LeBron’s back in South Beach tonight. Cue the “LeBron James (rest) will not play” tweets and burning money GIFs. He’s rested in three of the six trips to Miami since returning to Cleveland. That’s 50% to the layperson.
We better pray Larry Drew doesn’t take a page out of Tyronn Lue’s or Coach Pop’s book and rest the stars. We already know The Beard is resting and all the Warriors are hurt; we could have a ton of DFS value plays tonight. Let’s get down to business! — Mark Gallant
All info as of Tuesday morning. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.
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DENVER NUGGETS AT TORONTO RAPTORS (-8.5) | O/U: 225.5
7:30 p.m. ET
What I’m watching for: Nikola Jokic was a minus-17 vs. Joel Embiid on Monday night in another brutal loss to Denver’s playoff hopes. Somehow, thanks to their playing Minnesota twice and the Wolves’ loss to the Grizzlies, the Nuggets control their fate for the playoffs, but they have to start racking up wins. That starts with Jokic. He needs to get the better of both Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka if the Nuggets are to have any hope of coming off this road trip alive.
Meanwhile, expect the Raptors’ bench mob to get back on track after a rough game vs. the Clippers. Denver’s bench is one of the worst in the league, and inside and out Toronto should feast. Keep a special eye on C.J. Miles, who will have ample opportunity to get loose on the perimeter. — Matt Moore
What the metrics say: The Nuggets aren’t faring too well this season against the East’s best teams. They were blown out Monday by the 76ers 123-104, and they lost by 18 to this Raptors squad in early November. They just can’t seem to get all of their pieces healthy at the same time: Paul Millsap is finally back, but now important wing Gary Harris is out for a couple of games. Those two are perhaps the Nuggets’ best defenders, and the main lineup with Millsap but without Harris has been poor on that end of the floor. That combination of Jamal Murray-Will Barton-Wilson Chandler-Millsap-Nikola Jokic has blitzed teams offensively, scoring at a rate of 121.9 points per 100 possessions, but they’ve also been awful defensively, allowing 111.1 points/100. The net rating of +10.8 is obviously good, but it could regress against good competition like the Raptors, who rank third in defensive efficiency on the year. Can they stop this deep Toronto team? — Bryan Mears