The big men are atop the MVP leaderboard these days, but it’s still a guard-driven league in 2022. And in tonight’s props, we’re playing two of the league’s hottest young guards along with a guy they’re all still chasing and hoping to play like on their very best day.
Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing, using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. On top of that, I’ve got four more bonus props you can play on tonight’s 12-game slate. Let’s get to it.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Tyrese Maxey, Over 16.5 points (-110)
|76ers vs. Cavaliers||76ers -2.5|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass|
We’ve played Tyrese Maxey a few times lately, and we’re going to keep riding the Maxey train.
Maxey has broken out this sophomore season, but it was fair to wonder how his role might change with James Harden coming aboard. With such a heavy usage player around, it was only reasonable to expect a dip in Maxey’s numbers.
But the exact opposite has happened. Maxey’s scoring is booming, and he’s thriving in his new off-ball role next to Harden and Joel Embiid. He’s consistently getting the ball in advantage situations with space to attack, and he’s also getting more — and better — 3-pointers up.
In eight games with Harden so far, Maxey is averaging 19.6 PPG. He’s gone over this points line in six of the eight, hitting this over 75% of the Harden games. He’s also hitting a bunch of 3s with Harden. Maxey has made 49% of his 3s in Harden games, making 2.4 on almost five attempts per game.
And actually, those numbers are obscured by that giant turd of a game against Brooklyn, when Philadelphia entirely failed to show up. Maxey scored only four points in 28 minutes that game and went 2-of-7 from the field without a 3-pointer. Outside of that game, he’s actually averaging 21.9 PPG in his games with Harden and making 2.7 3s per game.
That includes a 33-point outing against these Cavs, which was accompanied by five 3s, nine free throw attempts, and five assists, all of which are highs during this recent stretch of games with Harden. The matchup clearly worked in Maxey’s favor.
The question then is how to best play Maxey, and I’m sticking with the traditional points line. His scoring is down a little since the blazing hot start — Maxey scored 20-plus in his first four Harden games but has gone under 20 in each of the last four. We can play 20-plus points at +164 so that’s an avenue if you want to be more aggressive.
You can also play over 1.5 3s at +100 at DraftKings. Maxey is over that number in six of eight Harden games (75%), and you can play for three 3s at +245 at FanDuel, which he’s done four times (50%). If Maxey does put up a really big scoring number, it’s probably because he hit a bunch of 3s, so that might be the best way to play an escalator angle here.
I’m looking for a surer win, so we’ll stick with points. We project Maxey at 18.4 points. I’ll look for another big night and play to -130 or pivot to one of the alternates above.
Darius Garland, Over 2.5 3-Pointers (+120)
Tyrese Maxey is the only budding star guard we’re playing in this game. We’ll also look at the other side of the matchup and ride with Darius Garland, a first-time All-Star who’s getting better and better.
Garland told reporters that playing in the All-Star Game in front of the home fans boosted his confidence, and the numbers bear it out because Garland is absolutely on fire after the break. His numbers since then are at 27.1 points and 10.9 assists per game. That includes 2.7 3s per game along with 19.5 Potential Assists, which leads the league in March per NBA Advanced Stats.
The question is how we can best play Garland’s hot streak. Do we play his points, his assists, his 3s, or some combination thereof?
Our Props Tool likes the 3-pointers best, so that’s the direction I’m going. Garland has gone over 2.5 made 3s in seven of his last 10 and his attempts are up lately, plus we’re getting that one at +120 so it’s a very nice plus juice line in our favor.
You’ve got other options. Garland is over his 23.5 points line in nine of the last 10 and in both Philly games if you want to go that route. He’s also put up double-digit assists in five of his last nine since the break, including a monster 19-dime game against the Sixers.
You can play Garland to have double-digit assists at +130 on PointsBet. It doesn’t increase the odds to play for a double-double, but a 20/10 game plays at +193. And if you want to play 10-plus assists along with the over-23.5 together, you can do that at +292 at FanDuel.
