The first round matchups of the 2022 NBA Playoffs are now set, and fans and bettors are in for a wild couple of months.
The Brooklyn Nets are a slight underdog in the first round against the second-seeded Boston Celtics, despite having the third- or fourth-best odds to win the title (depending on the sportsbook). The playoffs will miss stars Luka Doncic and Ben Simmons for various lengths of time, giving opposing teams a greater chance to win and adding more unpredictability to the betting market.
The combination of multiple stars being unavailable and a top-tier team being early underdogs adds extra risk to betting on the games’ outcomes. It’s a good thing that sportsbooks are offering all sorts of exciting prop bets for you to wager on. And if and when those star players return to action, it will set up even more opportunities for high-profile prop bets.
DraftKings is offering a brand new type of bet called “Matchups” where you can bet on a particular player at set odds to score more points (either total or per game) than another player. For example, Gary Trent Jr. (-160) is favored to score more points than Tyrese Maxey (+130) in the first round.
Saturday features four Game 1 matchups, with the games’ spreads ranging from 4.5 to 7 at DraftKings. These games are loaded with star players, elite offenses and defenses, and endless highlights. You will not be disappointed.
Check out these player prop bets for Saturday’s slate of games. Not only do they give you a chance to root for your favorite players, but you also get to put your betting skills to the test from an individual player standpoint rather than a team standpoint.
Mavericks (4) Vs. Jazz (5)
Donovan Mitchell Over 3.5 Threes (+140, DraftKings)
There’s Regular Season Donovan Mitchell, and then there’s Playoff Donovan Mitchell.
Regular Season Mitchell has increased his three point volume – makes and attempts – nearly year after year. He hit the third most threes per game in the league this season with 3.5 threes (albeit on 9.8 shots).
3.5 threes is chump change for Playoff Mitchell. He went absolutely berserk in his two most recent playoff trips, knocking down 4.7 and 5.0 threes per game.
Dallas’ perimeter defense is great, maybe even the best in the league, allowing the fewest three pointers made per game this season with just 10.9. But Spider Mitchell is different when the playoffs roll around.
Grizzlies (2) Vs. Timberwolves (7)
Ja Morant Over 28.5 Points (-115, DraftKings)
Morant put up 27.4 points per game this season. That would’ve been good enough for sixth highest in the league, but he was one game shy of being eligible to be on the leaderboard.
Morant is still very young, but he does have playoff experience. At just 21 years old, he averaged 30.2 points in his first playoff series (lost in five to Utah), leading all players, including Donovan Mitchell (28.5). Memphis was the eight-seed and a +425 underdog in that series, and Utah allowed the sixth fewest points that season, yet Morant still exceeded 30 points per game.
One year later as a much more potent scorer, Morant has a much easier opponent in Minnesota, which gave up a league-worst 118.2 points on the road this season.
76ers (4) Vs. Raptors (5)
Pascal Siakam Over 23.5 Points (-115, DraftKings)
Siakam has reached his scoring peak this season at the perfect time. He averaged 22.8 points during the regular season, but upped his game immensely towards the end. He closed the season with 25.9 points in 16 March games, and then 28.4 points in five April games. As Toronto’s leading scorer and arguably best player, Siakam knows that he’s going to have to continue his hot streak through the first round if he wants to beat Philadelphia.
James Harden Under 21.5 Points (-110, DraftKings)
Harden averaged 21 points in 21 games with the 76ers. You would assume playing more games with his new team would make him more acclimated to the team’s offensive system, and consequently help him score more points. But it seems that it had the opposite effect on his scoring. Harden averaged 23 points and 9.8 assists in his first 15 games with Philadelphia. In his next and final six games, he prioritized assisting the ball (12.2 assists per game), but at the expense of his points (16.1 over the same stretch). With Embiid acting as the clear number one scoring option on the team, Harden just doesn’t (need to) score at the same level as he once did.
Warriors (3) Vs. Nuggets (6)
Nikola Jokic Over 29.5 Points (-105, DraftKings)
Likely MVP Jokic is having his best season, achieving career highs in several traditional and advanced metrics. He put up 27.1 points per game during the regular season.
Denver was on the brink of falling into the Play-In tournament near the end of the season, and Jokic understood he would have to step up his game. He averaged 37.8 points in his final five games, hitting at least 35 points in all five, to close out the season and avoid the play-in game.
The Warriors have been one of the league’s best defensive teams, but Jokic doesn’t seem to care about that. He averaged 28 points in four contests versus Golden State.
Jokic is coming into this playoff matchup very hot. That, combined with his history of performing well when the pressure is on, is why I am trusting him to go over 29.5 points in Game 1.