There are a million possible ways to dampen the fun of Shake Milton mania. The sample size is small. We’re mired in the post-All-Star Break doldrums. He won’t have the ball this much when Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are healthy. Fine. If you don’t want to go all in on who has played only 48 career games, I get it.
But the basketball world has begged the Philadelphia 76ers to find a ball-handling guard who can shoot to pair with Simmons for two solid years now. Milton is now shooting a staggering 46.6 percent from behind the arc, is in the 64th percentile league-wide in pick-and-roll scoring efficiency, and in the past four games with Simmons out, the Sixers are outscoring opponents by 9.1 points per 100 possessions with Milton on the floor.
The exact player this team needed fell out of the sky. It’s better to be too early than too late. This is a trend worth taking a swing on, and will lead off today’s top picks.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook.
1. Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Lakers: 76ers +13.5
Aside from Milton-mania (Shakesanity?), it should be noted that the Lakers don’t blow opponents out as often as a team of their record typically does. Only 17 of their 46 wins would cover this spread. That’s only 37 percent. Milwaukee, on the other hand, has won 26 games by at least 14 points. That’s half of their 52 total victories. The Bucks are hardly a fair standard here, but the Lakers aren’t exactly built to cover enormous spreads. They don’t shoot many 3-pointers, struggle mightily to protect leads when LeBron James sits and have such a large lead for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference that motivation to dominate games like this is minimal. The Lakers grind opponents down. Ride the Milton wave in this one.
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2. Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder: Clippers -3
The Thunder are dominant on the road against the spread with a 21-7 record, but are mortal at home with a 17-15 mark. While Danilo Gallinari is off the injury report, he did miss Oklahoma City’s last game, and compromised wing depth is a problem against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The seemingly healthy and coalescing Clippers have won four straight, and they should make it five relatively comfortably on Tuesday.
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3. Washington Wizards at Sacramento Kings: Kings -5.5
The Kings have won five of six and are right back in the thick of the playoff hunt. That trend, on paper, seems sustainable. The Kings are shooting a relatively pedestrian 36.5 percent from behind the arc in that span, and they’ve had only one 30-point performance among those six games. Yes, schedule was a factor, but they’re playing the Wizards here. Even if the Kings can only beat bad teams, Washington certainly fits the bill.
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