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The Indiana Pacers will take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the early game, while the New Orleans Pelicans will battle the Los Angeles Lakers for spots in the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament championship.
Here are our favorite NBA player prop picks for Thursday.
There are lots of signs that point to Giannis going over, not under, tonight. He’s on pace to become the first player in league history to average 30+ points on 60% or better shooting, he just scored 35 against the New York Knicks’ excellent defense, and the Pacers are only 28th in defensive rating.
So, why do we like the under? Indiana showed a much better defensive effort in the quarterfinal and held the high-powered Boston Celtics to 112 points, four and a half points fewer than their season average. Also, if this game proves to be close, Damian Lillard will get more touches down the stretch than the Greek Freak.
Hield is a huge three-point threat, yet opposing defenses can’t give him the attention he deserves because of Tyrese Haliburton’s excellence as a pull-up shooter and facilitator. Hield makes three threes per game and is shooting 40.4% from range on 7.4 attempts per game.
The Bucks are 13th (just above league-average) defending the three. Buddy also went 4-6 from downtown in the quarterfinal matchup against Boston and splashed 4+ in seven of his last 15 games. While that still puts the precedent against him (slightly), it’s worth the risk for these odds considering he just made four in his last game.
James is fresh off a jaw-dropping 31-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound, five-steal performance against the Phoenix Suns. As sensational as he was, we don’t expect him to stuff the stat sheet the same way he did in that game because of the style the Pelicans play, which revolves around defensive activity and clogging the driving lanes.
New Orleans plays at an average pace and ranks 11th in points in the paint allowed per game. With long, athletic wings such as Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and others to throw at LeBron, this feels like a game where the other Lakers players will need to pull their weight for the purple and gold to win.
McCollum has been back from an issue with his lung for three games and went over 5.5 assists in two of them (the two most recent games). He averages six assists per game and is the de facto point guard for the Pels, though he’s unlikely to draw either Cam Reddish or Taurean Prince, the Lakers’ top defenders in their starting five, because of the individual matchups.
As great as the Lakers were at disrupting the passing lanes against the Suns (11 steals), they still allowed them to shoot 49.3% from the field and 48% from three. Anything close to that and McCollum should be able to go over his assist total regardless of who finishes on top.
Davis is second in the league in rebounding at 12.6 boards per night. He brought down 14+ in four straight games and cashed the over on this total in seven of his last eight games and he’s shown a clear commitment to dominating the interior.
The Pelicans, despite having size and length, are only 19th in rebound rate. Davis’ size and length will be huge assets for the Lakers, especially since both teams are defensive-minded and would rather there be tons of misses (and rebounds) than a shootout.
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
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