Folks, we might have ourselves a series.
Milwaukee ended the first half of Game 3 in the NBA Finals with a huge 30-9 run, then added a 16-0 run to end the third quarter en route to easily vanquishing Phoenix to cut the Suns‘ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Now, Milwaukee looks to tie things up with a second consecutive home win and will surely hope to ride the red-hot Giannis Antetokounmpo, who became only the second player in NBA history to put up 40 points and 10 rebounds in consecutive Finals games.
These franchises have two days off both before and after a pivotal Game 4, so we should see heavy minutes from all key players, especially since we had five minutes of garbage time in Game 3. So, how do we play Game 4 props?
And don’t miss out on a chance to play some series-long props as well. I have nine of my favorite mid-Finals wagering angles, including both stat leaders and per-game over/unders. Now, let’s look at the plays for this Game 4 showdown.
NBA Finals Player Props & Picks
Giannis Antetokounmpo — Under 34.5 Points (-108)
|Suns vs. Bucks||Bucks -4.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | ABC|
We’re starting with the big one and it’s a doozy. Yes, we’re betting against Antetokounmpo, who’s currently destroying everything in his path. And yes, we’re doing right after 42- and 41-point games, as he might finally be claiming his crown as NBA king.
And those 40-point games are exactly why we’re betting against him. That recency bias has jacked this line sky high, a full eight points greater than where Antetokounmpo opened the Finals at over/under 26.5 points. And to be fair, we didn’t know he’d be looking this healthy then, but that’s still more than a 30% increase on the line in one week, which is crazy.
Per Stathead, Antetokounmpo had never scored at least 40 in back-to-back games before these last two efforts. In fact, he’s only scored 35 in consecutive games five times during his career and never in the playoffs until this week. He’s hit 35 more than twice in a row just one time ever.
And why is that? It’s because 35 points is a lot, even even for the Greek Freak.
Antetokounmpo has scored below 35 in 15 of his 18 playoff games this year. That’s an 83% hit rate to this under, which is right about in line with his 79% hit rate from the regular season.
It’s really hard to score 35 game after game, especially when you’re basically a non-threat to rack up quick points on 3-pointers. Notice that Antetokounmpo has hit 24 of 35 free throws the past two games. Neither one of those numbers is sustainable. He won’t get so many free throws every game, and he’s probably not going to keep hitting 69% of his attempts either.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 12 points from the line the last two games, up from 8.3 points the rest of the playoffs. He’s also been nearly unstoppable on two-pointers at 28 of 38, which is an absurd 74% shooting percentage. Even for a two-time MVP, that’s not sustainable. You know Phoenix is going to pack the paint, build a wall and do everything it can to force someone else — anyone else, really — to beat them in Game 4.
Swallow hard and take the under. The numbers say Antetokounmpo has to come back to earth at some point, and Phoenix will try to force his hand. We’re projecting Antetokounmpo at 31.9 points and I’ll play the under to -130 odds.
Deandre Ayton — Over 28.5 Points + Rebounds (-115)
If there’s one reason Antetokounmpo might not be quite as dominant in Game 4, it’s probably going to be due to that 7-foot giant patrolling the paint wearing the other team’s colors.
Ayton actually had an awesome start in Game 3. He racked up 12 points in the first quarter and looked in line for a huge game. However, it all came crashing down in the final 90 seconds of the half when Ayton picked up two cheap fouls, getting his third with just nine seconds left in the half.
Then, 95 seconds into the second half, Ayton picked up his fourth foul and was mostly absent from the remainder of the game. He didn’t score again and had just three rebounds the rest of the way.
For a half plus 95 seconds, though, Ayton was at 18 points and six rebounds, before fouls turned everything sideways. In a game that was played mostly in the paint, Ayton was more than holding his own. And that’s been the case for most of the playoffs, both on the glass and in the scoring column.
Ayton is averaging 16.3 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in the playoffs. That 28.2 points plus rebounds average is right at this number, but he’s been trending upward with at least 27 PR in seven of his last nine games.
The Suns badly need Ayton to stay on the court for his defense against Antetokounmpo, and need him just as badly on the boards since he’s the only playable center with Dario Šarić out and Frank Kaminsky unusable.
Ayton played more than 40 minutes per game in games 1 and 2 before getting just 24 minutes in Game 3 with all that foul trouble. He nearly went over 28.5 points/rebounds anyway, despite basically only playing a half. Let’s bet on a great bounce-back performance in Game 4, as the Suns keep him out there for all the minutes he can handle.
We’re projecting Ayton at 18.0 points and 14.4 rebounds, both of them over their lines. Feel free to play them separately if you like or parlay them together. However, the combo play gives some margin for error in case one of the stats is low, allowing the other to make up ground. I’ll play the over to -135 odds.
Brook Lopez — Over 15.5 Points + Rebounds (-120)
Yes, we’re playing a third big man.
This one is a bit more tenuous, since Lopez’s minutes have been so shaky in the Finals, but that’s exactly why there’s value here. The books seem to have turned against Lopez, lowering his lines as his minutes fall.
However, I’m not sure Lopez is really being minimized. He wasn’t great in Game 1 and appeared to be played off the court at times, with the Bucks having no defensive answers for Chris Paul and Devin Booker, but Milwaukee has been better ever since.
The Bucks have gotten back into this series by playing big and dominating in the paint, and Lopez has been a big part of that. And by far, they’ve been at their best with the starting five on the court.
Lopez played under 23 minutes in Game 1, then jumped to 28 minutes in Game 2 before falling back to 21 minutes in Game 3. But remember, that latest game featured five garbage-time minutes. It also featured very little Ayton in the second half, which prompted the Bucks to play smaller since the Suns were small as well. That was what minimized Lopez, who was as actually a plus-6 on the court.
In fact, Lopez has been quite productive despite his limited minutes. He’s averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, going over this combo line in four in a row before an anomalous two-rebound Game 3 in those low minutes. However, Lopez had eight offensive rebounds the first two games, and that’s leading to some easy buckets and tip-ins.
I like Lopez to play plenty of minutes in Game 4, which fits with our other props since he should mirror Ayton’s minutes some. Lopez is producing when he’s out there. He’s gone over 15.5 points plus rebounds in 13 of 20 playoff games — a 65% success rate — even with his minutes bouncing around.
I’ll play the combo over to -140 odds. This one’s being listed at 16.5 at some books, and I don’t mind grabbing the higher line if you get much better — maybe even plus — juice.