We’ve completed the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and have a pair of intriguing second-round games to bet on for Monday evening. The Bucks are in a 1-0 hole against the Nets, but the big storyline is the absence of James Harden, who’s been ruled out for Game 2 with a hamstring injury suffered on the first possession of the series. The Nuggets will also visit the Suns for a Game 1 between two teams who both won as underdogs in the previous round. I lean to the Bucks and Suns in these games, but not enough for plays. So I’ll be diving into the player prop market.
Irving averaged just 5.8 assists this season, and the splits with and without Harden on the floor are pretty obvious. When Harden’s on the floor, he assumes point guard duties at all times, and now we remove his 10.8 dimes from the equation. Kevin Durant will also be more involved as a passer, but I think we see Irving play with a similar mindset as Game 1 when he had eight assists in 45 minutes. The number here is spot on in some senses, with Kyrie averaging exactly 6.5 assists in games without Harden, but that’s also in 33.8 minutes per game. Against top competition in the playoffs, we’ll see his minutes up as we did on Saturday, creating an advantage.
Lopez has been hot in the playoffs, averaging 16.4 points while shooting 61.2% from the field. He scored 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the Game 1 loss to his former team, which clearly lacks size in the frontcourt. While we saw Blake Griffin have one of his most impactful games in years on Saturday, the matchup on offense clearly plays into Lopez’s favor. Look for Milwaukee to continue to give Lopez his deep touches around the rim.
This is a weird one. We have to lay some juice here, but we get a great shooter in Paul to just knock one down and we cash. In 70 regular-season games this year, CP3 shot 39.5% from downtown, connecting on 1.5 of his 3.7 attempts per game. So why are we getting this price? Paul only hit two 3-pointers in the entire series against the Lakers. He made his lone attempt in Game 1, didn’t even attempt one the next two games, then finished the series with some poor shooting in the last three games (a combined 1-for-9). I think both the lack of attempts in Games 2 and 3 and the misses in the rest of the games are just dumb luck. I’ll bet on that to change here in a fresh series and new matchup. CP3 attempted 13 triples in three meetings with Denver this season.
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