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NBA prop bets for opening night: Back Embiid, Harden vs. Celtics

Joel Embiid

The NBA is finally back! After a long four months of the offseason, it was really cool to see Drafkings posting NBA players’ props once again. We have two great matchups on the opening night, and I have already found two value spots to bet on!

Joel Embiid o2.5 assists (+100 at Draftkings)

This line should be at 3.5, and here is why.

Embiid had an average of 4.2 assists last season, and even though his assist average dropped a bit with Harden’s arrival (from 4.5ast to 3.5ast), it’s still way above this line. He had three or more assists in 57 out of the 78(73%) games last season and in 14 out of the 20(70%) games playing with James Harden. 

When we consider the matchup, this bet becomes even more appealing. He is up against the elite Boston Celtics defense, which gave him trouble last year. The only game where Embiid exceeded 25 points was when Boston started Enes Kanter at the 5, one of the league’s worst defensive big men. In games where Boston started Horford, Embiid scored only 13, 25, and 19 points, which is way below his season- scoring average. In addition, they put a lot of bodies on him and frequently double-teamed him, forcing him to pass the ball much more than usual. As a result, he had 5+ assists in all four games. 

James Harden o31.5 PRA (-105 at Draftkings)

James Harden has been my favorite NBA player since 2015, and I have watched every game he has played in the league since. Last year, Harden wasn’t performing at his peak, and in fact, I’d say he wasn’t even at 70%. The hamstring injury slowed him down. And although he struggled to beat his man off the dribble and wasn’t confident in driving, he still had a good season (not good enough for his standard, but these numbers would be career-best for 99% of the players in the league). He averaged 22 points per game, 7.7 rebounds, and a huge 10.3 assists, which adds up to a 40 PRA in total. 

Harden wasn’t efficient in the preseason, he still looked much better than the last year. He had some flashy crossovers and was able to beat his man of the dribble on many occasions, which just wasn’t the case during the last season. So, we have Harden looking better than the last season when he had 40 PRA on average, and now his line is set at 31.5? Tremendous value in betting over. He cleared this line in 59 of 77 (77%) games last season.