The first round of the NBA playoffs is in full blossom. After a few surprise Game 1 victories, a couple of underdogs have a chance to take commanding 2-0 leads and put championship favorites on upset notice. With so much on the line this early, tonight’s matchups are sure to be competitive. Sports bettors looking for wager opportunities have a plethora to choose from tonight, including the best NBA player prop bets outlined below.
These prop bets and similar betting markets are offered on all of the top online sportsbooks. The great part is all of them offer sign-up bonuses and promos for new customers that total more than $3,000.
Best NBA Player Prop Bets for April 19
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
Grizzlies’ star Ja Morant suffered a significant hand injury after a scary fall in Game 1. The latest reports have the young star listed as a game-time decision, which will obviously have a significant impact on the game today. The wagers listed below depend on Morant’s availability, so be sure to pay attention to the injury report beforehand.
LeBron James to Score the First Basket (+750 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
James is well aware of the opportunity the Lakers have after taking the first game on the road. The 20-year veteran knows to expect a chaotic environment and may look to be aggressive early to help settle the nerves of his young supporting cast. The Grizzlies’ backs are against the wall, and the first basket is usually a challenge when nerves are high. That all makes this a pretty logical wager.
Obviously, a lot of luck is involved with this one, but it wouldn’t require a big wager to take advantage of this option.
D’Angelo Russell Over 4.5 points in the First Quarter (+102 on FanDuel Sportsbook)
The Grizzlies paid keen attention to James and Anthony Davis in Game 1, and the Lakers’ supporting cast made them pay. Austin Reaves, Russell, and Rui Hachimura combined for 71 points. Despite the great performances, the odds of the Grizzlies changing their defense to focus on those players are slim, which means many of the same opportunities should still be there for them.
As a starter, Russell’s odds are high given the attention James and Davis will draw right out of the gates. He is the third-leading scorer for the Lakers and should get his fair share of touches. Five points for a scorer of his caliber isn’t much at all.
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 9 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
The Bucks find themselves in similar territory as the Grizzlies — down 1-0 and potentially without their star player for multiple games due to a nasty fall. Without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ offense and defense will struggle mightily. That’s sure to impact a few player prop options.
Kris Middleton to Score More than 25 Points (+115 on DraftKings Sportsbook)
Without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks will need a lot more from Middleton. In Game 1, he scored 33 points on 20 field goal attempts. The Heat will adjust to better account for Middleton as the primary scorer, but his field goal attempts should still be in the same range. Middleton’s field goal percentage wasn’t the best this year (43%), but he is still a prolific scorer and should be able to cover the 25-point total with an increased volume of attempts.
As good as Miami’s defense is, it has struggled to stop good scorers in the playoffs. The Hawks’ and Bulls’ duos all had good to great performances against the Heat in the play-in tournament, although they defeated the Bulls. Middleton fits right into that group of scorers. He should score the number of points needed to cover this wager, but the chances of him putting up enough to win the game are slim.
Denver Nuggets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 10 p.m. ET (TNT)
The Nuggets had no problem with the Timberwolves in game one, and there aren’t many reasons to believe things will be any different in game two. Nikola Jokic only shot 12 times, and the Nuggets still won by 20-plus points. However, a few players may be in line for better games for both teams.
Michael Porter Jr. to Score More than Four Points in the First Quarter (+104 on Caesars Sportsbook)
The Timberwolves proved they are dedicated to not letting Nikola Jokic beat them with the variety of defensive looks they threw his way. Unfortunately for them, the Nuggets have multiple scorers who can make them pay, including Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. With both Timberwolves big men lurking around the paint to help slow Jokic; Murray and Porter will get ample shot attempts early.
Porter Jr. is nearly a 50% shooter on the year and is primed to get a variety of clean looks from the opening tip, so his odds to cover this wager are favorable. Additionally, the Nuggets are fourth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio and second in the league in team assists. That type of ball movement bodes well for a shooter like Porter Jr., especially against Minnesota’s lineup that features two big men.
Article contributed by David Fletcher.