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You are excused if your cabin fever has made you enemies with your dog. Or your cat. Or both. You are similarly excused if you have given up on the prospect of ever leaving the house without that chin napkin, also known as a mask, stuffed into your pocket.

We soldier on, not really caring whether the pandemic is in Day 600-something or 700-something or whether Baylor won last night in college hoops. We are pro hoops junkies in this here territory, and tonight we now one thing for certain: The Lakers are on TV, many of them anyway.

Anthony Davis will not be among them, because he is out for a month with a sprained MCL. But LeBron James will be in uniform against the No. 1 team in the league, the Phoenix Suns. And when we can settle into our sofas after a long Tuesday, we can take solace in the normalcy of knowing that right there on our screens is the only person in human history who refuses to age the way the rest of us do.

Now, we are not exactly sure who these other Lakers are that LeBron will be teaming up with. Mason Jones, Jemerrio Jones, Chaundee Brown, Jay Huff and Isaiah Thomas were not among those we were considering Lakers material, oh, a week ago. But they will be in yellow and gold tonight at the Center as the Suns come in with a 24-5 record, a three-game winning streak and a roster that is, incredible as it might seem, relatively whole.

Phoenix is favored by seven against Frank Vogel’s underachievers, who are coming off road losses to the Bulls and Timberwolves that a grand total of zero people will remember when April mercifully arrives and we start seeing games that mean something, with players we actually recognize. Heck, we were supposed have a bunch of those types on TV tonight for the first game of the TNT doubleheader, but viral concerns have forced the postponement of tonight’s Wizards-Nets game, giving folks in Brooklyn more time to wait on line for COVID tests.

Yes, it is a frustrating time to live in New York even if your name is not Kemba Walker. He, of course, is one of two prized Knicks offseason acquisitions who are not all that prized as the ‘Bockers, losers of five of six and eight of 10, get set to measure themselves against a Detroit Pistons team that had lost 14 in a row prior to defeating Miami on Sunday. Detroit is getting 7.5 points (down from 9.5 earlier today), which any jaded New Yorker will tell you means that the Pistons are +260 on the money line. Whether Walker plays ahead of any of the newest Knicks, including Matt Mooney and Damyean Dotson, remains to be seen, and let’s not forget that the chances of Walker being traded today are roughly equal to those of him playing.

The Pistons and the points do not seem safe tonight because the Knicks are desperate to get better and have a weakling in town. What seems predictable is another strong outing from Detroit rookie Cade Cunningham, who is coming off a pair of double-figure assist games and is now the +250 second choice behind Evan Mobley (+135) for Rookie of the Year. His assist total over/under is 5.5, which seems low, and his point total of 17.5 seems just about right despite his 4-point outing vs. the Heat. He scored 19 or more in seven of nine prior to that.

The other player prop that looks eminently playable in the Pistons-Knicks game is Isaiah Stewart going “under” his 3-pointers made prop of 0.5. He made one last game against Miami, ending a string of 20 games without one.

The replacement TNT game is Indiana at Miami, with the Heat coming off that loss to the Pistons which was incomprehensible on just about every level possible except for the fact that Miami was without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo due to injuries before P.J. Tucker joined them with a knee injury. Caleb Martin is in health and safety protocols, which means Miami will again be lowing for big contributions from the likes of Marcus Garrett, Max Strus and Omer Yurtseven.

So, yeah, it makes sense that Indiana is a 2.5-point road favorite even though the shoe may drop any moment on a franchise-altering trade. We advise steering clear of that one altogether. Too much is temporary for both teams, but if you must have something from that opener, take Myles Turner to go “over” 0.5 assists. The big fella (who we still like at +3500 for Defensive Player of the Year) has had at least one dime in three straight games.

Back to Suns-Lakers. We are now in a situation where the Suns, despite their superior record, are +900 to win the championship, making them the fourth choice behind the Nets (+240), Warriors (+600) and Bucks (+750) and just ahead of the Lakers (+1000).

That keeps them in “no respect” zone as far as we are concerned, which just ain’t right. These guys have won 23 of 25, they have recently become the JaVale McGee show, they have Devin Booker back and they got double-figure scoring from nine guys Sunday after getting the same from eight in their previous game against the Wizards. We like a bunch of player props here: DeAndre Ayton to go “under” 0.5 3-pointers made (he has not made one since the season-opener) and “over” 1.5 assists (he has done that in seven of eight); and Jae Crowder to go “over” on points (9.5), assists (1.5) and rebounds (4.5).

And one more, just as a pre-Christmas bonus (but we shall be backatcha later this week with a Christmas quintupleheader preview): Josh Hart of the Pelicans going “over” 25.5 points, rebounds and assists combined (he has gone over that number in four put of five while playing monster minutes.) Good luck, and keep your sanity and your senses intact.


Cade Cunningham over 5.5 assists (-105)

Isaiah Stewart under 0.5 3-pointers made (-600)

Myles Turner over 0.5 assists (-200)

DeAndre Ayton over 1.5 assists (-155)

Jae Crowder over 9.5 points (-105)

Jae Crowder over 1.5 assists (+140)

Jae Crowder over 4.5 rebounds (-125)

Josh Hart over 25.5 points + rebounds + assists (-105)