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When TNT switched from Thursdays to Tuesdays and had a hand in scheduling tonight’s doubleheader, the thinking was sound: We’ll put the Brooklyn Nets in the first game and the Los Angeles Lakers in the second game, and…voila…we will have both eventual NBA finalists on TV the same night.

Well, that was the preseason thinking, but what the Lakers have done, or rather failed to do, has made them the fourth choice to win the championship, with odds lower than the Nets (+240), the Golden State Warriors (+575), and the Milwaukee Bucks (+800). At +900, they Lakers still have shorter odds than the Phoenix Suns (+1000), but that will be the subject of a different column.

What we want to look at for tonight’s games are the individual player props, because that is where we have been making a living in the legalized U.S. sports betting market. One of the things you notice when you follow this stuff closely is that those lines can be taken advantage of early in the day by gamblers on the East Coast, Europeans and anyone in Las Vegas who did not spend the night partying in the nightclubs.

Brooklyn is favored by 4 (up from 2.5 earlier Tuesday) over the Dallas Mavericks and perhaps Luka Doncic, who is questionable with left ankle soreness. Same goes for Tim Hardaway (right knee contusion). The Nets have won six of eight and are coming off a home loss to Chicago, and this will be another chance for Kevin Durant to impress a national TV audience. He has failed to reach 30 points in six of eight, which is reflected in his point total over/under of 27.5. He had a stinker (20 points and 0-for-4 3-point shooting) against the Mavs last May when James Harden was unable to play because of a hamstring injury.

Tonight, Harden is healthy and is coming off a 14-assist game against Chicago, which moved him to second in the NBA in dimes with 9.5 per game. His assist over/under is 9.5, which seems right. The number we are targeting with him is made 3-pointers because he has missed 9 of 10 in the past two games and has not made four or more since Nov. 28. The under of 2.5 made 3-pointers seems like a safe play, as does LaMarcus Aldridge’s made 3s (0.5) because he is just 1-for-10 from distance over the past 10 games. This line will move even further if Doncic is ruled out.

The nightcap has the Lakers giving 2.5 points to the Celtics, who are coming off a 28-point victory at Portland in which they scored 145, and a 137-130 loss at Utah. Jayson Tatum scored 37 and 31 in those two games, so it would appear his point total over/under is low at 27.5.

Dennis Schroeder does not have any props for his alumni game against the Lakers, which is understandable given that Jaylen Brown is questionable (right hamstring) after a two-week absence and could supplant Schroder in the starting five if he is good to go.

We also would love to see an over/under rebound line for newly minted American citizen Enes Kanter Freedom, but as Mick Jagger taught us: You can’t always get what you want. So we will settle for Anthony Davis going over 2.5 assists (something he has done in four of the past five games), along with Russell Westbrook going under 0.5 blocks (he has only one in the past 12 games and just three total in 24 games).

Of course, no Lakers preview would be complete without a mention of LeBron James, whose streak of 30-point games ended at three Friday night against the Clippers. The Lakers have not played since and will be well-rested, we like them to improve their league-leading 15-9-0 record on over-unders, especially with the way the Celtics have been putting up points. So the advice here is to parlay those player props (Westbrook “under” on blocks, Davis “over” on points) with the game total “over” of 217. The Lakers have gone ever 217 in five straight, and the Celtics have gone over 217 in two straight on their current trip.

Also on the board tonight is Knicks-Spurs, with New York coach Tom Thibodeau at his wit’s end as to how to get his team to play better defense. They will have their hands full with Most Improved Player candidate Dejounte Murray (currently the +900 third choice for that award), who is coming off a 14-assist game against the Suns and has his assist total set at 7.5, which we see as too low since he has had at least eight in seven of his last 10 games.

The props with the Knicks are mostly too hard to call given coach Tom Thibodeau’s distaste for his current starters, but why not seize upon that? The player Thibs seems to have soured on most aside from Kemba Walker (who was last week’s sour flavor) is R.J. Barrett, whose work habits, a.k.a. not practicing enough, have been called into question. His made 3-pointers over-under was not on the board late Tuesday New York time, but jump on the “under” for anything set at 2.5 or higher. Barrett has missed 25 of his last 32 attempts, so he is stone cold. Kick him when he’s down? Hey, if it makes your bet hit, you gotta – even if you are a Knicks fan.

You can take your winnings, New Yorkers, and spend the money on tickets to see Giannis Antetokounmpo in person when the ‘Bockers return home next weekend and play the Bucks on Sunday at noon. Good luck, y’all.


James Harden under 2.5 made 3-pointers (+100)

LaMarcus Aldridge under 0.5 made 3-pointers (-135)

Anthony Davis over 2.5 assists (-130)

Russell Westbrook under 0.5 blocks (-700)

Same-game parlay: Davis over 2.5 assists, Westbrook under 0.5 blocks, over 217 total points

Dejounte Murray over 7.5 assists (+105)

R.J. Barrett under 2.5 made 3-pointers