Thursday night brings a delectable slate of NBA action, with a trio of Game 6s ahead. That means three favorites up 3-2 all playing to close out a series, with three underdogs trying to stave off elimination in front of a raucous home crowd. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Five games into each series, the teams have felt each other out and established some serious patterns, so that puts us in a great spot to take advantage. We’ve also got key injuries on the slate impacting stars, and that will directly impact all three of our plays.
Using the Action Labs Player Prop tool I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
Here’s how I’m betting Thursday’s props slate.
NBA Player Props & Picks
Joel Embiid, Over 3.5 Turnovers (-130) | Under 1.5 Blocks (-210)
|76ers vs. Raptors||76ers -1.5|
|Time | TV||7 p.m. ET | NBA TV|
Joel Embiid has not been the same player these last two games since it was revealed that he is dealing with a thumb injury. Embiid is playing through, but the results haven’t been there.
Whether it’s the injury, the drop-off by the Sixers as a whole, the Raptors defensive adjustments, or some combination thereof, Embiid just isn’t hitting his marks lately.
It’s no coincidence that the Sixers aren’t winning anymore either, now that their MVP isn’t doing his part. Over the first three games of the series — all Philadelphia wins, remember — Embiid averaged 27.7 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.
But the last two games, both Raptors victories, Embiid is down to 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He’s under 50% from the field too. The fall has been hard and fast.
And the mistakes are piling up. After a turnover-free game in the series opener, Embiid has racked up 19 turnovers the last four games. He’s had at least four in every game since Game 1, hitting this over four straight times. Toronto is doubling Embiid hard, and he’s never handled a double great. Even harder now that the thumb is bugging him. Bet on more mistakes.
There’s another area Embiid hasn’t lived up to billing in this series: defense. The Raptors are attacking Embiid on defense, and they’re finding success. Embiid is giving up buckets, and his defensive playmaking has also been muted. Embiid averaged 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game in the regular season.
Do you know how many steals and blocks he has in the playoffs? Two. That’s not two per game. It’s not two last game. It’s not two steals and two blocks. It’s just … two.
Embiid has two blocks and no steals. He’s gone under 1.5 blocks in all five playoff games and is now under that line in 8-of-8 Raptors games for the year. That’s why that one is worth the play, even at the juice. You can go under 1.5 steals + blocks at plus juice if you prefer, but I might just take the win.
We’ll see if the Sixers can do the same, or if this thing is going seven.
Pascal Siakam, Over 5.5 assists (-118)
Fred VanVleet is doubtful for Game 6, and that means Toronto will need a little, maybe a lot, more from its stars. Pascal Siakam is this team’s brightest star these days anyway, and he’s been the guy to step up the most when FVV has been sidelined this season.
Siakam had 23 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists in the Game 5 win without VanVleet. He played 15 games without him during the regular season. During those games, he averaged 24.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists — and obviously he’ll play even more minutes in an even bigger role in another potential elimination game, especially coming off an extra day of rest.
Unfortunately, the books have moved Siakam’s lines up to account for the boost, meaning there’s not a ton of value on his points or rebounds. But the assists still present real value. Siakam had 15 Potential Assists last game. His teams converted on seven of those, and pretty close to a typical outcome since around half of Potential Assists often become actual helpers.
With anything close to 15 Potential Assists, we’ll be in great shape to get to six and hit this over. Siakam went over 5.5 assists in 10 of 15 regular season games without VanVleet, a 67% hit rate. This line is a full assist too low. And actually, I will also play over 6.5 assists at +165 at Bet365. That’s a huge bonus in payout for just one more assist, and he has at least seven dimes in nine of 16 games without FVV now, including Game 4.
I’ll go one step further. Siakam is +1600 at Bet365 to record a triple-double. That’s a steep ask in an elimination game, but it’s in range. Remember, he was only three assists short in Game 5. He did have a triple-double without FVV in the regular season, and just like Game 5, he was three total rebounds or assists away from a triple-double five more times.
Add in the extra minutes and we’ll have a shot. And if he hits those numbers, the Raptors will too.
Donovan Mitchell, Under 36.5 PTS + REB + AST (-120)
|Mavericks vs. Jazz||Mavericks -1|
|Time | TV||10 p.m. ET | TNT|
Donovan Mitchell is a warrior, and he’s had some truly great playoff performances. He is still one of the all-time leading playoff scorers by PPG, and he’s gone over this PRA line on scoring alone more than a few times.
But Mitchell does not look right. He wasn’t his usual self in an awful Game 5 for the Jazz, and he exited late grabbing his hamstring. After the game, it was reported that Mitchell has a pair of bruised quads. That’s both legs. Basically, poor Spida’s legs are completely shot. He’s out of gas, and that sort of thing doesn’t fix itself until a full offseason of rest.
This, then, is just a full-on Mitchell fade. If he ends up healthy and plays his full load, we’re probably sunk. He scored 32, 34, and 32 points the first three games this series. But he dropped to only nine points in Game 5 on an ugly 4-of-15 from the field. He also had just two rebounds and a single solitary assist, that latter number a huge drop from his 6.0 APG the first four games.
The numbers say Mitchell wasn’t the same in Game 5, and I don’t think he will be in Game 6. Good on him for giving it a go, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see his minutes limited, especially if he’s ineffective early. In fact, I’ll play an alternate under too. At FanDuel, you can play under 30.5 PRA at +260. He had only 12 PRA last game, remember. If we’re going to do this, we may as well go all-in.