The Warriors and Knicks fought off elimination last night to keep their seasons alive. The Celtics and Suns look to do the same against the 76ers and Nuggets, respectively, in tonight’s NBA playoff doubleheader. With the stakes as high as it gets, we put together some of the best player props and first basket scorer bets for Thursday’s playoff games.
NBA Playoff First Basket Scorers and More Player Props for Thursday
Many sports fans are yearning for a Nikola Jokic vs. Joel Embiid Finals matchup, and the big men are doing everything in their power to make it happen. If they can find a way to help their teams avoid a Game 7 by securing victories tonight, the odds of the matchup coming to fruition grow significantly.
NBA Playoff First Basket Scorer Prop Odds for 76ers vs. Celtics
Embiid had won three straight opening tips until Game 5, when Horford finally stole one to start the game after a mistimed jump from both big men. However, the Sixers have scored first in every game of the series, and that doesn’t seem likely to change considering it took a mishap for Horford to finally win a jump ball.
|Caesars (Code 'TODAYFULL')
Embiid has a 57% opening tip win percentage, and Horford has a 40%-win percentage. The vast difference has shown in this series as Embiid has won three of the four between the two. The one Horford won was thanks to a mistimed jump from both big men in Game 5. Additionally, the Sixers strike first 67% of the time, and when they do score first, Embiid puts the ball through the basket 43% of the time.
The Sixers have scored first in every game of this series, and Embiid has scored the first basket the last three times. One layup rolling to the rim off a pick-and-roll with Harden, a pick-and-pop foul-line jumper, and a forced three-pointer at the buzzer. Embiid is getting healthier by the game and is leaving his imprint on each contest from the opening tip.
He has favorable odds to keep his streak going in tonight’s contest.
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Best Player Prop Bets for 76ers vs. Celtics on Thursday
Boston appeared completely out of sorts in Game 5. However, they are no strangers to this position and are sure to come out more focused and assertive, especially with their backs against the wall. Although they are the ones facing elimination, Philly has just as much pressure to close the game out tonight and avoid a Game 7 on the road. Neither Embiid nor James Harden has a favorable history in this situation.
James Harden to Score Over 25 Points (+210 on FanDuel)
Embiid has been by far the most consistent Sixer in this series. For the most part, he hasn’t had to work too hard to get his shots. There is a good chance that will change now that the Celtics are desperate. As good as Harden and Tyreese Maxey have been in spurts, they haven’t been the most dependable from game to game. Considering the Celtics know Embiid can beat them, you have to expect them to do everything in their power to prevent it.
That opens the court for Harden to have the scoring performances he had in Games 1 and 2. Outside of those explosive games, Harden really hasn’t had a great playoff run so far. However, he has come up clutch when needed so far in this series. With a chance to secure a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals starring The Beard in the face, there is a good chance fans will see a much more aggressive Harden.
Joel Embiid to Record Over 4 Assists (+110 on FanDuel)
Embiid has been dominating, and Boston hasn’t done much defensively to change that. With their season now on the line, the chances they sit back and watch and Embiid comfortably produce his fourth consecutive 30-point plus game doesn’t seem favorable. The MVP should see more late traps on the post and double teams from the start of the game.
One of the biggest areas of improvement for Embiid this season has been his ability to pass out of the pressure on the post to his teammates on the wing and in the corners for high-quality looks from three-point range. Given the attention he may see tonight, there is a good chance he’ll be doing a lot of passing. The 76ers also have the luxury of playing at home, which usually leads to better performances from role players. So, there is a good chance his teammates will reward him when he finds them for open shots.
First Basket Scorer Odds for Nuggets vs. Suns
The opening tip is one category Jokic hasn’t dominated in this series, which sets up the Suns well to score the first basket, especially at home.
|Caesars (Code 'TODAYFULL')
|Michael Porter Jr.
Deandre Ayton has a 72% opening tip win percentage – the best of any big man in the playoffs. His impact in that category has been felt as he has beaten out Jokic (48% win percentage) for every opening tip of this series, which has led to a first basket for Phoenix in four of the five games. In three of the four games the Suns scored first, Devin Booker was the first to put the ball through the hoop. There is a good chance he does so first in this one, however, we’re leaning toward Kevin Durant to cover this wager.
The Suns are facing elimination, and Durant has the most big-game experience on the team. Although Booker has been dominant lately, Durant has upped his level of assertiveness for the Suns offensively. It may not have paid off via a victory in Game 5, but it’s not likely he will go down without giving his all tonight. Look for the two-time Finals MVP to get off to a quick start in this one to help settle the nerves of his teammates.
Best Player Prop Bets for Suns vs. Nuggets Game 6
Jokic has been unstoppable in this series, but his teammates have been sporadic. They have been good enough to take a 3-2 lead, but the stakes are higher in this one, and they are on the road. That doesn’t bode well for the Nuggets’ up-and-down supporting cast. In Game 5, they got 19- and 25-point performances from Michael Porter Jr. and Bruce Brown, respectively. Duplicating those performances on the road in a potential elimination game is a tall ask of them.
Nikola Jokic to Record Under 9.5 Assists (-115 on Caesars)
A lot rides on the shoulders of the former MVP in this one. There is a good chance the Suns will throw the house at him to prevent the scoring performances he has accumulated in this series. He is a willing passer, but he’ll have to rely on his supporting cast to get him over the hump on this. Brown, Porter Jr.’s, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s shooting percentages all drop in away games this season.
That’s a pretty solid cause as to why Jokic may not have the help he needs to defy the odds in this one.
Kevin Durant to Score Over 35 Points (+145 on DraftKings)
Durant is an all-time great scorer. He averages 30 points on 45% from the field and 39% from three-point range in elimination games in his career. He is also averaging 24 shot attempts a game in this series. His shooting percentage has been up and down in this series, but he has topped 35 points in both home games so far.
That’s mainly because the games were close, and he got more help from teammates whose last name is not Booker. With the supporting cast in a more comfortable environment, he should be able to stay within his game more and not force the offense to try and keep pace with the Nuggets. An in-rhythm Durant is still arguably the best scorer in basketball.