Saturday NBA Player Prop Bets & Picks: LeBron James, Damian Lillard and More (August 22)
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard.
- Brandon Anderson uses the FantasyLabs NBA Player Props Tool to find value on a trio of bets for Saturday's NBA Playoffs slate.
- Check out his full betting preview with odds and picks below, including why he's betting against big scoring performances from LeBron James and Damian Lillard.
Betting on props can be one of the easiest ways to build your bankroll, especially in the NBA postseason. Sportsbooks tend to offer lower limits and take less action on props than they do on games, so they don’t have as much incentive to post an accurate line.
That’s where our Player Prop tool comes in handy. We compare our industry-leading NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks to identify the best plays each day. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.
|Win-Loss (Win Pct)|
|Bet Quality of 10||775-572 (57%)|
|Bet Quality of 9||942-776 (54%)|
|Bet Quality of 8||1432-1263 (52%)|
Saturday’s player props come from two of the slate’s four games:
- Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at 6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC
NBA Player Prop Bets
Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James
The Prop: Under 29.5 points (-125)
LeBron James averaged 25.3 PPG this season. For most players, that would be a banner year. For James, it was his lowest scoring average since his rookie season. That dropped even lower in the seeding games: LeBron averaged 22.8 PPG in six full games, and he has scored only 33 points in both playoff games combined.
No, this doesn’t mean LeBron is washed. Playoff LeBron is still in there until proven otherwise. This is just a different LeBron. This is the guy using his preternatural passing to lead the league in assists, and that LeBron is the one we’ve seen in the Orlando bubble so far.
James knows he can’t win this title on his own — or even with one elite teammate. He’s working hard to get his teammates going, and he’s not really looking for his own shot. Lebron has averaged only 15.5 field goal attempts in these two Blazers games.
It’s not like LeBron isn’t going to score. But he has to hit 30 to go over this number, and he’s only scored 30 points in one of his last 11 games — and, surprisingly enough, only 21 times all season. Add in the fact that the Lakers may have an easier time against a tired, banged-up Blazers squad, and that’s another reason James may not need a big scoring game.
We’re projecting him for 25.3 points, right at his regular season number. I do expect LeBron to dominate in front of a national TV audience; he just may not need to do it by scoring. I’ll play this under down to -140.
Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard
The Prop: Under 31.5 points (-105)
Yes, we’re fading the stars tonight on ABC. No one was hotter over the past few weeks than Damian Lillard. Dame averaged 37.6 PPG in the seeding games en route to winning Bubble MVP. In one week alone, he had games of 42, 45, 51, and 61 points!
One of those games was only a week ago: Lillard’s 42 points and 12 assists against Memphis earned Portland its playoff berth. But Lillard has cooled off considerably against the Lakers’ physical defense. Lillard was “down” to 34 points in a Game 1 Portland win; then he disappeared altogether with only 18 points in Game 2.
The worst news of all came late in Game 2, when Lillard suddenly left the game holding his hand in pain. Lillard dislocated a finger, reportedly for his first time ever. You know Dame will play through the pain, but it is speculated that he could wear a splint to stabilize his hand. The injury is on his off-hand (his left), but that could make it harder to dribble left-handed. And it almost certainly should affect that red-hot shot he’s been hitting from anywhere inside half court.
On top of all that, this remains an insanely high line expectation for a playoff game, even given how well Lillard has been playing. Maybe the finger doesn’t bother Dame and he starts hitting shots like usual. But even if he does, I expect the Lakers to blitz him and force someone else on Portland to beat them. I love Dame, but I also love this under, especially at near even odds. I’m playing all the way to -140, and I’d play it down a point if it drops too.
Houston Rockets, Jeff Green
The Prop: Over 3.5 rebounds (-135), Over 1.5 assists (-110)
Jeff Green is on his seventh team in five seasons, and it would be foolish to think this will last forever. But at least for now, it looks like Green has found a home, and he’s found it as a small-ball Houston Rockets center.
Green is shredding his former team (to be fair, half the league is a former Jeff Green employer) as a perfect Houston “big” man. He’s a 3-and-D guy who can hit the open jumper, and he’s a versatile, switchy defender. All the better that he’s also a very intelligent passer that can make a play getting downhill if the defense tilts too far toward James Harden.
Green has been awesome in two playoff games, logging a combined 37 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists. He’s playing almost 35 minutes per game in this series and has quietly become one of Houston’s most reliable players.
With Westbrook out again for Houston, expect Green to play big minutes. That gives him plenty of opportunities to rebound for a team short (pun intended?) on options. He should also have some opportunities to play 4-on-3 and find open Rockets shooters or dunkers as a passer.
We’re projecting Green to play 32.7 minutes, which puts him at 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists. I am loving this rebounds prop and playing up to -175 or, even better, up a number with better odds.
I like the rebounds prop better than the assists, but I also feel good about the assist number at nearly even odds. Our Props tool rates both of Green’s props a 10, among the best plays of the day. I’m happy to play both together since Green’s heavy minutes should give him a strong probability to hit both numbers.