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Ranking the five craziest moments from Indiana’s instant classic overtime win

After trading blowouts in Games 1 and 2 of their first-round series, the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers delivered an instant classic on Friday evening. It was a good thing Game 3 started at 5:30 p.m. local time, as it took three hours for the Pacers to secure a thrilling 121-118 win in overtime.

The Pacers jumped out to a 17-point lead at the end of the first quarter, which also included a frightening moment for the Bucks when Damian Lillard limped to the locker room with an apparent knee injury. Neither he nor his team was willing to give up, however, and the Bucks began chipping away at the Pacers’ lead once he returned to the floor in the second quarter.

By the opening minutes of the fourth, Lillard had put the Bucks in front for the first time, and from there, the two teams traded blows the rest of the way. Here’s a look at the five craziest moments from one of the best games of the playoffs so far:

  1. Pacers keep the ball for nearly two minutes, but don’t score
    The Pacers’ offensive rebounding was a key factor in their win. They were relentless on the glass, pulling down 19 offensive rebounds that turned into 32 second chance points. Ironically, their best sequence in that category did not result in any points.

With 3:23 remaining in overtime, Brook Lopez missed a floater that kept the game at 113-113. The Bucks would not touch the ball again until 1:38 to play. That was because the Pacers recovered their own miss five times in a row during a stunning stretch of action.

First, Aaron Nesmith missed an open 3-pointer that Bobby Portis tipped out of bounds.
On the ensuing try, Tyrese Haliburton bricked a 3 of his own, but Nesmith tipped the ball out to Andrew Nembhard.
Then it was Pascal Siakam’s turn. His jumper came up short as well, but Nembhard snuck in between two Bucks to grab the board.
Haliburton took the Pacers’ fourth shot, but it was never going in. Once again, though, Nembhard managed to come up with the ball in traffic.
After Nembhard drew a foul on Khris Middleton, the Pacers got the ball back to Haliburton, but he missed yet another try from downtown. This time, it was Nesmith who chased after the ball in the corner and kept it alive.
Surprisingly, Haliburton found himself wide open at the top of the key in the ensuing scramble. He could have brought the house down with a make, but it was not to be.
When the Bucks got a leak out on the final miss to take the lead, it seemed certain that the Pacers would look back on that period with great regret.

  1. Nesmith thought he won it
    Nesmith had a rough shooting night (3-of-13), but he came up clutch on multiple occasions down the stretch. First, at the end of regulation, he made two pressurized free throws to give the Pacers a three-point lead. Then, as time wound down in overtime, he hit the biggest shot of his career to date.

With the game tied at 115-115 and the shot clock winding down, Siakam whipped a pass out to Nesmith in the corner. While he was wide open, he had to make a tough catch and get the shot off before the buzzer, with the Bucks’ bench screaming in his ear. He was unfazed and drained the triple to put the Pacers up by three with 14.4 seconds left.

AARON NESMITH DRILLS THE 3 TO GIVE THE PACERS A 3-POINT LEAD 🔥@Bucks 115@Pacers 118

14.4 seconds remaining in OT on ESPN 🍿 pic.twitter.com/rxHmOh2ZX9

— NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2024

  1. Middleton Mania Part I
    Khris Middleton has had his fair share of clutch moments for the Bucks over the years, including a game-tying shot from the hashmark with 0.5 seconds left in the 2018 playoffs against the Boston Celtics. Late in regulation on Friday, he pulled off a repeat from nearly the exact same spot.

The Bucks appeared to be stuck, but Middleton took a hand-off from Lopez, worked his way around multiple defenders and got just enough space for a leaning heave that somehow went in and kept the Bucks alive.

MIDDLETON TIES THE GAME AT 111 🤯🤯🤯

PACERS BALL… 1.4 SECONDS REMAINING ON ESPN 🍿 pic.twitter.com/yXyV8nMQqj

— NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2024

  1. Middleton Mania Part II
    If Middleton’s shot to force overtime wasn’t crazy enough, he nearly forced another extra frame with an even more ridiculous shot. After Nesmith’s 3-pointer in the corner, the Bucks called timeout and drew up a play for Middleton to come off a screen from Brook Lopez and catch the ball at the top of the key.

