The NBA Play-In Tournament is here, and if you’ve been following our regular-season betting content, we’re changing things up. Instead of each of our experts providing daily leans for each game and three written-up picks, one expert will provide daily write-ups.
I’m excited about the new model, and I hope to kick things off with a strong start. Here are the top betting picks for the Eastern Conference play-in tournament!
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1. Hornets +2 | -110 at DraftKings Sportsbook
I’m not sure how or why the Indiana Pacers remain favored over the Hornets following the Caris LeVert news. The Pacers are already without Jeremy Lamb and Myles Turner. Four other players, Malcolm Brogdon, Edmond Sumner, Domantas Sabonis, and Aaron Holiday, are all questionable. Brogdon hasn’t even played since late April.
The potential absence of both Brogdon and LeVert makes this a fantastic line to target. Indiana head coach Nate Bjorkgren said that Brogdon would be a game-time call after his warm-up, and even if he does play, the adjustment back to on-court action may prove difficult.
The Pacers have played just two games without both Brogdon and LeVert all season, and they lost both — one to the Knicks (-3) and one to the Bucks (-9). Even a limited Brogdon may not be able to make up the difference and help the Pacers cover, especially since they are just 13-23 ATS at home, the NBA’s third-worst such record.
I suspect that the Hornets will get bid up by tip-off, so buy them as two-point underdogs while you can.
2. P.J. Washington Over 14.5 Points | -105 at DraftKings Sportsbook
The Pacers are awful against opposing power forwards, as they allow the second-most points per game to the position (22.9). And in the two games that they played without LeVert and Brogdon, opposing power forwards lit them up for 28 (Randle) and 40 (Antetokounmpo) points, respectively. Although Washington is certainly nowhere near that tier of player, his line is much lower, too.
We’ve seen Washington take advantage of the Pacers to surpass this total twice already. In their three regular-season meetings, Washington recorded 18, 19, and 13 points, his one bust coming in a blowout win in which he played less than a half-hour.
The other upshot with Washington is that he has averaged well above this total since Gordon Hayward’s injury, with 15.5 points per game after that point. He has gone over this total in 11 of Charlotte’s 20 games since then, although he hasn’t done so over in any of Charlotte’s last five games, which have all been losses. That said, I’m bullish on Charlotte tonight, and a strong night from Washington should help them turn things around.
3. Wizards +2.5 | -115 at DraftKings Sportsbook
I like the resurgent Wizards plus the points. However, the numbers show that the public is all over this line — sportsbooks say that 66% of the bets have come in on Washington but only 60% of the money. So why am I taking it anyway?
Well, the trends do point to value on the Wizards. They have gone 22-13-1 ATS on the road, the NBA’s fourth-best such record. In contrast, the Celtics are just 17-18-1 ATS at home. The Wizards have also covered this spread against the Celtics in two of their three matchups this season. The Celtics are also just 6-8 without Jaylen Brown, too.
Washington has a real shot to pull off the upset here, and even if they don’t, they should at least keep things close.
4. Kemba Walker Under 4.5 Assists | +130 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Boston’s game against Washington should be a relatively high-scoring game, but the odds for Walker to stay under his assist total are higher than the implied odds this line offers (43.5%). Why? Well, the Wizards surrender the most points per game to point guards (26.5) but the second-fewest assists (7.7), as point guards often opt to take their own shots instead of passing.
Walker’s recent averages also point to value on the under. The veteran averaged only 4.3 assists per game across his four May outings, all of which came with Jaylen Brown sidelined. Walker has played in 10 games without Brown this season, and he recorded four or fewer assists in all but two of them. Yet this line sits heavily in the plus money.
I don’t consider this bet a true lock, but it offers a ton of value relative to its implied odds.
Check out our NBA Prop Bet Cheat Sheet for the top bets of the day >>
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