NBA Player Props Today: Picks for James Harden & Jaylen Brown (May 3)

NBA Player Props Today: Picks for James Harden & Jaylen Brown (May 3) article feature image

Via Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers during Round 2 Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs on May 1, 2023 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Philadelphia 76ers were double-digit underdogs on Monday night as they shocked many by not only covering but pulling out a 119-115 victory over the Boston Celtics. James Harden was sensational with 45 points and knocked down the go-ahead 3 to put the Sixers in front for good. Harden implored his teammates to be greedy and get Game 2 as well. That is much more likely with Joel Embiid returning to the lineup. He may be on the receiving end of a few assists from Harden.

Boston is once again a favorite at home, this time by 7.5 points. It also knows it cannot afford to go into an 0-2 hole. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 39 points and 11 rebounds in Game 1. Boston's other star, Jaylen Brown, scored 23 points but took just 10 shots. Boston will need him to be more aggressive in Game 2.

With only one game on the docket tonight, here is how I am betting Game 2 of this Eastern Conference Semifinals series.

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James Harden Over 8.5 Assists (+120)

SpreadCeltics -7.5
Time | TV8 p.m. ET | TNT
Best LineFanDuel

James Harden has endured his fair share of struggles in the postseason. He averaged 17.3 points per game in the first round against Brooklyn. He also averaged 25.5 points in the regular season against Boston, scoring around 20 points in two of the last three meetings. So it is safe to say that it was bit of a surprise that Harden had a flashback to his Houston days in Game 1.

Although Harden dropped 45 points on Monday, he only had six assists. In the regular season, Harden led the league with 10.7 assists per game. However, without Embiid, his average dropped to 9.2 assists per game. That is still enough to cover this line, but I would be less confident without Embiid (who as of now is expected to play). This postseason, he is averaging just 8.2 assists per game.

In the regular season, Harden assisted more of Embiid's baskets than any other player in the league. Against Boston, he had two double-digit assists games with Embiid on the floor. If he gets four or five assists to Embiid, that will cover half of this line. I'd expect him to get four or five assists to his other teammates with the attention Embiid will demand and soar over this line.

Pick: James Harden Over 8.5 Assists

Jaylen Brown Over 24.5 Points (-115)

SpreadCeltics -7.5
Time | TV8 p.m. ET | TNT
Best Linebet365

I was on Jaylen Brown's points in Game 1, so I was pleased when he came out and scored 14 points in the first quarter. However, Jayson Tatum got hot in the second quarter and took control of the Celtics offense. Tatum finished with 25 shots, compared to just 10 for Brown. Over the final three quarters, Brown scored nine points and finished with 23 points to just go under this line. However, I have no problem going back to Brown in Game 2.

Brown has scored at least 25 points in 51 of the 74 games he has played this season for a nice 69% hit rate. He has scored 35, 26, and now 23 points in the three full games he has played against Philadelphia. As I mentioned on Monday, Philadelphia would struggle to defend Brown, and it showed as he went 8-for-10 from the field. Now I don't expect Brown to shoot 80% from the field again, but I am betting on him being more aggressive.

In the final three games of the Atlanta series, Brown took at least 22 shots as he scored 30 points in each of those games. Brown also took 23 shots in Game 1 against Atlanta and scored 29 points. Overall, Brown has hit this line in four of seven postseason games. The key is his number of shots, and when he gets the volume, he is more likely to score 30 than 25 points.

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC