NBA Player Props: Picks for LeBron James, James Harden, and More | August 18, 2020

LeBron James (left) and James Harden
LeBron James (left) and James Harden (photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA Playoffs continue with more first-round action on Tuesday, August 18. Included on the slate are several heavy hitters, such as James Harden, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James. Those three players are the focus of some of our NBA player prop picks for Tuesday, but they’re not the only NBA player props we’re eyeing. Let’s take a look at our best NBA player props for Tuesday.

James Harden – Over 36.5 points (-134)

Inside the bubble or outside the bubble, James Harden is arguably the best scorer in the NBA. This season, Harden is averaging 34.3 points per game at a little over 36 minutes played per game. You might be thinking that his season average is less than the over/under point total posted for this Harden player prop, but we have to factor in that Russell Westbrook is out for Tuesday’s Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Using the RotoGrinders CourtIQ tool, which allows you to analyze player performance as players move on and off the court, we can find that Harden has played 1,055.4 minutes this season without Westbrook on the court. In that time, Harden is averaging 39.09 points per 36 minutes, or 1.09 points per minute.

In a game that sportsbooks and oddsmakers peg as a close one given that the Rockets vs. Thunder betting line has a point spread of 1.5, the expectation is that this will be a closely contested game. If the game plays out as it is expected, there will be additional leaning on Harden without Westbrook in two ways. First, he’ll be looking to score more. Second, he’ll be playing more. It’s playoff time and the best players see the court for as much time as possible.

Eric Gordon – Over 16.5 points (-104)

Other players will need to step up for the Rockets without Westbrook suiting up on Tuesday night, so the thinking is that we’ll be able to find some value elsewhere in addition to the Harden player prop we just discussed. Another player we’re looking to target for the Rockets in Game 1 is Eric Gordon.

The Gordon player prop on points is over/under 16.5. Going back to the RotoGrinders CourtIQ tool, Gordon sees a usage bump of 27.8% with Westbrook off the floor, which comes from 485.1 minutes. Gordon is averaging 28 minutes per game this season. Without Westbrook, we expect Gordon to go over his average minutes played and hit 30 minutes or more played. In the 485.1 minutes without Westbrook on the court, Gordon averages 0.62 points per minute. At 30 minutes, that’s 18.6 points.

Someone other than Harden is going to have to step up in Westbrook’s absence and we’re picking Gordon to do it.

Steven Adams – Over 11.5 points (-132), over 10.5 rebounds (-139)

The Rockets like to go small and that could work one of two ways for Steven Adams. One thought is that Adams may not get the playing time he needs to hit the over on these player props. The other thought is that Adams should have his way with the Rockets. We’re taking the over on a couple of Adams player props, specifically over 11.5 points and over 10.5 rebounds, so you know which line of thought we’re going with.

If the Thunder want to stay in this game, they’re going to need to keep it close and not let Houston run away with it. One way to do that is slow the game down and use the size advantage that Adams presents. On the offensive side of the court, Adams should have no problem scoring against the smaller Houston defenders. On both sides of the court, Adams’ size should allow him to easily pick up rebounds, and we know how much Houston loves to shoot the basketball.

Anthony Davis – Over 29.5 points (Even)

One of the reasons we think we’re getting some value here on this Anthony Davis player prop is because this first game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers has all eyes on two other superstars on the court: LeBron James and Damian Lillard. In a weird way, we think Davis is getting overlooked, which is kind of crazy to think about given how awesome he is.

Davis is averaging 34.4 minutes and 26.1 points per game this season. Seems easy to take the under on 29.5 points, right? Not so fast. First, it’s the NBA Playoffs and we expect every team’s studs to play more minutes. This game has a point spread of 2.5, which tells us that sportsbooks and oddsmakers are expecting a fairly close game. If things turn out that way, Davis should be in the upper 30s for minutes played and might even hit the 40-minute mark.

Davis is a big mismatch for any team in the NBA, and that includes the Blazers. Davis can go down low with his size, but he’s also supremely athletic and can stretch the floor and knock down threes. Jusuf Nurkic is back for Portland and he’ll be a better matchup than Hassan Whiteside for the Blazers against Davis, but it’s still a mismatch. Portland could roll out Wenyen Gabriel, but it doesn’t exactly scare us to have a first-year NBA player guarding Davis should that happen.

In three games against the Blazers this season, Davis has averaged 32 points per game. Two of those games resulted in 39- and 37-point performances for Davis.

LeBron James – Under 29.5 points (-139)

One of the LeBron James player props offered for Tuesday’s Game 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers is the over/under on 29.5 points.

In terms of the game flow for the Lakers vs. Blazers, we think Los Angeles is going to work their offensive production through Davis for the reasons we previously discussed above for the Davis player prop we’re on. Correlating with that thinking, LeBron James won’t be required to do as much scoring in this one if Davis is the one doing all the work.

We already know how good James is at facilitating. The team is still without Rajon Rondo and James does plenty of work being the team’s point guard. We expect James to be feeding the ball to Davis for scoring more than he’s trying to score himself. Taking the under on the LeBron James player prop for points probably won’t be the popular side to take, but it’s the one we’re on.

All player prop lines mentioned in this article are taken from the SharpSide sports betting app. Download the app today to make player prop picks for your chance to win real prizes for free.

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