Bucks vs. Hawks Player Prop Picks: 2 Bets on Brook Lopez & Jrue Holiday for Game 5 (July 1)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jrue Holiday.
- The Milwaukee Bucks take on the Atlanta Hawks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trae Young, and Clint Capela are all facing injury concerns, causing the player prop market to go a little off-center.
- Despite the craziness, Brandon Anderson came through with two picks, so be sure to check out both breakdowns below.
Well, we officially have one team in the NBA Finals, but who in the world will the Phoenix Suns face? It will be the Milwaukee Bucks or Atlanta Hawks, but which team emerges and what players are actually healthy enough to play there is anyone’s guess at this point.
You probably know the damage, but let’s give a quick update.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the headliner. He has been ruled out for Game 5 with a hyperextended knee, an injury that was so gruesome-looking on Monday night that previously being listed as doubtful actually felt like good news.
On the other sideline, Trae Young is still listed as questionable with a bone bruise in his right foot after stepping on a referee’s foot in Game 3. He missed Game 4 and feels like a late decision tonight, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Hawks play this cautiously now that the series is tied 2-2 and Giannis is out.
Young isn’t the only questionable Hawks starter either. Clint Capela is also questionable with right eye inflammation after he took an elbow to the eye.
And, lest you forget, both Donte DiVincenzo and De’Andre Hunter are already out for the playoffs, leaving each team short a regular 3-and-D starter. Oh, and Bogdan Bogdanovic is probable and expected to play but had looked terrible for several weeks with his knee clearly bothering him before he apparently drank from the Fountain of Youth for a huge Game 4.
Let’s put this another way. Atlanta’s only fully healthy starter is John Collins. One. The Hawks have one healthy starter.
Milwaukee still has Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez, but missing the two-time MVP is a pretty big deal.
Suffice to say it’s impossible to know what to expect, both tonight and in this series, and many prop lines aren’t even posted as of Friday morning. We’ll carefully wade into the water with two Bucks props, but be careful out there with all of the unknowns, and feel free to sit this one out.
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 two 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
Jrue Holiday, Under 10.5 Assists (-140)
|Hawks vs. Bucks — Game 5||Bucks -2|
|Time | TV||8:30 p.m. ET | TNT|
Jrue Holiday averages 6.4 assists per game for his career. He averaged 6.1 APG this year with the Bucks, and his career-high was 8.0 APG almost a decade ago with the 76ers in his lone All-Star season. Holiday also averages 6.4 APG for his playoff career, even playing 36.9 minutes per game.
So… why in the world is this line in the double digits?
It’s a good question, and it feels like an overreaction to Antetokounmpo being out. Sure, that means Holiday will need to do more, but he’s really never been a player to dominate the ball or rack up big assist numbers.
Holiday had 11 or more assists only five times in 59 regular-season games for the Bucks this year. That hits our under an absurd 91.5% of the time. And yes, almost all of those games are with Antetokounmpo, and with fewer minutes because it’s the regular season. But still… 91.5%!
Holiday has gone over 10.5 assists three times so far in the playoffs. He did it twice against the Heat and in Game 4 of this series. The two Heat games, you recall, were massive blowout wins in which the Bucks were hitting every 3-pointer in the world, inflating Holiday’s assist numbers.
And even with those hits, even at 8.1 APG this postseason, Holiday has gone under 10.5 assists in 80% of his playoff games this year.
Holiday might play close to every minute tonight if the game is close. Milwaukee needs all it can get from him now. But it might need him to be more of a scorer than a facilitator at times, too, and Holiday’s play has run hot and cold this postseason.
This is just too high of a line to not play. We project Holiday at 8.6 assists and rate this as the top play on a weak board, our only 10-rated prop of the day.
It’s my sole full unit play today, and though you can play under 9.5 at plus juice at some books, I’ll stick with the safer under 10.5 and give myself some cushion. I’ll play to -180 or pivot to plus-juice 9.5 if needed.
Brook Lopez, Over 5.5 Rebounds (-112)
|Hawks vs. Bucks — Game 5||Bucks -2|
|Time | TV||8:30 p.m. ET | TNT|
Our only other prop of the day comes from Milwaukee center Brook Lopez.
We’ve played a ton of Lopez in this space all season. Early in the year, we rode Lopez’s over 0.5 assist prop for awhile. Later in the season, we were playing Lopez 3-pointer overs.
Now we’re back, and tonight, it’s rebounds.
The reason we keep coming back to Lopez and switching things up is because the Bucks keep doing the same. There are some stretches where Lopez plays like more of a true big man, banging in the post and crashing the offensive glass. Then, there are long stretches where Lopez is a stretch big, playing way out beyond the 3-point line and bombing away.
Lopez has been both of those things at times this postseason, and other times, he’s been none of the above, minimized and on the sidelines because his drop defense isn’t working.
That’s been the case against Atlanta this series, since Trae Young has been shredding Lopez’s traditional drop coverage with floaters, pushing Milwaukee to play “small” with Antetokounmpo and P.J. Tucker as its bigs.
Well, that’s not an option anymore, and Mike Budenholzer might be forced to give Lopez big minutes. The Bucks just don’t have many bodies left. They’re probably going to have to take their chances with Lopez.
We already saw it happen some in Game 4. After playing just 22.7 minutes per game the first three games, Lopez played almost 29 in Game 4, and that happened despite sitting late in a blowout. He also saw his rebounding rise from 2.0 RPG those first three to five last game.
Plus, remember, Young is questionable tonight. He may not play at all, and if he does, his floater game may not be deadly enough to play Lopez off the floor.
I have to trust that Milwaukee has no real option but to play Lopez for serious minutes. We’re projecting him at 31.8 minutes. Lopez has played over 30 minutes five times this postseason, and he’s gone over 5.5 rebounds in all five of those games, averaging 8.8 RPG, far above this number.
In addition to increased minutes, I expect Lopez to play near the hoop more often.
Milwaukee needs points, and Lopez crashing the glass to grab a few offensive rebounds is a good way to create some easy opportunities. Plus, don’t forget, the Bucks have to replace Antetokounmpo’s 12.7 RPG so far this postseason.
It’s a leap of faith considering how little Lopez has done so far this series, but the logic makes sense. I’ll play over 5.5 boards to -140, and if it creeps past that number, I’ll consider the over 6.5 at plus juice that’s started to pop up at some books.
It’s a tough, unpredictable game, but unpredictability often breeds opportunity. Be safe out there.