A big night got us back on track as we cashed both of our NBA prop picks for Thursday night, and I am looking to keep that momentum going.
Luol Deng O/U 6.5 rebounds
Luol Deng ha six rebounds in the first half of Game 5 before getting knocked out with his wrist injury. Since he left the game I figured it was serious enough to potentially keep him out of Game 6 NBA odds here tonight, but news reports seem to think that it's a must-win game for the Heat. Deng was diagnosed with a wrist bruise, but was able to go throughout shoot around this morning, which is more than can be said about DeMarre Carroll, who is also looking like a game time decision tonight.
That being said, as long as Deng can play through the pain, which I believe he will have no trouble doing, I am going back to the well with his rebounding prop. The Miami small lineup was playing Deng at center before he got hurt, and as I said above, you can tell that has really helped his rebounding totals. As long as his wrist isn’t too banged up, I don’t think it will affect his ability to grab some boards.
It might affect his shooting stroke though, so his points totals may be something to target on the under, but at 6.5 rebounds, Deng should have little trouble cashing the over on this prop. Since they started to play smaller with the injury to Hassan Whiteside, Deng has been a rebounding machine while in the game. He has 15 over his last two games without even playing most of the second half of Game 5. He is averaging about a rebound every four game minutes over the last two games since they Heat started playing exclusively small, and as long as his wrist doesn’t hinder him much in Game 6, the over is the play.
Free NBA Picks: Over 6.5 (-130) at Bet365
Joe Johnson O/U 5 rebounds
When Deng went down in Game 5, the Heat’s answer was to go even smaller, but a unique and interesting change they made was to put Joe Johnson on Bismack Biyombo. I watched in horror as Johnson out-muscled a guy who had six inches and 40 points on him for rebound after rebound. With how many injuries the Heat are going through, it would not surprise me to see Johnson play a ton of minutes once again, and to potentially be the one boxing out Biyombo once again.
I may have lost that prop, but Johnson’s rebounding has been as important as Deng’s this entire series. Johnson is one of the stronger wing players in the entire league, and his ability to hold off bigger players for rebounds has been a topic not talked about much in this series, or the playoffs. Johnson is averaging nearly six rebounds per game in this series, and the only game where he didn’t have at least 6 was Game 4 when he was playing mostly on the wing. Additionally, if you're looking for a totals pick on this game, boost your bankroll with this valuable 'under'.
Now that Johnson is spending more time down low, he should grab some more rebounds here tonight, making him a nice NBA pick. He had eight rebounds in 33 minutes in Game 5, which is an outstanding rebounding rate, and if he gets more minutes playing the four for Miami, he should easily have six or more tonight with how well he was boxing out two nights ago.
Free NBA Picks: Over 5 (-115) at Bovada