The NBA playoffs roll onward, and another jam-packed slate of action awaits us tonight. The banged-up Celtics face elimination in a crucial Game 5 matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, but I’m looking elsewhere for value.
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1. Suns Under 106.5 | -114 at FD Sportsbook
The Lakes have played strong defense on the road all season. Their road trips have the lowest full-game over percentage in the NBA (33.3%), and the injury to Anthony Davis has moved Phoenix’s total high enough for this prop to offer some decent value.
In their four playoff games, the Suns have scored 99 (Game 1, Phoenix), 102 (Game 2, Phoenix), 109 (Game 3, Los Angeles), and 100 (Game 4, Los Angeles). They’re yet to beat this total in a home game, and Los Angeles should still have the defensive personnel required to contain Phoenix’s offense even if Davis can’t play.
Chris Paul’s injury is another reason to target this prop. Although the veteran point guard looked better as he helped the Suns secure a crucial Game 4 win, he still isn’t operating at 100%, and it’s hard to see how Phoenix clears this total if he is limited in any capacity.
2. Lakers Second Quarter Under 25.5 | +100 at FD Sportsbook
Here’s a plus-money prop that I like enough to feature as a standard play. The Lakers have struggled in the second frame in this playoff series — they have recorded totals of 20 (Game 1), 23 (Game 2), 16 (Game 3), and 26 (Game 4) thus far. That makes them 1-3 against this mark, and they now may not have Anthony Davis to help.
The other upshot to this pick is that the full-season trends also point to Los Angeles as a poor second-quarter team. They score the 13th-fewest points per second quarter, the fifth-worst mark of any playoff team. Also, the Suns give up the fourth-fewest points per second quarter, as their reserves have put together some strong defensive outings.
Ultimately, the odds that the Lakers continue to struggle in the second frame are better than the implied odds on this line (50%). That makes this play a strong value bet.
3. Nikola Jokic Under 5.5 Assists | -105 at FD Sportsbook
Nikola Jokic has stopped passing as frequently with the Nuggets in do-or-die mode (and because of Jamal Murray’s injury). To give you some perspective, he averaged 8.3 assists per game in the regular season, but that number fell to 6.9 once Murray tore his ACL. He has since averaged three assists per game in the playoffs.
You can find this line in the plus money despite the fact that Jokic hasn’t cashed the over at all in this series. He has recorded assist totals of 1 (Game 1), 5 (Game 2), 5 (Game 3), and 1 (Game 4) to date, well below his season-long averages.
What would it take for Jokic’s assists numbers to trend back up? Probably better guard play, which isn’t something you can expect the Nuggets to find this late in the year. They’re stuck with Facundo Campazo and Austin Rivers in the backcourt, so Jokic knows that he’ll need to do most of the scoring himself.
Today’s Plus-Money Prop: Nikola Jokic Under 4.5 Assists | +178 at FD Sportsbook
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