Err, um, well … postseason, at least.
We waited all season for this, and the postseason is finally here. This isn’t quite winner-take-all just yet, but the winners get into the actual playoff bracket in Tuesday night’s games between the No. 7- and No. 8-seeds from each conference.
When the stakes are this high, it means rotations are shortened and the stars get more minutes and more usage than ever. That means, finally, this is the time to play props on the game’s best players. Let’s dive in.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Kevin Durant, Over 3.5 Turnovers (-105)
|Cavaliers vs. Nets||Nets -8.5|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | TNT|
If Kevin Durant hadn’t missed almost two months in the middle of the season, the Nets would never be playing in this play-in game. Brooklyn was an ugly 8-19 without KD with 12 of those losses by double digits.
But since Durant returned on March 3 and joined his new Brooklyn teammates, he’s played like the MVP candidate everyone expected. KD’s numbers since his return have been awesome. He’s averaging 31.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game, and he’s shooting 52/40/94 over that stretch with 2.5 3s and 7.6 free throws per game.
The last time we saw Durant in the playoffs, he was playing like the best player on earth before one half of a shoe size stopped him from potentially taking down the team that went on to win the NBA championship. That Durant is back, and he’s doing more than ever for the Nets.
Durant’s 6.4 APG this year are a career-high, and that’s up even further down the stretch including a career-best 16 dimes in the regular season finale. But with great power comes great responsibility, and all that extra handling has seen Durant’s turnovers rise too.
Since his return on March 3, Durant is averaging 4.4 turnovers per game. That would also be well above his career-high for a season, and it means he’s gone over 3.5 turnovers in 14 of these last 19 games, hitting this over 74% of the time. That includes five turnovers last Friday night against these Cavs.
Durant is playing massive minutes and doing everything for Brooklyn. He’s surely going to have a big game. But he’s also going to get some turnovers along the way, so take the over here at near even odds or up to -140.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Over 3.5 Assists (+120)
|Clippers vs. Timberwolves||Timberwolves -3|
|Time | TV||9:30 p.m. ET | TNT|
This is low-key one of the biggest games in Minnesota Timberwolves franchise history. A win to make the playoff field here would easily rank among the top five Wolves wins ever.
This team is good, and they believe in themselves — especially on offense. And they’re right to believe. Since Jan. 5 (Towns and D’Angelo Russell missed the first couple games of 2022), the Wolves have the best Offensive Rating in the NBA at 118.7. They lead the league in 3-pointers and rank second in free throws, and they’re scoring a huge 122.2 PPG during that stretch, nearly three points ahead of the second highest scoring team.
At the heart of that offense is Karl-Anthony Towns, this team’s superstar. Chris Finch has unlocked Towns, and KAT is the centerpiece that makes everything else go. His counting numbers have actually dipped just a little this year, but it’s because Towns is doing more with less, scoring more efficiently and elevating his teammates.
Towns has struggled to score against the Clippers this season, but his passing numbers have been strong. He’s averaging 3.7 APG in 2022 and has at least three dimes in 75% of his games in 2022. That puts us within one assist of this line, and he’s gone over it in 19 of 44. That’s only a 43% hit rate, but we’re getting +120 which implies 45%.
But don’t forget the other part of the equation: Minutes. Towns has averaged just 32.8 minutes per game in 2022, but in a game of this caliber, he should see around 38 to 40 minutes. That additional 20% of minutes is more than enough to cover our gap and get us to our number, and then some.
If you want to get nutty, you can play for a huge Towns passing game at +1225 for seven assists or +4000 for double-digits at Bet365. He does have eight games with seven or more assists. That’s a bit too far for me, but I’ll play for at least four dimes at any positive number.
Paul George, Over 6.5 Rebounds (-138) | Over 9.5 Rebounds (+350)
It’s eating time for Paul George.
George hadn’t played since a couple days before Christmas until he finally returned to a basketball court at the end of March, and he’s pretty much picked up right where he left off. The scoring is down a touch at 22.6 PPG, but George is hitting 53% of his 3s since returning and racking up 6.8 assists per game too.
But in this particular game, the Clippers will need PG to hit the glass.
The Clippers have really struggled to rebound this season, and Minnesota has some outstanding rebounders in Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt. The Clippers also like to play small and could opt to do that at times to stretch the Wolves out, and that makes rebounding all the more important. Minnesota can win this game by dominating the glass — it’s literally a huge advantage.
Last year in the playoffs, though, George stepped up big time as a rebounder. Remember when the Clippers played all those games with tons of small-ball minutes? They got away with it because PG played so big. He averaged 9.6 rebounds per game in the playoffs and had double-digit boards in nine of LA’s 19 playoff games.
George is at 6.9 rebounds per game on the season, already above this number despite playing through injury and seeing limited minutes at times, but you can throw those numbers out. He’s the Clippers’ superstar and he’ll see big minutes here, which means the Clippers will need him to rebound.
At least seven rebounds looks like a gimme to me — George did that in 14-of-19 playoff games (74%) last year and was one board away in three others — but I want to play for double-digit boards too. You might think that means playing double-double, but that comes off at just +225, because that number has to account for the possibility of double-digit assists as well.
Instead, I’ll focus on just the rebounds and play a much better number at +350. That’s an implied 22% and George hit that in 47% of his playoff games last year. And if you’ve got Bet365, you can play 10-plus boards at +390 there.
Make sure to play the over 6.5 rebounds, but think about sprinkling a little bit of your bet on that higher line too.
Bonus NBA Prop Bets
Bruce Brown, over 13.5 points (+100 DraftKings): The Nets are all about Durant and Kyrie these days, but Brown has established himself as the third best Net and found his minutes tethered to KD. He does all the dirty work for this team, and with minutes up and so much attention on the two superstars, he tends to find easy buckets along the way. Since Durant returned on March 3, Brown has averaged 15.1 PPG for these new-look Nets, going over this line in 12 of 18 games (67%). That includes 18/10/8 against Cleveland on Friday.
Darius Garland, over 25.5 points (-110 DraftKings): Garland has been a superstar since the All-Star Break, averaging 25.5 points and 10.1 assists per game with at least 24 points in 75% of those games. He’s already playing 39 MPG so there’s not much room for upside, but there’s a different angle here. The Cavs lost 13 of those games, and Garland is over 25.5 points in 11 of the 13 losses. When the Cavs are trailing, Garland has to score a little more to keep them in it. If you think Cleveland loses — and they’re huge dogs — play the points over. If you like the Cavs, know that Garland has doubled-digit assists in every single Cleveland win since the break.