Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics - Game Five
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All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Celtics at 76ers, 7:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN

  • Key Trend: Harden is averaging 41 PAR per game in the series, but has only gone over 35.5 in two of the first five games.
  • The Pick: James Harden Under 35.5 Points, Assists & Rebounds (-113)

James Harden has done a good job of putting to bed the narratives about his performance in the postseason. That said, while he's played well in this series more often than not, he hasn't been playing at a level that surpasses the total listed on this prop with regularity.

  • In Game 1, Harden finished with 52 PAR, but 45 of them were points.
  • In Game 4, he finished at 59, but again, 42 were points. In other words, unless he's going off for 40+ points, he hasn't reached this total.
  • In the other three games of the series, Harden has averaged 31.3 PAR per game and hasn't gone over 35 in any of them.

I don't see him going off for 40+ points tonight. It's been out of desperation when he has, as nobody else on the Sixers was giving him much help. At home, with a chance to put this series to bed, I anticipate Philly's role players to perform better. I also expect Tyrese Maxey to have another solid game, given his confidence boost from Game 5. Then, of course, there's Joel Embiid. If Embiid is truly the MVP, then tonight's game is the kind of game when he steps to the forefront.

Finally, while Harden has been good in the playoffs the last few years, tonight is slightly different. The Sixers have a chance to end this series. Perhaps the shaky performances we've seen from Harden in elimination games earlier in his career creep up again tonight. After all, it's not like he didn't shoot a combined 5-for-28 in Games 2 and 3. He hasn't wholly exorcised those demons.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The SportsLine Projection Model and two of our SportsLine handicappers are leaning toward one side of the total tonight.

💰 More NBA picks

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four
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The Pick: P.J. Tucker Over 0.5 Assists (-244) -- A little secret for anybody who reads past The Hot Ticket; while I believe in that play with complete confidence, this is my favorite play for the night. It felt strange to lead the newsletter with the biggest game of the evening and make a small prop like this one the primary play for the night. It could be cashed by the end of the first quarter, and then what do we do?

But, yeah, I know the juice is heavy on this one, but I'm not worried about it. P.J. Tucker's role on the Sixers isn't to score points or take shots. It's to do the dirty work: set screens, elbow guys in the ribs, stuff like that. In between, however, he touches the ball and passes it to his teammates. He's averaging an assist per game in the series and has at least one assist in eight of Philadelphia's nine playoff games.

Nuggets at Suns, 10 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Kevin Durant Over 5.5 Assists (-139) -- 
It's easy to assume that because a player is great, they won't have a hard time fitting in anywhere in the league, but that's not always the case. Kevin Durant appeared in eight games with the Suns before the playoffs started. He's still figuring out how to play with his teammates, and they're figuring out how to play with him. And that familiarity and Chris Paul being injured have caused a shift in Durant this series.

In the first two games, Durant finished with four assists. In Game 3, he had eight, and he's followed it up with six and seven in the last two games. That's an average of 7.3 assists per game over the last three, and while it's not a big sample size, Paul is out again tonight. Durant should continue to play more of a facilitator role while the Suns lean on Devin Booker to carry the scoring.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: I've said it here before, and nothing's changed. If SportsLine's Allie O'Neill is giving out a play on an NHL total, bet it.