NBA Best Bets (5/11/2023): Expert Picks & Predictions for Celtics vs. 76ers and Nuggets vs. Suns

Two of the favorites to win the NBA Championship are on the brink of elimination in two pivotal Game 6s on Thursday night. In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics must win on the road to stay alive, and they are -2.5 favorites against the 76ers. In the Western Conference, betting odds favor the Suns staying alive as -3 favorites at home against the Nuggets.

This article provides betting predictions and recommends the best bets to make for Thursday night’s action in the NBA playoffs.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers Game 6 Best Bets

The Celtics have lost two in a row, but they are still -2.5 favorites on the road in Game 6. The over is 4-1 in this series, and the line on the total is 212.5 for Game 6 – the lowest line so far in the series.

Best Bet #1: 76ers’ moneyline +120

Oddsmakers are giving the Celtics a lot of credit by making them -2.5 favorites on the road after they dropped the last two games in the series. Boston will be playing with a lot of desperation with the series on the line, but I am very encouraged by what I have seen from the 76ers in this series, especially in Game 5.

Tyrese Maxey finally figured out how to score against Boston’s long, athletic wing defenders. Joel Embiid is getting stronger with each game as he recovers from a sprained knee, and he has found his MVP form on both ends of the floor. The high pick-and-roll with Embiid and either Maxey or James Harden has looked virtually unstoppable. I don’t see any of that changing in Game 6.

The 76ers are on the verge of exorcising their second-round playoff demons – they have not been to the Eastern Conference Finals since 2001, the year Allen Iverson won MVP and led that team to the NBA Finals. They have shown all the signs of staying focused and (pardon the cliché) taking it one game at a time.

Boston may be the more desperate team, but Philadelphia certainly does not want to go back to Boston for a Game 7. As long as James Harden doesn’t disappear like he did in Games 2 and 3, then I love the value on the 76ers to win this game outright as home dogs.

Best Bet #2: Tobias Harris o6.5 rebounds (+110)

This bet has been one of the most profitable player prop bets in the playoffs. Harris has gone over this number in six of his nine playoff games this season, and three of his last four. He led all players in Game 5 with 11 boards.

76ers coach Doc Rivers emphasized rebounding before Game 5 and the team responded by outrebounding the Celtics 49-36. There is little doubt this will remain a focus for Game 6.

Looking at Harris’ recent performances on the glass, the +110 odds on this line are a very good value.

Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Game 6 Best Bets

The home team is 5-0 against the spread in this series and 5-0 straight up. The over has hit three times (twice by double digits), including both games in Phoenix. With a spread of Suns -3 and an over/under at 226, let’s examine the best bets to make in this game.

Best Bet #1: Suns -3

Let’s keep the trend going and make it 6-for-6 with home teams covering in this series. The Suns have been significantly better at home in the playoffs, with a 5.5 net rating at home versus -5.1 on the road. The home/road splits are even more stark for Denver, whose net rating at home is 13.9 compared to -3.4 on the road.

The Suns need their role players to hit their shots in order to create the right spacing for Devin Booker and Kevin Durant to operate most effectively. In general, while star players like Booker and Durant are typically great in any environment, role players tend to play much better at home. This played out in Game 4 with a guy like Landry Shamet catching fire in the fourth quarter and scoring 19 points in the game, including 5-of-8 from three.

I expect big games from both Booker and Durant with their season on the line, and they will get enough from role players like Shamet, Terrence Ross and TJ Warren to not only win but cover the 3-point spread.

Best Bet #2: Over 226

To go along with our Suns -3 pick, let’s bank the over at a line of 226. If the Suns are going to win, they are going to do it by shooting a high percentage and just simply outscoring the Nuggets. That is how games 3 and 4 in Phoenix played out, and each game blew away the over/under with totals of 235 and 253.

The Suns are shooting 40.5% from three at home in the playoffs compared to just 31.5% on the road. Denver is also shooting threes slightly better at home than on the road, but the difference is not as stark (39.8% vs 35.3%). The Nuggets are also shooting a better percentage overall on the road in the playoffs (50.1% vs. 47.3%).

The net result of that is that we can expect similar offensive efficiency from the Nuggets with significantly better efficiency from the Suns. That is a great recipe for hitting the over.