We’re three games into the NBA Finals and things are getting spicy. Milwaukee won Game 3 on Sunday to cut the Phoenix lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven matchup. And needless to say, it sure looks like Milwaukee is settling in for a long series. That makes this the perfect time to check in on some series-long prop bets at BetMGM and DraftKings.
If you haven’t been following our daily NBA props all season, I’m sorry you’ve missed out. We went 257-208-13 in the regular season, good for a 55.3% hit rate, and finished +94.57 units with a 20.3% return on investment. We’ve stepped up our game even further in the playoffs, going 60-32 so far. That’s a solid 65.2% winning effort, going up +23.05 playoff units with a 25.2% ROI.
If you blindly bet every one of our NBA props in this space all season at $100 each, you’d be up $11,762 right now. That’s a pretty nice profit.
That doesn’t mean you have to play all the angles below since some might not be available in your state. However, let’s run through the options and see what looks good going forward. We’ll do it by category, starting with points.
If we’re talking points, we have to start with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s averaging 34.3 points per game. After scoring only 20 points in his Game 1 return from injury, he’s racked up 42 and 41 the last two games and feels inevitable right now, but there’s a ton of recency bias there. The truth is that Antetokounmpo has scored under 35 points in 15 of his 18 playoff games.
The line is 34.3 points, so we literally just have to bet whether Antetokounmpo will go above or below his current average going forward. He isn’t going to keep scoring 40 every night. He averaged 28.2 PPG before the Finals.
The Suns will force Milwaukee to find another option at some point, especially if Deandre Ayton can stay out of foul trouble. Antetokounmpo also drew 35 free throws the last two games and hit 24 of them. Neither of those numbers are sustainable. That scoring average is bound to come down, mostly because it really can’t go up. Take the under.
I’m taking Jrue Holiday under 17.9 PPG as well. Holiday is at 16.0 PPG so far, even after hitting an outlier five 3-pointers in Game 3. Holiday did average 17.6 PPG before the Finals, but that was boosted by three games with Antetokounmpo missing, when Holiday took a bigger role. Otherwise ,he averaged 16.3 PPG with the Bucks star playing, which is right about at his current Finals average. This is great under play.
Antetokounmpo is a massive favorite to lead the series in points at -10000 at DraftKings. Obviously, don’t play it. If you want a case for a serious long shot, you’re basically counting on a freak re-injury. With 103 points already, even a lower average gets him to around 160 points after five games.
However, if Antetokounmpo gets hurt again and misses more than a game, the underdogs here could be live. Holiday, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker are all too far back with quiet games so far.
Chris Paul averages 2.4 PPG more in his playoff career than the regular season. He’s had some big scoring games in these playoffs, with a penchant to take over. Paul has struggled against Holiday, but if the series goes at least six and he averages around 28 PPG going forward, that gets him to that 160 total.
You still need some yucky help from Antetokounmpo, but this is a 75-1 long shot if you want to get crazy.
Points Plays (all odds via DraftKings)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo — Under 34.3 PPG (-115)
- Jrue Holiday — Under 17.9 PPG (-115)
- Chris Paul — Most points in the series (+7500)
The assists lines look pretty sharp, so we won’t play any per game bets.
Holiday has recorded at least nine assists in six of his last seven games. He’s averaging 8.4 APG for the playoffs, but that’s up to 9.4 APG since the start of the conference finals. Holiday’s assist total is also artificially low due to Milwaukee’s poor shooting.
Paul hasn’t cracked double-digit assists in his last six games, averaging 8.2 APG during that span. And remember, Holiday has been locking Paul up the last couple games.
Holiday is also playing more than Paul, and there’s always an injury risk with the Suns’ point guard. I think these two should be even odds, and I’d make Holiday a slight favorite. That makes him a good play at +115 odds.
Assists plays (via DraftKings)
- Jrue Holiday — Most assists in series (+115)
Antetokounmpo is the series betting favorite. He has 42 rebounds so far — a robust 14.0 RPG — and he’s playing for -260 odds at DraftKings. However, Ayton is just three rebounds behind right him at 39, which is a 13.0 RPG average boosted by a monster 19-rebound Game 1 effort.
Ayton is +300 odds at BetMGM and I like his chances. Remember, he was limited to only 24 minutes in Game 3 with foul trouble. If that wasn’t the case, he might well be leading this bet since he averaged more than 40 MPG the first two Finals games.
Ayton has been huge on the defensive glass, and you could see how much Phoenix missed him there in Game 3. Ayton’s averaging 10.3 defensive rebounds per game alone in the Finals. He’s averaged 14.0 RPG his last eight games, putting up a monster rebounding night about once every three playoff contests.
