After a stacked four-game Sunday slate, we’re down to our regular two games per day. Trae Young exceeded my expectations and willed the Hawks to a win in Madison Square Garden, busting two of my plays, so I’m hoping for a better performance tonight.
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1. Heat First Half Under 55.5 | -114 at FD Sportsbook
The Miami Heat have consistently stayed under this first-half total against the Bucks. They recorded 50 first-half points against them in Game 1, and they posted first-half totals of 51 (Dec. 29), 51 (Dec. 30), and 51 (May 15) against them in the regular season. That sample even includes an 11-point win over the Bucks. So even if the Heat do end up winning this matchup, they probably won’t do so because of their first-half offense.
I like this play because the Heat averaged just 55.1 points per first half during the regular season, a notch below this total, and Milwaukee boasts an above-average defense, as they rank ninth in defensive efficiency. Milwaukee surrenders 55.8 points per first half, but since the Heat play at the NBA’s second-slowest pace, they probably won’t exceed that average.
2. Goran Dragic Over 2.5 Made Threes | -115 at FD Sportsbook
The Bucks struggle at perimeter defense. They allowed the most made threes per game (14.9) and the second-worst three-point percentage (38.5%) this year. Miami even nailed 20 three-pointers against them in Game 1.
These teams have met twice this month, once in the penultimate game of the regular season, and again in the playoffs. In the first matchup, Dragic went 5-for-9 from deep. In the second, he went 5-for-10. He’s getting plenty of playing time for the Heat, and as one of Miami’s better three-point shooters, he is well-positioned to exploit Milwaukee’s defensive weakness. It also helps that the Bucks have played especially poorly against point guards, as they have given up the most made threes per game to that position (3.6). Dragic has spent 67% of his minutes at the one spot.
That said, you can find some other player props to exploit Milwaukee here. I also like Jimmy Butler’s line, which is set at 1.5 with juice at +172. Butler went 2-for-9 from deep against them in Game 1, his only appearance against the Bucks this season.
3. Nikola Jokic Under 6.5 Assists | -104 at FD Sportsbook
Jokic averaged 8.3 assists per game in the regular season, but that number stumbled to 6.9 assists per game after Jamal Murray’s ACL tear. He also recorded just a single dime in Game 1 of this series. I suspect that Jokic will continue to pass less frequently with the Nuggets in crunch time and Murray sidelined, and he should stay under this total.
We saw a similar trend last year. After averaging 7.0 assists per game during the regular season, Jokic then averaged just 5.7 assists per game through the playoffs with a healthy Jamal Murray.
The Nuggets just don’t have the personnel for Jokic to trust with passes. Their starting guards, Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers, both have negative offensive RAPTOR ratings. Jokic wants to win, and he knows that passing it out isn’t an option.
Longshot Bet of the Day: Jimmy Butler Over 2.5 Made Threes | +630 at FD Sportsbook
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