NBA Player Prop Best Bets (5/16/23): Expert Predictions
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Find player prop best bets and predictions for game 1 of the 2023 Western Conference Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers.
We have reached the Conference Finals, and few could have predicted two of the four teams, as the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat emerged from the depths of the play-in games to become real championship contenders. For Tuesday’s slate, the aforementioned Lakers battle with the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the WCF, so take a look below at our favorite player props for this game!
Jamal Murray o6.5 Assists (+120)
It has been smooth sailing for the Denver Nuggets through their first two playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns, but a tough Lakers team awaits them in the Western Conference Finals for a chance to go to the NBA Finals.
Denver has had a ton of offensive success thus far against two teams boasting defensive ratings of roughly 119 (Minnesota and Phoenix); however, success on the offensive end will not be nearly as easy to come by against the Lakers. As a matter of fact, the Lakers have the best defensive rating (107.5) of any team in the playoffs.
Still, Los Angeles has been susceptible to giving up assists, allowing the fourth-most assists to opponents in the 2023 Playoffs.
Additionally, you can expect the Lakers to try and mitigate Nikola Jokic’s impact, which essentially means denying the ball to him or doubling him immediately on any post entry. With Los Angeles so focused on Jokic, Jamal Murray will have to step up in a number of ways, including both scoring and passing.
In Murray’s past six games, he has recorded at least seven assists three times; his passing prowess has certainly been on display. Further, in the last playoff series these two teams were in (2020 WCF), Murray had eight or more assists in three of the five games. Lastly, he has dished out eight or more assists in two of his past three home games. For plus odds value, this is a terrific bet.
Michael Porter Jr o14.5 Points (-125)
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are the two key targets for the Lakers; they will live with anyone else beating them, and that includes Michael Porter Jr.
Porter Jr has played the Lakers twice this season and has been over this line once and under it once; however, his average field goal attempts in those two games were 14, meaning he had a healthy amount of shots, and we love volume. When Porter has shot at least 14 times this postseason, he has hit the over on this line in all three games.
Additionally, Porter Jr has an ideal matchup against the Lakers, and Denver could feed him often for this reason. It is possible that either Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, or Dennis Schroder will be the primary defender on “MPJ,” giving him a substantial height advantage of at least five or six inches. Neither of those players are shut-down defenders, either, so his size advantage is just a cherry on top.
Lastly, Porter Jr has been efficient at Ball Arena during the 2023 Playoffs, shooting roughly 48% from the field and 42% from three. There is an incentive to get MPJ going early in this one.
LeBron James u25.5 Points (-125)
It is difficult to continue fading LeBron James, as no one wants to watch a Lakers game and root against LeBron (unless you are a fan of the opposing team or don’t enjoy his game.) However, this is the only logical step at this point; it is clear that James’ foot has been bugging him, and he has leaned on other Lakers players to pick up the offensive slack.
James has failed to eclipse 26 points in five of his six road games thus far in the 2023 Playoffs, and it is nearly impossible to see that changing on Tuesday night. Additionally, Denver’s defensive rating at home is 105.9, as it has allowed opponents to shoot just 45% from the field and 30% from deep, giving him a much tougher challenge on that end of the floor than Golden State.
Further, Aaron Gordon will be an ideal matchup against LeBron, as he boasts a similar physique and has similar athleticism and strength. In seven of LeBron’s past nine games against Gordon, he has scored 25 points or fewer, proving that this is not an ideal situation for James.
Lastly, Denver is a well-coached team, and Mike Malone will almost undoubtedly instruct Gordon to sag off of James and force him to hit three-pointers (25% on the road in the 2023 Playoffs), which is an area he has struggled with recently.