It worked, but Myles Turner recovered well and forced Middleton to put some extra arc on his attempt. Middleton’s altered effort was indeed going way long, but he was perfectly positioned at the top of the key and so it hit the backboard and dropped through the net to tie the game.

KHRIS MIDDLETON AGAIN… HE TIES THE GAME AT 118 🤯🤯🤯

6.7 REMAINING. PACERS BALL. ESPN. https://t.co/YFVr8ct9iq pic.twitter.com/Yko1YyTzDk

— NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2024

  1. Haliburton’s game-winner
    Haliburton has not always looked like himself since coming back from his hamstring injury earlier this season, but he did on the Pacers’ final play of the game.

Perhaps the only downside of Middleton’s banked-in 3 to tie the game from the Bucks’ perspective is that he made it with 6.7 seconds remaining, which gave the Pacers a lot of time to respond. Rick Carlisle took advantage by drawing up a play to get Haliburton the ball in the backcourt, which allowed his point guard to build up a head of steam towards the basket.

HALI… THE AND-1 FLOATER FOR THE LEAD 🔥

Bucks ball with 1.6 seconds remaining on ESPN pic.twitter.com/WoLS03jD61

— NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2024
Hailburton sped downhill, crossed over Patrick Beverley and converted a tough and-one floater to win the game.

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Russell Westbrook, PJ Washington ejected from Game 3 after hard foul on Luka Doncic

Friday’s Game 3 between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers was testy from the jump, and it was only a matter of time until things came to a boil. That’s exactly what happened midway through the fourth quarter of Dallas’ 101-90 win, when Clippers guard Russell Westbrook and Mavericks forward PJ Washington were both ejected following Westbrook’s hard foul on Luka Doncic.

With just over six minutes left in the game and the Clippers trailing by 16 points, Westbrook grabbed Doncic as he drove past him, causing Doncic to spin out of control. Doncic then approached Westbrook, which prompted the Clippers guard to push him out of the way. Washington entered the fray, pushing Westbrook from behind, which led to Westbrook shoving a hard left hand into Washington’s chest. Westbrook also attempted to shove away one of the officials as he was being restrained.

Russell Westbrook going at it with Luka Doncic and PJ Washington pic.twitter.com/hatWxTVi8Z

— Beastbrook (@Beastbr00k0) April 27, 2024
Westbrook received two technical fouls for his actions, grounds for an automatic ejection, while Washington also received a technical foul — his second of the game — so he was tossed as well.

The skirmish came in the aftermath of a flagrant foul by Westbrook in the second quarter, in which he struck Mavericks forward Josh Green in the head during a dunk attempt.

Russell Westbrook has been charged with a flagrant foul on Josh Green. #MFFL | @dallasmavs on @BallySports 📺 pic.twitter.com/rsMbvXcwti

— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) April 27, 2024
After the foul, Westbrook appeared to scream obscenities at the America Airlines Center crowd.

The league will likely review both the flagrant foul and the situation that led to Westbrook’s ejection, potentially issuing further fines and/or suspensions if deemed necessary.

Westbrook was in the middle of a horrendous offensive performance at the time of his ejection, scoring just one point on 0-for-7 shooting. He added two blocks and a steal defensively, while pulling down three rebounds and dishing out one assist. Doncic led the Mavericks with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, while Washington contributed 10 points, five rebounds and three steals.

The Mavericks will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Sunday’s Game 4, and there’s at least a slight possibility that Westbrook may be prohibited from taking part in it.

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2024 NBA picks, Feb. 22 best bets from proven computer model

The Boston Celtics (43-12) will try to extend their six-game winning streak when they face the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. Boston’s most recent outing was a 136-86 blowout win over the Nets last Wednesday, and the Celtics are six games ahead of Cleveland for first place in the Eastern Conference. Chicago lost two of its final three games before the All-Star break, including a 108-105 setback at Cleveland last Wednesday. The Bulls are in ninth place in the conference, sitting four games behind eighth-place Orlando.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. ET on Thursday at the United Center. The Celtics are favored by 8.5 points in the latest Bulls vs. Celtics odds, while the over/under is 225.5 points per SportsLine consensus. Before entering any Celtics vs. Bulls 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 18 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 60-36 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,300. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

