Credit Jim Rassol - USA Today Sports for the photo.
The NBA Season has finally reached its conclusion after a seven-and-a-half-month-long season dating back to mid-October. The Golden State Warriors will face off against the Boston Celtics in what should be one of the most exciting NBA Finals we have had to date. The NBA dynasty of this era in Golden State has now reached 6 of the last 8 NBA Finals, and the Celtics come in seeking their 18th NBA Championship as the historied royalty of the Association.
The Western Conference FInalists will be coming in off of six full days of rest, compared to the Celtics who have three full days after wrapping up their second consecutive Game 7 on Sunday. The Celtics have had a more difficult road to the Finals resume-wise, but people can argue how the Nets were not full strength, the Bucks were missing Middleton, and the Heat injury report looked like a child's Christmas list in length at times. The same ticky tacky debate can pick apart the Warriors run to the Finals, where they faced a Nuggets team that missed Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. all season, a Grizzlies team that lost Ja Morant halfway through, and a Mavericks team that pulled off the unthinkable against one of the best regular seasons of all time in the Phoenix Suns.
I am not going to sit here and pick apart who has had a more difficult run or whose previous experiences will be more relevant than the others. What I will do for you all is make a case on some good value props I see in the NBA Finals market, and how you can capitalize on them. Let's jump into it!
Al Horford Series Highest Rebound Average +185 (FanDuel) - 1.33u
As it stands right now on Wednesday evening, FanDuel is the only book I cam find offering this prop at such great value. DraftKings, BetMGM, Bovada, and others all have it in the +120 to +130 range, bringing the two favorites to be Big Al and Kevon Looney. This alone is a value grab worth capitalizing on.
Now let's take a look at the numbers. Al Horford averaged 10 rebounds in 6 games against the Heat, 10.4 rebounds in all 7 against the Bucks, and 7.5 rebounds in 4 games against the Nets. Milwaukee finished 4th in Total Rebounding %, with Brooklyn finishing 9th and Miami finishing 14th. All of these teams had players that presented challenges for Al in rebounding, yet he put up great numbers every series.
Kevon Looney has also been strong at rebounding in the playoffs, on top of being available in all 16 of the Warriors games this postseason. Looney averaged 10.6 rebounds against the Mavericks, 8.2 rebounds against the Grizzlies, and 4.2 rebounds against the Nuggets. His numbers are not as strong as Horford's and he had an outlier of 22 rebounds in Game 6 against the Grizzlies which brings his average a lot higher up. You can also make a case that his average was higher than normal against the Mavericks because Dallas gave him no problems when grabbing boards.
Besides how they have performed in the past, Boston's big men present a matchup advantage against the Warriors. The Celtics have Big Al, Robert Williams, Daniel Thies, and Grant Williams (I know, not a big man) who are all great at crashing the boards. On top of that, the Celtics will be taller and longer than the Warriors, who can really only deploy Looney and Draymond to match their length. Maybe we will get some surprise Bjelica minutes just to keep up with the Celtics' length and try to grab more rebounds, but with Horford leading the way I don't see the Warriors being a problem for his rebounding efficiency to ease up.
I'll be capitalizing on the market discrepancy and Al Horford's amazing playoff form with this prop bet. I am placing 1.33 units on this to get us right at a 2.5 unit win if Horford keeps it up.
Game 1 - Robert Williams o13.5 Pts/Rebs -125 (BetMGM) - 1.5 Units
The logic behind this bet can be seen behind the case that I made for Al Horford. Robert Williams has averaged just short of a double double this season, however the numbers have cooled down slightly in the playoffs. He has only played 11 of the Celtics playoff games, dealing with a knee injury, but is trending to play all of this series as long as it is not reaggravated. The Time Lord has had stiff competition in the paint, but the presence of Al Horford has helped divert attention from him, and when he is the only big he is sometimes looked at for easy layups and dunks.
Williams will get these easy looks in the paint against Golden State, and surpassed this number in both his games against them this season. Time Lord had 7 points 11 rebounds and 8 points 9 rebounds the last two times out against the Warriors, and I expect his domination on the boards and easy access to getting to the rim to shine in this series.
Jayson Tatum to average 25+ Points & Celtics to win the Series +200 - 1 Unit
If you are riding with the Warriors or have a future on them to win it all, this gives you a decent hedge opportunity. If you are riding with the Celtics, this boosts a +130 Series Win value up to +200. Let me tell you why.
If the Celtics are going to win the NBA Finals, their best player will have to lead the way. Tatum is averaging 27 PPG in the Playoffs, despite the bad shooting nights that you hear the media and Twitter talk about as a reason to bet against him. Tatum averaged 25.0 PPG on the dot against the Heat, 27.6 PPG against the Bucks, and 29.5 PPG against the Nets.
On top of this, everyone and their mother is betting on Golden State to win the NBA Title right now. All of the money and bets at every sportsbook are riding on the Warriors, yet the line has either stayed at -150 at some places or moved slightly to -160. The Celtics are also the only team to have a record of above .500 against the warriors since Steve Kerr took over as coach. Yes these lines do not impact the actual game and yes all of those previous games were in the regular season, however I just want to make it clear that there are points here and there to prove the Celtics match up well, have matched up well, and it looks like Vegas wants everyone to bet on the Warriors.
Let us know what you think about these props and more on Twitter @HHSportsHQ. Do you agree with the value grab on the Celtics to win the series? Check out @AndyHHSports for more plays as the series goes along, and hope everyone enjoys a fun NBA Finals.