The first round of the NBA Playoffs has been wild. We have had some highly entertaining matchups. However, injuries continue to strike and have dealt a number of critical blows to the aspirations of teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. Injuries present opportunities and angles for us to attack as bettors, and tonight is no different.
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1. Suns +2 | -109 at DraftKings Sportsbook
This is the toughest night so far to pick an ATS winner. We have only two games and have Anthony Davis missing the Suns-Lakers series and the Blazers as surprising five point favorites over the Nuggets. With little value being offered for a Blazers team we were hoping to see as the underdogs, we move to the Suns and the Lakers.
Los Angeles looked lost without Anthony Davis. It became very clear during Game 5 that the Lakers have little firepower aside from LeBron James when Davis is sidelined. Playoff basketball is a different animal, and relying on players like Andre Drummond, Dennis Schroeder, and Kyle Kuzma will present turbulence. Any NBA player can get hot, but these three players are not cut out to be consistent number two options for a team with championship aspirations.
The Lakers poor job of roster building and fails in free agency are rearing their ugly head at the wrong time, and it will take LeBron channeling the Black Mamba himself to will the Lakers to a Game 6 victory. Phoenix looked like the much better team when compared to the Lakers without Anthony Davis.
The Suns should probably be the favorites for this contest, but due to the size of the Lakers betting handle, the books have decided to list them at +2. Take the cushion for the team that should win straight up. Tap the Suns for one unit.
2. Damian Lillard Over 8.5 Assists | -118 at DraftKings Sportsbook
This is a prop that will pique the interest of even the casual bettor. Damian Lillard is in full ‘Dame Time’ mode and has averaged 35.6 points and 9.6 assists per game in the playoffs. He has hit double-digit assists in four of five playoff contests and is an excellent bet to do so once again.
The potential value here suggests a multi-unit play but do so only if you have the bankroll wiggle room. There is a scenario where Damian Lillard decides he needs to take close to 40 shots to win against Denver. If this happens, his assists may drop below the required number of nine assists.
However, the more likely scenario is Lillard looking to get his teammates even more involved early in the game in an effort to boost their confidence for this elimination game. Regardless of how or why he gets there, the smart money is on Lillard continuing his assist trend against the Nuggets. Tap this prop for one unit and enjoy the game.
3. Nikola Jokic Under 6.5 Assists | -127 at DraftKings Sportsbook
As mentioned last week, when we tapped this prop at the same number, Nikola Jokic has not been racking up dimes at the same level as he did in the regular season. A lot of it has to do with more possessions ending with him, due in part to Jamaal Murray not being on the floor. Jokic averaged 8.3 assists per game during the season but has managed just 4.2 assists per game during the playoffs.
He finally hit seven or more assists in Game 5, but that took him two extra quarters in the double overtime thriller. He failed to cross the 6.5 assist barrier in the previous four contests against Portland and is a great bet to fall under the number once again. As we can see, the sharp money has been pouring in on this prop since it was posted, so be sure to lock this in as a one or two unit play sooner rather than later to avoid getting stuck with a higher number.
Check out our NBA Prop Bet Cheat Sheet for the top bets of the day >>
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Raju Byfield is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyContext.
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