The model has set its sights on Boston vs. Chicago. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA betting lines for the game:

Bulls vs. Celtics spread: Bulls +8.5
Bulls vs. Celtics over/under: 225.5 points
Bulls vs. Celtics money line: Bulls: +274, Celtics: -342
Bulls vs. Celtics picks: See picks here
Why the Bulls can cover
Chicago will be excited for a chance to play against the top team in the Eastern Conference at home, especially since it has not played at the United Center since Feb. 6. The Bulls beat the Western Conference-leading Timberwolves as 5.5 underdogs in that outing, powered by 33 points apiece from DeMar DeRozan and Coby White. They trailed by 23 points in that game before rallying for an impressive victory.

Veteran Andre Drummond had 16 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks, while Nikola Vucevic added 24 points. The Bulls picked up wins at Memphis and Atlanta during their four-game road trip, and every game matters with their current playoff positioning. They have covered the spread in four of their last five games, while the Celtics have only covered twice in their last 10 contests.

Why the Celtics can cover
Boston has won eight straight games against Eastern Conference opponents and has won six consecutive games overall. The Celtics closed the first half of the season with a 136-86 win over Brooklyn last Wednesday, giving Joe Mazzulla his 100th win as the head coach. Point guard Payton Pritchard, who is only averaging 8.1 points per game, poured in 28 points in the win over the Nets.

All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 56 points in the East’s win over the West in the All-Star Game, adding to their momentum. The Celtics have five players averaging double digits, led by Tatum (27.1 points per game) and Brown (22.0). Chicago has not been over the .500 mark this season and has only covered the spread three times in its last 11 games against Atlantic Division opponents. See which team to pick here.

How to make Bulls vs. Celtics picks
The model has simulated Celtics vs. Bulls 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 is hitting in well over 50% of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

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Lakers star out vs. Warriors with ankle issue, putting 40,000-point chase on hold

LeBron James will miss the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, the team announced Wednesday. He is listed as out with left ankle peroneal tendinopathy.

James was excused from Wednesday’s practice. Before the All-Star break, he missed the Lakers’ game against the Utah Jazz last Wednesday because of the ankle issue.

On Sunday in Indianapolis, James said he got treatment “the last few days, trying to get my ankle as strong and as back to where I feel confident that I can finish off this last third of the season,” and he’d get more treatment the next day. He played only 14 minutes in the All-Star Game, all in the first half, and said that he is trying “to be as healthy as I can be physically” because “this last part of the season is very important for us.”

The Lakers have won six of their last seven games, but, because so many teams near them in the Western Conference standings have been seeing similar success, they haven’t made up much ground. With 26 games remaining in the regular season, Los Angeles is 30-26 and ninth in the West, with a slightly negative point differential. Golden State is in 10th place at 27-26.

James is averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists in 34.9 minutes in his 21st season. Already the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, he is 132 points away from becoming the first player in league history to reach the 40,000-point mark James is on pace to do it in his sixth game after the break (March 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, assuming he’s in the lineup for every game after Thursday’s) .

Los Angeles also announced that backup big man Christian Wood has an effusion (i.e. swelling) in his left knee and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks. The Lakers are optimistic that this is a minor, short-term issue, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

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2024 NBA picks for Feb. 22 from proven model

We’ve got another exciting Central Division matchup on Thursday’s NBA schedule as the Indiana Pacers will host the Detroit Pistons. Indiana is 31-25 overall and 17-11 at home, while Detroit is 8-46 overall and 4-23 on the road. The Pacers have won the two previous matchups this season after the teams split four meetings last season. The Pistons are 27-27 versus the spread in the 2023-24 NBA season, while the Pacers are 29-25-3 versus the number.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Pacers are favored by 11.5 points in the latest Pistons vs. Pacers odds, per SportsLine consensus, and the over/under is 246.5 points. Before entering any Pacers vs. Pistons 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 18 of the 2023-24 NBA season on a sizzling 60-36 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning nearly $2,300. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

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

Pacers vs. Pistons spread: Pacers -11.5
Pacers vs. Pistons over/under: 246.5 points
Pacers vs. Pistons money line: Pacers: -705, Pistons: +497
Pacers vs. Pistons picks: See picks at SportsLine
What you need to know about the Pacers
The oddsmakers set the bar high, but the Pacers and the Toronto Raptors didn’t disappoint and broke past the 245.5 point over/under last Wednesday. Indiana skirted past the Raptors 127-125. Indiana’s success was the result of a balanced attack that saw several players step up, but Tyrese Haliburton led the charge by shooting 5-for-9 from beyond the arc and dropping a double-double on 21 points and 12 assists. The team also got some help courtesy of Pascal Siakam, who scored 23 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds.

