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Assuming he is not shoved in front of a moving subway train this afternoon, LeBron James will be suiting up at Barclays Center tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers make their annual trip to Brooklyn, the New York City borough that was once hospitable to visitors from far-away lands.

By the time tipoff nears tonight, New Yorkers should have some clarity on whether their kids have to continue wearing masks to school, whether their new mayor can stand up to the municipal unions, and whether their governor and president can keep food on the grocery store shelves.

And when the ball goes up shortly after 7:30 p.m. and the fans have settled into their seats with their overpriced concession stand food ($28 for a cheeseburger and a water, no fries, last time we were there), we will have a clearer picture of who exactly James Harden will be running alongside against LeBron and the Lakers tonight since Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are both out.

Brooklyn is a three-point home underdog, which is unusual. The Nets have been home ‘dogs only once all season in a victory over the Sixers in mid-December. This will be the 10th time the Lakers have been favored on the road, and they have gone 3-6-0 ATS in those games.

The Lakers still have the same coach, Frank Vogel, although whether that remains the case could depend in large part on how El Lay does tonight with Anthony Davis (left knee) finally back in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 17. The Lakers have lost five of seven and Vogel is in job jeopardy with Los Angeles just eighth in the West at 23-24.

James has not played in Brooklyn for more than two years, getting triple-double of 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists on Jan. 23, 2020 the last time the Lakers came to town. In the previous season, he went for 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists; in 2017-18 he had 37, 8 and 10; and in 2016-17 he had 29, 13 and 10. So, yeah, the guy sort of has a history of playing quite well against the men in black.

James’ point total over/under is 29.5, which he has gone over in six of his last 10 games. James has not reached double figures in assists since Dec. 28, but with Davis back we like that streak to end. So the play is James over 6.5 assists as part of your parlay card, and a small side bet at +925 that James gets his fourth triple-double of the season.

The second half of the TNT doubleheader is a doozy, too, with the Dallas Mavericks playing on the road against the Golden State Warriors and their slumping MVP favorite, Steph Curry.

The Mavs are three-point ‘dogs despite having won 11 of their last 13, most recently a Sunday night victory over the Memphis Grizzlies with a stout defensive performance that backed up Luka Doncic’ 17th near triple-double (he has 41 of them in his four-year NBA career) as he finished one assist shy of double figures in three categories.

This will be the second of four meetings between the teams this season, with the Mavs having won the first by 17. The Mavs were 2-1 against the Dubs last season as two games went into the 260s and one into the 230s (although the first meeting this season was a 99-82 Dallas victory). The over/under for tonight is just 210, the lowest total on a nine-game slate.

Curry has scored 30 points only once in 11 games this month, and the Warriors have not gone over in three of their last four games. Dallas has gone under in 13 of 14, so it stands to reason that this one is heading under, too. But because the games between these teams last season were so high-scoring, we counsel staying away from the over/under, instead playing the hotter of the two teams (Dallas) and going for the +370 on Doncic recording a triple-double.

James Harden actually has much shorter triple-double odds (+180) while coming off a 13-point, 13-assist performance in a loss to Minnesota on Sunday. He had a pair of TDs in December and three in November, and while he is always a threat for another one, he will not be passing the ball to Irving or Durant tonight, and that makes a difference. The absence of those two stars is one of the reasons why Brooklyn is getting 2.5 points in this matchup, and their inability to defend Davis (should be finally get greenlighted, as expected) is another factor. Brooklyn is two weeks removed from a signature win over the Chicago Bulls, and this team tends to rise to the occasion. That is why we like taking the 2.5 points along with James to get a triple-double, but not as a parlay.


Nets +2.5 (-110)

LeBron James triple-double (+925)

Mavericks +3 (-110)

Luka Doncic triple-double (+370)

For parlay wagering, we recommend putting the following plays together from tonight’s other games:

Denver (-7) at Detroit: The Nuggets should get a massive effort from Nikola Jokic, who cannot be guarded by mere mortals and who should go absolutely nuts against the worst team in the NBA. Jokic fell just short of a fifth consecutive triple-double in a 6-point home victory over Detroit on Sunday. We like him at +245 to get one tonight.

BEST BET: Nikola Jokic triple-double (+245)

New Orleans (+8) at Philadelphia: The Pelicans are one of the few teams who have a center capable of defending Joel Embiid, whose point total over/under is 31.5 (a number he has reached in 5 straight). We like Embiid to go over 46.5 points, rebounds and assists combined.

BEST BET: Joel Embiid over 46.5 points + rebounds + assists (-125)

Charlotte (+3.5) at Toronto: The Hornets went just 1-2 against the Raptors last season and will be playing in front of an empty arena tonight in Ontario, and thus far we have seen nobody aside from Julius Randle do better in front of empty seats than full ones. There were plenty of fans in the stands against Atlanta as Charlotte went 0-for-19 from deep, which probably will not repeat. Take the points.

BEST BET: Hornets +3.5 (-115)

L.A. Clippers (+4.5) at Washington: The Wizards have lost four of five but have their team whole and healthy again, although trade talks swirling around the team are making things uneasy. Good night to wager on the visitors keeping it close. Take the points.

BEST BET: Clippers +4.5 (-110)

Sacramento (+8.5) at Boston: There is a school of thought that says the Celtics are so mediocre that they should never be giving up 8.5 points to anybody. This one looks like a shootout, do go over 220.5 and look for Jayson Tatum, coming off a 51-point outing, to go over 27.5.

BEST BETS: Over 220.5 points (-110), Jayson Tatum over 27.5 points (-115)

San Antonio (-5) at Houston:  At first it seems safe to go with the Rockets, who defeated the Spurs a couple weeks ago and are coming off a two-point loss to the Golden State Warriors. But a deeper dive reveals that they are only 2-2-0 as a home favorite, and a better payoff can be had by going with Dejounte Murray to record a double-double at odds of +130. He is second in the NBA (tied with Russell Westbrook) with 9 triple-doubles. Only Jokic (11) has more. If a triple-double prop goes on the board later today for Murray, go with “yes.”

BEST BET: Dejounte Murray double-double (+130)

Minnesota (-3) at Portland: The over/under of 232.5 is the second-highest in the board (behind Rockets-Spurs at 233.5) with the Blazers coming off a 4-2 Eastern trip and the Wolves coming off an 11-point victory over Brooklyn. Both teams have been playing well offensively, so hold your breath and go with the over.

BEST BET: Over 232.5 points (-115)

As always, make sure you round robin your parlay so that you are not on pins and needles waiting until the middle of the night to see if your 6-for-6 card hits. If it is 5-for-5 and you are sleepy, rest assured that you will be OK either way so long as you remembered that round robin. Your author did, and he also parlayed all four triple-doubles (Jokic, Doncic, Murray and James) with Embiid’s over.