Best NBA Player Props for the Wednesday Slate (5/12): Lillard Loving the Playoff Push
Happy Wednesday, folks. I’m running out of metaphors to use to signify the end of the NBA regular season, so I’ll spare you my typical cliche. But the truth is, the threat of the play-in tournament has created some terrific storylines this week. Many teams are both looking to win their way out and into the tournament, with team and player motivation riding high. Before we dive into player props, make sure you check out all of our analysts’ picks and analysis if you’re looking to bet sides or totals tonight.
There were two games tonight that stuck out to me – the Blazers versus the Jazz, and the Wizards versus the Hawks. Each of the four teams still with something to play for, allowing us to rely on maximum effort from the players. With that, I’ve found two point totals where I see some value on the over.
Damian Lillard over 28.5 points (-106)
Line available at publishing.
The Blazers superstar point guard’s point total can be tricky to project. I’ve only played it once this season, and that was way back on New Year’s Day. However, with Portland battling to stay out of the play-in tournament (they are currently one game ahead of the seventh seed), it feels as good of time as ever to invoke Dame Time.
In his last seven games (resulting in six Portland wins), Lillard is averaging 32 points per contest, reaching 30 six times. Yes, this is coming on the heels of an eleven game stretch where he stayed under this total, but it would seem as if Lillard has turned on his playoff mode. You might remember last season, in the bubble regular season, when the Weber State product averaged 37.6 points over the eight game stretch, to ensure Portland’s spot in the postseason?
Tonight, Lillard and the Blazers travel to Utah to face the Jazz. It’s no easy task, however, Utah will continue to be without its starting backcourt of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell. Without there primary backcourt defenders, the Jazz should continue to struggle to defend the pick and roll ball handler – they are allowing the third most points to the playtype this season. Lillard ranks third in the NBA scoring off the pick and roll, and should find success tonight.
I’ll always be a numbers-first bettor – I’ll never bet a line if I’m not seeing a numerical advantage. But I have to admit, qualitatively, it does feel good to play the points line of one of the more (if not most) clutch performer in the NBA, in a must win game for his team. I have Lillard’s points projected at 32 tonight.
Rui Hachimura over 16.5 points (-105)
Line available at publishing.
Lost in the commotion of Russell Westbrook’s stat stuffing performances, and Bradle Beal chasing the scoring title has been Hachimura’s emergence for the Wizards. When healthy, the second year pro has proven to be a reliable two way player for Washington, and he’s been a key piece in the team’s resurgence.
Over his last 25 games, Hachimura is averaging 15.6 points per game, and has exceeded this total eleven times. However, Beal is out for tonight’s game, unlocking opportunity for the Gonzaga alum to score even more. Without Beal on the court, Hachimura is averaging 17 points per 32 minutes, hence the higher line tonight. However, in full games without Beal, Hachimura’s scoring jumps to 18.5, and has eclipsed this line in five of seven opportunities. His average game usage also saw a 5% increase.
The slashing forward’s matchup tonight is the same Hawks team on which he dropped 20 points, in only 27 minutes on Monday. The Hawks have struggled versus opposing power forwards all season, allowing the sixth most points to the position.
After combining for 246 points on Monday, the total for this game is set to 238.5. I expect a track meet, with Hachimura serving as option B for the Wizards. I have the sophomore projected at 19 points tonight.