The Bucks got absolutely embarrassed in Games 1 and 2 against the Nets. And normally it’s not so devastating to lose twice on the road to start a series, but these games were barely even contested, and unless Milwaukee wins back at home tonight, this thing is a wrap.
Out west, Los Angeles Clippers are looking to avoid the 0-2 hole the Bucks are already in, the same hole they just finished digging out of. For both of these teams, their backs are against the wall. What can two desperate teams find answers? Maybe our three props below can help.
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.
Below, I have laid out three prop-bets that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Bryn Forbes, over 9.5 points (-130)
|Nets at Bucks||-3.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Much has been said about Milwaukee’s inability to stop Brooklyn’s attack, even without James Harden, but I’m much more concerned about this putrid offensive effort. Remember how the Nets are supposed to be bad at defense? Milwaukee can’t score, and the Bucks aren’t even generating good looks.
The Bucks don’t have a ton of answers they can try, but one of them is more Bryn Forbes. Forbes is this team’s designated shooter, and he was always going to need to do more once Donte DiVincenzo went out for the season. Still, Milwaukee has started P.J. Tucker instead of DiVincenzo in both games so far, hoping Tucker’s defense could slow down Kevin Durant.
(Uhh… it’s not working).
Tucker had a great couple minutes out of the gates and has looked defeated ever since. His only real role in this series is to defend KD, so if that’s really not happening, then there’s not much other reason to keep Tucker out there. Maybe he can hit the occasional corner 3, especially as Milwaukee increasingly ignores him on the perimeter, but he’s cramping the Bucks spacing and just not adding enough.
I think we might get less Tucker going forward, and Forbes is the first option Milwaukee should try. He’s not a good defender, but it’s not like Milwaukee is stopping Brooklyn anyway, so the Bucks may as well try to score. And sure enough, Forbes actually played 16 first-half minutes in Game 2, but not many noticed since the game was over midway through the third and the rotations got all funky from there.
Role players typically play better at home in the playoffs, and shooters tend to shoot better there, too. Forbes has already had a couple huge playoff games, and he’s averaging 12.5 points per game so far in the postseason and making 45% of his 7.0 3-point attempts per game. He’s had double digits in four of six playoff games this year, going over this line 67% of the time.
The Bucks need offense, and that means speeding up the tempo and getting higher quality shots up. I like Forbes to have another good game, and I’ll play the over to -150. I’m also seeing this at 10.5 at some books for around even odds, and that’s a playable pivot too if you don’t have the 9.5 at a good number.
Marcus Morris, over 1.5 threes (-165)
|Clippers at Jazz||+3|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Folks, I am about to blow your mind with this fact.
Are you ready for this?
Marcus Morris — yes, THAT Marcus Morris — is the third most accurate playoff 3-point shooter in NBA history.
Yep. It’s true. Among shooters with at least 100 makes, Morris ranks third all time at a sparkling 42.8% from behind the arc. Actually, he ranked second all time until Game 1, when he was 1-of-9 on 3s. The top two shooters are Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Jeff Hornacek, by the way — at least until Morris has another huge game.
If you’ve ever watched even five minutes of Marcus Morris before, you know he’s not exactly about to stop shooting just because he missed a few shots in Game 1. Morris has been firing all postseason. He’s taken at least five 3-point attempts in six of eight games and is averaging 2.3 makes on 38%, even after that Game 1 doozy.
Morris is playing 33.4 minutes a game in the playoffs, and that number may go up in Game 2 since it sure looks like the Clippers will match up best against Utah by playing small and switching everything, like they did against Utah. That should mean heavy Morris minutes, and if he’s out there, he’s going to be shooting.
Morris is getting up a ton of shots right now, usually between five and nine 3s a game. And we only need two! This line is already juiced pretty high, but that’s because it should probably be at 2.5 instead when Morris is playing and shooting this much. I’d play to at least -200.
Paul George, over 31.5 points + rebounds (-111)
|Clippers at Jazz||+3|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Paul George can’t possibly play this bad forever… right?
PG shot 4-of-17 in Game 1 against Utah. In Game 7 against Dallas, he was only 5-for-15. The game before that, 6-of-15. In five straight games, Paul George has taken at least 15 shots, and in all five of them, he’s made no more than seven. During that stretch, PG is shooting an astonishingly horrid 35.9%. Like… not on 3s. That’s his field goal percentage. It’s bad, folks.
But here’s the thing. Even as bad as he’s shot over that stretch, George still averaged 21.0 PPG. He’s getting to the line a ton right now and hitting a few 3s, and he’s still taking plenty of shots. George is also averaging 9.6 rebounds per game in that stretch, in part because he’s playing huge minutes in these playoffs.
George has played just over 40 minutes a game this postseason, and even as much as he’s missing, he’s still averaging 23.1 PPG. That’s about in line with his season average of 23.3, but the rebounds are way up from 6.6 to 9.1 RPG.
So which of those numbers makes more sense?
The rebounds, of course. George is playing more, a lot more. He’s up from 33.8 to 40.2 minutes a game, a 19% increase in playing time. Increase PG’s regular season numbers accordingly and he’d jump from 23.3/6.6 to 27.8/7.9. The rebounds have gone up even higher, perhaps because the Clippers are playing so much small ball and PG is playing big.
George is still scoring and producing, even while he shoots poorly. He’s averaging 32.2 points + rebounds a game and has gone over 31.5 in half of his playoff games. He’s also had at least 28 PR in every game, a very high floor that puts us in reach even if PG goes cold yet again.
The Clippers need Paul George to step up. Now we need him too. I’ll play the combo over to -125.