NBA Player Prop Bets: 3 Picks for Bucks vs. Nets, Including Khris Middleton, Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving (Saturday, June 5)

NBA Player Prop Bets: 3 Picks for Bucks vs. Nets, Including Khris Middleton, Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving (Saturday, June 5) article feature image
Credit:

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyrie Irving (left) and Kevin Durant (right).

  • The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks kick off the second round of the NBA Playoffs when they take the floor on Saturday night.
  • With their Big 3 finally healthy — a rare occurrence this season — the Nets hope to take care of the Bucks in Game 1 as favorites.
  • Check out Dan Titus' three favorite prop bets for the game, including picks on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Khris Middleton.

The second round of the NBA Playoffs is officially underway.

Saturday’s slate features a primetime showdown between the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and second-seeded Brooklyn Nets. 

The Bucks proved to be one of the best teams of the first round, leading all playoff teams with a net rating of 19.7. They made easy work of the Heat, sweeping them in four games. Now, they’ll travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets’ new “Big 3.”

The basketball gods gifted NBA fans with the best possible scenario — two teams that consist of five 2020-21 All-Stars and three former MVPs battle it out for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

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.

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NBA Player Props & Picks

Kevin Durant Over 28.5 Points (-110)

Bucks vs. Nets Nets -4
Time  7:30 p.m. ET
Best Book BetMGM

The Nets are firing on all cylinders, knocking off the Celtics in only five games.

Kevin Durant is playing lights out, and No. 7 is venturing into the Playoff KD of old. The 13-year vet is averaging the most points per game of his postseason career at 32.6. Realizing that this is only a five-game sample size, I see no reason to doubt his offensive onslaught. 

Game 1s are known as statement games, and what better way to make an impact than by dropping a 30-piece on your opponent? 

Durant feasted on the Bucks’ defense in the regular season. In three games played, he scored 30, 42, and 32 points. But it’s not just the pure scoring numbers that stand out — it’s the efficiency. KD shot 48.7% from the field, 52% from the 3-point line (with 4.3 3PM), and 85% from the charity stripe across three meetings with the Bucks this year. 

Milwaukee did a phenomenal job limiting Miami to only 98 points per game in their first-round series. However, the Nets are a different animal.

Brooklyn’s Big 3 accounted for 66% of the team’s scoring in the four wins over the Celtics last round, and Durant led the way. His minutes crept up to 37 per game after averaging 33 MPG in the regular season. He is also attempting 2.2 more field goals per game in the postseason. 

Durant is locked in. He put up shooting splits of 55/50/92 with a true shooting percentage of 69.3 against Boston, per Basketball-Reference. The Bucks have the third-highest Pace in the postseason at 100.26, and the Slim Reaper should have no issue playing in an uptempo game.

These are the moments superstars thrive in, and we project KD will score 29 points tonight. This number is on par with his current market, but I’d play this up to 29.5. Durant’s dominance against the Bucks this season, along with his stellar play versus Boston, has me backing the over on KD’s points in Game 1.


Kyrie Irving Over 3.5 Assists (-144)

Bucks vs. Nets Nets -4
Time  7:30 p.m. ET
Best Book FanDuel

Irving made headlines in Game 5 of the first-round after doing his best impression of Terrell Owens disrespecting an opposing team’s logo. But who cares? Uncle Drew is a walking bucket. However, with Jrue Holiday expected to match up on Irving quite a bit, I like his assist prop at 3.5 in Game 1. 

The enigmatic All-Star guard is averaging a postseason career-low of 2.8 assists through one series of play. Not to worry, though. Better times are ahead.

Irving’s been quite productive distributing the rock against the Bucks recently. He not only eclipsed 3.5 assists in each of the three contests this season, but dating back to 2018, Irving has at least five assists in six straight games against Milwaukee.

Joe Harris was the primary (and unlikely) beneficiary of Uncle Drew’s assists in the regular season. Irving assisted Harris on 63 plays — 19% of his total assists. With the Nets’ superstars finally all healthy for the playoffs, that has changed. Six of Irving’s 14 assists (42%) in the first round went to Durant.

The Bucks allow the sixth-most 3-point attempts this postseason to opposing teams through Saturday (35.8 per game). With the aforementioned Pace being high, Irving should be able to penetrate and dish out plenty of dimes to his teammates. 

His current assist line at 3.5 feels like an overcorrection considering he averaged 6.0 assists in the regular season and 5.5 against Milwaukee in two contests this year. The combination of Holiday and Pat Connaughton shouldn’t derail Irving’s ability to facilitate 3.5 assists. After all, in 14 career games versus Holiday, he’s averaged 5.4 assists. In six career games against Connaughton, Uncle Drew averaged 5.2 dimes. 

The fact is the Celtics backcourt had no answer for him offensively. His assist percentage fell from 28.6% in the regular season to 11.1 in the opening series against Boston. With the Bucks bringing their top defensive rating of 95.4 into the second round, expect Kyrie’s role to shift into more of a playmaking one.

Our Lab Projections Tool has Irving distributing 5.0 assists in Game 1, and with a bet quality rating of 9, I’m taking the over on the seven-time All-Star to get at least four. 

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Khris Middleton Over 32.5 Points + Rebounds+ Assists (-110)

Bucks vs. Nets Nets -4
Time  7:30 p.m. ET
Best Book BetMGM

I could have gone with a trifecta of Nets players, but Middleton is a more tempting target for Game 1. He’s battle-tested and played a vital role for the Bucks in two of their wins over Brooklyn in the regular season. 

Middleton finished the 2020-21 season with averages of 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists across 68 games. His seasonal resume doesn’t lend much confidence in his 32.5 combo line. Despite this measure, his numbers jumped to 24.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in three games against the Nets this year. 

The Nets will likely direct their attention to stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo in this series. With Middleton as the clear 1B to Giannis in the Bucks’ system, I’m riding with him to take over. He continues to deliver as one of the focal points for Milwaukee’s offense and should fill up the box score in this series. 

The two-time All-Star put up his second-best postseason numbers in Round 1, generating 21.5 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Those numbers are spot on to his 32.5 combo market, but with a game total set at 239 and rising, Middleton will garner a lot of usage and opportunity. 

In the three regular-season meetings between these two teams, Middleton saw a 25% usage rate. He was tracking pretty close to that number against the Heat, with a 23.9 usage rate. Middleton’s only game this season at the Barclays Center resulted in 25 points, four rebounds, and four assists. And the Texas A&M alum exceeded 32.5 points, rebounds, and assists in five of his last six road games. Over that span, he’s averaging 36.2 points, rebounds, and assists. 

It comes down to Brooklyn’s inability to play solid defense for 48 minutes to bring this home. Through the first round of the playoffs, the Nets’ defensive rating is 115.9. For perspective, that number would rank in the bottom-three overall for the 2020-21 season. 

This series is going to be about stopping Giannis and slowing down the Nets’ offensive attack. In the middle of it all lies All-NBA-worthy Middleton. If the Bucks remain competitive in this series, leaning on him as one of Milwaukee’s Big 3 is paramount. 

There’s value in grabbing Middleton’s combo market at 32.5 as our Lab Projections Tool has him collecting 36.7 points, rebounds, and assists in Game 1. I’ll take them over with a bet quality rating of 8.

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