Indiana’s offense has slowed a bit since a hot start to the season, but it still leads the NBA in points per game and field goal percentage while ranking second in offensive rating. Siakam is shooting a blistering 57.1% from the floor since being traded from Toronto, and he’s filling up the box score with averages of 21.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists with the Pacers. Indiana has seven players on its current roster averaging in double-figures, but one of those in Aaron Nesmith (12.6 ppg) is out on Thursday with an ankle injury. See which team to pick here.

What you need to know about the Pistons
Meanwhile, the Pistons’ recent rough patch got a bit rougher last Wednesday after their third straight loss. They took a hard 116-100 fall against the Phoenix Suns. The Pistons have struggled against the Suns recently, as their match last Wednesday was their seventh consecutive lost matchup. New acquisition Simone Fontecchio led Detroit with 18 points in the defeat.

Detroit made lots of transactions before the trade deadline, but a couple of constants have been Cade Cunningham and Jalen Duren. The former leads the team with 21.9 points and 7.5 assists, while Duren is fifth in the NBA with 12 rebounds per game, to go along with 14 points per night. Detroit owns a sparkling 12-4 ATS record over its last 16 games. See which team to pick here.

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

The Pistons are 9-4 against the spread in their last 13 games when the spread was between +10 to +13.
The Pacers are 27-17-3 against the spread in their last 47 games after a day off.
The Pistons are 6-4 against the spread in their last 10 games vs teams that win 45-55 percent of games.
How to make Pacers vs. Pistons picks
The model has simulated Pistons vs. Pacers 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 is hitting in well over 60% of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

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Draymond Green says Grizzlies’ GG Jackson II had a grudge against Steph Curry before beating the Warriors

Monday marked the long-awaited return of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. However, Green’s return was spoiled by the Memphis Grizzlies as they defeated the Warriors 116-107 despite being shorthanded in the matchup.

One of the biggest reasons for the Grizzlies’ success was the play of rookie forward GG Jackson II. Jackson, who is the NBA’s youngest player at just 19 years old, ended up scoring 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting while also securing six rebounds in the win.

Jackson certainly had some added motivation for the contest as he revealed to Green that he was actually uninvited from Steph Curry’s camp in his younger days.

“[GG Jackson] waited for Steph at the half court line. He said, ‘Man, I got uninvited from your camp.’ Steph was like, ‘I remember that.’ I learned that it was very personal for GG,” Green said on The Volume Sports.

Green added that Jackson should definitely be invited to Curry’s camp this coming summer.

Jackson thrived off the bench for the Grizzlies as he connected on five of his eight attempts from beyond the arc. He was one of six Memphis players that finished the game in double figures. Only Vince Williams Jr. (24 points) scored more than Jackson.

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2024 NBA picks, January 17 predictions from proven model

The Detroit Pistons will face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena. Detroit is 4-36 overall and 2-17 at home, while Minnesota is 28-11 overall and 12-9 on the road. The Timberwolves have won five of the last seven meetings between these two teams.

The Timberwolves are favored by 11.5 points in the latest Pistons vs. Timberwolves odds, and the over/under is 223 points. Before entering any Timberwolves vs. Pistons picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions from the proven computer 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 Minnesota vs. Detroit. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA betting lines for the game:

Pistons vs. Timberwolves spread: Pistons +11.5
Pistons vs. Timberwolves over/under: 223 points
Pistons vs. Timberwolves money line: Pistons: +502, Timberwolves: -704
Pistons vs. Timberwolves picks: See picks here
What you need to know about the Pistons
The Pistons had to suffer through a seven-game losing streak, but that streak is no more. Detroit walked away with a 129-117 victory over Washington on Monday.

