NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: Back Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard for Big Scoring Games (Sunday, March 21)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard.
- Our player props for Sunday's slate of NBA games features two All-Star guards and backing their scoring outputs.
- Dan Titus breaks down where he sees value in the props market.
Sunday has arrived, and while most are still caught up in the Madness, the NBA has 10 games scheduled for today’s slate. The games started abnormally early, with four games tipping off before 4 p.m. ET. The early games only feature three teams above .500, so we’re fading those matchups to focus on the later contests.
The Sixers and Lakers play on the second leg of a back-to-back, while the Celtics, Pacers and Bulls play their first games of a back-to-back Sunday. Most notably, the Lakers will be without MVP frontrunner LeBron James as he’ll miss tonight’s game with a high ankle sprain. I’m shying away from the Lakers until further notice, but some other players will thrive in plus matchups from a betting perspective.
For today’s props, I diversified with points, steals, and 3-pointers made. Here’s why I like Zach LaVine to hit his point total, Fred VanVleet to lock down the Cavs, and Damian Lillard to rain down threes on the Mavs.
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
Zach LaVine over 26.5 points (-113)
|Bulls vs. Pistons||Pistons +3|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
LaVine is on a tear, dropping 33.7 points per game while shooting over 60% from the field in his past three games. He continues to carry the Bulls, and they’re currently within striking distance of a playoff spot for the first time in four years.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Pistons have been the Eastern Conference’s resident doormat, standing at 12-29 overall, the second-worst in the NBA. Surprisingly, the Pistons defense has improved over the past five games, ranking ninth in defensive efficiency (108.9) per NBA Advanced Stats. They’ve covered the spread in four of their last five games, and today, they’re three-point dogs against Chicago. All this to say, a competitive match always benefits alphas like LaVine.
He’s hasn’t taken his foot off the gas all season, and that applies to inferior opponents as well. According to HoopsStats, LaVine has averaged 31.1 points per game against teams with a record below .500. In their first meeting earlier this season, LaVine lit up the Pistons for 37 points, five rebounds, and five assists. His game translates well on the road, too, as his scoring average only dips slightly (28.8 compared to 28.1). According to Fansure, he’s exceeded 26.5 points in five of his last six road games, with an average of 31.3 PPG over that span.
With the Bulls losing their last two games, this is all the motivation LaVine needs to go off. I’d play this up to 27.5 as LaVine will be a walking bucket versus Detroit.
Fred VanVleet over 1.5 steals (-105)
|Raptors vs. Cavaliers||Cavaliers +7.5|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
I haven’t recommended a steals prop before, but there’s a first for everything. I’m drawn to VanVleet specifically because he’s a thief. VanVleet enters Sunday fourth in the NBA in total steals while averaging 1.8 steals per contest (second in the NBA).
He had a brief stint on IR due to health and safety protocols but dating back to February 26th, VanVleet has registered at least two steals in his past three games. Today, he faces the Cleveland Cavaliers, who, according to NBA Advanced Stats, allow the most steals per game to opposing teams (8.6 per game) and give up a steal every 8.5 possessions, which both rank last in the league.
VanVleet executes his thievery best against divisional opponents. In six games against the Central Division, he’s racked up 15 steals, an average of 2.5 per contest. Toronto is 7.5-point favorites, and I expect VanVleet to be a menace on the defensive end in what’s becoming must-win territory for the 17-24 Raptors. Our projections have him hitting his seasonal average of 1.8 steals, and I like this over with a bet quality rating of 10.
Damian Lillard over 4.5 3-Point Shots Made (+130)
|Mavericks vs. Trail Blazers||Trail Blazers +2|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
I want in on Damian Lillard. While his point total is enticing at 31.5, I’m riding with his line for 3-point shots made in tonight’s bout against the Mavs. Over his past 10 games, the perennial All-Star and sharpshooter made five threes per contest. He’s also attempting 12 threes a game over that span and making them at a stellar 41% clip.
The Mavs visit the Blazers once again, but this time, as two-point favorites, which is a little surprising considering Portland beat them by six points on Friday. Nonetheless, Dallas has improved defensively as of late. Per NBA Advanced Stats, Dallas rose to the 12th-best defensive efficiency rating in the NBA over the past 10 games (110.8) compared to 24th overall across the entire season. Dame attempted 10 threes on Friday (sinking four), and there is no reason he won’t continue to bomb away from deep. Taking a closer look under the hood, the Mavs rank in the bottom-10 in opponent 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted per game, according to NBA Advanced Stats. Not a promising sign when facing one of the most lethal three-point shooters in the game.
Dame enters Sunday, ranking third in the NBA in threes made and second in three-point attempts. Per Fansure, Lillard’s exceeded 4.5 three-pointers made in four of his last five games at home – with an average of 5.8 three-pointers made per game over that span. Our projections have Dame hitting 4.5 threes, and at plus odds, I’m taking the over.