We’ve reached either the final or penultimate game of the NBA season and for the first time since last summer, the title is officially on the line. The Boston Celtics finally lost two in a row for the first time all postseason and return home with the Warriors looking for one more win and a chance to add a fourth title in eight seasons.
Whether the Warriors win or not, this is my final time writing this props column for the season, so we’re going back to the well with our favorite gimmick one last time. Uhh ohhh, you know what that means … guess what day it is?
Guess. What. Day. It. Is.
PLUS JUICE DAY!!!!!!!
We’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Below, I have laid out three prop bets I’m playing at plus juice, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Marcus Smart, Over 15.5 Points (-118) | Over 19.5 Points (+230)
|Warriors vs. Celtics||Celtics -3.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | ABC|
I thought Marcus Smart would be an X-factor coming into the Finals — an aggressive playmaker on both ends — and he’s lived up to expectations so far. Smart probably isn’t going to cash my long-shot Finals MVP bet, but he’s been just as aggressive and involved offensively as I expected.
Smart is averaging 16.4 PPG in the Finals and that’s all the more impressive when you remember that two-point dud in Game 2. He’s averaging 20.0 PPG in the other four with at least 18 points in all four of them.
And the truth is, that’s nothing new against the Warriors. Smart has a history of playing aggressively on offense in this matchup. In his past five Warriors games before these Finals, he averaged 18.2 PPG with 3.8 made 3s per game. That puts him at 17.3 PPG over his past 10 Warriors games and he’s scored at least 18 points against Golden State in six of seven games this year.
Even better, Smart’s numbers have ballooned after losses this postseason. He’s the heart and soul of this team and he’s one guy who’s never afraid to shoot when this offense goes stagnant — for better and for worse.
In six playoff games after a loss this postseason, Smart is averaging 21.8 PPG, with at least 18 points in every single one of them. Those post-loss lines have been consistently strong: 18, 21, 24, 24, 24 and 20 points.
This line actually opened at 16.5 after inching up the past few games, but it’s back to 15.5 now and I’m playing Smart yet again. I would’ve played it at 16.5 too, and you know I’m also looking at some alternate lines.
Smart is +150 to score 18-plus at DraftKings. Remember, he’s done that in 6-of-6 games after a playoff loss and 6-of-7 times against the Warriors this year. He’s +230 to hit 20 points at FanDuel and he’s +425 to top 22.5 points at Bet365. Bet just the standard line, bet a favorite alternate, or play a little at each level for a Game 6 escalator bet.
However you play it, make sure you bet on Smart coming out aggressive and getting his shots up in a must-win game.
Andrew Wiggins to Record Double-Double (+220)
Andrew Wiggins has been the story of the past couple games, so let’s keep playing what we’re seeing.
We played Wiggins’ rebounding over in Game 4 and boy did we smash that one. He hit his rebounding over a couple minutes into the second half and finished the game with 16 boards, a career high by five whole rebounds. He had another strong performance in Game 5, racking up 13 boards and adding 26 points to lead the team. He shot 12-of-17 on 2s, including an emphatic dunk late to punctuate the win.
Wiggins was billed as Maple Jordan coming into the NBA, but he’s been more Maple Pippen — the perfect complementary player doing everything Golden State might have ever hoped to get from him — these past couple games. He’s bailed out the offense with self creation at times, gotten out in transition, hit the boards hard and defended well.
Wiggins leads all players at 14.2 rebounding chances per game, per NBA Advanced Stats. That’s the most by almost two per game more than anyone else and it makes sense. Boston’s players have looked exhausted after playing long minutes in two straight seven-game series. Golden State’s core is older.
Wiggins is the one core member in his prime and that extra energy is coming in handy. He’s playing 38 MPG over the past 11 games and has gone over 40 minutes in each of the past three.
If you tailed our Buckets podcast, you knew about Wiggins coming into the series and have been playing him all postseason. You might even be drooling over a series rebounding ticket you got on Wiggins at +3500. He’s averaging 8.5 RPG over these past 11 games with the high minutes — that includes five double-doubles.
That’s the angle I’m playing. The +220 implies a 31% chance and that’s just not high enough. We know Wiggins will play heavy minutes and he’s scored double-digit points in 89 of 94 games this season, so that gets us halfway there. Add in 29 rebounds the past two games — along with 36 rebounding chances — and we have to like our chances at 10 boards and a third straight double-double.
If you want to go less aggressive, you can play just the rebounding over, or you can ride with the over 26.5 points + rebounds at near even odds at FanDuel. Wiggins nearly beat that on points alone last game, but I’m a bit nervous the midrange numbers could regress and give us an ugly shooting game at some point. The double-double actually gives us a points cushion and focuses on rebounding, so I prefer that angle.
Maple Jordan, Maple Pippen … call Wiggins whatever you want, but tonight let’s hope to call him Mr. Double-Double.
Jordan Poole, Under 15.5 PTS + REBs + AST (+102)
I’ve been waiting all series to fade Jordan Poole and this Game 6 spot — on the road, late in the series and with everything on the line — is the one I was eyeing. We’re playing this on a bit of a hunch.
All postseason, Poole has had some remarkable trends as a bellwether of team success. The Warriors are 12-2 when Poole scores at least 14 points, including 3-0 in the Finals. When he doesn’t get that many, Golden State drops to 3-4, including 0-2 against Boston.
Poole has been great early in playoff series, but faded late as things tightened up and his minutes have often faded as he starts to get targeted more defensively. In Games 1 to 3 this postseason, Poole averaged an impressive 21.0 PPG. But, from Game 4 forward in each series, that number is cut almost in half, all the way down to 11.8 PPG.
Poole scored 14 in each of the past two games and the Warriors won. That fits the bellwether trend, but it’s slightly above his usual late-series PPG. Poole averaged 24.0 minutes the first three games, but played only 20.5 in the Game 4 win. He dropped to 14.3 minutes in Game 5, his fewest of the postseason.
Kerr basically used him to juice the offense for a couple seven-minute stretches without Curry, but otherwise kept him on the bench in favor of better defensive options, such as Gary Payton II.
Poole’s scoring is a bit artificially inflated in this series thanks to two half-court buzzer beaters, and even then he’s at just 12.8 PPG. His scoring tends to come either in a two-minute barrage or not at all.
In Game 6, I’m banking on the reduced minutes trend to continue. Remember, he’s averaging only 17 minutes over the past two games and Kerr’s defensive lineups are working. In 11 games this season with under 24 minutes, Poole is averaging 9.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He’s gone under 15.5 PRA in eight of those 11 games, hitting this under 73% of the time.
Poole only has eight rebounds and nine assists all series and he put up goose eggs in both columns in Game 5. He’s not playing a lot and when he does, it’s mostly scoring or bust. I’m betting on a bust and won’t be surprised if the minutes reduce even further. I’ll even play a little on FanDuel’s alternate under 12.5 PRA at +225 too. Let’s hope we don’t get a Poole Party.