The Pistons’ victory was a true team effort, with many players turning in solid performances. Perhaps the best among them was Alec Burks, who went 8 for 12 from beyond the arc en route to 34 points and two assists. That’s the first time this season that Burks scored 30 or more points. Another player making a difference was Jalen Duren, who dropped a double-double with 20 points and 19 rebounds.

What you need to know about the Timberwolves
Meanwhile, winning is just a little bit easier when your shooting is a whole 13.3% better than the opposition, a fact the Timberwolves proved on Sunday. They secured a 109-105 victory over the Clippers. The win made it back-to-back victories for Minnesota.

Anthony Edwards was the offensive standout in that matchup, recording 33 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists. For the season, Edwards is averaging 26.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

How to make Timberwolves vs. Pistons picks
The model has simulated Pistons vs. Timberwolves 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning Over, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in almost 60% of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

Byadmin

2024 NBA picks, January 17 predictions from proven model

We’ve got another exciting Eastern Conference matchup on Wednesday’s NBA schedule as the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat are set to tip at 7:30 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto is 15-25 overall and 9-10 at home, while Miami is 24-16 overall and 12-9 on the road. The Raptors have won three of the last four head-to-head meetings with the Heat outright, and they’ve covered the spread in four of five.

This season, the Raptors are 20-20 against the spread while the Heat are 19-20-1 against the number. On Wednesday, Miami is favored by 1.5 points in the latest Raptors vs. Heat odds, per SportsLine consensus, and the over/under is 227.5 points. Before entering any Heat vs. Raptors 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 Miami vs. Toronto. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Heat vs. Raptors:

Raptors vs. Heat spread: Raptors +1.5
Raptors vs. Heat over/under: 227.5 points
Raptors vs. Heat money line: Raptors: +106, Heat: -125
Raptors vs. Heat picks: See picks at SportsLine
What you need to know about the Raptors
The Raptors fell 105-96 to the Boston Celtics on Monday. Recent acquisition RJ Barrett had 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the loss, and Immanuel Quickley, another part of the OG Anunoby trade with the Knicks, had 21 points, six rebounds and three assists.

However, Toronto shot just 40.0% from the floor and went a staggering 4-for-32 from the 3-point line. It was the worst shooting performance from beyond the arc of the season for the Raptors, and it should come as no surprise that they are 0-4 when they shoot worse than 20% from deep as a team. Jakob Poeltl (ankle) is out for Wednesday, while Gary Trent Jr. (illness) is questionable. See which team to pick here.

What you need to know about the Heat
Meanwhile, it may have taken overtime to finish the job, but the Heat ultimately got the result they hoped for on Monday. They escaped with a win against the Brooklyn Nets, 96-95. The Heat can attribute much of their success to Jimmy Butler, who scored 31 points to go along with five rebounds.

It was Butler’s first game back after missing more than two weeks with a foot injury and he didn’t appear to be restricted, playing 40 minutes in the victory. Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo both secured double-doubles in the win, with Herro putting up 29 points and 11 rebounds while Adebayo had 11 points and 20 rebounds. Miami will be without Jaime Jaquez Jr. (groin) and Kevin Love (knee) for Wednesday. See which team to pick here.

Key Betting Info
The Raptors will be relying on another big game from Scottie Barnes to pull off a victory. For the season, Barnes has averaged 20.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest.

Some of the betting trends to consider are:

The Heat are 9-5-1 against the spread in their last 15 games when the spread was between -4 to -1.
The Heat are 11-8-2 against the spread in their last 21 games when on the road.
The Raptors are 12-12 against the spread in their last 24 games when not the favorite.
How to make Raptors vs. Heat picks
The model has simulated Raptors vs. Heat 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning Under and it also says one side of the spread hits in well over 50% of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

Byadmin

How Mavericks rookie Dereck Lively II quickly turned into one of Dallas’ most important players

If you believe in the multiverse then there’s a world in which the Dallas Mavericks don’t rest their starters for the final two games of last season, win both, still miss the Play-In Tournament but lose their draft pick to the New York Knicks to complete the last bit of the Kristaps Porzingis trade from 2019. In that world, Dereck Lively II is drafted elsewhere, and the Mavericks are either paying Clint Capela the remaining $42.86 million of his contract after trading for him, digging the bottom of the barrel to find a center in free agency or trotting out Dwight Powell as their starting center once again.

