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LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball. (Photo by PI/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
March 21st, 2022
LeBron James made headlines across the league on Saturday night when he surpassed Karl Malone to become the second leading scorer in NBA history with 36,947 career points. It’s an extraordinary milestone, but like many of LeBron’s latest accomplishments, it came in yet another lopsided Lakers' loss. This time around, LA squandered a sizable first half lead in a disheartening 127-119 defeat to the undermanned Washington Wizards.
It’s been that kind of year for Los Angeles, as the Lakers have found new and unusual ways to lose despite the fact that LeBron continues to play at an MVP-level deep into his 19th season. LA is presently in 10th place in the Western Conference, desperately clinging onto a spot in the same play-in tournament that LeBron publicly disparaged less than a year ago.
It’s an entirely different story in Cleveland, where the upstart Cavaliers are in sixth place in the tightly-packed East, just six games behind the conference-leading Miami Heat. The Cavs have rallied behind young stars like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, while also displaying the kind of tight-knit team chemistry that has evaded the Lakers all season.
Cleveland enters tonight’s matchup on a two-game winning streak after downing the Detroit Pistons 113-109 on Saturday night. Garland led the way with 24 points and 12 assists and the Cavs had their way in the paint, outscoring the Pistons 64-54 beneath the basket.
Lakers vs. Cavaliers is scheduled to tip-off tonight at 7 p.m. ET, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
LeBron has eviscerated every team in the league over the years, but he’s been especially lethal against the Cavaliers. The four-time MVP is averaging 29.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 7.2 assists in 17 career games against his former club. That’s James' highest scoring average against any team, and he added to the damage earlier this season on Oct. 29, when he torched the Cavs for 26 points, three rebounds, and eight assists in a decisive 113-101 win.
19 years in the league. Second on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Incredible, @KingJames 👑 pic.twitter.com/qc9h0jMEPJ— ESPN (@espn) March 20, 2022
19 years in the league. Second on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Incredible, @KingJames 👑 pic.twitter.com/qc9h0jMEPJ
Bettors should expect another big night from King James in his home state tonight. The 18-time All-Star is coming off a dominant 38-point performance against the Wizards and is averaging 34.0 points over his last six games.
It’s become painfully obvious that the Lakers can’t win without a superhuman effort from LeBron, and the "Kid from Akron" appears poised to deliver another huge performance this evening in what should feel like a home game for him.
The Cavaliers wouldn’t be in position to snag a playoff berth without the phenomenal play of Darius Garland. The first-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 21.3 points per game and has filled in admirably for backcourt mate Collin Sexton, who suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee just 11 games into the season.
Stoppin' on a dime 🔥@dariusgarland22 | #LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/624yvy42Ui— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) March 20, 2022
Stoppin' on a dime 🔥@dariusgarland22 | #LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/624yvy42Ui
Although Garland has made a stratospheric leap in his third season, the one area in which he’s regressed has been his 3-point accuracy, which has dropped from 39% a year ago to 37% this year. It’s only gotten worse as the season has worn on, as Garland is making just 35% of his 3-point attempts since the All-Star break. That includes one trey or less in five of his last six games.
The Lakers rank a distant 27th in opponent points in the paint, so expect Garland to abandon his flagging 3-point shot tonight in favor of probing the interior, where he’s likely to encounter far less resistance.
A year ago it would have been a no-brainer to target Russell Westbrook for this prop, but that was before his game fell off a cliff. The former MVP has recorded only 26 double-doubles this season, including just three in his last 10 games.
We’re going to play it safe and target a far more consistent contributor in Evan Mobley instead. The USC alum is averaging 15.2 points and 8.3 rebounds in his rookie season and is coming off back-to-back double-doubles against the Nuggets and Pistons. Mobley should have an even easier time of it tonight against a Lakers squad that ranks 22nd in defensive rebounding percentage and has been missing its best rebounder and rim protector since Anthony Davis was sidelined with a foot injury on Feb. 25.
Back Mobley to record a double-double as he continues to build his case for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.
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