NBA Player Props & Picks: 3 Unders With Value in Game 6 (May 12)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks.
- The pressure is on Thursday night with two Game 6 matchups: Heat vs. 76ers, Suns vs. Mavericks.
- While important games push some players to overperform, others often go the other way.
- Brandon Anderson looks at three player prop unders for tonight's slate.
Thursday night brings us dueling pairs of Game 6s, and both series are in the same spot. Each No. 1 seed bounced back with a dominant Game 5 win at home, and now each underdog heads home for what could be its final game of the season with everything on the line.
It’s either elimination for the underdog or a one-game do-or-die for the top team that lead the conference all year. And it’s time to add some props to the mix.
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 dive into tonight’s Game 6 matchups.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Joel Embiid, Under 11.5 Rebounds (-128)
|Heat vs. 76ers||76ers -2.5|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Joel Embiid continues to battle like a complete warrior in these playoffs. Embiid is wearing that face mask and, seemingly, taking at least a nightly smack to the face, and he’s still go that thumb injury too, on top of all of the other usual playoff battle wounds.
Embiid is doing all he can, but the results just haven’t been quite the same. His scoring efficiency has dropped at times, and his rebounding in particular has been down.
Embiid averaged 11.7 rebounds per game during the regular season, and he was at 13.0 RPG the first three games of the playoffs as Philadelphia ran out to its 3-0 series lead over Toronto. But that was when the thumb injury started to bother Embiid, and the rebounding hasn’t been the same since.
He averaged just 9.7 RPG over the final three games of the series against Toronto. Then after returning from injury, he’s averaged only 9.0 RPG against Miami, including just five boards in the Game 5 blowout.
Embiid has gone under 11.5 rebounds in six straight games since that thumb injury. It’s not by much — he’s hit exactly 11 three times and 10 another time — but an under is an under. Unders are always an easier hit anyway since a blowout in either direction or an injury could limit Embiid’s minutes, like it did last time.
It’s not Embiid’s fault. You probably wouldn’t as physical or aggressive on the boards either if you had a broken thumb and, you know, a broken face. But that doesn’t mean we can’t play the under and profit even as Embiid battles. Don’t go below 11.5, but do play to -150.
James Harden, Under 1.5 Steals + Blocks (-105)
If James Harden was battling as hard as Embiid all series, maybe this playoff picture would look a little different right now. Maybe the Sixers put the Raptors away earlier and Embiid never takes that elbow from Pascal Siakam, and maybe Philadelphia steals one of those two games without Embiid even if he does.
Alas, this is not the old Harden. He had one great throwback game in this series, but even that wasn’t a typical Harden dominant game so much as him just getting hot from behind the arc. The truth is that Harden is getting most of his points at the line or on 3s these days. He’s just not hitting many shots any given night.
Look at how shocking his field goals are from night to night in the playoffs:
Number of made field goals by James Harden each game in the playoffs.
— Brandon Anderson (@wheatonbrando) May 11, 2022
You’d think all that lack of scoring would leave room for Harden to add a little energy and step up his game on defense, but that hasn’t really been the case either. It’s not like Harden’s defense has ever been standout, but his defense has ramped up in the playoffs in the past. Don’t forget, this is a guy with a series-winning block.
Don’t count on that this year, though. Harden had two steals and one block last game. Wait, sorry, that’s not right. Harden has two steals and one block this entire series so far.
That means this under has cashed all five games of the series. So even though only two stocks crashes the over, it means it’s a good spot to play another Philly under here.
That is, of course, unless you’re expecting Harden to show up with peak effort on both ends in a huge elimination game spot. Good luck with that.
Luka Doncic, Under 8.5 assists (-140)
|Suns vs. Mavericks||Suns -2|
|Time | TV||9:30 p.m. ET | ESPN|
Luka Doncic continues to put up monster playoff numbers, like he always has.
Doncic scored 45 in the series opener against Phoenix. He’s averaging 32.0 points per game for the series, and he’s added 9.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists. Doncic is filling up the box score, and he’s come even come pretty close to a triple-double a couple times. But he keeps falling a few assists short.
Doncic’s assists have been down for awhile now. Since the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Doncic take on a heavier shooting and scoring load but has seen his passing numbers dip at times. In the playoffs they’ve dipped further as opponents have had success taking away passing lanes and trying to turn Luka into hero ball mode.
Doncic is under 8.5 assists in six of eight playoff games, hitting this under 75% of the time. He’s under it in three of five games against the Suns so far. And it behooves us to notice that all three assist unders have come in Phoenix wins, while the two overs all postseason came in the only two wins against the Suns.
So what happened? Well, Dallas hit a barrage of 3s in those two home wins. You may recall Dorian Finney-Smith hitting eight 3s in one game, and Davis Bertans and Maxi Kleber have bombed all series. In those two wins, Doncic wasn’t necessarily a better passer — his teammates just hit an outlier number of shots.
The question then is whether or not you expect the Mavs role players to hit those shots. If they do, the Mavs have a good chance to win, and Luka may go over this number. If they don’t it should be another assists under and a Suns win. Heck, the entire Dallas team had only nine assists last game, their fewest total since April 2010 when Jason Kidd was the point guard of this team instead of the coach.
You can parlay Doncic’s assists under with a Suns win and cover for +205 at DraftKings if you want to follow the formula for these correlated events. We’re a perfect 5-for-5 this series on the Doncic assist correlation — Mavs win and assists over or Suns win and assists under. Pick your poison, and take a dive.