NBA player props: Will James Harden catch fire or flop in Game 5?
There is no shortage of jaw-dropping individual performances in this year’s NBA playoffs, making prop betting a lot of fun for those capitalizing on the stars taking center stage. Tuesday's action gives us two pivotal Game 5s, so you better believe those same stars will be out trying to will their teams to the conference finals.
Joel Embiid and the 76ers travel to Boston after James Harden’s game winning 3-pointer capped off a 42-point performance that helped even up the series Sunday. In the later game, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker will try to solve the Nuggets' success in Denver after Nikola Jokic posted 64 combined points and assists in a Game 4 loss. Five players involved Tuesday's games (Jokic, Harden, Booker, Durant and Embiid) scored 34 or more points the last time they were on the floor.
Which superstars should we bet on to dominate in the spotlight, and which players should we fade as each series shifts back to the favorite's home floor? I targeted four player props that are a good bet to deliver in what should be an entertaining night of action in the NBA.
James Harden Under 21.5 points (-115)
When James Harden is on, everything drops. It’s like he is shooting into an Olympic-sized pool. He can give you 42 when you need it most, but you aren’t getting that James Harden every night. It’s all or nothing with the Sixers shooting guard. After his 45-point game in Game 1, Harden followed it up by shooting less than 22% from the floor in each of the next two games. I can be convinced to play back on Harden when the Sixers return to Philadelphia for Game 6, but my money is on him struggling to find his stroke in Boston.
Derrick White Over 14.5 points and assists (-125)
White averaged over 12 points and 3.9 assists on the season, so a baseline performance gets us to the window with a winning ticket. He has been even better against Philadelphia, putting up over 13 points per game in eight games (including the postseason). The Celtics have excellent ball movement as a team, so adding in the assists protects from being exclusively reliant on scoring opportunities. White only has six assists so far this series, but he had at least three in three of the four meetings with the Sixers during the regular season.
Devin Booker Over 31.5 points (-125)
The money train on Devin Booker’s scoring prop will eventually go off the tracks, but I’m not getting off until the cash dries up. Devin Booker has been the best player in the NBA playoffs. Now, there is an argument that Jimmy Butler’s postseason is more impressive, but nobody is doing what Devin Booker is doing right now. The Suns shooting guard is averaging 36.8 points per game since the start of the postseason, while shooting over 60% from the floor and better than 50% from beyond the arc. The Nuggets, the Denver crowd, nor the altitude is stopping Devin Booker on Tuesday. He is absolutely lethal with Durant on the floor to create spacing. It’s a two-man show in Phoenix, and with Chris Paul already ruled out, there is no reason to expect anything to change. Booker has eclipsed this point total in six of his last eight games, including the last three games against the Nuggets. I will bet Booker until the Nuggets make me stop.
Jamal Murray Over 6.5 assists (-135)
Murray averaged over 6.4 assists at home during the regular season, so this number makes sense. However, I think it’s a situational spot where there is a good chance we land on the higher side. The biggest story of this series has been Phoenix’s lack of depth, and how long KD and Booker can carry the scoring load before fatigue impacts the Suns duo. The Nuggets' best shot in this series is to keep the Suns moving on defense, making them work on both ends of the court. Ball movement will be critical for the Nuggets in Tuesday's game considering they have the Suns on their home floor. Murray has at least seven assists in three of the four games in this series but did his best work at home. In Games 1 and 2, Murray dropped eight and nine assists, clearing this prop easily. I will go back to the well and bank on a similar result.