Well, we sure had some fun in the first round, didn’t we?
Our first round NBA props were absolutely on fire. We went 26-6 in Round 1, a ridiculous 81% hit rate, including multiple perfect 3-0 days. On 32 bets for the round, we are up +17.0 units, leaving an absurd 53% return on investment. A $100 bettor would be up $1700 on these props just in the last two weeks of Round 1 action alone.
We can’t run this hot forever, but let’s see if we can keep the good times rolling as we start the second round.
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
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Over 5.5 Assists (+116)
|Bucks vs. Nets||Nets -1.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | TNT|
Giannis Antetokounmpo is an absolute beast, and it’s time for him to unleash the monster tonight. Milwaukee can’t afford to go down 0-2 to a team as talented as the Nets, especially when Brooklyn will be without James Harden in Game 2.
The Bucks don’t know if or when Harden might be back, so it’s imperative for Milwaukee to make a statement and get the win tonight. I expect the Bucks to play increased minutes for their stars, and Antetokounmpo better be at the top of that list.
Giannis is averaging 25.6 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game so far in the playoffs, and those numbers would be even higher if he didn’t sit out the final minutes of a handful of blowouts already. Antetokounmpo is averaging 36.0 minutes per game, but he played over 35 minutes in Game 1 despite getting a little more rest than fans expected along the way plus sitting out the final four minutes once the loss was clear.
We project Giannis at 38.2 minutes, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play 40-plus if the game stays close. Antetokounmpo is averaging 7.0 APG this postseason, so this line seems a bit odd until you realize he had 15 dimes in one game and is otherwise averaging 5.0 APG per game without that outlier.
Antetokounmpo was at 5.9 APG during the regular season, and that was in only 33.0 minutes. He’s going to play 15 or 20% more minutes here and those minutes should come in a high-flying, fast-paced game against the Nets. You want overs in this game, and most of the lines are juiced but this one looks playable.
We’re projecting Giannis at 6.4 assists, and I expect a huge game from the man who is still the two-time defending MVP. I love this over at any plus number and would play to -110 if necessary.
Deandre Ayton, Over 13.5 Points (+100)
|Nuggets vs. Suns||Suns -4.5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | TNT|
I did a double and a triple take when I saw this line.
Ayton was a beast in Round 1 against the Lakers. He scored at least 21 points in each of the first three games of the series and had double-digit rebounds in each of the first four. His numbers were quieter the final two games, mostly because Phoenix was rolling and hitting all its shots and didn’t need him to be huge inside, but now these lines have dropped.
Ayton averaged 15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game against the Lakers, up from 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game across his regular season. Of course, his minutes were also up from 30.6 to 36.3 per game, and it’s only rational to expect Phoenix to play Ayton as much as possible against Nikola Jokic.
Fouls could be an issue, but if Ayton can stay out of foul trouble, he could play 35 to 40 minutes a game in this series as a giant defender who can give Jokic, and with Phoenix so thin at center behind Ayton with Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric struggling.
Ayton will have his hands full on defense against Jokic, and he’s sure to get plenty of help. But as long as he doesn’t get too worn down, or in foul trouble, he has the potential to have another huge series offensively. Ayton is a massive man and he could get a lot of easy looks at the rim with Chris Paul and Devin Booker slicing into a weak Denver defense and Ayton waiting at the rim for lobs and easy put backs.
Look no further than the regular season to see how well Ayton might put up numbers on these Nuggets. He scored 22, 27, and 17 points in his three games against Denver, averaging 22.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, and he even fouled out in one of those games, one of two such disqualifications all season for him.
Our Props Tool loves Ayton overs tonight, and so do I. I almost recommended his rebounds over too at 9.5, and the points + rebounds looks tasty but will require a nice scoring night to get there anyway.
This one is just as reachable at even odds, so I’m grabbing the points over but might end up playing several Ayton lines in a parlay as well. I fully expect these Ayton points and rebounding lines to rise as the series goes on.
We project Ayton at 17.5 points and 11.6 rebounds in 38.5 minutes. That gives us some real margin for error, even if he misses a couple bunnies or ends up a few minutes short. That gives this one a 23% error in our favor, and I’m grabbing it while I can.
I would have set this line a point or two higher at least. I’d play the over 13.5 as high as -150.
Mikal Bridges, Over 1.5 Assists (-128)
|Nuggets vs. Suns||Suns -4.5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | TNT|
Unlike Ayton, Mikal Bridges had a relatively quiet first round series against the Lakers. He averaged 9.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game and hit only 38% of his shots.
It turns out playing against LeBron James is hard.
Bridges should find life much easier against Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon this series considering they are, you know, not The King. And that could mean a regression toward the mean for his numbers, with the mean in this case referring to his regular season numbers.
There, Bridges averaged 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. You can see how his scoring and passing were down, as Bridges just didn’t get many touches against a really tough, physical Lakers defense that closed down the passing lanes, took away those Bridges back cuts, and reduced him to a spot up shooter.
Denver is not the Lakers, not in any way in defense, and that should mean more typical numbers for Bridges. He had multiple assists in 46 of his 72 games this season, hitting the over 64% of the time, and though his numbers haven’t gone up so far in the playoffs, his minutes have. That leaves even more time to get those two assists.
Even in a quieter series against the Lakers, Bridges still went over 1.5 dimes in three of the six games. He also went over 1.5 assists in all three games against the Nuggets in the regular season, averaging 2.7 APG in those outings.
We project Bridges at 2.3 assists, and he should get that pair of assists we need. I’ll play the over to -155.