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NBA Playoff Best Bets for April 21: Bucks vs Pacers, Pelicans vs Thunder, Clippers vs Mavs

Knicks are a good bet in series vs. 76ers
Jay Croucher and Drew Dinsick are both surprised that the Knicks don't have better odds in their first-round NBA playoff series against the 76ers.

Vaughn Dalzell breaks down the best bets for the first round between the Pelicans and Thunder, plus the Mavs and Clippers, and the Bucks hosting the Pacers.

Pelicans at Thunder (-8.5): O/U 215.0

The Pelicans survived the Kings much to my disliking to face a Thunder team hungry to show the NBA they are not just a regular season team (we’ll see in round 2).

Game 1 at Oklahoma City will be exciting for the Thunder and fans alike, which I think fuels a strong first half for OKC. In three meetings this season between OKC and New Orleans, the Thunder scored 50, 51, and 58 points during the first half.

The Thunder averaged 59.6 points per game in the first half of the regular season (8th) and 60.6 at home (4th), so the 54.5 first-half team total number is a tad bit low despite the Pelicans keeping them under this two out of three meetings. The Pelicans scored 54 at home versus the Kings last game, so this is an attainable number.

Without Zion, this Pelicans team looks and plays differently with an eight-man rotation. We can expect Jose Alvarado, Naji Marshall, and Larry Nance to be the New Orleans players off the bench, which doesn’t concern me much (Alvardo is a threat on defense).

With CJ McCollum not playing his best and Brandon Ingram working himself back into the mix and off restricted minutes, I don’t trust the offense or defense of New Orleans.

I grabbed the Thunder’s First Half Team Total Over 54.5 at -115 odds. This was pretty universal at most books and I’d play this low number to 55.5.

Pick: Thunder 1H Team Total Over 54.5 (1u)

Russell Westbrook O/U 17.5 PRA vs. Mavericks

At one point in time, Russell Westbrook’s points + rebounds + assists (PRA) prop was one of the best bets in all of basketball and while it’s not what it quite used to be, I like it a lot for Game 1 between the Clippers and Mavericks.

There is a good chance that Kawhi Leonard sits in this matchup and that sets Russell Westbrook up for a higher usage rate. Since April began, Leonard has been out and Westbrook filled the stat sheet nicely over five games of at least 21 minutes with 14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.4 assists (26.8 minutes per game).

When the postseason comes around, rotations seem to clamp up and Westbrook’s playoff experience and ability to speed up the game or bring energy makes him a key rotation piece. Westbrook recorded 19, 21, and 29 PRA against Dallas in three meetings this year, so this is a sharp line.

I played Westbrook Over 17.5 PRA at -122 odds on DraftKings and would go to 18.5 for +100 or better. If Leonard is out, this line will move toward 19.5.

Per NBA.com, since Kawhi arrived in L.A. in 2019-20, the Clippers are 168-87 (.659) when Leonard suits up and 83-89 (.483) when he doesn’t. The includes a 14-12 (.538) mark with him in the playoffs and a 4-7 (.364) record without him. If Leonard is out, I will be on the Mavericks ML (-142) too for 1 unit.

Pick: Russell Westbrook Over 17.5 PRA (1u)

Tyrese Haliburton O/U 19.5 Points vs. Bucks

The Bucks and Pacers series is one of the most intriguing of the postseason with the status of Giannis Antentokoumpo questionable.

Milwaukee has been a fade for most of the season and Doc Rivers will have his hands full game planning for Tyrese Haliburton who averaged 27.0 points, 11.0 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 35.2 minutes per game over five meetings this season.

Haliburton scored 31, 26, 22, 27, and 29 points in those five matchups, hitting Over 19.5 Points in all five games. However, all of those meetings came before the All-Star break where he averaged 21.8 points per game (49.2 FG%) compared to 17.3 post All-Star break (45 FG%).

The Pacers guard is having a career year and can put a stamp on it with a strong series against Milwaukee before going to the Olympics. Haliburton went 50% or better from the field in his last three games and with one of the higher usage rates in the league, we should expect him to be aggressive in scoring and setting up teammates.

I played Haliburton Over 19.5 Points at -118 odds on DraftKings and would play the Over 20.5 points for -105 or better or the 20+ point alternative.

Pick: Tyrese Haliburton Over 19.5 Points (1u)

Season Record: 32-20 (61.5%) +13.91u

NBA Futures in my pocket

3u: Boston Celtics to win the Eastern Conference (-125)
Risk 2u: Clippers vs Mavericks Series Over 5.5 Games (-195)
Risk 2u: Cavaliers to win series vs Magic (-184)
Risk 1.5u: Nuggets -1.5 series spread vs Lakers (-140)
1u: Cavaliers to win Game 1 vs Magic and series (-110)
1u: Knicks to win series vs 76ers (-118)
1u: Knicks to win Game 1 vs 76ers and series (+170)
1u: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for MVP (+300)

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