NBA Props: In-Season Championship Edition - LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Tyrese Haliburton
A look at a few of the best player prop bets for Saturday night's game between the Pacers and Lakers.
The only NBA game tonight is the final of the In-Season Tournament, as the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers square off in Las Vegas. These teams don’t match up again until March 24th and 29th, an interesting quirk of the In-Season Tourney creating a fun matchup we won’t see often.
LA has star power and has won these games that “matter more” for the tournament. (I’m skeptical of that: the teams that make the tournament and advance get a financial bonus, but I have to imagine most teams/players don’t really care THAT much until the last few games.)
Indiana is powered by a superstar point guard in the making, as Tyrese Haliburton is leading the league in assists while controlling the offense. This team was 11th in the Eastern Conference last season, missing out on the play-in, but they look like a lock for the playoffs right now.
These teams also both play fast: the Pacers (living up to their name) play at the fastest pace in the league, while the Lakers are ninth. A fast pace is great for box score numbers, as more shots means more chances for points, rebounds, and assists.
LeBron James (25.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG) and Anthony Davis (22.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG), Los Angeles Lakers
James: OVER/UNDER 29.5 Points, 8.5 Rebounds, 38.5 Points+Rebounds
Davis: OVER/UNDER 27.5 Points, 13.5 Rebounds, 41.5 Points+Rebounds
I perceive many people seeing the James/Davis pairing as a failure. While they won a championship, it was inside the bubble, and it’s not the same as a “real” title. They haven't had much playoff success otherwise. I understand some of the points, but this team won an NBA title; that’s all there is to it.
They also have two of the best players in the league, one of whom is amongst the best ever. They are both still great individual players, even as James creeps closer to 40 and Davis deals with myriad maladies each season.
Indiana is giving up the fourth-most points to small forwards, second-most to power forwards, and second-most to centers. They also allow the eighth-most rebounds to power forwards. This is a great matchup for both James and Davis.
The question here is if both players can excel together and/or who is the one to trust. In the semifinal Thursday (a blowout win for the Lakers 133-89), Davis had 16 points and 15 rebounds in 31 minutes, while James played just 23 minutes but had 30 points, five rebounds, and eight assists.
I feel better about LeBron having a big game again tonight; I talked a lot of garbage about the In-Season Tournament, but this is the final, and there’s no reason for these guys to not go all out. LeBron still wants to be the Alpha, and tonight is a good chance for him to show it.
Davis is more of a toss-up. We’ve seen him both excel and shrink in the biggest moments, and I don’t feel good about counting on him to score. The rebounds are a much more likely number for him to hit.
LeBron Confidence Ratings:
Over 29.5 Points: 3 out of 5
Over 8.5 Rebounds: 5 out of 5
Over 38.5 Points+Rebounds: 4 out of 5
Davis Confidence Ratings:
Over 27.5 Points: 1 out of 5
Over 13.5 Rebounds: 3 out of 5
Over 41.5 Points+Rebounds: 2 out of 5
Tyrese Haliburton (26.9 PPG, 12.1 APG), Indiana Pacers
OVER/UNDER 28.5 Points, 12.5 Assists, 41.5 Points+Assists
I see parallels between Haliburton right now and Steve Nash when he joined the Suns in 2004.
Nash was a good player, but upon joining Phoenix, he was put in charge of the fastest offense in the league and given carte blanche to shoot and distribute the ball. Mike D’Antoni fully trusted Nash to orchestrate the offense.
Haliburton is directing the fastest team in the league in terms of pace. He averaged 10.4 assists per game last season, but Haliburton is now leading the league at 12.1. Nash topped out at 8.8 assists per game before joining the Suns, where he jumped to 11.5 in his first season and didn’t fall below 9.7 for eight straight years.
The Lakers are giving up the eighth-most points per game to points guards and are league average in terms of assists allowed. It’s not a phenomenal matchup, but it’s not bad for one of the league's best current offensive players.
I’m right in the middle on all three props. I can see Haliburton going off and soaring past all these numbers, but there’s also a chance he has a good game and still fails to reach these heights. There’s a little too much uncertainty for me, though I probably like the assists the best.
Confidence Ratings for Haliburton:
Over 28.5 Points: 3 out of 5
Over 12.5 Assists: 3 out of 5
Over 41.5 Points+Assists: 3 out of 5
Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers
OVER/UNDER 15.5 Points
I don’t feel real good about this one, but I’ll mention Reaves because the Pacers have given up the fourth-most points to shooting guards (and because there’s only one game today: not much else to talk about).
Reaves became a household name during the end of last season and the playoffs, as he was the third best player on the Lakers through their run to the Conference Finals. That exposure continued during the summer while Reaves played on the US team at the FIBA World Cup.
Now playing under the spotlight, Reaves is averaging one more point per game than last season but shooting much worse, especially on three-pointers where he was almost at 40% in 2022-23 but is down to 33% this year. There are many factors to consider, including added defensive attention, but the reality is that Reaves isn’t playing at the same level he did during his best stretch.
I actually feel better about this prop than I should, and I'm not sure why. Still, I won’t be throwing any money on Reaves, but I can understand someone who puts a few bucks on the over.
Confidence Rating for Reaves Over 15.5 Points: 3 out of 5#lebron-james #anthony-davis #tyrese-haliburton