The NBA Playoffs have moved onto the conference semifinals, so every game from here on in can have an impact on which two teams ultimately make it all the way to the 2015 NBA Finals. This is also the time of the year when the top players in the NBA tend to play their best basketball under the pressure of these win-or-go-home, best-of-seven series. Betting the NBA odds that are released for some individual player props is a great way to add some solid value to the games.
The following are a few of my top player prop bet picks for Monday night's action based on betting odds from some of the top sportsbooks in the industry.
Monday NBA-Top Scorer
There are two games on Monday night's NBA slate starting with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference matchup between Chicago and Cleveland. The second game pits the Los Angeles Clippers on the road against Houston in Game 1 of that Western Conference Semifinal showdown.
With that kind of star power on the court in both of those games, I am going with Bovada's 9/4 odds that the Rockets' James Harden is the top scorer of the night. He is second only to Cleveland's LeBron James at 2/1 betting odds. The third-favorite is Kyrie Irving of Cleveland at 5/1 followed by the Clippers' Blake Griffin at 7/1.
The Rockets come into Game 1 of this series as six-point home favorites after eliminating the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the opening round. During that series, Harden averaged 28.4 points per game. This was slightly higher than his 27.4 point scoring average in the regular season that was ranked second to Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (28.1 PPG).
The only player with a higher scoring average left in the postseason is Golden State's Stephen Curry with 31.4 PPG, but he does not play again until Tuesday night. James is third on this list with 27 PPG, but with Irving also having a hot hand in the playoffs (23.2 PPG), these two may work to cancel each other out in Game 1 against the Bulls.
Derrick Rose Total Assists
A healthy Derrick Rose has Chicago in excellent position to give the Cavaliers a serious run for their money in this matchup. Both teams will be looking to get the early edge with a win on Monday night, which could set the stage for a big night from Rose not only from a scoring standpoint but also with his ability to pile up some assists.
In six previous playoff games against Milwaukee in the opening round, Rose averaged 6.5 assists a game. Sportsbook.ag's betting odds that he has more than 8.5 assists in Monday night's game are set at +360. Big-time players step up the under the brightest spotlights, and I think that Rose will be looking to make a statement on Monday night that he is going to be a major factor in this entire best-of-seven series.
LeBron James Total Rebounds
There is no bigger player in the NBA than James come playoff time, and after sweeping Boston in the opening round in four games he has to be chomping at the bit to get back on the court after an extended layoff. James led the Cavaliers in that series in points (27.0) rebounds (9.0) and assists (6.5). Sportsbook.ag's betting odds that he pulls down more than 10.5 rebounds in Monday night's contest have been set at +500.
Going with the same theory that the game's biggest stars tend to play their best this time of the year, I am looking for James to have a big night under the boards. Milwaukee showed its youth and inexperience in the tail end of its series against the Bulls, but it still had four different players average at least six rebounds a game. This should set the stage for James to grab at least 11 or 12 boards on Monday night.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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