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NBA playoffs betting trends: Soaring, struggling players to watch


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The NBA playoffs are about accentuating strengths and exposing weaknesses. Teams try to accomplish that in various ways through matchups, coverages, and lineups. Some players benefit from certain schemes, and others are exposed.

As the second round concludes in the coming days, let's track some betting trends we've seen in recent weeks that could carry over to the players and teams advancing beyond this round.

Josh Giddey is unplayable

Centers don't typically guard shooting guards. But when the Thunder start Giddey, a non-shooting shooting guard, the Mavericks stick big man Daniel Gafford on him.

Gafford doesn't have to guard the perimeter when he's matched up against Giddey, who's an abysmal 3-point shooter and has seemingly lost all confidence in his jumper. He leaves Giddey open for threes and hangs out around the rim, clogging driving lanes and creating wacky spacing for the Thunder's guards. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the NBA in drives this season, but he needs space to operate.

Giddey, a career 31% 3-point shooter, is shooting 18% from deep in the second round.

Putting Giddey in the dunker spot or using him as a screener can counteract the Mavs' defensive coverage. But Giddey has become mostly unplayable. The Thunder refuse to pluck Giddey out of the starting lineup. Beyond his opening shift, he's spent most of the series on the bench.

Giddey's averaging 13 minutes per game against the Mavs, down from his 26.5 minutes per contest last series and 25.2 minutes per game during the season.

That's led to a stats decrease. This was somewhat predictable as Dallas implemented a similar coverage against Giddey during the regular season. Oddsmakers have adjusted for Giddey's low minute totals as the series has progressed, but not enough. He's averaging six points, 2.3 rebounds, and two assists. Giddey's failed to reach his combined points, rebounds, and assists prop in all four games. He only went over on his points prop in one of the four.

Josh Hart has dominated the boards

Players who stand at 6-foot-4 shouldn't grab over 12 boards per game. But Hart isn't a typical "guard." His relentless hustle, uncanny athletic ability, and knack for the ball allow him to track down rebounds at an unprecedented rate for a player his size.

The nine-year vet is a workhorse and a spark for the injury-plagued Knicks. He's so invaluable on both ends that coach Tom Thibodeau rarely sits him. Somehow, his energy never wavers.

Hart played all 48 minutes in Games 1 and 2. He's the first player to play the entire game in consecutive playoff contests since Jimmy Butler in 2013.

How do you list a rebounding prop for a player like Hart? His rebounding total is consistently set at 12.5, but he's grabbed at least 13 boards in seven out of 11 playoff games.

Hart's fierce pursuit of the ball is heightened in the playoffs, and it's not stopping anytime soon.

Luka Doncic's scoring woes leads to others stepping up

Doncic led the NBA in scoring during the regular season but isn't even in the top 12 in playoff points per game. He's visibly hobbled as he deals with knee and ankle issues.

The Thunder's defense - and primary defender Lu Dort - deserve some credit, but Doncic has seen every defensive coverage and exploited them for years. Doncic's inefficient shooting - 39% from the field and 31% from three - is a direct result of injury and fatigue. He's connecting on just 67% of his free throws. One of those misses came with the Mavs down two with 10 seconds remaining in Game 4, essentially costing Dallas the game.

It's fair to assume the Mavs would be in control of this series with a healthy Doncic. But it's anyone's series with the Slovenia superstar's current state. Even as oddsmakers dramatically lowered Doncic's point prop, he's gone under in every game against Oklahoma City.

With Doncic struggling, P.J. Washington has earned a larger offensive role. He's averaging 25.6 points over the last three games while playing upward of 40 minutes, and he's gone over his point prop in all three. Washington is drilling 51% of his threes this series, soaring past his 3-point prop in the last three games.

Washington averaged 10.8 points on 31% shooting from distance in the opening round against the Clippers. This could be a blip on the radar for Washington, or a new reality as he picks up Doncic's slack.

Which way are over/unders trending?

After concerns about absurdly high point totals and nonexistent defense, the NBA reportedly altered their officiating focus midseason. Allowing for more physical defense has led to lower-scoring games. When the postseason arrives, the physicality increases even more. The elevated intensity, more detailed scouting reports and game plans, and the importance of every possession result in low-scoring games.

That isn't unique to this season, but oddsmakers weren't ready for how low-scoring contests would be. Unders went 20-13 (61%) through the first 33 games before an overcorrection led to an onslaught of overs.

In the following 15 games, overs went 10-5. It's since evened out. Overs are 6-7 in the previous 13 games. Anyone who recognized the under barrage to begin the playoffs and the over flood that followed had profitability opportunity.

Vegas has since corrected itself on the macro scale of the playoffs, but there are particular series that favor one side. Three of the Mavs' four games against the Thunder have gone under the total, which is predictable between two stellar defenses.

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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