NBA Prop Bets, Picks, Predictions: 3 Player Totals for Heat vs. Bucks (Saturday, May 15)
Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jrue Holiday
What a strange NBA regular season this has been.
We finally made it to the penultimate day, and there’s only one evening game on the slate tonight so we’re going to offer up three props from that one and a single-game parlay opportunity. With SGPs, the right path to play is to pick a narrative for the game that shapes the outcome and then skews the numbers in your favor. It’s not just that one player will score or rebound more, it’s that the game will play out in this specific way and that will skew the individual numbers in these specific directions.
Tonight is a familiar matchup: the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat knocked these Bucks out last year in their NBA Finals run, and this could potentially be a first-round matchup if tonight’s matchup goes a certain way. And my angle tonight is that I’m not sure it’s in either team’s best interest to see that happen.
The Heat control their destiny to make the 4v5 first-round series. If Miami wins this one and then beats the tanking Pistons Sunday, the Heat get into that game and face either the Knicks or Hawks, leaving the other one as the 6-seed to face the 3-seed Bucks. In other words, a Miami win here could leave both these teams with a first-round matchup they like better than, well, each other.
The injury report for this one is relatively clean, but we know this matchup well and can play the narrative we’ve chosen. That means Miami overs and Milwaukee unders where possible, especially if the Bucks stealth tank and cut minutes.
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
|Heat vs. Bucks||Miami -3|
|Time | TV||8 p.m. ET | League Pass|
Trevor Ariza, over 1.5 assists (-106)
Trevor Ariza has quietly been a terrific addition to the Miami Heat as they have rounded into form over the final stretch of the season. Ariza has finally given the Heat a replacement for what they lost in Jae Crowder, a crucial piece from last year’s Finals run and an even more critical piece of their upset against the Bucks.
Crowder is a 3-and-D guy, and Milwaukee’s defensive m.o. is to attack what the opponent does best, particularly its best shooters, and force the secondary players to make plays. That was Crowder last season, and he rained fire on Milwaukee and helped knock them out. Now that role falls to Ariza.
Ariza has started 26 games for the Heat since joining them, and he’s averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 29.3 minutes per game. It’s not much, but it’s enough, especially with his intelligent veteran play and team defense.
Ariza has recorded an assist in 23 of those 26 starts, putting him right on the cusp of the two we need. He’s gone over in exactly half his starts, hitting it in 13 of 26 games. But because of the way Milwaukee plays defense on the perimeter, I expect the ball to be in Ariza’s hands more often tonight. That means more shots and more opportunities to make the second pass off a hockey assist, finding the open man for a shot.
We only need two dimes, and we project Ariza at 2.2 assists. I’ll lock this one in and play up to -125 to start out our SGP.
Duncan Robinson, under 3.5 threes (-110)
Everyone remembers the Heat drowning the Bucks with 3-pointers in last year’s playoffs, but what many people don’t remember is that Miami’s historically great jump shooter Duncan Robinson wasn’t even much part of the fun.
Robinson did hit six 3s in one of those playoff games, but that was actually the only game Miami lost against the Bucks. He hit six 3s in the other four games combined, all Heat wins. He also took only 22 attempts combined in those games, well below his typical season volume.
These teams played twice at the start of the new season, and Robinson’s volume was down again. He got just four 3-point attempts up in each of those games with three combined makes. Compare that to the season averages at 3.5 makes per 8.5 attempts per game and you see what a stark contrast this is for Robinson versus Milwaukee compared to Robinson against just about any other team on the planet.
Four makes is always a big ask from any shooter, even Duncan Robinson. He’s gone under in 35 of 70 games this season, exactly half the time. Add in the matchup advantage here, and I like our chances. I’ll lock him in as the second leg of our parlay and play to -125.
Jrue Holiday, under 6.5 assists (-134)
If you’re looking to really gamble here, our Props Tool really likes Brook Lopez over 1.5 made 3s at +200 on DraftKings. Miami allows the second-most 3-point attempts in the league, and we know Lopez can bomb, even though his volume has been down lately.
I prefer a safer play, and I also prefer a good Bucks under here because of how we’ve built our narrative. Unders are always the safer play overall because there are so many ways to hit — the natural flow of the game, bad shooting luck, etc., but also just reduced minutes or an injury. And if Milwaukee does come out flat or call off the dogs early, that gives our under a better chance.
Jrue Holiday has gone under 6.5 assists in 37 of 58 games since joining the Bucks. That’s a 63.8% hit rate in our favor, and that’s even if Holiday plays his usual minutes load. Holiday did have 14 assists last game, but that came against the trainwreck Pacers defense in a high-scoring affair, and he was under 6.5 dimes in three of the previous four games.
We project Holiday at 5.5 dimes, and I think five or six is right about where he ends up. This one will be a sweat if the game stays close late, but let’s wrap up our Single Game Parlay and hope we found the right narrative. I’ll play Holiday’s under to -160.