Top 3 NBA Betting Picks for Thursday, May 20th (2021)

As expected, the Western Conference play-in turned out to be much more competitive and entertaining than the matchups featuring their Eastern Conference counterparts. Tonight we will have a battle for the eighth seed in the East. The Indiana Pacers will take on the Washington Wizards in what should be a competitive battle. 

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1. Wizards -3.5 | -112 at DraftKings Sportsbook

Indiana beat the Charlotte Hornets for a chance to battle for the eighth seed but have a much tougher matchup against a potent Washington Wizards team. As we saw on Tuesday, the Wizards can fall apart when Bradley Beal joins Russell Westbrook in going cold from the field. Washington is the favorite as expected, but these two teams are much closer than the -3.5 odds may suggest. Russell Westbrook is a 41 percent player from the field in his postseason career and remains a painful treat to watch. His lack of efficiency should help Indiana stay in the game. With that said, Washington swept the season series against the Pacers this season and are the favorites for a reason.

If the Wizards can click from the floor, they should be able to cruise to an easy win, but a turnover heavy outing or one with poor shooting could help the Pacers pull off the upset. However, the probability of this contest ending within the three-point range if the Wizards win is slim. And with the Pacers win probability hovering around the 40 percent mark, the cushion the spread gives does not propel Indiana into value territory. Stick with the favorite tonight with the expectation that both Westbrook and Beal have much better nights than they did against Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics. 

2. Over 237 Points | -112 at DraftKings Sportsbook

Despite playoff basketball inevitably pushing the scoring down relative to what we saw during the regular season, the Washington Wizards remain an over target. Their defense still has too many holes, and they play at a high enough pace with a potent enough offense to regularly eclipse Vegas’ posted totals when matched against teams that can score. Indiana fits that bill. The Pacers have three 20 point per game scorers in Damontis Sabonis, Caris LeVert, and Malcolm Brogdon but may struggle to fill it up with LeVert out due to health and safety protocols (hence a sub 244 total). However, since their opponent is the matador defense of the Wizards, coupled with their NBA leading 62.5 percent over win percentage, the over remains the prudent play. The total has been set this ‘low’ for a reason, but the probability still lies with the over. Tap it for one unit. 

3. Malcolm Brogdon Over 20.5 Points | -113 at DraftKings Sportsbook

Malcolm Brogdon will be forced to step up tonight if the Indiana Pacers are going to have any chance of defeating the Washington Wizards. Indiana is extremely shorthanded with Caris LeVert (health and safety), Myles Turner (toe), and Jeremy Lamb (knee), joining bubble star T.J. Warren (foot) on the sidelines. Brogdon is dealing with a hamstring injury of his own but should still see the requisite minutes and volume to threaten the over rather easily. Brogdon averaged 21.2 points per game on the season and dropped 26 on the Wizards in his lone game against them this season. This line would likely sit at 21.5 or 22.5 if Brogdon was not dealing with the injury, so take advantage of the confluence of circumstances as far as recent trends and injury to collect a unit return on the over. The juice has gone up as high as -125 at other sportsbooks, so be sure to lock this in sooner rather than later to avoid a higher tag. 

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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