer Grayson Allen, who averages 13.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists, missed Game 3 due to an ankle injury. He had 20 points in the win at Minnesota in the regular-season finale and could return for Game 4. The Suns have covered the spread in six of their last seven home games against Minnesota, which had failed to cover in nine straight meetings between these teams prior to the start of this series. See which team to back at SportsLine.

Why the Timberwolves can cover
Minnesota’s best players have performed at a high level throughout the series, but its depth and balance have been the difference between these teams. The Timberwolves have seven players scoring in double figures through three games, paced by Anthony Edwards at 28 points per game. Center Rudy Gobert is dominating Phoenix in the paint, averaging a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

The Suns are relying heavily on Durant and Booker, who are both sitting well below their season average in points per game during this series. Even if Allen returns, Phoenix has not proven that it can match Minnesota’s depth. The Suns have only covered the spread once in their last five games, while the Timberwolves have covered in six of their past eight road games. See which team to back at SportsLine.

How to make Suns vs. Timberwolves picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 220 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits more than 60% of the time. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

So who wins Timberwolves vs. Suns, and which side of the spread hits over 60% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Suns vs. Timberwolves 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.

26 Feb

Julia Koch in talks to buy minority stake in Brooklyn Nets, per reports

The Brooklyn Nets are in discussions to sell a minority stake in the team to Julia Koch, according to Bloomberg and Sportico.

Koch was married to the late billionaire David Koch. She and her three children — David Jr., Mary Julia and John — are looking to invest in the team, and neither Koch Industries nor any other members of the Koch family are involved, per Sportico.

In the deal, which has yet to be completed, Koch would reportedly acquire approximately 10% of BSE Global, the Nets’ parent company, which also owns Barclays Center, the WNBA’s New York Liberty and the Nets’ practice facility.

Koch has a net worth of $69.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The valuation of the franchise will take into account the NBA’s upcoming broadcast rights deal, per Sportico. It could be as much as $4.8 billion, the New York Post reported, citing industry sources.

Joe Tsai, the co-founder of Alibaba, bought 49% of the Nets from Mikhail Prokhorov in 2018 and the remaining 51% in 2019. That deal valued the team at $2.35 billion, not including Barclays Center. Tsai spent about $3.5 billion to acquire both.

26 Feb

NBA suspends Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart three games for punching Suns’ Drew Eubanks

The NBA has suspended Detroit Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart three games for punching Phoenix Suns center Drew Eubanks on Feb. 14, the league announced Thursday.

The full press release:

The NBA announced today that Detroit Pistons forward-center Isaiah Stewart has been suspended three games without pay for initiating a physical altercation with Phoenix Suns forward-center Drew Eubanks on Feb. 14 before a game between the Pistons and Suns at Footprint Center in Phoenix. Stewart punched and pushed Eubanks during the altercation.

Stewart will begin serving his suspension with the next NBA regular-season game that he is eligible and physically able to play, which is expected to be tonight’s game between the Pistons and Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Stewart has not played since Jan. 28 due to an ankle injury, but, prior to the suspension, but James Edwards III of The Athletic reported Tuesday that he could have potentially been available to play on Thursday.

Stewart was arrested on Feb. 14 and released after being issued a citation for misdemeanor assault. The assault charge filed against him was dismissed on Thursday (Feb. 22), per ESPN.

Here’s what the Phoenix Police Departmennt had to say about an investigation into the incident:

Detectives are investigating an assault that happened late this afternoon between two professional basketball players while in the parking tunnel of the arena in downtown Phoenix.

Around 4:45 p.m. Phoenix police officers were working in a security capacity during a Suns home game at Footprint Arena when they were called to a fight between two players inside the arena’s parking lot. When the officers arrived, they were directed by security to the players involved. The players were identified as 27-year-old Drew Eubanks and 22-year-old Isaiah Stewart.

Officers spoke to both players involved and a number of people who witnesses the incident. They learned there was an argument between both players as they arrived at the arena. Witnesses said the argument escalated when they saw Stewart punch Eubanks, causing a minor injury. Both men were separated by security which ended the fight.

Detectives responded to investigate the incident and collect evidence. Stewart was arrested for assault and issued a citation and released. The investigation remains active.

