NBA Playoff PrizePicks: Plays for Marcus Smart & Jimmy Butler in Heat vs. Celtics (May 17)
Via Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics celebrates during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals of the 2023 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers on May 14, 2023 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. This sets up the first game of what figures to be a competitive series and a chance to make some PrizePicks plays on some key players like Jimmy Butler and Marcus Smart.
A quick refresher if you aren’t familiar with PrizePicks: you can combine up to five different player squares to pay out up to 10x your entry.
You can do a Flex Play or a Power Play. A Flex Play gives you lesser odds, but you can win money if you do not nail every pick. A Power Play is all-or-nothing.
Here’s how I would approach today’s slate in NBA Playoffs slate.
What is PrizePicks? A daily fantasy operator — meaning they’re available in more states (30) than sports betting is! — PrizePicks offers a unique opportunity for action on player props in which you parlay two or more plays together.
Marcus Smart More Than 22.5 Points, Rebounds and Assists
This postseason, Marcus Smart is averaging 15.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. Combined that adds up to 25.1 points, rebounds and assists per game — comfortably over this projection. He has surpassed this projection in seven of 13 games this postseason. However, he was hooked on 22 three times and also had 21 points, rebounds and assists in another game. He is right on the doorstep of hitting this projection at an 80% clip.
In the regular season, Smart averaged 12 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game against Miami for 23.3 total points, rebounds and assists. He did that despite shooting 21.4% from the 3-point line. Miami allowed 13.1 3s per game in the regular season and is allowing 12.8 in the postseason. Smart is averaging over two 3s per game in the playoffs and shooting 36.3% in the playoffs. He should get open looks as Miami prioritizes slowing down Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
If Smart scores 15 points, he will only need eight rebounds and assists to surpass this projection. Going back to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, he averaged 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. He surpassed this projection in four of the five games he played in that series. Boston has added Malcolm Brogdon this season to boost its production, however his presence has not affected Smart from surpassing this projection against Miami or this postseason.
Jimmy Butler More Than 40.5 Points, Rebounds and Assists
Jimmy Butler has carried a heavy burden for Miami this postseason, but “Playoff Jimmy” has been up to the challenge. In 39.1 minutes per game, he is averaging 31.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists. He has surpassed this projection in just four of 10 playoff games, but he is averaging 42 combined points, rebounds and assists. However, no coach knows Jimmy Butler better than Tom Thibodeau. Butler’s scoring average dipped to 24.5 points per game in the second round, and he also dealt with an ankle injury.
He still averaged 7.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists, and I expect Butler’s scoring to increase for a few reasons against Boston.
For starters, the Knicks averaged just over 100 points per game against Miami. Boston will attack Miami with much more firepower. Butler will have to score more to match Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown, and as a result, he may just lead the scoring. In last year’s Eastern Conference Finals series, Butler averaged 25.6 points against the Celtics.
He had a couple of off nights playing through an injury; however, he also had games of 41 and 29 along with 47 and 35 points in Games 6 and 7. This year, he has been dealing with a sprained ankle, but he has also had four days of rest.
Boston’s defense has the potential to be lights out on any given night. However, it has also given up big scoring nights to Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, James Harden and Joel Embiid at various times throughout this postseason. Butler should have the volume to score at least 25 to 30 points tonight. He is also a capable rebounder and Miami’s primary facilitator. He leads Miami in assists this postseason and ranks second in rebounds behind Bam Adebayo.
Barring a blowout, Butler likely plays around 40 minutes tonight. If that is the case, I like his chances of surpassing this projection.
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