Antetokounmpo will rebound as well, so it won’t be easy. Yet, Ayton can match him. I’d make Ayton a slight underdog, but +300 implies just a 25% chance of victory. Ayton’s odds are better than that, and that’s not even counting for the possibility of Antetokounmpo missing some time with that injury. I’m definitely not playing Milwaukee’s star, and I like Ayton’s chances.
Also, I like a couple RPG overs a lot. Brook Lopez is averaging 5.7 RPG in the Finals, with his minutes down to 24.0 per game. Before the Finals, Lopez was averaging 6.1 RPG in 30.6 minutes in the playoffs. Lopez had only two rebounds in Game 3, and he’s played under 23 minutes twice in the Finals. That said, the books have pushed this line down and it’s far to low.
Lopez’s rebounding rate is way up in the Finals, from one every 6.1 minutes to every 4.2, and he’s mashing the offensive glass with eight offensive rebounds. Lopez did get played off the court some in Game 1, but he’s been very good since and the Bucks are winning playing big.
I expect Lopez to average more than seven RPG the rest of the way and play more consistent minutes since the Bucks are so good with their five starters out there. I think Lopez goes over his 5.3 RPG line at DraftKings. If you agree Lopez will play plenty of minutes going forward, his PPG over looks good.
The Suns, on the other hand, are playing small. With Dario Šarić out, Phoenix has no playable backup center, so they’ve turned to Crowder and Torrey Craig for that role. Crowder has had a very Draymond Green-type role in these Finals. He’s crashing the glass hard and defending for his life.
Crowder is averaging 8.3 RPG in the Finals, way up from 5.2 RPG the rest of the playoffs, and hasn’t even had an offensive rebound yet. He’s just attacking the defensive glass, where he’s having success, against all that Milwaukee size. Crowder is more than a rebound above this 7.2 RPG line right now. Even if the numbers drop a little, he should stay safely over the number.
- Deandre Ayton — Most rebounds in series (+300 at BetMGM)
- Brook Lopez — Over 5.3 RPG (-115 at DraftKings)
- Jae Crowder — Over 7.2 RPG (-115 at DraftKings)
We’re going the other way with Crowder on this prop.
Crowder hit six 3-pointers in Game 3, his highest total of the playoffs. He’s averaging 3.0 makes in the Finals right now, a surprising number after his 0-fer in Game 1. However, Crowder runs super hot and cold and has made 9 of 17 of his 3-point attempts in the series for 53 percent.
That’s not sustainable, and it’s also not much volume for a guy using all his energy this series on defense. Plus, Crowder is always a threat for another 0-fer. A 2.9 3-pointers/game average is just too much to ask. Grab the under in this spot.
So, what about the series leader? That race is wide open right now. Crowder is tied with Middleton and Booker at the top with nine 3-pointers apiece, with Paul one behind. Holiday’s six 3-pointers are next, with Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson at five each. What’s interesting, though, is that every player is at least a 2-to-1 underdog here.
I don’t like Bridges, Johnson or Holiday. Assuming this series goes six games, I’d top that trio out around 12 each. Holiday’s five makes in Game 3 were an outlier, and Bridges and Johnson don’t see enough minutes. Crowder is the betting favorite at +230 odds, but too inconsistent for my blood.
If you think Phoenix wins in five, he’s an interesting play because the Suns are 8-1 when Crowder scores double digits and he’s a real bellwether to their success. If they close out quickly, Crowder hitting 3s is a likely culprit.
I’m giving Crowder 13 to 18 makes if this goes six games. That puts him in play, and that’s a similar range to where I’d put Paul and Booker. Paul’s attempts are much lower than Booker’s (5.3 vs 9.0 per game in the Finals), but Booker’s shot has also gone ice cold. Over the last eight games, he’s hit just 29% of his 3s, with zero or one make in six of those eight contests. Again, if you like Phoenix in five, Booker is more playable.
I’m expecting this series to go longer, and that leads me to Middleton. He’s getting huge volume up, with 25 attempts already, and he’s tied for the lead with nine makes. That volume isn’t new either; he’s averaged 8.4 attempts per game since Game 5 against Brooklyn when he broke out.
Even at only 32% shooting in that stretch, he’s making 2.8 3s per game. In a six-game series, I’d put Middleton at 15 to 20 makes, and even the low end might be enough for the win. At +260 odds, that’s an implied 28% chance, but I’d consider taking Middleton against the field.
3-Pointer Plays (Odds via DraftKings)
- Khris Middleton — Most 3-pointers in series (+260)
- Jae Crowder — Under 2.9 3-pointers per game (-115)