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ESPN tips off December with a star-studded Friday NBA doubleheader, featuring Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers visiting Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET) in Game 1 followed by a matchup between Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets and Kevin Durant and the host Phoenix Suns (10 p.m.).
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76ers vs. Celtics best player prop bet: Joel Embiid under 48.5 total points rebounds and assists (-114 or better)
The reigning NBA MVP is averaging a combined total of 49.9 points, rebounds, and assists per game thus far.
But Embiid has only cleared that 48.5 total once in his last nine games against the Celtics, dating back through their seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series last spring.
In the two meetings against Boston this regular season, Embiid has totaled 41 and 36 points/rebounds/assists, so we’ll ride with the under here.
76ers vs. Celtics best player prop bet: Jayson Tatum under 27.5 points (-120 or better)
On the flip side of this Atlantic Division rivalry, the Celtics’ leading scorer (27.7 points per game) hasn’t always had his best games against the Sixers.
In fact, Tatum has only scored 28 or more points in two of his last 20 regular season contests against Philly while playing alongside teammate Jaylen Brown, who is averaging 21.9 points this season.
To that point, the Celtics currently have six players averaging 9.7 points or more, meaning that high-scoring outings from Tatum aren’t a necessity for success.
Nuggets vs. Suns best player prop bet: Kevin Durant over 30.5 points (-115 or better)
With high-scoring teammates Bradley Beal (out with a back injury) and Devin Booker (questionable with an ankle issue) battling health issues, Durant may have to shoulder the scoring load Friday against the defending champion Nuggets.
The 10-time All-NBA selection is certainly still capable at age 35 as he currently ranks second in the league with an average of 31.3 points per game.
It will certainly be easier for Durant if the Nuggets’ top defensive player, forward Aaron Gordon, misses a fourth straight game with a heel injury.
Nuggets vs. Suns best player prop bet: Nikola Jokic under 9.5 assists (-122 or better)
The reigning NBA Finals MVP’s assist average is down to 9.2 from his career high of 9.8 a season ago.
That can be chalked up in large part to the extended absence so far this season of running mate Jamal Murray, who just returned to action Wednesday after missing the bulk of November. Murray, though, suffered an ankle injury in the contest and is listed as questionable for Friday.
Jokic also has a good rapport with Gordon, who may also be absent Friday.
Add it all up, and chances are good Jokic will need to do more scoring than passing against the Suns, and so we’re going under on his assist prop.
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