All of those realities are significantly worse than this one where Lively — with only 30 games under his belt — has already become Dallas’ best center since Tyson Chandler in 2011. The bar is incredibly low to claim that title, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that as a rookie Lively is one of the most important players on this Mavs roster every night. He proved that once again Monday afternoon against the Pelicans, where he returned from a five-game absence due to a left ankle sprain and immediately made an impact. It was a modest statline — six points, 12 rebounds — but seven of those boards were on the offensive glass, which led to crucial second-chance opportunities for Dallas to sneak out a win without Luka Doncic.

“His offensive rebounds — they gave us second opportunities — and then his defensive rebounds were huge for us, which we missed in that first game [against New Orleans],” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said of Lively following the win. “I thought late in the game, he came up with some great opportunities for us to get second or third opportunities at the basket, which we needed. Just his presence on the floor — the guys trust him. For his first game back for a while, I thought he did great. We missed him and we’re happy that he’s back.”

Lively’s performance gave the perfect side-by-side example of how the Mavericks play with and without him. Two days prior to Monday’s meeting with the Pelicans, the Mavericks faced New Orleans without Lively, and were defenseless against Jonas Valanciunas, who couldn’t be kept off the glass. Five of Valanciunas’ 12 rebounds where on the offensive end, and the Pelicans benefited with 24 second-chance points en route to a win. For a team that is already incredibly porous on defense, giving up multiple opportunities in one possession isn’t what you want. When Lively returned to the lineup on Monday, he made sure not to make Saturday’s game a repeat.

One of the reads on the 7-foot-1 Lively when he was going through the draft process was that his defensive abilities would translate quickly due to his size and athleticism. His long frame makes him an obvious rim protector and his effort and willingness to do the simple things — like boxing out — make him a headache to account for when the shot goes up. There were several times in Monday’s game where Lively was getting to offensive rebounds that most bigs in the league wouldn’t put in the effort to grab, but there he is, fighting for positioning and giving the Mavericks multiple opportunities to get a bucket.

“He rebounds. He rebounds the ball extremely well,” Pelicans guard CJ McCollum said of Lively. “He’s a good roller, so you have to be prepared for him. Those pick-and-rolls with [Kyrie Irving], he just gave them energy, gave them life, second chances, and those things. [He] hurt us tonight.”

Lively’s offensive rebounding against the Pelicans was like that popcorn kernel you can constantly feel but can’t get out of your teeth. There was one possession in the fourth quarter where even the Pelicans announcers couldn’t help but throw their hands up in exasperation at New Orleans’ inability to box out Lively.

The first rebound broke Lively’s way while Valanciunas tried to keep him from getting the ball, but there are very few bigs in the league who would make a legitimate play to contest that rebound. But it was the second offensive board, which led to a Tim Hardaway Jr. 3-pointer to cut New Orleans’ lead to 111-109, that should be used as teaching material on the do’s and don’ts of boxing out and crashing the glass. That’s the one that had Pelicans play-by-play announcer Joel Meyers saying “Lively again, does anybody want to put a body on the guy?” On the next possession, Lively was there…again, grabbing his seventh offensive board of the night, which again led to a Hardaway triple to give Dallas the late lead.

“Whether he gets the ball or not, he’s always hunting the rebound,” New Orleans star Zion Williamson said on Lively’s impact.

It’s not just the rebounding that elevates the way Dallas plays, either. Lively’s presence is so immense on defense that when he’s on the floor the Mavericks have a near top-10 ranked defense, compared to the 26th-ranked defense they have when he sits.

“He means so much to this team and this organization,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said of Lively after Monday’s win. “He does an amazing job of clogging up the paint, talking on defense, blocking shots. He is a really great anchor for us down there on the defensive end. He helps us tremendously, especially working with T.Y. [Tyson Chandler], [Powell], who has been a running mate with Luka during his time here in Dallas. [Lively] has been a sponge, really listening to those two. He is really doing a phenomenal job.”

