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As everyone predicted, two teams that had to scrap their way into the postseason tournament through the play-in games are one win away from the conference finals. In New York, the Miami Heat are on the brink of their third Eastern Conference Finals trip in the last four seasons during a historic stretch for a franchise consistently underestimated during that time.
Jimmy Butler has averaged 33.5 points per game on 56% shooting through eight playoff games and will lead Miami in their attempt to close out the Knicks on Wednesday. New York is favored by 3.5 points at the Garden.
For the defending champs in the Bay Area, there is no more margin for error. The Warriors dropped both games in LA and find themselves down 3-1 to the Lakers with two home games left in their best-case scenario.
LeBron James’ teams are 17-0 in his career during playoff series, where they’ve been ahead 3-1 heading into Game 5. A win by the Lakers as seven-point underdogs tonight would extend that NBA record even further.
After a 3-3 record in the prop department last week, we look to bounce back with our PrizePicks props for Wednesday’s pair of Game 5s.
Miami as a team is outperforming their season-long shooting rates from the floor and from three, improving from 26th in FG% and 27th in 3P% to third and fourth in those categories during the postseason, respectively.
This improvement allowed the team to rest Butler in Game 2 after tweaking his ankle in the Heat’s series-opening win, which they still could have won despite his absence. It has also given him a license to defer when needed in this series rather than continue to carry the load as he did against Milwaukee.
That said, Butler sees an opportunity to close out the Knicks at MSG and earn plenty of rest before facing the winner from a hard-fought series between Boston and Philadelphia. Butler and Miami will not want to play with their food, and he'll score 30+ points for the first time in this series tonight.
The Knicks have gotten more out of Barrett just as Julius Randle has become less effective in recent weeks, and they’ll need him to post his fourth 20-point game of the series if New York is going to stave off elimination on Wednesday.
Barrett has raised his shooting percentage this postseason as his volume has increased, averaging 15.3 field goal attempts per game and connecting on 45%. His three-point accuracy has contributed to his perception as the Knicks’ second option in these playoffs, and he’s made 42.3% of his long-range tries against the Heat through four games.
We expect Miami to force Barrett to beat them while containing Jalen Brunson and Randle and will place some confidence in him to surpass 20 points for the sixth time over his last seven games.
Wiggins' rebounding in the postseason is down year over year, averaging 6.1 per 36 minutes compared with 7.7 during the Warriors’ championship run last season.
He’s averaged 5.8 rebounds per game over the first two series that Golden State has played, and the rise of Kevon Looney on the glass has taken away from his performance in this regard.
Looney has carved into Draymond Green’s rebounding numbers as well, so the impact isn’t solely to Wiggins, and their center has stepped into a role that Golden State hasn’t had in a few years. We project Wiggins to land in the 4-5 rebound total tonight and are on his under.