Sunday's NBA Playoff Props: Game 1 Picks for Ayton & Jokic

Tyler Schmidt writes about his two favorite NBA player props for Sunday's Game 1 matchups: Centers Deandre Ayton and Nikola Jokic.

Saturday’s opening playoff round matchups are in the books and Sunday brings more opportunities to find a betting edge. After hitting both NBA player props yesterday and one of our two PrizePicks props (way to crash the glass Joel Embiid), we will look for the clean sweep today on another four-game slate.

Let’s stay hot to finish off this weekend. Here’s a look at the top NBA player props today.

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NBA Player Props & Picks

Deandre Ayton, Under 16.5 Points (-125)

Spread Suns -7.5
Time | TV 8 p.m. ET | TNT
Best Line DraftKings

As 7.5-point home favorites, the Suns seem poised to make a deep playoff run. They are the favorites to come out of the Western Conference as they get set to start their first round series against the Paul George-less Clippers. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker are the top two options on this Suns offense as they are averaged a combined 53.8 points per game with a 58.4% usage rate. Deandre Ayton takes a back seat when all three are playing together.

In eight games playing alongside Durant and Booker, Ayton is averaging 13 points per game with a extremely low 16.6% usage rate. For comparison, Ayton is averaging 18.6 points per game with a 24% usage rate when Durant was not on the team. The only two games in which Ayton scored over 16 points playing alongside Durant was against the tanking Spurs and the Thunder who have one of the smallest frontcourts by far in the league.

The Clippers rank 19th in the league in both points per game allowed in the league and Rebounding Percentage. This is a relatively good matchup for Ayton, but his offense is put on the back burner with Durant and Booker hoisting 20+ field goal attempts per game. To make matters worse, Ayton has failed to score 17+ points against Clippers center Ivica Zubac in three of his last four games. I would consider this Ayton under points prop down to 14.5 tonight.

Nikola Jokic, Over 46.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-125)

Spread Nuggets -7.5
Time | TV 10:30 p.m. ET | TNT
Best Line DraftKings

The back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic averaged nearly a triple-double this season with 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game, while shooting a career-high 63.2% from the field. The Nuggets have struggled down the stretch winning only seven of their last 18 games, but they locked in the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and are almost double digit favorites against the Timberwolves in game one. Jokic will be ready to play in this elite matchup.

Jokic has historically dominated Timberwolves’ center Rudy Gobert. Over the last three years, Jokic is averaging 28.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 9.9 assists per game against the Stifle Tower. Gobert is also dealing with a bad back, which won’t help against Jokic who loves to put his opponents in a blender. Expect a huge stat-stuffing performance from the triple-double machine. Jokic led the league with a career-best 29 triple-doubles.

Jokic has averaged over 46.5 points, rebounds, and assists in this matchup against Gobert. This line seems off for a playoff game where Jokic is going to play as many minutes as he can handle. The Timberwolves have the talent to push the Nuggets and keep this game competitive. They were seventh in Pace and ranked 27th in Rebounding Percentage. Even with Karl-Anthony Towns healthy, expect the Joker to put up another massive game tonight.