NBA Playoffs Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Plays, Including CJ McCollum Against the Nuggets (Monday, May 24)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers; Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.
- We've got a pair of Game 2s with a trio of props to bet across both games Monday.
- Props specialist Brandon Anderson is eyeing three guards tonight, including CJ McCollum and his recent hot shooting from deep.
- Check out all three of his picks below.
What a wild opening weekend of playoff basketball that was — one of the best in recent memory! Every West series underdog won its Game 1, three of them on the road, and three opening weekend games came down to the final shot.
This is the perfect time to jump on playoff props, now that we have an idea of how the minutes played out in Game 1s. We made a killing on our props early in the regular season, getting ahead of the books before they adjusted, so let’s see if we can do that here in the playoffs too.
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
Kendrick Nunn, Under 15.5 PTS + REB + AST
|Heat vs. Bucks||Bucks -4.5|
|Time | TV||7:30 p.m. ET | TNT|
|Best Book||Bet Rivers|
One of my favorite prop angles in the NBA playoffs is taking unders on guys whose minutes appear to be fading quickly, before the books catch on and drop the line accordingly.
Remember Kendrick Nunn during last season’s Finals run for the Heat? After contending for Rookie of the Year, Nunn was barely involved in that memorable playoff run.
He averaged just 6.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists and played only 15.9 minutes a game — and those numbers actually improved quite a bit in the Finals, when the Heat had so many injuries they were forced to throw Nunn out there. He was a healthy scratch in six Heat playoff games before that, all of them wins.
Nunn just wasn’t part of Miami’s winning plan last year in the bubble, but it was reasonable to expect that to change this season. Nunn started 44 more games and put up nice numbers, improving as a shooter and starting most of the games down the stretch for a hot Heat team that won 12 of its final 16.
But then the playoffs started and ~WHOOSH~ there went Nunn’s minutes again. It wasn’t quite as drastic this time, but it was still noticable. Nunn started but played under 23 minutes, finishing with just 10 points, four rebounds, and one assist.
Miami clearly trusts its other guys more out there, and the Heat are also playing their bigger wings as many minutes as possible while also keeping Bam Adebayo on the floor and surrounding them with shooters like Duncan Robinson, Goran Dragic, and Tyler Herro.
Nunn was the odd man out last season and he looks like he might be again, and it’s hard to rack up stats watching from the bench.
We project Nunn around 23 minutes, same as he got in Game 1. Nunn played under 25 minutes in 15 Heat games this season. He averaged only 6.7 points, 1.7 boards, and 1.7 dimes in them. He also went under 15.5 points + rebounds + assists in all but two of them, hitting this under 87% of the time, and even the two overs were by 0.5 and 1.5.
If the minutes aren’t there, the production probably won’t be either. Trust the trend we’re seeing carry over from last year’s playoffs and fade Nunn’s combo prop line. I’ll play to -140.
CJ McCollum, Over 2.5 3-pointers (-150)
|Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets||Nuggets -1.5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | TNT|
If you’ve been playing our Action Network props all season, first of all, congratulations on the large sum of money you’ve made, but secondly, you should be pretty familiar with this one by now. We’ve gone to the well often on McCollum, and the books are starting to tilt the juice upward, but they still haven’t moved the line appropriately.
McCollum had a career year for the Blazers with highs in both points (23.1) and assists (4.7) despite averaging his fewest minutes as a starter. That is to say, McCollum set career high averages despite having a handful of games with limited minutes due to injury, otherwise his numbers would’ve been even higher.
McCollum was also more efficient this season, and he did that by taking and making more 3s than ever. McCollum jacked 8.9 attempts per game and hit 40.2% of them, averaging 3.6 makes per game — and remember, those numbers are a bit deflated from lower minute games too. McCollum had at least six attempts in all but five games (two of which had limited minutes). He went over 2.5 made 3s in 32 of 47 regular season games, hitting this over 68% of the time.
He went over in the playoff opener too, hitting 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. And now that it’s the playoffs and CJ is healthy, we won’t have to worry about limited minutes anymore. We know Portland will play McCollum and Damian Lillard as many minutes as they can handle. McCollum had over 36 minutes in the opener, and he averaged 39 minutes per game each of the past three playoffs and probably would’ve hit that number Saturday if the game had been closer.
This is a volume play. If McCollum plays near 40 minutes as expected, he should veer toward double-digit 3-point attempts, and if he gets that many shots up, even a poor shooting night still leaves room for three makes.
This line really ought to be 3.5 by now, but it still isn’t so we’ll keep hitting it. I’ll play this over to -180.
Facundo Campazzo, Over 1.5 steals (+155)
|Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets||Nuggets -1.5|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | TNT|
Do you suppose Facu Campazzo is the Argentine Patrick Beverley, or is he Argentine Matthew Dellavedova?
Regardless, he is a competitor and pest on defense. He’s also an absolute joy to watch, as long as you’re not the opposing guard just trying to live your life and bring the ball up the court or a lumbering center trying to set a simple screen on a little man.
Campazzo is the perfect sort of energy bench guard, but he’s about the best Denver’s got right now with all of the usual Nuggets guards out injured. That puts him in line for big minutes, and he was a pain in Lillard’s butt all night in the series opener.
Campazzo filled up the box score with eight points, five assists, three rebounds, two steals, and a block. He was all over the place in 31.5 minutes, making his impact felt, and that’s what Denver has come to expect from its 30-year-old rookie guard down the stretch. Not counting the throwaway regular season finale, Campazzo averaged 33.3 minutes per game over his last 12 Nuggets games with 10.2 points, 6.8 assists, and 2.2 steals.
It’s those pesky steals that we’re looking at for tonight, and that 2.2 steals per game average is in our favor. Campazzo went over 1.5 steals in 25 of 65 games this season, but he did that in 21.9 minutes a game.
Now that he’s playing significant minutes, his hit rate has gone way up. In games with at least 32 minutes, he’s had multiple steals in eight of 12 games, hitting the over 67% of the time and averaging 2.25 steal. Many of those have come in the stretch run version of this team that will play again Monday night.
Steals are always a high variance stat, but Campazzo is pesky and will get after it every second he’s on the court, and we only need two. We also only need at least a 40% chance of hitting this prop for it to be in our favor at +155, and Facu was doing that even off the bench in the regular season.
I think this is the right line — steals are rare! — but I’d have made the juice closer to -155, not +155. I love this one at any plus number.