We’re projecting Garland at 2.8 3s tonight but only 22.4 points. I think that points line is a bit conservative but I’ll trust the projections and stick with the 3s since we’re getting +120. Garland is over that line in nine of his last 12 (75%). I’ll play at any plus number or pivot to one of the other combos above if that line moves.
Steph Curry, Over 3.5 3-Pointers (-142) | Over 4.5 3s (+164)
|Celtics vs. Warriors||Warriors -2|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Shhh, I have a secret. I’ve been doing endless hours of film study and I’m finally ready to reveal something to you. Are you ready?
……… Stephen Curry is better with Draymond Green.
WHAAAT???? Shocking, I know. Who could have seen this coming?!
Curry was having an MVP season earlier this year with the Warriors the best team in basketball. Then over the second half of the season Curry has gone ice cold, his shooting and scoring are down, and the Warriors have struggled to defend or play like more than a .500 team. It’s almost like Golden State was missing the deserving DPOY, connective tissue, and heart and soul of their team for half of the year!
Green returned to the floor Monday night, and you’ll never believe this, but the Warriors immediately looked like the Warriors again.
Golden State played 15 minutes with both Curry and Green on the court together and in those minutes, the Warriors scored 56 points — and Curry scored 41 of them. Curry finished with 47 points, his most since November, and shot 7-for-14 on 3-pointers.
Curry is averaging 28.9 points per 75 possessions and getting up 14.0 3-point attempts with Green on the court this season. Without him, those numbers drop to 24.9 and 10.6, and his shooting percentage falls off too. This is the modern version of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. At some point we just have to accept that these guys are both great because they help make each other even greater.
The 3-pointers especially stand out. Curry can’t always get his shot on his own at an efficient rate, especially against a great defense like the Celtics, but his synergy with Draymond opens up so many more avenues to find his shot. The numbers speak for themselves.
Without Green, Curry averages 3.7 treys per game. With him, that leaps to 5.2 makes per game, and he’s gone over this 3.5 line in 31 of 35 such games, hitting the over 89% of the time. He’s also made at least five 3s in 21 of the games with Draymond, a robust 60% hit rate for a prop we’re getting at +164.
You can even take this escalator one step further and play six-plus 3s at +320 at PointsBet if you want, but with Green’s minutes limited and a tough matchup I wouldn’t get too crazy.
Still, Green being back in the lineup changes everything. Boston is a tough matchup and has always given Curry trouble, but we should be playing Steph’s 3s line with Draymond back over 3.5 until the books remember to adjust it back up.
Bonus NBA Prop Bets
- Russell Westbrook, Under 6.5 Assists (-145 PointsBet): Westbrook’s numbers have fallen off a cliff along with his play. He’s just not playing as much or touching the ball as much anymore, and it’s well documented at this point. Over the last 27 games, Russ has gone under 6.5 dimes a whopping 22 times, hitting this under 81% of the time and averaging 5.3 APG. He’s also under it in all three Wolves games this year, all of which came before this cold stretch.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Over 14.5 Points (-105 PointsBet): Why not play one of those Washington players Russ was traded for? Caldwell-Pope’s numbers have been up lately with the Wizards shorthanded and in need of shots and usage. He’s averaging 18.2 PPG over the last nine games and over this line seven times (78%) with shots and minutes up.
- Dorian Finney-Smith, Over 1.5 Assists (+150 DraftKings): This is a props column, but why don’t we play a little DFS today too? Finney-Smith has multiple assists in seven straight games. We project him at 2.2 dimes, and Brooklyn’s lack of defense should help the cause. This one will always be a sweat, but you have to like +150 for a prop that’s hit seven straight.
- Bruce Brown, Over 19.5 PTS + REB + AST (-120 DraftKings): Brown continues to play big minutes when Kyrie Irving sits, and it really feels like the Nets are purposely using Brown the way they’ll use Ben Simmons once he’s ready. Brown is averaging 33.2 MPG his last nine games without Kyrie. When he plays 30 minutes this year, he averages 23.1 PRA. He’s gone over this in in seven of the last 10 such games and was a bucket away in two others.