Assuming that Stewart’s suspension begins Thursday, he will also miss the Pistons’ games against the Orlando Magic on Saturday and the New York Knicks next Monday. The soonest he could return to the court is next Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls. The Suns and Pistons do not play again this season.

26 Feb

Top DraftKings, FanDuel daily Fantasy basketball picks for Thursday, Feb. 22 include Nikola Jokic

The NBA returns to competitive action on Thursday after a week off from regular-season contests. Depending on who you ask, the NBA All-Star Game may or may not count as competitive action, so all players should have received significant rest since last taking the floor for their teams last week. The rested NBA DFS player pool, combined with a 12-game slate, means there are many avenues daily Fantasy basketball players can take when forming their NBA DFS strategy and NBA DFS lineups on sites like FanDuel and DraftKings.

Should you form your NBA DFS lineup with elite superstars such as Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jayson Tatum with some significantly cheaper pieces for NBA DFS picks? Or, could a strong NBA DFS strategy feature taking many similarly priced players for a balanced lineup? The return from the All-Star break doesn’t come at the exact midway point of the NBA season, but it often creates an increased sense or urgency for the postseason push, so how should that affect your NBA DFS strategy? Before making your NBA DFS picks, be sure to check out the NBA DFS advice, player rankings, stacks, and top daily Fantasy basketball picks from SportsLine’s Mike McClure.

McClure is a DFS professional with more than $2 million in career winnings. He’s also a predictive data engineer at SportsLine who uses a powerful prediction model that simulates every minute of every game 10,000 times, taking factors like matchups, statistical trends and injuries into account.

This allows him to find the best NBA DFS values and create optimal lineups that he shares only over at SportsLine. They’re a must-see for any NBA DFS player.

On the Thursday before the NBA All-Star break, McClure highlighted Jazz guard Keyonte George as one of his top picks in his NBA DFS player pool on both sites. The result: George had 33 points, two rebounds, six assists and three steals, returning 54 points on DraftKings and 51.4 points on FanDuel. Anybody who included him in their lineups was well on the way to a profitable day.

McClure has turned his attention to NBA action on Thursday and locked in his top daily Fantasy basketball picks. You can only see them by heading to SportsLine.

Top NBA DFS picks for Thursday, February 22
For Thursday, one of McClure’s top NBA DFS picks is Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who is listed at $11,600 on DraftKings and $12,100 on FanDuel. Jokic is having another MVP-caliber season, posting 26.1 points with 12 rebounds and 8.9 assists per contest. The 6-foot-11 center is fourth in the NBA in rebounds and assists this season, and a rested Jokic will likely be a dangerous Jokic on Thursday night.

Jokic is averaging the second-most rebounds over his eight-year career while averaging at least 26 points for the third time in the last four seasons. The six-time All-Star is about as safe of a play as there is on a nightly basis for NBA DFS lineups due to his ability to contribute in every aspect of the game offensively. The Nuggets play the Wizards, who are allowing the most points in the NBA (123.9 ppg). The two-time NBA MVP had 42 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in his first meeting of the year against Washington and is averaging 38.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists over his last three games against the Wizards.

Another part of McClure’s optimal NBA DFS strategy includes again rostering Jazz guard George ($4,700 on DraftKings and $5,800 on FanDuel). Even after scoring 33 points with six assists on Thursday in his final game before the NBA All-Star break, George’s price remains relatively unchanged on sites like FanDuel and DraftKings. The No. 16 overall pick in the NBA Draft has taken on a much larger role in recent contests, scoring at least 10 points in nine of his last 10 games while averaging six assists over his last four contests.

The 20-year-old is averaging 11.7 points and 4.3 assists per game and has played at least 29 minutes in each of his last four games. The Jazz play the Hornets, who turned a 10-game losing streak into a three-game winning streak before the All-Star break. But still, the Hornets are allowing the seventh-most ppg (119.4), and George had 10 points in only 13 minutes in their first meeting this season. With George receiving a much larger workload now than he did in the first meeting, McClure expects the rookie to continue to outperform his price tag for NBA DFS lineups on Thursday. See McClure’s other NBA DFS picks right here.

How to set your NBA DFS lineups for Thursday, February 22
McClure is also targeting a player who could go off for massive numbers on Thursday because of a dream matchup. This pick could be the difference between winning your tournaments and cash games or going home with nothing. You can only see who it is here.

