Friday NBA Props: Will TWolves’ Russell Dish Dimes In Bunches?

Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell dribbles the ball during a game against the Golden State Warriors
Image Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, selects several intriguing player and/or team NBA props from a busy night of action. Then, we do what we do best: Provide in-depth analysis that you can choose to use (or not use!) for wagering purposes. Here are our four favorite Friday NBA props from a slate of nine games.

Odds via DraftKings and updated as of 3:30 p.m. ET on March 4.

Philadelphia 76ers: C Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid tries to grab a rebound against the Atlanta Hawks
Image Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Prop: 12.5 rebounds (vs. Cleveland)
The Odds: Over -105/Under -125

As noted in Friday’s NBA betting preview, the Sixers have been the NBA’s most prolific team since the recently acquired James Harden took the court, averaging 127 points in three games.

The only downside to this short run of excellence? There are fewer rebounding opportunities, especially on the offensive end. That’s what happens when you shoot a blistering 50.6 percent from the field, which Philly has done since Harden came on board. To put that number into perspective: Even including the last three games, the 76ers are still only shooting 46.4 percent for the season.

So we’re leaning Under on this Embiid rebounding prop, right? Maybe.

Certainly, that seems like the play given Embiid’s recent numbers. The NBA MVP candidate has amassed a total of 31 rebounds with Harden as his sidekick, including just one offensive board. Also, the Cavaliers are allowing the seventh-fewest rebounds to the opposition (43.2 per game).

Then again, Embiid had eclipsed this prop number in five of eight games prior to Harden taking the court with Philly. And one of those was a 14-rebound effort at home against Cleveland on Feb. 12. During this eight-game stretch, Embiid averaged 13.1 boards per contest.

Also, in his only meeting against Cleveland last season, Embiid corralled 13 rebounds. And yet despite the two recent meetings, the Kansas product is only averaging 10.5 rebounds in 12 career games versus the Cavs.

Rest-wise, Philadelphia was off Thursday, and Embiid averaged 35-plus minutes in his previous two outings.

Milwaukee Bucks: PF Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbles the ball upcourt against the Miami Heat
Image Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Prop: 48.5 points/rebounds/assists (at Chicago)
The Odds: Over -115/Under -120

The juice on this prop suggests the Under is the safe play. However, the stats suggest that’s insane.

Antetokounmpo rolls into the Windy City averaging an otherworldly 51.2 points/rebounds/assists in his last 10 games. And that includes a clunker of 33 in a blowout loss to the Suns three weeks ago.

During this productive stretch, the Greek Freak cleared this 48.5 total six times, highlighted by efforts of 68 (vs. Indiana), 66 (at L.A. Lakers), and 59 (vs. Washington).

The two-time NBA MVP is averaging 31.6 points in his last 24 games; he’s collected nine or more rebounds 14 times in his last 15 outings; and he’s dished out at least five assists in nine of his last 10.

Looking for a reason to play the Under? Well, dating back to November 2019, Anteokounmpo has averaged only 46 points/rebounds/assists in six encounters with the Bulls, toppling Friday’s number three times (49, 52, and 58). How did he fare in his lone meeting against Chicago this season? 30 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, for a total of 45.

Then again, the Bulls squad Giannis is facing tonight has surrendered 115 or more points in 12 of its last 16 contests.

Minnesota Timberwolves: PG D’Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 27, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Timberwolves defeated the 76ers 121-120 in double overtime.
Image Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Prop: 7.5 assists (at Oklahoma City)
The Odds: Over +105/Under -135

Heavy juice to the Under with this prop, and understandably so. That’s because Russell has dished out more than seven assists in just four of his last 13 games and only 17 of 49 on the season. And at home, he’s beaten this prop number just six times in 22 contests.

That said, five of Russell’s big assist games in Minnesota have happened in his last eight played in front of TWolves fans. Also, Russell has landed right on seven assists a whopping nine times this season, so there’s a good chance he’ll be in range of hitting this Over late in Friday’s contest.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Timberwolves are putting up points in bunches lately, averaging 123.8 points in their last 14 games. And they’re facing an opponent that has allowed the seventh-most assists this season (25.4 per game).

Russell faced the Thunder twice over a three-day span in early January, and he dished out just three dimes in the first meeting (at home) and 12 in the second meeting (on the road).

So what’s the tiebreaker? Maybe the fact that second-year shooting guard Anthony Edwards (21.4 points per game) will miss his second straight contest with a knee injury. Without Edwards on the floor Tuesday, Minnesota put up 129 points against the Warriors, and Russell finished with … seven assists.

Bottom line: This one figures to be real close, so we’ll take a shot with the plus money and play the Over.

New York Knicks: SG RJ Barrett

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett works on his shooting during warmups before a game against the Sacramento Kings
Image Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Prop: 2.5 made 3-pointers (at Phoenix)
The Odds: Over -105/Under -125

Let’s end with a feel-good stat, chronicling Barrett’s recent run of volume shooting: In his last six games, the former Duke star has put up 45 shots from 3-point range (10, 7, 6, 11, 3, and 8) and drained 18 of them.

That 40 percent rate is tangibly higher than Barrett’s season-long rate shooting average from beyond the arc (35.8%).

In other words, here’s the silver lining from the Knicks’ ongoing freefall in the Eastern Conference standings (3-16 since Jan. 17): Barrett clearly has the green light to shoot from wherever, whenever. And that’s a beautiful thing for bettors looking to hammer the Over on this prop.

Barrett has drilled three-plus triples in three of his last four games, four of his last six, and seven of his last 12. He’s also done so in five of his last six road outings.

True, the Suns boast the NBA’s stingiest 3-point defense (33.2%). However, Chris Paul and Devin Booker are both out Friday night. That’s a big hit not just to Phoenix’s offense, but also its defense.

Fatigue shouldn’t be a factor for Barrett, as the Knicks — who are on Game 2 of a seven-game road odyssey — were idle Thursday.