NBA Finals Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Game 1 Plays, Including Deandre Ayton & Khris Middleton (July 6)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns.
The NBA Finals are officially underway!
Both teams have weathered the storm to get to this point in the season. The Bucks are still rolling along despite a knee injury to All-Star and former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. And the Suns overcame two health scares with Chris Paul to run through three formidable Western Conference opponents.
The Bucks haven’t won an NBA title since 1971, and the Suns have yet to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy in their franchise’s history.
Determining Antetokounmpo’s status ahead of Game 1 is important for handicapping the series opener. He was upgraded from doubtful to questionable, which is a step in the right direction.
Editor’s note: Giannis Antetokounmpo is active for Game 1.
Now, if Giannis is a-go, I’d be playing the under on his points + rebounds + assists line once the line is set. But, with that his status truly in doubt, there are more stable prop markets that I like for Game 1.
Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing using the Action Labs Player Prop tool, the case for each bet, and the best books to find odds on those player props.
Let’s get into the action!
NBA Finals Player Props & Picks
Deandre Ayton, Over 27.5 PTS + REB (-110)
|Bucks vs. Suns||Suns -5.5|
|Time | TV||9 p.m. ET | ABC|
Ayton has been the most consistent and efficient big man of the postseason. With Antetokounmpo listed as questionable, there’s no stopping him against a potential Giannis-less Bucks squad in Game 1.
Ayton is averaging a robust 16.2 points with 11.8 rebounds and is also shooting 70.6% from the field, which is third-best this postseason. His current points + rebounds market stands at 26.5. I’m taking the over here as Ayton’s earned a double-double in 11-of-16 games in this postseason.
The former No. 1 overall pick continues to dominate the paint. He ranks third in rebound chances in this postseason at 19.6 per game. With Antetokounmpo potentially out of the lineup, Ayton should see a similar share of rebounding opportunities.
On the points side, he’s scored over 16 points in five of his past six contests. In his last game against the Bucks, he delivered 20 points and 13 rebounds.
And that was with Giannis on the court.
He’s also averaging the most touches in the paint in the postseason with 12.8 per game. He’s eclipsed 27.5 points + rebounds in three of his last five games with an average of 32 points + rebounds over that span.
The upside is there for Ayton to secure another strong double-double and our Action projections tool has him accumulating 29.7 points + rebounds in Game 1. Even if Giannis decides to pull off an improbable return, the Suns’ center should still be a physical force in the series opener.
Mikal Bridges, Over 16.5 PTS + REB + AST (-125)
If you didn’t know by now, Mikal Bridges knows how to win. He collected two national championships at Villanova (2016, 2018) and has a prime opportunity to add an NBA title to his trophy case.
The Suns’ starting small forward has seen his scoring dip in the playoffs compared to the regular season (10.8 vs.13.5) but, he’s sustained his rebounding and assists marks at 4.3 and almost two assists per contest. His combo market for Game 1 is 16.5, but his success against Milwaukee in the regular season makes this line worth betting on at plus odds.
Bridges played in two of the three contests versus the Bucks in the regular season. In those games, he averaged 18.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, with 1.5 assists. And, he’s eclipsed 16.5 PRA in three straight games against Milwaukee, with an average of 26 PRA over that span.
He played at least 33 minutes in both games this year, with an average of 36 minutes per contest. His per-36 numbers come out to 12.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists, which puts him above Game 1’s 16.5 line. Bridges’ strong suit has been his ability to knock down 3-pointers against the Bucks.
Both teams enter the NBA Finals after allowing their Conference finals opponents to shoot 35 3-point attempts per game while making 12.0. Bridges averaged 4.0 3-pointers made against Milwaukee this season, and with Giannis questionable, that is potentially one less person to deter him from hoisting away.
He’s amassed over 16.5 PRA in six of his last 10 games in the playoffs and while he hasn’t done so in his past two games, I expect him to get back on track at home. He hit 17 PRA in the opening game of the past two rounds of the playoffs as well.
Our Action Labs projections tool has Bridges getting 18.5 PRA, and with his past success against Milwaukee, I like the over. I’d play this up to 17.5 at plus odds, which are available at other sportsbooks.
Khris Middleton, Over 5.5 Assists (-115)
Khris Middleton continues to be an excellent distributor for the Bucks. Since Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on the shelf, he’s stepped up his point guard duties. While Jrue Holiday leads the team in assists, Middleton has been right behind him in terms of passing. At 5.5 assists, there’s value in backing Middleton to get at least six in the series opener.
Holiday is averaging a team-high 63.8 passes per game in his last three contests. Middleton is dishing out 58 passes, so even though he’s listed as a small forward, he’s getting plenty of assist opportunities. His potential assists jumped to 14.0 per game over his last three games, and over his last five, it’s still a sustainable 11.6 per contest.
Middleton has exceeded 5.5 assists in four of his last five games, with an average of 7.0 assists over that span, per Fansure. He’s also done it in three of his last four games on the road, with an average of 6.2 assists across those contests. He dished out 11 assists in his first meeting against the Bucks this season and fell just shy of his 5.5 dimes in the second matchup, with five.
The Bucks game plan could be thrown off by Antetkounmpo’s return, but that shouldn’t deter Middleton from remaining a key facilitator of the Bucks offense. We project Middleton to distribute 7.3 assists, and the over carries a bet quality rating of 10.
Here is another example of an opportunity to play up for plus odds at 6.5. The Suns will be focusing on limiting buckets from Holiday and Middleton — offering Middleton the opportunity to showcase his playmaking ability and tally over 5.5 assists in the process.
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