NBA Player Props: Expert Picks (5/18/23)
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NBA Player Prop Picks (5/18/23)
Find the best player prop bets available for Thursday night’s Game 2 showdown between the Lakers and Nuggets, including best bets for Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon.
After trending towards getting blown out early in the third quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers came back from 21 points down to make Game 1 a lot closer than the Denver Nuggets would have liked. Our big question for Game 2 is which players will step up and which will underperform relative to their betting lines.
Jamal Murray o35.5 PRA (-125)
As discussed in previous articles, it is not uncommon for players to perform better at home than on the road. As a matter of fact, this is probably the case for nearly every player at all levels of basketball. Jamal Murray is no different.
Murray has been a menace on the Nuggets’ home floor thus far during the 2023 Playoffs, averaging close to 28 points, seven assists, and five rebounds per game on an explosive 49/45/97 shooting split.
Jamal Murray playoff stats
2020 Bubble 2023
26.5 points ➡️ 26.3 points
6.6 assists ➡️ 6.3 assists
4.8 rebounds ➡️ 5.2 rebounds
0.9 steals ➡️ 1.4 steals
50.5 FG% ➡️ 47.2 FG%
45.3 3P% ➡️ 40.4 3P%
89.7 FT% ➡️ 92.0 FT%
— Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn) May 17, 2023
Further, he has hit the over on this line in five of Denver’s seven home games in the postseason, falling just short in one game and having an uncharacteristically poor (0-9 from deep) shooting night in the other.
Additionally, the Lakers have allowed the second-most points, eighth-most rebounds, and eighth-most assists to opposing point guards this season. While Dennis Schroder did apply some good pressure on Murray towards the end of Game 1, Murray should be feeling better (he was sick in Game 1) and have more energy to attack late in the game.
Michael Porter Jr o6.5 Rebounds (-115)
Outside of injuries, Michael Porter Jr’s biggest adversary has been himself early in his NBA career; his often inconsistent, roller coaster play can make him a difficult player to gauge, particularly when it comes to his props.
Still, Porter has been solid for the most part during the 2023 Playoffs, averaging roughly 15 points and eight rebounds per game on 48% shooting from the field and 41% from behind the arc; it is hard to argue with those numbers.
Porter’s props have allure in this spot for a number of reasons. For one, Porter crushed this line, bringing down ten rebounds in Game 1, despite Nikola Jokic swallowing a game-high 21 rebounds. Porter was matched up with an assortment of smaller guards and forwards all game long, giving him the opportunity to crash the glass and utilize his 6-foot-10 frame.
Additionally, Los Angeles has not been great at keeping opposing small forwards off the glass, as it has allowed the fifth-most rebounds to that position in the entire NBA. With so much focus on keeping Nikola Jokic from swallowing every rebound like Kirby, possibly even doubling him on box-outs, Porter will have his fair share of chances once again.
However, there is one concern with this play that needs to be monitored. If Rui Hachimura gets thrown into the starting lineup, that would move Anthony Davis on Aaron Gordon and LeBron James on “MPJ.” Porter will lose his height and rebounding advantages if LeBron is his primary defender. Keep an eye on this leading up to game time, but if the Lakers roll out the same lineup, this play is a great one.
Aaron Gordon u13.5 Points (-130)
It has been tough sledding for Aaron Gordon recently, as far as the offensive end of the floor is concerned; he has averaged just ten points on a 37/20/50 shooting split in his past five games this postseason, failing to his this mark even once during that span. While the 2023 Playoffs started off well for Gordon, he has since hit a significant slump. Can he get out of it against the Lakers?
We don’t love Gordon’s chances of having a breakout performance in Game 2 against the Lakers for a number of reasons. For one, Denver has not been utilizing him in many of its offensive actions, as he seems to be stationed in the dunker’s spot, or he even occasionally drifts to the corner. He has not been shooting well enough to feel good about his looks.
Additionally, Gordon’s entire focus during this series is going to be on LeBron James, as he is the only player who has the necessary size, strength, and athletic ability to adequately defend the “GOAT.” In Game 1, Los Angeles actively involved players like Austin Reaves in the pick-and-roll in an attempt to get a switch off of Gordon, but Denver will do whatever it needs to in order to keep Gordon as James’ primary defender. This will be an exhausting task for Gordon, as he has not defended players on the perimeter nearly as much this season.
Lastly, there is a strong likelihood that Rui Hachimura defends Nikola Jokic quite a bit, forcing Anthony Davis over on Gordon. Gordon has struggled shooting the ball recently and hardly stands a chance of consistently finishing above or around AD at the rim.