24 Jan

2024 NBA picks, January 19 predictions from proven model

The Indiana Pacers will face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in an interconference matchup on Friday. Portland is 11-29 overall and 6-12 at home, while Indiana is 24-17 overall and 11-9 on the road. Pascal Siakam is expected to make his debut for the Pacers after being acquired from the Raptors earlier in the week.

Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. ET at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. Indiana is a 5-point favorite in the latest Trail Blazers vs. Pacers odds, according to the SportsLine consensus, and the over/under is 238 points. Before entering any Pacers vs. Trail Blazers picks, you need to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s advanced computer simulation 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 13 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 42-23 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,000. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

The model has set its sights on Indiana vs. Portland. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Pacers vs. Blazers:

Trail Blazers vs. Pacers spread: Pacers -5
Trail Blazers vs. Pacers over/under: 238 points
Trail Blazers vs. Pacers money line: Trail Blazers: +168, Pacers: -204
IND: The Pacers are 3-1 against the spread as a road favorite
POR: The Blazers are 5-2 ATS with no rest and are coming off playing last night
Trail Blazers vs. Pacers picks: See picks at SportsLine
What to know about the Pacers
The Pacers are expected to see their first returns on the trade that brought in Siakam from the Raptors. The Pacers traded Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora and three first-round picks to the Raptors for the athletic 6-foot-8 forward. Siakam was averaging 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game for Toronto this season. The 29-year-old averaged 24.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game last season in making his second All-Star team over his eight-year NBA career.

Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) was listed as questionable before Portland’s contest with the Nets on Thursday but didn’t play, so if he can return less than two weeks after what looked to be a serious injury at the time, that would provide a huge lift for the Pacers. Indiana defeated the Kings, 126-121, on Thursday behind 25 points from Bennedict Mathurin. T.J. McConnell had 20 points and 10 assists, while Jalen Smith added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Be sure to keep an eye on the injury report heading into this matchup. See which team to pick here.

What to know about the Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers snapped their four-game losing streak with a 105-103 home victory over the Nets on Thursday. Anfernee Simons, who had 20 points, hit the winning basket on a floating jumper with 0.2 seconds left to break the tie at 103. Jerami Grant led Portland with 30 points and eight rebounds, while Duop Reath added 17 points and seven rebounds on 7 of 9 shooting.

Simons leads the Trail Blazers in scoring at 22.9 points per game with Grant adding 21.4 ppg. Portland plays at one of the slowest paces in the NBA (20th in the league), as opposed to the Pacers who like to run and play at the second-fastest pace. The Trail Blazers are 7-7 ATS as a home underdog this season, including 3-0 ATS over their last three home contests as the underdogs. Whichever team controls the pace will have a huge advantage in this matchup. Shaedon Sharpe (abdominal) is out for Friday. See which team to pick here.

How to make Trail Blazers vs. Pacers picks
The model has simulated Pacers vs. Blazers 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning Over, and it also says one side of the spread hits almost 60% of the time. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

24 Jan

Anthony Edwards’ dunking legend grows with self-alley-oop off the backboard against Grizzlies

A few years ago, Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards was asked if he would ever participate in the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend. His response was short and sweet: “Nope.”

The reason?

“I’m an in-game dunker,” Edwards said.

That he is, and his legend grew on Thursday when he threw an alley-oop to himself off the backboard in a 118-103 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Late in the third quarter, Edwards was trying to make something happen in isolation, but wasn’t having much success in shaking Xavier Tillman Sr. After picking the ball up at the free throw line, Edwards seemed stuck, but instead of tossing up a low-percentage jumper, he threw the ball off the glass to himself and then threw down the jam.

“That was crazy,” Edwards said. “That was probably my best dunk of my career.”


⭐️ » https://t.co/adpbBYDQ4T pic.twitter.com/Slhm57U20Y

— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 19, 2024
“Swashbuckling and slamming!” was Kevin Harlan’s emphatic call on the broadcast. That just about sums it up.

Here’s a look at a bunch of other angles, all of which are worth watching. The first one, in particular, where you can see the bench’s reaction at the end is awesome.

because you need to see every angle. https://t.co/NNZ6EAmyWv pic.twitter.com/V7QzPBbW4t

— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 19, 2024
“I pretty much did a double between-the legs and I was just trying to get to a spot, like an elbow spot, and he kind cut me off,” Edwards, who finished with 28 points, five rebounds and five assists, added post-game. “I didn’t have nobody to pass to and I pump faked and he jumped, so I was like I might as well try it. I seen somebody do it in the All-Star Game. It did work.”

