Underdog NBA Picks: 3 ESPN Friday Night Playoff Predictions Include James Harden

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Written By Josh Lander | Last Updated

NBA Playoffs action rolls along with three games on Friday night. There’s too much uncertainty around the status of a few key players in the Bucks vs. Pacers game, which tips abnormally early at 5:30 p.m. EST. I’m moving right to the Mavericks vs. Clippers with three player prop bets providing great value. All of these picks are playable at the top sports betting sites, as well as on Underdog NBA. See why I like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and PJ Washington to top their prop lines in Game 3.

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NBA Player Prop Pick: russell westbrook Over points (1 unit)

Underdog NBA Picks: Higher or Lower Than 7.5 Points

This is such an obvious buy-low spot for Russ; I’m surprised it wasn’t baked into the line already. Westbrook shot horribly in Game 2 of the series, posting just seven points on 2-9 shooting (22% FG). Kawhi Leonard returned to action in that game after missing Game 1. However, his presence didn’t result in a lower volume of shots for Westbrook; the Clippers’ backup guard simply missed most of his chances.

Russ played 20 or more minutes in both games to start this series, a feat he accomplished 41 times during the regular season. He climbed over seven points in 39 of those games for a 95% hit rate to the over. Filter those results to include the games with Leonard in the lineup, and he played 30 games receiving 20+ minutes. He still reached at least eight points 28 times for a similar 93% success rate.

Looking at his usage rate, Westbrook took 11 shots per game, averaging 13.1 PPG. His nine attempts in both of the first two games were slightly lower than his season average in these situations. Still, with that type of usage, he wouldn’t even need to shoot 50% from the field to reach four makes for at least eight points. Prior to his outlier poor shooting night in Game 2, Russ averaged 50% from the field against Dallas in four games this season.

I’m backing him to progress back to his averages and record four buckets.

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NBA Player Prop Pick: james harden over assists (1 unit)

Underdog NBA Picks: Higher or Lower Than 7.5 Assists

Much like Westbrook, it appears Harden is being undervalued based on the return of Kawhi Leonard. After recording eight assists in each of the first two games of the series, this line is still set right at that number. Yet, Kawhi’s return to the lineup hasn’t impacted Harden’s ability to find his teammates for open shots this season. Here again we can take advantage of an incorrect public perception of the situation.

In 62 games with Kawhi this season, Harden recorded 8+ assists in 65% of them. Over the 12 matchups without him, the Clippers PG still saw a similar 67% success rate. In fact, Harden actually records .1 assists more with his All-Star teammate on the floor. That doesn’t provide much of an edge, but it illustrates the lack of impact Leonard has on Harden’s assist totals.

The Clippers and Mavericks have now faced off five times this season including this series. While Harden went under this prop line in the first two games, he also failed to record 30 minutes of playing time, averaging 28.5 MPG. In the last three meetings include the playoffs, he’s seen at least 38 minutes of run. During the 21 regular season games with at least 38 minutes, the former MVP put up at least eight dimes in 17 of them.

There’s no reason to believe Harden will get any less burn in a pivotal Game 3. I like the over here with all of his weapons available.

NBA Player Prop Pick: pj washington over points + REBounds (1 unit)

Underdog NBA Picks: Higher or Lower Than 17.5 Points + Rebounds

Successful NBA Playoffs betting requires an understanding of rotations and matchups. Mavs forward P.J. Washington, for example, has cemented himself as an integral part of the team’s defense. In the first two games of this knotted-up series, Washington put up nearly identical performances, going over Friday’s prop line in both of them. With coaches constantly adjusting and switching rotations during the postseason, that kind of consistency is a sports bettor’s dream.

The explanation for his offensive output can be somewhat explained by his incredible defensive prowess. Dallas traded for the former Hornets power forward to fill a glaring weakness at the position prior to his arrival. Now, Jason Kidd is putting his talents to use on the Clippers’ most dangerous wings, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. As a result of his defensive responsibilities, we can bank on P.J. seeing the same 35-40 minutes he played in the first two games.

With a strong understanding of his minutes, we can take a look at how Washington has fared in games with that amount of floor time. He was in the midst of a brutal shooting slump during his first two games as a Dallas Maverick with at least 35 minutes. In those games he averaged 33% from the field and 26% from 3-point. Over the next five games with the same amount of run, however, he upped those percentages to 53% from the field and 44% from deep. He also averaged 13.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG, good for 20 points and rebounds combined.

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