Monday NBA Props: Will Kevin Durant’s Struggle Continue?

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Barclays Center on April 08, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Image Credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The NBA Playoffs are in full swing. We have three more contests scheduled for Monday, including two potential elimination games. The 76ers and Celtics both have a chance to punch their ticket to the next round, while there’s a crucial Game 5 in the Mavericks vs Jazz series. Of course, this means there are a bunch of NBA props on the betting board worth examining.

Nets vs Celtics Player Props

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets warms up before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on March 23, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Image Credit: Justin Ford/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets: F Kevin Durant

The prop: 28.5 points (vs. Boston)
The odds: Over -110/Under -115

I have never seen a defense frustrate Durant as much as the Celtics in this series. They absolutely suffocated him in the first two games, limiting him to just 31.7 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. Durant is one of the most efficient scorers in league history, and he shot a blistering 51.4 percent during the postseason last year.

What the Celtics have been able to do to him is borderline unfathomable. They appeared to be in Durant’s head in Game 3, during which he attempted just 11 shots in another Nets defeat (this one at home). His efficiency was up in that contest — he made six of those shots — but the lack of aggression in what amounted to a must-win contest was startling.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that Durant’s scoring prop has dipped to just 28.5 in Game 4. Bettors have every right to be aabsolutely terrified of the Celtics’ defense on Durant right now. Still, this number seems too low given the stakes for the Nets.

Durant played nearly 46 minutes in Game 3, and he should be looking at another massive workload Monday. Durant averaged 29.9 points in 37.2 minutes during the regular season. If he matches that playing-time average in Game 4, he then merely needs to perform to his average to cash this Over.

Ultimately, I’ll take my chances with one of the NBA’s all-time best scorers in a win-or-go-home situation.

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics reacts after hitting a three-point shot during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden on December 13, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Image Credit: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Boston Celtics: F Jayson Tatum

The prop: 6.5 rebounds (at Brooklyn)
The odds: Over -120/Under -110

Tatum has always been a great scorer, but he’s improved drastically in the peripheral categories this season. He averaged 8.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season, both new career highs.

Tatum hasn’t been quite as productive on the glass to start the postseason (15 rebounds in three games), but he has averaged 43.5 minutes per game. He figures to play at least that much in a close-out contest. Throw in the fact Brooklyn is a middle-of-the-pack rebounding squad, and we’ll look for the 6-foot-8 Tatum to hit the glass hard Monday night and snag at least seven boards.

Raptors vs 76ers Player Props

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the Toronto Raptors during the second half of their basketball game at the Scotiabank Arena on December 28, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Image Credit: Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers: C Joel Embiid

The prop: 28.5 points (vs. Toronto)
The odds: Over +100/Under -125

The theme with these Monday NBA props is consistent: Buy low on talented scorers. Like Durant, there are legitimate questions about Embiid at the moment. He’s currently dealing with a torn ligament in his right thumb, and while the NBA MVP candidate will play through the injury, it could have an impact on his effectiveness. He struggled to just 21 points in Game 4, and he was clearly bothered at times by his aching thumb.

Still, Embiid looked largely like himself during the second half of that contest. He scored 13 points while shooting 4-for-6 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line after halftime. If not for a dreadful 0-for-5 start to the game, Embiid could have finished with his usual numbers.

Embiid averaged more than 30 points per game during the regular season and had at least 31 points in Games 2 and 3. So let’s roll the dice on Over 28.5 at even money for Game 5 back in Philly.

Jazz vs Mavericks Player Props

Mike Conley #11 of the Utah Jazz in action against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on October 31, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jazz defeated the Bucks 107-95
Image Credit: John Fisher/Getty Images

Utah Jazz: G Mike Conley

The prop: 1.5 made 3-pointers (at Dallas)
The odds: Over -115/Under -110

The Jazz made a slight tweak to their rotation in Game 4. Conley finished with just 24 minutes, while Jordan Clarkson saw a spike in playing time off the bench. Utah was able to win that contest and even the series at two games apiece, so I would expect Clarkson to continue to see a few additional minutes moving forward.

However, Conley is not simply going to go away. Even if he only plays 24 minutes again, he’ll still have the potential to hit the Over on 1.5 made 3-pointers. The former Ohio State star got up four 3-point attempts in his limited playing time in Game 4, and shot better than 40 percent from behind the arc during the regular season.

Overall, Conley averaged 2.3 made 3-pointers in just 28.6 minutes per contest. If he returns to his usual 30-plus minutes, the Over has significant value at -115.

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts against the Brooklyn Nets in the second half at American Airlines Center on November 7, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. The Nets won 102-99.
Image Credit: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks: G Luka Doncic

The prop: 7.5 assists (vs. Utah)
The odds: Over -115/Under -115

Doncic returned to the Mavericks’ lineup in Game 4 after being sidelined with a calf strain, and he was rumored to be on a minutes restriction. He played nearly 34 minutes in that contest, so the restriction ultimately wasn’t that strict.

The perennial All-Star likely will see a few additional minutes in Game 5, especially with the winner of this contest seizing control in this best-of-7 series.

Doncic did most of his work in Game 4 as a scorer (30 points) and rebounder (10), but he’s clearly a capable distributor as well. He averaged 8.7 assists per game this season, and he’s averaged at least 8.6 assists in each of the past three years.

With a few additional minutes on Monday, it’s reasonable to expect Doncic to double his assist total from Game 3. Keep this in mind, too: You have to go back to mid-March (15 games) for the last time Doncic fell short of eight assists in consecutive outings.