Houston Rockets guard James Harden reacts to an official’s call during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball playoff series against the Utah Jazz on April 24, 2019.
Houston Rockets guard James Harden reacts to an official’s call during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball playoff series against the Utah Jazz on April 24, 2019.|David J. Phillip | Associated Press

NBA Playoffs Monday: Frank likes prop bets in Warriors v Rockets but takes Celtics v Bucks straight

Games tip at 7 and 9:30 EDT

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

Bucks (+1.5) @ Celtics (220.5)
Pick: Celtics -1.5
These Boston Celtics are not losing back-to-back home playoff games. Brad Stevens is too good of a coach for that to happen with the roster he has at his disposal. Under the sixth-year head coach, the Celtics are 21-8 ATS at home in the playoffs. You never want to fall victim to a recency bias when handicapping games and you especially don’t want to do that almost a month into the playoffs. Both series that have played four games are now even at two. We’ve mentioned how profitable the zig-zag theory has been in the second round and when you look at the teams that are left it’s easy to see why. You can make a case for six of the eight teams remaining to get to the NBA Finals and you probably wouldn’t get much pushback. The winner of the Denver-Portland series is going to be a hefty dog against Golden State or Houston, but between the Warriors, Rockets and the four teams remaining in the East, I don’t think there’s an NBA Finals matchup out of those six teams that would be that surprising. So let’s not count the Celtics out because they’ve played bad second halves the last two games of this series. The winner of each game so far in this series has covered comfortably and that continues tonight.

Warriors (+1) @ Rockets (220.5)
Pick: Kevin Durant under 31.5 points
Pick: Steph Curry over 25.5 points
Before I get into why I like both of these props, I’ll explain why I’m passing on the side and the total here. Games 1 and 3 went down to the wire and while Golden State won Game 2 with more breathing room, the Rockets nearly covered the number in the final seconds. Of course this is not a surprise as this was expected to be at least a six-game series. But, the Warriors have not lost back-to-back games so far in the postseason and the Rockets are now 4-0 at home in the playoffs. Something’s got to give, but I have no clue what it’ll be. I’d have the slightest of leans to the Warriors plus the point in this one as I continue to believe Houston leaving the Bay Area without a split of the first two games will be its undoing. Even a game that the Rockets had to have on Saturday went to overtime. But maybe being on the winning end of a barn burner in this series will turn the tide in Houston’s favor. There’s strong cases for both sides which is why I pass. As for the total, 220.5 feels almost perfect. Game 1 was a lower-scoring game for these two teams with 204 total points. A 67-point fourth quarter pushed Game 2 slightly over the total as the teams combined for 224 points. The over cashed easily on Saturday in the 126-121 Houston victory. So after three games, we had a pair of outlier results on the total and one that seemed to be right on the money. I’m inclined to think this one is the latter. However, these two teams certainly seem to pay attention to what’s said about them in between games. During a media session last week, Steve Kerr pretended to flop and then called for a foul in response to James Harden’s complaints with the officiating. At the end of the Game 3, Steph Curry missed a wide-open dunk and became the butt of a lot of jokes on social media. Curry just had an off night in Game 3 anyway shooting 7/23 from the field and finished with 17 points. I’m expecting him to bounce back, score around 30 tonight and have his best game of the series. There’s only one basketball to shoot so a big Curry game should result in less volume for Kevin Durant and considering the Texas product is shooting 43% from the field in this series, I don’t think he gets enough shots up to go over 31.5 points on Monday.

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