The All-Star break was not kind to Jacque Vaughn, who was fired as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets in the wake of a 50-point loss to the Boston Celtics prior to the NBA going on its annual winter break.

Then again, getting paid $5 million next season and the following season ain’t all that bad of a consolation prize, eh?

Vaughn had signed an extension with the Nets, who will have Kevin Ollie at the helm as their interim coach until they find the next guy willing to play second fiddle to Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks for the next four years at a minimum. We haven’t seen anybody so eager to finish second since Minnesota Senator Dean Phillips last appeared on TV.

The Nets went into the All-Star break with a 6-15 record since the calendar turned from 2023 to 2024, yet they are only 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for 10th place in the conference. They do not have a first-round pick in this June’s draft, having sent it to the Rockets in the trade for James Harden three years ago. Whoever takes over for Ollie needs to be aware of that fact, because aside from Mikal Bridges and Cam Thomas, who are very good, and Ben Simmons, who was once good but is now dead money, there is nothing promising going on in Brooklyn unless you go to Junior’s for cheesecake. Or you need a tasty slider.

So, yes, we are dumping on the Nets and will continue to do so as we look as a four-game parlay to reopen the season after the highest-scoring All-Star Game ever.

Best NBA Parlays Today – Thursday, February 22, 2024: 4-Leg Parlay Picks (+1801)

Nets vs. Raptors Prediction and Pick

The most motivated player in this game may be Bruce Brown, who was a member of the Nets before he left and won a title last season with Denver (and then signed with Indiana before being dealt away in the Pascal Siakam trade). Brown was a member of the would-be-superteam that included Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and James Harden, which might be going for their third title if Durant had not had his foot on the 3-point line against Milwaukee. The Nets won the first meeting back in November behind big games (41 combined points) from the since-departed Royce O’Neale and Spencer Dinwiddie. The thinking here is that Brooklyn picks up where it left off, minus Vaughn, and fails to get the job done on the road.

Leg-1 Parlay Pick: Raptors – 2.5 (-110)

Rockets vs. Pelicans Prediction and Pick

The Pelicans have played only two of their last ten games at home, missing Mardi Gras. They defeated Toronto by 38 as 10.5-point favorites and defeated Washington by just 7 as 14.5-point favorites. Houston (24-30) is not exactly a quality opponent and went into the break with a loss at Memphis, and we would have expected a double-digit line given Houston’s youth and inexperience and the five losses in six games that the Rockets had going into the break.

Leg-2 Parlay Pick: Pelicans – 6.5 (-115)

Wizards vs. Nuggets Prediction and Pick

Washington is terrible, we can all agree on that. The Wizards come out of the break on an eight-game losing streak, but stop for a second and look at the loss margins in the last five: By 7 at New Orleans, by 8 at Dallas, by 6 vs. Philly, by 4 at Boston, by 8 at Cleveland. Those are all quality opponents of varying degrees, and there is no bigger quality opponent than the defending champs. Four of those five were covers (Philly was the exception), and this is the largest line the Wizards have had since the loss at Boston when the line was 18. Deni Avidja and Tyus Edney have been putting up big numbers and should do so again. The line just seems too high.

Leg-3 Parlay Pick: Wizards + 15.5 (-115)

Lakers vs. Warriors Prediction and Pick 

The teams that took the temperature of a possible LeBron James trade at ownership level at the trading deadline face each other for the first time since then, and if you have a DVR, set it. El Lay won six of seven going into the break despite LeBron playing on a bum ankle. Although Steph Curry has been outstanding of late, including in his 3-point shootout with Sabrina Ionescu at All-Star Weekend, Klay Thompson’s season-long slump shows no signs of abating, and coach Steve Kerr has clearly lost faith in him. Either of these teams could be championship material if their aging superstars find the fountain(s) of youth, but this looks more like a play-in preview as these teams are 9th and 10th in the West, even though they are No. 1 and No. 2 on the “What Will ESPN be talking about?” meter.

Leg-4 Parlay Pick: Lakers moneyline at Golden State (+185)

Put those four picks together (the Lakers moneyline pick is the booster) and you get a line of +1533, meaning a $10 wager would pay $163.36, enough to buy 42,000 Dean Phillips bumper stickers Good luck!

Odds are subject to change*

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