Over the past month or so, no one in the NBA is playing better than Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid as he has put himself squarely into the MVP conversation and almost single-handedly carried the Sixers back into the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Embiid has been so good that for tonight's home game vs. the Lakers, Caesars Sportsbook has set Embiid at his highest point total of the season with an Over/Under of 33.5. The Sixers were -2.5 vs. LA but that may rise significantly with LeBron James suddenly questionable. Click here for model picks.
Embiid comes off a 42-point, 14-rebound effort Tuesday in a win over the Pelicans. It was Embiid's fourth straight game with at least 35 points and 10 rebounds, making him the fourth player with such a streak since the ABA-NBA merger along with Shaquille O'Neal, Anthony Davis and Karl Malone (he had five in a row). It was also the fourth straight game Embiid had at least 38 points and 12 rebounds, a franchise record – for a franchise that had Wilt Chamberlain. He had three such streaks a few times.
Since Christmas, Embiid leads the NBA in scoring at 34.7 ppg and is the only player since averaging at least 30 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at least 55 percent from the floor in that span. At Caesars, he has gone Over his betting point total six straight games and 13 of the past 15, so you can see why the book set it at a season high tonight. Embiid is up to third in the NBA in scoring at 29.0 ppg and a +300 co-favorite with Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP.
As for LeBron, this injury designation came out of nowhere – he has been listed as probable all season for the most part but has played. James is dealing with knee soreness. Some books have jumped the spread to Sixers -4.5 for now. James is second in the NBA in scoring at 29.1 ppg and playing out of his mind as well at age 37. LeBron has scored at least 25 points in 18 straight games. Shoot, a few weeks ago he already had passed Michael Jordan as the oldest player ever with 10 straight 25-point games. Because of his uncertain status, James' game props are off the board.
With Anthony Davis returning from a long injury absence Tuesday, the Lakers were about as healthy as they have been all season before this LeBron news. The Sixers are without fourth-leading scorer Seth Curry (15.8 ppg, 41.7 percent from deep) and backup guard Shake Milton but will see the return of former Laker Danny Green (6.7 ppg). He had been out since Jan. 12 with a hip injury.
It's the first meeting of the season between the teams. Philly is 5-1 ATS in the past six vs. L.A.
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