Surely the Mavericks couldn’t have predicted that Lively would be this important to the team this early on. Even on offense he’s made an instant connection with both Irving and Doncic in pick-and-roll situations. He ranks in the 82nd percentile in pick-and-rolls, generating 1.339 points per possession. His leaping ability makes him a threat every time he’s cutting to the rim, and while he often catches lobs, he’s shown promise in being able to put the ball on the deck, back someone down and get his own basket either with a little baby hook shot over defenders, or through a variety of layups.

Lively making an immediate impact doesn’t just help the Mavericks this season, it also bodes well for their future. Heading into this season there were reports that people within Dallas’ organization feared Doncic could request a trade as early as the summer of 2024. Doncic said recently that he’s happy where he’s at with the Mavs, but that can always change, especially if the Mavericks miss the postseason for a second straight year.

But as of right now, Dallas’ future is looking brighter than it did when they were getting condemned for tanking the final two games of last season to try and keep their draft pick rather than compete for a play-in spot. You know, the draft pick that allowed them to eventually select Lively No. 12 overall after trading the No. 10 pick to the Thunder in an effort to get off Davis Bertans’ albatross contract.

Thanks to that controversial decision, the Mavericks are now sitting fifth in the West, and Lively’s looking like a franchise center. The craziest part is, Lively hasn’t even turned 20 yet. If this is the starting point of his career, just imagine how dominant he’ll be three, four years down the line. Now that’s a scary thought.

Byadmin

2024 NBA picks, January 17 predictions from proven model

The New Orleans Pelicans will face off against the Charlotte Hornets at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Smoothie King Center. New Orleans is 24-17 overall and 12-8 at home, while Charlotte is 8-29 overall and 4-16 on the road. The two franchises met on Dec. 15 with the Pelicans capturing a 112-107 victory, but the Hornets were able to cover the 9.5-point spread.

However, the Pelicans have been the far more profitable team against the spread this season, going 23-17-1 against the number while the Hornets have gone 14-23. New Orleans is favored by 12 points in the latest Pelicans vs. Hornets odds, per SportsLine consensus, and the over/under is 229 points. Before entering any Hornets vs. Pelicans 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 Charlotte vs. New Orleans. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Hornets vs. Pelicans:

Pelicans vs. Hornets spread: Pelicans -12
Pelicans vs. Hornets over/under: 229 points
Pelicans vs. Hornets money line: Pelicans: -755, Hornets: +531
Pelicans vs. Hornets picks: See picks at SportsLine
What you need to know about the Pelicans
The Pelicans took a 125-120 hit to the loss column at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. Zion Williamson scored 30 points in the loss and CJ McCollum had 23 points, six rebounds and four assists. However, New Orleans went just 7-for-23 from the 3-point line while Dallas went 18-for-43 from beyond the arc.

New Orleans is the current No. 6 seed in the Western Conference with wins in 12 of its last 18 games. Having Williamson, McCollum and Brandon Ingram all healthy again gives the franchise a talented core, and the New Orleans rotation can go as deep as 11 so expect it to throw bodies at a banged up Hornets squad. See which team to pick here.

What you need to know about the Hornets
Meanwhile, the Hornets’ recent rough patch got a bit rougher on Sunday after their fifth straight loss. They took a 104-87 bruising from Miami. The Hornets have struggled against the Heat recently, as their contest on Sunday was their fourth consecutive lost matchup.

Terry Rozier scored 26 points in the loss while LaMelo Ball produced 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for his sixth double-double of the year. Miles Bridges also had 20 points and seven rebounds but the rest of the roster combined for 20 points and only made eight field-goal attempts. Charlotte will be without Gordon Hayward (calf) and Mark Williams (back) on Wednesday, while rookie Brandon Miller (back) is listed as questionable. See which team to pick here.

Key Betting Info
Rozier will likely loom large in the final result, win or lose. For the season, he has averaged 24.0 points, 6.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

Some of the betting trends to consider are:

The Hornets are 10-20-2 against the spread in their last 32 games after a day off.
The Hornets are 7-13 against the spread in their last 20 games when on the road.
The Pelicans are 11-11 against the spread in their last 22 games when favored.
How to make Pelicans vs. Hornets picks
The model has simulated Pelicans 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 over 50% of the time. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.