It was a wild NBA trade deadline, and we’ve got players moving all over the place along with a bunch of high-profile names missing tonight. That leaves way fewer prop options than usual as the books sort through everything, and it means we’re going to have to dig a little deeper and take some risks tonight.
And you know what that means — it’s Plus Juice Day here at The Action Network! These bets are always a sweat and often down to one assist or steal in either direction, and there’s always a real chance of going 1-2 or even 0-3, so don’t play if you don’t have the stomach, or consider half units and playing the upside.
But let’s be real. Plus Juice Days are the most fun anyway, and it’s Friday, so let’s have a little fun.
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
P.J. Washington, over 2.5 assists (+138)
|Heat vs. Hornets||Heat -0.5|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | League Pass|
P.J. Washington is the sort of guy you don’t notice unless you’re watching for him. Washington doesn’t typically light up the scoreboard with his shooting or scoring, but he’s a good rotation player who does his job and takes care of the little things. Washington is a versatile team defender and a nice rebounder. On offense, he scores well within the flow of things and has some nice passing chops out of the post.
We’re depending on those passing chops for our over tonight. Washington is averaging 2.9 assists per game this season, and he’s had nine dimes over his past two games. Those last two games were the 14th and 15th time this season Washington has recorded at least four assists in a game. That’s out of 39 games, and it shows real passing ability for a young big man who hasn’t even played 30 minutes in half his games. Washington has seven games with at least five assists too. There’s real passing ability here.
With LaMelo Ball out, Washington is getting more time on the ball in Charlotte, and that means more opportunities to create for his teammates. He’s gone over 2.5 assists in 23 of 39 games, hitting this over 59% of the time anyway, and now his minutes and touches are trending up. I won’t be surprised at all if this line is 3.5 assists in a week or two as Washington establishes a higher floor.
We project Washington at 3.3 assists, and this line should be even money at worst. It’s at minus juice at some books already, so I’m grabbing it at any plus number at FanDuel while it’s available.
Jaylen Brown, over 6.5 rebounds (+125)
|Celtics at Bucks||Bucks -6|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Jaylen Brown continues to have a breakout season. Brown is one of the leading candidates for Most Improved Player and was a deserving first-time All-Star, and you can be certain he’ll play heavy minutes in a feature role against Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and the Bucks tonight. The Celtics are a bit shorthanded after the trade deadline, so Brown’s minutes have the potential to be very high.
Brown is an elite athlete who has always been a strong positional rebounder. He’s averaging 6.1 rebounds per game over the past two seasons, and he’s recorded five games this season with double-digit rebounds. He always has the potential for a big game on the boards. Boston just traded starting center Daniel Theis and has an especially small team right now, so will rely heavily on players like Brown and Jayson Tatum to play big and hit the glass hard.
Brown’s rebounding has already been trending up lately. He’s had at least nine boards in three of his last four, averaging 8.5 RPG over that stretch, and that includes a 10-rebound game two nights ago against these Bucks. That was in fewer than 34 minutes, too, and I expect Brown’s minutes to be higher tonight. In the playoffs last year when Boston played small more often and Brown’s minutes rose, he averaged 7.5 RPG and had at least eight boards in seven of his 17 games.
This could have a bit of a playoff feel to it, and we project Brown at 35.9 minutes and 7.2 rebounds. He’s only gone over 6.5 rebounds in 14 of 41 games this season, a 34% hit rate, but Brown has at least five boards in 27 games so we’re at least in range two-thirds of the time and that makes this worth a play.
I like the over at +125 and would play down to +110.
Marcus Smart, over 1.5 steals (+150)
|Celtics at Bucks||Bucks -6|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Let’s stay with the Celtics and play one more over with a lot of the same logic as Brown. Expect a heavy workload from Marcus Smart tonight. The Celtics probably won’t get much if anything from Evan Fournier yet, and I’m not sure Tristan Thompson or Robert Williams will be reliable for many minutes against the Bucks either.
This feels like a game where Boston’s core guys — Tatum, Brown and Smart, in particular — will play every minute they’re able, with the Celtics needing their toughness and defense on the court as much as possible. Smart has already played 37 and 39 minutes his last two games, so another big minutes night seems likely.
You know all about Smart’s instincts and playmaking as a defender. He has a nose for the ball and is one of the league’s best thieves. He averages 1.5 steals per game this season and 1.6 SPG for his career. And the key thing here is factoring in minutes load. Smart averages 1.9 steals per 36 minutes, and he’s a strong bet to play at least 36 minutes in this one. With one steal per 18.6 minutes for his career, Smart only needs to play 28 minutes to put odds on this prop in our favor, and he could clear that by double digits.
Milwaukee doesn’t turn it over much, but Smart isn’t most defenders. He might end up playing some small-ball center tonight, and he’ll certainly get his chances against Antetokounmpo, who can be turnover-prone at times.
Smart has multiple steals in 12 of his 25 games this season, hitting this over almost half the time. He also has three games under 25 minutes due to injuries, so if you remove those games, he’s over 1.5 steals in 12 of the other 22 games, hitting this over 55% of the time. And he has at least one steal in all but five games, so that puts us one away from a win.
It won’t be easy, but Plus Juice days are always a sweat. Let’s hope we get that second steal, and at +150, we only have to believe it’s coming more than 40% of the time to make this a positive play. The math would probably suggest this is closer to -150, so I’ll play at just about any plus number.