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Best bets for final ESPN games before All-Star break

Cleveland and Philadelphia face off in a possible playoff preview, while New Orleans at LA is at best a play-in preview.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers
Jarrett Allen will have his hands full defending Joel Embiid.
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

There’s just one more night of games before the NBA takes a break to celebrate its All-Stars and, for most players, the balmy February temperatures in Cancun. But before the league’s hiatus for dunk contests and limbo contests (don’t bet on Bol Bol, trust us), we have two big games on ESPN.

First, two of the league’s top defensive teams and their rock-sold defensive frontcourts meet in Philadelphia. The Cleveland Cavaliers - first in points allowed - visit the Philadelphia 76ers - third in points allowed - in a matchup of two Eastern Conference squads battling for the third seed and the chance to avoid the Boston Celtics for the first month of the playoffs. Philadelphia fans are still reeling from losing the World Series and the Super Bowl, and they’ll be taking out their disappointment on a city who couldn’t even dream of reaching the Super Bowl.

Then, it’s two Western Conference teams trying to overcome injuries to their stars to reach the playoffs in the first place. The New Orleans Pelicans face their old star, Anthony Davis, with their new star, Brandon Ingram, coming back to his original NBA city. All-time scoring champion LeBron James likely won’t play, so the new-look Lakers should have plenty of time for five new additions to the roster, including the recently-unsuspended Mo Bamba.

It’s your last chance for a little while for NBA basketball, and your last chance for single-game parlays! Because betting on the All-Star Game might be the sign of a problem.

Draft Kings Odds

Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers

The Cavs are favored by one point and the over/under is 216.5, as the oddsmakers are expecting a defensive showdown. Cleveland’s missing the ill Ricky Rubio (he’s sick, not a rapper from the 80’s) and Cedi Osman, while Philadelphia has Joel Embiid listed as “questionable.” Of course, he’s been listed as questionable for 16 straight games, and played in 15 of them - we should expect to see the big guy out there.

We believe in Embiid, and we believe in his connection with James Harden, who has more assists to Embiid than any pair of players in the league.

We believe in that connection, and we believe in this parlay: Sixers +1.5 points, along with a Harden double-double and an Embiid double-double. (+260) We also like Philadelphia on the money line + James Harden scoring 20+ points and Embiid scoring 30+ points, for +370.

What can we expect in this game, more than anything? Missed shots. That’s why we heartily endorse this longshot parlay of the Sixers on the money line, coupled with both Embiid and Jarrett Allen grabbing 12+ rebounds. That pays out at +1100. If you like the Cavs on the money line instead, the payout is the same. Pick a side, Draft Kings!

For a real long shot, there’s the Donovan Mitchell Special. It pays +4000 if Cleveland’s All-Start starter can rack up:

  • 30+ points
  • 5+ assists
  • 5+ rebounds
  • 2+ steals
  • 1+ block

That’s a lot of different stats to depend on, but for that kind of payout, worth a flyer!

New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles is favored by 4.5 points, even though New Orleans beat them by five in NOLA last week. After a ten-game losing streak, the Pels have won four out of five, even with Zion Williamson sidelined indefinitely with a bad hamstring.

Because this game features some of the most injury-prone superstars in the league, we’ll get the injury report out of the way first. LeBron James is questionable with what’s listed an ankle injury, but has been described as “unbearable foot pain.” We’re guessing he sits. Anthony Davis, who is no longer on Instagram because Lakers fans needed someone to harass with Russell Westbrook gone, is probably to play, despite his own foot injury.

New Orleans won’t have Zion for a few more weeks. Rookie Dyson Daniels is out, and C.J. McCollum is questionable with a sore ankle. Going into the week-long break, we expect McCollum to sit, which will determine our parlay action.

Those won’t include betting on McCollum or Davis, the NBA player most likely to head to the locker room after a scary fall, regardless of the result. That means we like riding Brandon Ingram, especially parlaying Ingram scoring 30+ points with Herb Jones getting 2+ steals. That’s +475. If you really believe in BI trying to show up his old team, doing the same parlay with Ingram getting 35+ points will pay out at +1000.

We also like a simple parlay, taking New Orleans +4.5, with Ingram getting 30+ points, 5+ assists, and 5+ rebounds for +700. In general ,we aren’t expecting a lot of defense. Try New Orleans +4.5, Ingram going for 30+, and the game going OVER 234.5 points for +625.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

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