We have a couple of huge Game 5s in the NBA on Wednesday, but as has been the case seemingly all postseason, injuries play a massive role. Both Joel Embiid (knee) and Trae Young (shoulder) will be banged up for this one, and we got massive news that Kawhi Leonard (knee) will miss this game with a feared ACL injury that will sideline him indefinitely.
Player Matchups: Tobias Harris (-167) to score more points than Bogdan Bogdanovic
I do lean toward the 76ers in this game, but I want to see Joel Embiid assert himself before I back them. Embiid looked hurt and exhausted during his 0-for-12 shooting performance in the second half on Monday’s Game 4 collapse. Embiid has scored 79 points in the two games in Philly in this series, and just 44 in Atlanta. I’m expecting a bounce-back at home, but I think this game makes a lot more sense to bet live, even if it’s on the first half line versus the full game.
But as for the props, I do think we have a little bit of value on Harris outscoring Bogdanovic. Harris has been very consistent in the series, scoring 20-22 points in each of the four games. Bogdanovic has topped 20 points twice, but was also 2.0 PPG worse on the road over the course of the season (15.4 PPG). While I expect Embiid to battle through the knee discomfort, it makes sense to defer to a capable scorer like Harris more. Harris’ point prop is set three points higher than Boggy, and has more juice on the over.
The Clippers might not be completely dead yet, but the Kawhi news moved this series line from close to a pick’em to Utah becoming a -360 favorite. I think we should see the Clips really struggle in a hostile road environment without their best player, even if some other players are able to step up.
Los Angeles is getting some of the worst bench production of any team to make the playoffs, and I expect the trickle-down effect to show. The Clippers went just 11-9 in 20 games without Kawhi this season, so I expect a bounce-back from one of the best home teams in the league against a weakened opponent.
We cashed the over on 7.5 rebounds for George in Game 2, as PG has been crashing the glass more with the team’s small-ball approach. Leonard’s absence might mean going bigger in Game 5, but the Clippers shouldn’t be able to afford to take George off the floor for many minutes. Assists can be tough to control, and the points prop is a lofty 30.5, so I think the largest edge is playing the over on a rebounds prop that goes up just one board. PG is averaging 8.9 rebounds over the last 10 playoff games, and should be in line for his most minutes of the postseason. I wouldn’t compare anything to Kevin Durant’s performance on Tuesday, but just consider that the Nets played him all 48 minutes.
George will clearly have to step up as a scorer, but the prop is a little too high for my liking, especially with Utah able to key in on him. Morris seems like the next-best option, for better or worse. One thing we know is that Morris isn’t shy to keep chucking up shots, and he should have some confidence following a 24-point outing in Game 4. Morris has played at least 33 minutes in each of the three non-blowouts this series, and we should expect that to go up. Morris averaged 17.8 points in 14 games without Kawhi this season, and was only playing 27.4 minutes per game in those contests.
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