Friday night brings a change of scenery for a pair of Game 3s, as the Sixers and Hawks head to Atlanta for the first time, while the Suns and Nuggets head to the Denver elevation. Both home teams are coming off a loss — two in Denver’s case — and looking to right the ship in front of what will surely be an energetic home crowd.
So what can we expect from two big Game 3s tonight?
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.
Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Trae Young, Over 9.5 Assists (+106)
|76ers vs. Hawks||Hawks +1.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Trae Young has been a stone cold killer in these playoffs.
Young is averaging 28.9 points and 10.0 assists so far in his first playoffs, looking like an evolutionary villainous Steve Nash on the court. Young has a great way of keeping his dribble alive and sneaking into space, and he takes some of those shots Nash seems to wish he would’ve taken in hindsight.
While everyone knew Young was a big time scorer, it’s his passing that people have really come to notice in these playoffs. At times, he looks like a genius out there. He has a knack for slowing down enough to force the defender to make the first move and then knows just how to pick the defense apart with the precise pass to a shooter or the perfect was-that-a-floater-or-a-pass lob to Clint Capela or John Collins at the rim.
The 76ers did much better against Young as a scorer in Game 2, with Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle putting him in the torture chamber much of the night until some final garbage time points, but Young is still getting into the paint and racking up assists. When Young dribbles into the paint, he can either get that soft touch floater off, or if Joel Embiid steps up even half a step, Young finds the right pass nearly every time. It’s his passing, not his scoring, that has made Atlanta so lethal thus far.
Young averaged an assist every 3.56 minutes in the regular season. At that rate, he’d only need 34 minutes to hit this over, and you know he’s going to play more than 34 in the playoffs. He’s averaging 37.0 minutes per game in the postseason, and that’s up to nearly 40 over the last three games as the Hawks try to squeeze every edge they can get out of their star.
Young has at least nine assists in all but one playoff game, a heck of a floor since it puts us only one dime away from a win. He’s gone over in four of seven playoff games (57% hit rate). In 52 regular season games with at least 30 minutes, Young had double digit assists and hit this over 27 times, a 52% hit rate — and that’s with just 30 or more minutes.
Young and the Hawks have been brilliant at home thus far and the crowd will be rocking. We project him at 38.7 minutes and 10.7 assists, so I’ve got to play this one at plus juice. I’ll play any plus number and down to -110 if needed.
Danny Green, Under 2.5 Assists (-140)
|76ers vs. Hawks||Hawks +1.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Danny Green had eight assists in Game 2.
Folks, let me say that again.
Daniel Richard Green Jr. had EIGHT ASSISTS in Game 2.
This wasn’t just Green’s highest playoff total of the season, or even just his highest assist total in any game all season. It was also his career-high for assists in an NBA game, and probably at North Carolina and in high school too if we’re being honest. Has Danny Green even recorded eight assists on a video game before? I’m gonna need to see proof.
Green has not been very good this series. He’s barbecue chicken trying to defend Young, and if Green’s not out there for his defense and that hot-and-cold 3 ain’t falling, hoo boy does he get useless in a hurry. He’s scored nine points on 4-of-13 shooting in two games combined thus far.
Luckily for Philadelphia, Green somehow has 12 assists in those two games, thanks to four in Game 1 and that absurd outlier in Game 2. Well let’s go ahead and bet against this outlier performance continuing.
Green had two or fewer assists in 50 of 69 regular season games this season, hitting this under 72% of the time. And even though he went over the last two, like way over, he’s still under in five of seven playoff games, and at 71%, that’s just as strong as his rate in the regular season.
So the question then is whether there’s something specific about this Atlanta matchup that’s pushing Green’s assist totals up, and if there is, I’m sure not seeing it. On top of that, Green isn’t even playing that well so his minutes have started to slide.
I’ll thank the books for the 2.5 line and hit the under here. We project Green at 1.4 assists and rate this the top prop play on the board today, with a full 25% edge in our favor. I’ll play as high as -180.
Deandre Ayton, Over 15.5 Points (-106)
|Suns vs. Nuggets||Nuggets -1.5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Oh yes — we’re back again.
We played Deandre Ayton’s points over in Game 1, and he smashed with a huge night, racking up 20 points on efficient 9-of-13 shooting and adding 10 rebounds too. Ayton more or less matched newly-crowned MVP Nikola Jokic, and the Nuggets are going to have an awfully tough time winning when that happens.
We played Ayton’s over again in Game 2 after it rose from 13.5 to 15.5, but this time we didn’t hit. We got in trouble early when Ayton picked up two fouls in the first six minutes of the game, costing him some of his usual rotation minutes and clearly causing the young big man to play a bit too passive for awhile.
After averaging 36.3 minutes per game for the playoffs, Ayton played under 26 minutes, but still ended up at 15 points anyway, even with the slow start and even sitting out the entire final stanza as the Suns coasted to victory.
After a red hot start to the playoffs, our props have cooled off the last couple days, but this is a good reminder to trust the process. Ayton has now scored 22, 27, 17, 20, and 15 in five games against the Nuggets this season.
Denver has allowed opponents to rack up high-percentage 2-pointers all season, and it’s clear that Denver’s guards have no chance against Chris Paul and Devin Booker running that pick-and-roll. That leaves Ayton free to roll to the rim for easy, high-efficiency looks.
Ayton is now shooting 43-of-63 against Denver on the season, a tidy 68% field goal percentage that shows just how easily he scores on this poor Nuggets defense. I’m back for another hit because I think Ayton pushes 20 again as long as he doesn’t get in foul trouble and sit out a full quarter in another blowout win.
Trust the process and the results will come later. I’ll play the over here to -120.