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What you need to know for Saturday’s playoffs
Losing Luka: The Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic for Saturday morning’s game with the Jazz. Jalen Brunson sees his usage and assist rates soar to star levels every time Doncic is on the floor. The Villanova product has averaged 22.1 points and 7.5 assists per 36 minutes with Doncic off the court this season, compared to 18.4 and 5.4 with him. In addition to Brunson, microwave marker Spencer Dinwiddie has shone in such scenarios; his usage rate is at a team-high 9.1% to go with a DraftKings increase of 13 points per 36 minutes with Doncic on the floor. Center Dwight Powell, on the other hand, sees his scoring clip drop significantly whenever Doncic is off the field.
Stephen effect: Steve Kerr has joked that Stephen Curry won’t play 38 minutes in Saturday’s return from a foot injury but won’t come within specific limits for his superstar guard. One notable result of Curry’s likely return is just how extreme Jordan Poole’s splits are proving with his teammate this season. The Most Improved Player candidate is averaging 25.1 points, 5.8 cents and 10.3 3-point attempts per 36 minutes with Curry off the field, but his rates drop to 18.2, 3.5 and 7 .6 when they share the floor. If Curry can get back to form, it’s relevant that Denver has given up 50.2 DraftKings points per game to the leaders this season, fourth in the league.
Point forward: Without a true traditional point guard, the Toronto Raptors often split distribution duties among a few key point guards. Forward Pascal Siakam has been particularly dominant against the 76ers this season, posting his third career triple-double in a win just weeks ago. As Toronto’s creator against a Sixers team he’s averaged 8.3 cents against this season, Siakam’s passing support of 4.5 passes stands out, as does his potential to flirt with DFS production in tournament.
Swat Watch: Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Grizzlies has beaten the entire league by 40 blocks this season. This elite defenseman has posted a dozen shots against the Timberwolves in four games this season, his most against a single opponent. With a 1.5 block prop with heavy juice and more money for 2.5 blocks on most books, “JJJ” heads into Saturday’s opener against Minnesota with value for the defensive accessories as the best rim protector in the league.
game of the night
Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers
6 p.m. ET, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Double: 76ers (-4.5)
Money line: 76ers (-190), Raptors (+160)
Total: 216 dots
BPI Total projected: 212.8
BPI gain %: 76ers (66.2)
Main players excluded: nothing
Notable: The Raptors have won four of their last five games as underdogs.
Erin Dolan shares her favorite bet in the first-round series between the Raptors and 76ers.
Best bet: Tobias Harris under 1.5 made 3s. Harris shot 18.8 percent from 3-point range in four regular-season games against the Raptors. Toronto’s defense has continued to improve and will likely limit Harris. -Erin Dolan
Best bet: Pascal Siakam on 23.5 points. Siakam has been big in the streak, averaging 27.0 PPG in his last 20 games, topping 23.5 points in 14 of 20 games. He’s been even better against the 76ers in particular, averaging 30.3 PPG on 50.7 FG% with at least 26 points in his three meetings with them this season. — Andre Snellings
Best bet: Scottie Barnes on 0.5 made 3s. Barnes isn’t known for his ability to shoot 3s, but he averages 2.6 per game. He’s had a hat-trick in five of his last six games and two of his three against the 76ers in the regular season. –Eric Moody
Break the rest of the slate
Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks
1 p.m. ET, American Airlines Center, Dallas
Double: Jazz (-5.0)
Money line: Jazz (-210), Mavericks (+175)
Total: 209.5 points
BPI Total projected: 216.8 points
BPI gain %: Mavericks (50.7%)
Main players excluded: Luka Doncic
Notable: The home team has won each of the last seven games between the Jazz and the Mavericks.
Best bet: Rudy Gobert on 14.5 rebounds. Gobert’s rebound prop looks high, but he needs to dominate on the glass, and I don’t see the Mavericks having an answer after trading Kristaps Porzingis to Washington. Gobert has done that in five of his last eight games. While he didn’t hit it in three straight games, the first two against elite competition, he came away with 21 rebounds against Memphis and 20 rebounds against Golden State. You can count on Gobert to step up in big games. –Dolan
Best bet: Jazz -5. With Doncic ruled out, the Mavericks will be without the player responsible for the vast majority of their success this season. The Jazz come in with a distinct advantage, and if they have any hint of the kind of “Donovan Mitchell Playoffs” explosion they typically get from him in the playoffs, they should be in even better shape. –Snellings
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies
3:30 p.m. ET, FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tenn.
