NBA Play-In Tournament Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Plays For the Grizzlies vs. Warriors Game on Friday (May 21)
Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaren Jackson Jr.
- There's one spot left in the NBA playoffs for either the Grizzlies or Warriors on Friday night.
- Memphis is a bad matchup for Golden State because of its size, and that's where Brandon Anderson focused his player props.
- Anderson makes his three best prop picks for the game below, using the Action Labs Player Props tool.
It’s the final play-in game of the season, and you’d have to call the play-in tournament a smashing success at this point. The Warriors–Lakers game on Wednesday night was wildly entertaining down to the final minute, and now the Golden State needs to finish the job if they’re going to keep the season alive.
The Grizzlies have a big size advantage and will need to win the rebounding battle to stay in this game, and that’s going to inform all three of our props in this win-or-go-home game.
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
Jaren Jackson Jr., over 5.5 rebounds (-115)
|Grizzlies vs. Warriors||Warriors -3.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | ESPN|
If the Grizzlies want to have a chance against the Warriors, they’re probably going to need a big game from Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson didn’t play until the final weeks of the regular season, and he’s clearly still working his way back into full playing shape.
It’s also very clear that he gives this team a new dimension offensively. Memphis will need Jackson to make a few 3-pointers against a team that loves to bomb from deep, and the Grizzlies also need Jackson’s shooting to grab the respect of the defense to open up the paint for point guard Ja Morant to drive and play his game.
Though 12 games is not a big sample, Jackson looks like a far improved rebounder this season. He averaged 7.5 rebounds per 36 minutes a year ago but is all the way up to 11.5 this season, almost doubling his offensive rebounding rate and taking a big step forward on the defensive glass, too. Jackson also looks stronger on the boards, which makes sense for a young player who clearly spent the offseason adding strength to his slight frame.
Jackson has gone over 5.5 rebounds in only half of his 12 games this season, but he’s also averaging only 23.5 minutes a game. He has played 31 minutes in each of the last two games with everything on the line for Memphis, including one Sunday against these very Warriors. Jackson averages a rebound every 4.2 minutes this season, which would mean only 23 minutes needed to hit the over.
I think this line is a full rebound too low. We project Jackson at 6.6 boards, and if he gets as much time as expected, he should cover with ease against a small team that struggles to rebound. I’ll play the over to -140.
Jaren Jackson Jr., under 1.5 assists (+122)
|Grizzlies vs. Warriors||Warriors -4|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | ESPN|
But wait! We’re not done with Jackson just yet!
It’s rare to play an over and an under on the same player since we’re usually factoring minutes heavily into our decision, and that would typically push both outcomes in the same direction, both over or both under together. But in this case, this second line is low enough with enough variance, and with plus juice too, that it looks worth the double down.
Jackson had four assists in the play-in opener against San Antonio. He had two against the Warriors on Sunday, and two in the game before that. Recency bias would make this a stay away or an over, but don’t fall for the small sample with high variance.
Those eight assists in three games make up 50% of Jackson’s total assists for the year. He has only eight dimes in his other nine games, and he averages one assist every 21.5 minutes this season. And lest you think that’s a small sample — and it is — it’s right in line with his one per 20.8 minutes last season.
Jackson played 31 minutes each of the past two games. That would put him at about 1.4 assists, and that’s right where we project him. That makes this effectively a coin flip, but the coin looks weighted slightly in our favor, and we are getting +122 on our coin flip too.
It’s hard to see such a small margin when we are looking at one or two assists, but the margin is there. Let’s hope Jackson doesn’t get double dimes and play this at any plus number.
Kevon Looney, over 9.5 rebounds + assists (-102)
|Team vs. Team||Warriors -4|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Let’s flip over to the other side of this one for our final pick and play another big man. These may not be the sexiest picks in the world, but do you want to pick a side on Stephen Curry’s over/under 38.5 points? Because I sure don’t.
The Warriors are a small team, and they tend to get killed on the glass at times. That’s one way the Grizzlies can stay in this game — by earning extra possessions in the turnover and rebounding margins. Jonas Valanciunas had an absolutely monster night against the Spurs on Wednesday, putting up 23 points and 23 rebounds, and he’s the sort of big man who should dominate this Warriors team.
Enter Kevon Looney.
Looney is the one true big man on this Warriors roster that is consistently reliable, and he could be in line for big minutes in a game with everything on the line.
As great as Draymond Green is at many things, Valanciunas is just not the right matchup for him. The Warriors need Looney on the court, and he played 31 minutes in the regular-season finale against the Grizzlies on Sunday.
Looney has recorded 74 rebounds over his last seven games. He’s also had multiple assists in five of those games and averages 10.6 boards and 2.1 assists per game over this recent stretch, and that’s in only 25.3 minutes per game too. He should get at least that many against Valanciunas, and he’ll need to work hard on the glass in a key battle. Looney is also great at finding Curry so he can get some easy assists at times.
We project Looney at 2.6 assists and 8.1 rebounds. He had three dimes and 11 boards against Memphis on Sunday, and he’s gone over this rebounds + assists line in each of these past seven games. I’ll play the over to -130.