NBA Playoffs Player Props: Klay Thompson, Nic Claxton
It was a fun ride through the Play-In Tournament, but the NBA Playoffs officially begin Saturday, April 15. The first day of playoff action features four games and a few NBA player props I like from Warriors vs. Kings and Nets vs. 76ers. The slate kicks off with Nic Claxton and the Nets in Philadelphia at 7 p.m. ET. Brooklyn is a underdog in the game, which features a point total set at . On the west coast, Klay Thompson and the Warriors have a short bus ride to Sacramento for a matchup with the Kings at 8:30 p.m. ET to end the night. The Warriors are slight favorites with a point total set at .
Let’s look at why I’m focusing in on Klay’s points prop and Claxton’s rebound prop on the opening day of the NBA Playoffs.
Josh Lander is 31-15 and up 19+ units betting NBA player props over the last month. Check out the NBA Coast 2 Coast podcast each and every weekday with co-host Nate Weitzer and give him a follow on Twitter, @jlboogy. Click on the odds below to bet now.Editor’s Note
Warriors At Kings NBA Player Props
Below are the available NBA player props for the game between the Warriors at Kings.
Klay Thompson Under 23.5 Points (-125 FanDuel | 1u)
Here are Thompson’s core points, rebounds and assists props for the game against the Kings:
- Points: Over/Under /
- Rebounds: Over/Under /
- Assists: /
- Threes Made: Over/Under /
For the first time ever, the Warriors and Kings meet in the NBA Playoffs. Incredibly, the two franchises haven’t even been in the postseason at the same time since 1975. The Warriors won their first ever championship that year and the Kings split their home games between Kansas City and Omaha.
Klay Thompson has had some monster games against Sacramento in his career, but almost all of them came on the Warriors’ home floor. The 29 points he scored against the Kings’ backups on April 7 this season were the most ever for Thompson in Sacramento.
We all have the same memories of Klay putting the Warriors on his shoulders in the playoffs and shooting them to victory at various points of his career. Oddsmakers know that and want us to hit the over on a bloated projection. I’m swimming upstream and betting under Klay’s points prop.
Klay’s Kryptonite Is Red Velvet
The final meeting between the Kings and Warriors this season meant nothing to Sacramento, which already locked itself into the third seed in the West. Golden State played its starters full-game minutes against the Kings backups plus rookie Keegan Murray.
Thompson benefited from the absence of Kings’ guard Kevin Huerter in particular and had the best game of his career on Sacramento’s floor. In the teams’ three previous meetings, Huerter put the clamps on Thompson, limiting him to under 14 points per game and 34% shooting in 32 minutes.
Huerter was the primary defender on Klay nearly half the time he was on the floor, limiting him to six points a night in 14 minutes. Expect Huerter to get even more burn on Saturday as Mike Brown’s best option to keep Klay from going off.
Not So Golden Away From Home
Like most Warriors not named Stephen Curry, Klay was wildly better at home than on the road. The Dubs went 11-30 on the road this season, the fourth-worst road record in the league.
Klay’s inconsistent shooting outside of Chase Center was a huge contributing factor to the team’s struggles. At home, Klay put up 24.4 points a night with a 28% usage rate. On the road, those numbers dip all the way down to 19. 2 points per game with a 25% usage rate.
Things got particularly bad for Thompson in March when he averaged 17.6 points per game on the road. He made just 44% of his shots from the field and the Warriors were -10.5 in Klay’s 32 minutes on the floor each night. In his last eight games against teams actually trying, Klay only went over Saturday’s points prop one time.
One of the main reasons Curry had to be so amazing during the Warriors’ run to the championship last year was because Klay was not. Thompson averaged 19 points per game on 43% shooting from the field and only scored 23 points or more five times in 22 postseason games. Two of those instances came in Round 1 against Denver when Curry was coming off the bench with a 25-minute limit to his playing time while recovering from an injury.
The combination of Huerter and legitimate road woes make fading Klay a solid play in Game 1 on Saturday.
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Nets At 76ers NBA Player Props
Nic Claxton Under 9.5 Rebounds (-120 PointsBet | 2u)
Here are Claxton’s core points, rebounds and assists props for the game against the 76ers:
- Points: Over/Under /
- Rebounds: Over/Under /
- Assists: Over/Under /
Give credit to the new-look Nets for avoiding the Play-In Tournament and claiming the sixth seed in the East. Brooklyn was forced to recalibrate its expectations multiple times after Kevin Durant carried the team to the second-best record in the East. Then he went down with an injury for a month and eventually demanded a trade to Phoenix.
Durant’s departure from the team crushed Brooklyn’s title hopes in a top-heavy Eastern Conference, a fact made even more noticeable when you look at its matchup with Philadelphia in the first round. KD may not have been big enough to limit Joel Embiid’s offensive game, but he definitely could’ve matched it with his own.
Now, the Nets will need their undersized center, Nicolas Claxton, to punch well above his weight and keep Embiid off the boards and off the foul line if they want to make this a series. Good luck with that, Nic.
I don’t see that happening at all and am shocked oddsmakers are projecting such a high rebound prop for Claxton. I’m confidently taking the under.
Undersized And Over-Matched
Philly allowed the second-fewest rebounds to its opponents this season, due in large part to Embiid’s size and ability to eat up space around the basket. Conversely, Brooklyn allowed the fourth-most rebounds to its opponent after the Durant trade. Claxton is an athletic shot-blocking big, not a bruiser capable of banging down low with bigger, stronger centers. Embiid’s possibly the strongest player in the league.
In three games against the 76ers, Claxton averaged 7 rebounds in 30 minutes. Trace that back to his last six matchups against Embiid and he’s only recorded double-digit rebounds once. That one time came with Ben Simmons in the lineup who spent the most time guarding Embiid of any Nets player and is unavailable for Saturday’s game.
Less Shots, Less Rebounds
It’s surprising to see that Brooklyn allows its opponents to grab so many total rebounds when it played at the seventh-slowest pace after the trade deadline. Less possessions should mean less shots and rebounding opportunities, and Philly’s games have even fewer possessions on average than Brooklyn’s.
With the fourth-worst defensive rebound percentage in the league, the Nets have trouble ending defensive positions. They also fail to create second-chance points for themselves with the fourth-worst offensive rebound percentage.
Don’t expect many rebounding opportunities in Philadelphia, either. Not only are the 76ers one of the best rebounding teams in the league, they make a ton of shots. Since the All-Star break, Philly has the highest true shooting percentage in the league. True shooting is calculated similarly to traditional field goal percentage, but it includes free throw percentage and weighs a shot’s location on the floor to account for its level of difficulty.
Simply put, the 76ers have been the best shooting team on aggregate from all over the floor.
Philly’s ability to get to the free throw line also limits Claxton’s rebounding opportunities. The 76ers attempted 26 foul shots per game (good for fifth-most) and made 21 of them (good for best in the league). That’s roughly 12-to-15 possessions per game that end without an easy rebounding opportunity for opposing centers like Claxton, who could normally pad their rebounding stats with missed free throws.