Double: Grizzlies (-7.0)
Money line: Grizzlies (-300), Timberwolves (+240)
Total: 235 dots
BPI Total projected: 227.8 points
BPI gain %: Grizzlies (72.5%)
Main players excluded: nothing
Notable: Each of the Grizzlies’ last nine playoff games has gone over the total.
Best bet: More than 235 stitches. The Timberwolves rank seventh in points scored per 100 possessions and the Grizzlies rank fourth. In addition, both teams score a lot of points on transition plays. There will be a lot of possessions in this game, which bodes well for the pluses. Thirty-six of the Timberwolves’ last 52 road games have exceeded the total — Moody.
Best bet: Memphis 1H (-4.5). The Grizzlies were the league’s best team in the first half of the regular season, going 54-27-1. Memphis is also 8-2 ATS in the 1H overall and at home in the last 10 games. Both of these teams are playing at some of the fastest paces in the league. I think the Grizzlies are jumping fast and scoring a ton of points. –Dolan
Best bet: Anthony Edwards over 22.5 points. Edwards averaged 24.4 PPG over an 11-game streak to close the regular season. The Grizzlies defense will be tough to beat, but Edwards has scored 23, 27 and 30 points in his previous three games against them this season. This could be his moment to shine. — Moody
Best bet: Desmond Bane over 27.5 points + assists + rebounds. Bane enjoyed a second breakout season in the league. While Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. get a lot of attention and deservedly so, Bane has been integral to the Grizzlies’ success. He averaged 18.2 PPG during the regular season, and the Timberwolves allowed 23 PPG, 5.1 APG, and 7.0 RPG. Bane will likely meet or exceed those per-game averages on Saturday afternoon. — Moody
Best bet: Patrick Beverley under 9.5 points. Beverley had seven points against the Clippers, but was fired up after the Timberwolves’ win over the Clippers. It’s fair to make it disappear in this game. He’s averaged nine points in his last four games against the Grizzlies and has only exceeded his point goal in two of the last 10 games. –Dolan
Best bet: Karl-Anthony Towns under 24.5 points. Towns fell offensively down the home stretch, in part to allow Anthony Edwards to shine. Towns averaged 22.4 PPG in his last 10 regular season games, dropping under 24.5 points in six of those outings, then managed just 11 points before committing a foul in the win. Wolves against the Clippers. Towns has faced the Grizzlies four times this season, averaging 23.3 PPG, and scored 22 points against them in their last outing. –Snellings
Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors
8:30 p.m. ET, Chase Center, San Francisco
Double: Warriors (-6.5)
Money line: Warriors (-260), Nuggets (+210)
Total: 223 dots
BPI Total projected: 224.4 points
BPI gain %: Warriors (68.4%)
Main players excluded: nothing
Notable: The Warriors have failed to cover in seven of their last eight playoff games as favorites.
Best bet: Nuggets +6.5 points. There’s a good chance the Warriors will pick up Stephen Curry for Game 1, marking one of the only times this season their team would have its top five players playing together. They have huge upsides, but could struggle growing as Curry clears away the rust and everyone gets used to playing together again. The Nuggets have finished the season well, going 25-10 in the last 35 games Nikola Jokic has played in, and 3-1 in their four meetings with the Warriors this season. — Snelling
Best bet: Draymond Green over 23.5 points + assists + rebounds. Green will be the Warriors’ most important player in this series. He’s averaged 7.0 PPG, 10.3 APG and 8.0 RPG in his last four games against the Nuggets. Power forwards thrived against the Nuggets during the regular season and averaged 22 PPG, 3.5 APG and 10.5 RPG — Moody
BPI Highest Projected Totals
1. Memphis Grizzlies (117.4 points)
2. Golden State Warriors (114.9 points)
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (110.4 points)
Lowest projected BPI totals
1. Toronto Raptors (104.1 points)
2. Utah Jazz (108.3 points)
3. Philadelphia 76ers (108.7 points)
BPI top probability of winning (directly)
1. Memphis Grizzlies (72.5%)
2. Golden State Warriors (68.4%)
3. Philadelphia 76ers (66.2%)