Edwards clearly enjoyed this dunk, but you can make a case that it wasn’t even his best of the week. In a win over the Detroit PIstons on Wednesday, he exploded to the rim for an unbelievable slam.

Anthony Edwards rises up in traffic and throws it down 😤

Timberwolves-Pistons | Live on the NBA App
📲 https://t.co/hLBL0VW9sq pic.twitter.com/5NPpANS6EP

— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2024
Edwards is not a high-volume dunker — he had 30 entering Thursday night — but he makes the most of them. That’s been true ever since he put Yuta Watanabe on a poster during his rookie season. As fun as it would be to see Edwards in the Dunk Contest, it’s hard to complain when he’s putting on a show like this in games throughout the regular season.

24 Jan

2024 NBA picks, January 19 predictions from proven model

The Charlotte Hornets will host the San Antonio Spurs in a cross-conference matchup on Friday’s NBA schedule. Charlotte is 8-30 overall and 4-13 at home, while San Antonio is 7-33 overall and 4-17 on the road. San Antonio had a 36-point victory over Charlotte just last week, which ended a five-game win streak for the Hornets in the head-to-head series. The Spurs are 17-22-1 against the spread this season, while the Hornets are 13-23-2 versus the line.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. The Hornets are favored by 4.5 points in the latest Spurs vs. Hornets odds, per SportsLine consensus, and the over/under is 235.5 points. Before entering any Hornets vs. Spurs picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions from the 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 13 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 42-23 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,000. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

The model has set its sights on San Antonio vs. Charlotte. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Spurs vs. Hornets:

Hornets vs. Spurs spread: Hornets -4.5
Hornets vs. Spurs over/under: 235.5 points
Hornets vs. Spurs money line: Hornets: -187, Spurs: +156
Hornets vs. Spurs picks: See picks at SportsLine
What you need to know about the Hornets
The Hornets’ recent rough patch got a bit rougher on Wednesday after their sixth straight loss. They suffered a bruising 132-112 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans. Despite their loss, the Hornets saw several players rise to the challenge and make noteworthy plays. Terry Rozier, who went 7 for 11 from beyond the arc en route to 25 points and four assists, was perhaps the best of all. LaMelo Ball was another key contributor, scoring 29 points with seven assists and five rebounds.

Charlotte struggles on both ends, ranking in the bottom four in both offensive rating and defensive rating. The lack of offensive production may come as a surprise, as Charlotte has three players averaging at least 20 points per game, among its seven players averaging in double-figures. However, they aren’t the most efficient scorers as the Hornets rank 27th in 3-pointers made, 28th in field goal percentage and 30th in free throws made. Gordon Hayward (calf) and Mark Williams (back) are out, while No. 2 overall pick, Brandon Miller (back) is listed as questionable. See which team to pick here.

What you need to know about the Spurs
Meanwhile, the Spurs’ recent rough patch got a bit rougher on Wednesday after their third straight loss. They ended up on the wrong side of a painful 117-98 walloping at the hands of the Boston Celtics. The Spurs were in a tough position after the first half, with the score already sitting at 70-45. Top overall pick Victor Wembanyama led San Antonio with 27 points, but the Spurs are holding him out of Friday’s game due to rest.

San Antonio is 0-5 straight up when Wembanyama sits and 2-3 against the spread. With him out, the Spurs will have to rely more on Devin Vassell (17.7 points per game) and Keldon Johnson (16.9 PPG). The potential return of Zach Collins also looms large with Wembanyama’s absence as he’s missed the last nine games with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable for Friday. See which team to pick here.

Key Betting Info
Some of the betting trends to consider are:

The Hornets are 2-8-1 against the spread in their last 11 games vs teams that win less than 45 percent of games.
The Hornets are 10-21-2 against the spread in their last 33 games after a day off.
The Spurs are 16-18-1 against the spread in their last 35 games after a day off.
How to make Hornets vs. Spurs picks
The model has simulated Spurs vs. Hornets 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning Under, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that hits in 60% of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.