NBA Thursday player props: Pass on Simmons, play Embiid
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We hit our stride to close out the first half of the NBA season, stringing together multiple winning days in the player prop market right before the break. With the second half tipping off Thursday, here are the best bets to consider:

Joel Embiid over 34.5 points + rebounds

Sixers point guard Ben Simmons has run rampant on the Nets this season. He's scored at least 20 points in each of the three meetings, including a season-high 34 in the most recent. However, I actually lean under in this spot. Here, instead of making a play on Simmons, I'll make one on his teammate, Embiid, and go over.

Simmons' success in those three games came as a result of Embiid being on the sidelines. Now that the big man is back in the fold, he faces a Nets defense that allows north of 21 points per game and the fourth-most rebounds in the league to opposing centers.

Zach LaVine over 5.5 assists

LaVine's had some feast-or-famine-type games against Charlotte this season. He followed up a 49-point contest against the Hornets in mid-November - which included 13 made threes - with a 12-point outing on 4-of-19 shooting just three weeks later. Charlotte's been pretty solid for the most part at keeping opposing point guards off the score sheet, allowing the fifth-fewest points in the league to that position. However, the defense has been liable against passing guards, surrendering the second-most assists per game. LaVine isn't much of a passer - he's averaging just 4.1 assists per contest in 2019-20 - but I think this is a pretty generous number.

Thon Maker under 9.5 points

Maker's a player whose stock is on the upswing with Andre Drummond out of the fold. Since taking over a spot in the rotation, the early reviews on Maker have been positive. He's poured in double figures in three of his first four games since the Drummond trade. However, Thursday's matchup against the Bucks will be difficult, considering Milwaukee's allowing the third-fewest points in the NBA to opposing centers. It will theoretically be the second-toughest outing for Maker since being inserted into the starting five. On Feb. 8 against the Knicks - who allow the fewest points in the league to opposing centers - Maker posted just seven points on a meager five attempts from the floor

Kevin Huerter over 2.5 made 3-pointers

I have a soft spot for Huerter, who seems to be an automatic play when the matchup is right and vice versa. Although I'm not particularly keen on the Hawks and Heat getting to the number of 229.5 on Thursday, I do like the potential of the second-year marksman finding his share of points from beyond the arc. He's attempted at least six shots from downtown in six of the last seven and gets a Heat perimeter defense allowing the third-most threes in the NBA to opposing shooting guards.

Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.

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NBA Thursday player props: Pass on Simmons, play Embiid
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