Best player prop bets for Friday's NBA playoff games: Bet Smart

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics
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Ricky Dimon

NBA· 4 months ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The pressure is on both the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers as they face virtual must-win situations in their respective Game 3s on Friday night. Boston trails the Brooklyn Nets 2-0 and Los Angeles faces the same deficit — in much more surprising fashion — against the Dallas Mavericks. Meanwhile, the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks are tied at one game apiece. All three series will resume on Friday.

Let’s take a look at three of the most intriguing player prop bets, one for each of the three games.

Trae Young game-high scorer (+120)

Julius Randle is the only real contender to worry about in terms of the game-high scorer in Knicks vs. Hawks. Randle is a +180 second choice behind Young, and no one else on the two teams has better than +850 odds (New York’s Derrick Rose and Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic are both +850). Rose went for 26 points in the Knicks’ Game 2 win after Alec Burks also came off the bench to score 27 during a Game 1 defeat. However, neither effort was enough to surpass Young and neither Rose nor Burks is a reliably consistent scorer. Young led the way with 32 points in the series opener and with 30 on Wednesday. He is 22-for-43 from the floor through two outings and 13-for-13 from the free-throw line. The third-year star out of Oklahoma will likely get to the line more now that the series is in Atlanta as opposed to New York. Knicks fans also lit sufficient fire under Young during the first two games, so he is going to be even more inspired to stick a dagger into the opposition. Meanwhile, Randle scored 15 points in each of the first two contests on dreadful 11-for-39 shooting.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) moves the ball against New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton (6) during the first half of game two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden

Marcus Smart over 13.5 points (-120)

Boston has not yet found the win column against a heavily-favored Brooklyn side, but it is no fault of Smart’s. He scored 17 points in Game 1 and 19 on Tuesday, going 6-for-13 from the field on both occasions. Smart is 8-of-16 from three-point range through two contests. With Jaylen Brown sidelined, Smart has to be the Celtics’ third scoring option behind Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. Amid that added pressure, the former Oklahoma State standout has not disappointed. Dating back to the regular season, he has reached double figures in 18 of the last 20 games. It should also be noted that Smart is averaging 36 minutes per game during this series. The C’s absolutely have to have this game, so he should see just as much playing time if not more on Friday. More opportunities mean even more points.

Tim Hardaway Jr over 2.5 three-pointers made (-154)

The Clippers have not defended the three-point line well so far in this first-round series. Dallas went 17-for-36 from long range in the opener and then made 18 of 34 such attempts during Tuesday’s victory. Hardaway Jr has been a big reason for his team’s overall success from the land of plenty. THJ sank five of nine three-point tries in Game 1 before going 6-for-8 in Game 2. During regular-season action earlier this month, he successfully dialed long distance seven times against Cleveland and ten times at Miami’s expense. Hardaway Jr is firing with a ton of confidence right now and there is no reason to think the hot streak will end with the Mavericks returning home with a nice two-game lead in hand.

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