Underdog NBA Picks: 3 ESPN Friday Night Playoff Predictions Include Tyrese Haliburton

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Written By Josh Lander | Last Updated

The Knicks and Pacers square off in Game 6 on ESPN on Friday night. Indiana, down 3-2 in the series, looks to stave off elimination back at home, where they have yet to lose in these playoffs. All picks below are available across the top betting sites, or as an Underdog NBA pick for a pick’em parlay.

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Underdog NBA Prop Pick: Tyrese Haliburton Lower Than 13.5 rebounds + Assists

Following the Pacers’ series-opening loss to the Knicks in Game 1, Tyrese Haliburton accepted most responsibility for his team’s meager play. The first-year All-Star took just six shots, including 2-5 shooting from deep. Perhaps most notably, he failed to record a point in the second half. 

During his postgame media availability, he identified his lack of aggression as a key culprit for the loss. In Game 2, Haliburton made amends to his team with 34 points on 19 field goal attempts, including 7-11 from long distance. Indiana failed to pull out the victory, but at least it wasn’t due to a lack of aggression from its best player.

As his shot attempts rose, his play-making dipped. In the first two games, Haliburton posted eight and nine assists, respectively, averaging a hefty 17.5 potential assists. Those stats have dipped to 5.3 assists per game on 9.3 potential assists in the three ensuing affairs. He just doesn’t dominate possession of the ball like, say, Luka Doncic or Nikola Jokic, making it challenging to record both assists and points to a high degree.

As a result, he’s gone under 14 rebounds and assists in four of five games this series. He’s averaged just over six rebound chances per game, leading to four boards per game. With his team’s back against the wall, expect Haliburton to dominate in the scoring column before worrying about assists and rebounds.

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Underdog NBA Prop Pick: precious achiuwa Higher Than 10.5 points + rebounds + assists

Mitchell Robinson’s injury in Game 1 was a major blow at first. That is until backup big Precious Achiuwa showed he was built for the playoffs. Since only seeing four minutes of the floor to open the series, Achiuwa has averaged 24.2 minutes per game, posting a combined 11.8 points and rebounds per contest.

New York owns a 121 offensive rating during his minutes from Game 2 to Game 5, third best on the squad. It’s not like he’s recording these stats during garbage time either. He provided eight points and five boards in Game 3 when the Knicks were forced to overcome multiple double-digit deficits.

As long as we can bank on Precious playing 22+ minutes, he should continue to perform well. Coach Thibodeau has timed Achiuwa’s minutes to match former Knick Obi Toppin. The former Raptor has proven a better matchup for the quick-footed, high-flying Toppin. Even if Game 6 hosts another blowout like the last two games, we should still be able to rely on Achiuwa seeing 20 minutes.

Underdog NBA Prop Pick: isaiah hartenstein Lower Than 13.5 REBounds + Assists

Many thought when Jalen Brunson went down with a right foot injury in the first quarter of Game 2, Miles McBride would take over point guard duties. That, however, was not the case. While McBride did step in to play the whole second quarter, Hartenstein led the way with four assists during Brunson’s absence. He ended the game with eight dimes, his second-highest assist output of the season.

Over the next few games, his assist prop lines ballooned to 5.5, even 6.5 on some books. Hartenstein may be one of the more versatile passing big men in the league, but he’s not Nikola Jokic.

After dishing out five assists in Game 5 alongside an impressive 17 rebounds, the Knicks starting center has another inflated prop line for his rebounds and assists combo, sitting at 14.5. Considering he’s only done that twice in the playoffs while averaging a combined 11, we should consider those the outlier events. 

The Pacers should be much sharper in Game 6 in their own building, where they haven’t lost yet in these playoffs. Their defensive rating at home is 109.9, which is impeccable when compared to the 125 defensive rating on the road. Combine that with their stark splits in rebound percentage (45% on the road vs. 51% at home), and everything should be harder for Hartenstein and the Knicks on offense and on the boards.

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