All odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
What you need to know for Thursday’s NBA playoff games
Collaborative creation: Kyle Lowry has been ruled out for Game 6 in Philadelphia, meaning Jimmy Butler could flash serious passing potential as Miami’s lead distributor. Butler paced the team with 38 passes in Game 5. Tyler Herro was also busy in the passing department with a team-high eight potential assists. There is some upside taking the assist props for both Butler and Herro.
Surprise specialist: Max Strus has become a floor-spacer for the Heat in the postseason. Take note: 82.4% of his shots have come from beyond the arc, and he lofted a team-high 10 3-pointers in Game 5, his fourth playoff game with at least 10 shots from deep. Strus took nearly a third of Miami’s shots from beyond the arc on Tuesday, tallying his first career double-double. He’s in a good spot to deliver on his shooting props while also claiming some daily fantasy potential in a pivotal Game 6.
Backcourt boards: Dwight Powell has started at center for Dallas but has averaged only 9.2 minutes over the past three games. With the Mavericks going small with their lineup, it wasn’t surprising to see Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic combine for 18 rebounds in Game 5. Powell is a poor fit for this matchup with Phoenix, so the Dallas backcourt should continue to post healthy rebounding tallies.
How To handle Harden: No one truly knows what to expect from James Harden these days. The 76ers’ team total is under 105 points Thursday night, and that’s gold if you’re in the business of fading The Beard. Harden has averaged just 16.4 points on 38.1% shooting in the past five games in which Philly failed to score 105 points. Harden’s point total is 20.5 at Caesars Sportsbook, so it could be wise to invest in Harden going under.
— Jim McCormick & Kyle Soppe
Breaking down Thursday’s games
Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers
7 p.m ET, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Line: 76ers (-2)
Money line: 76ers (-135), Heat (+115)
Total: 207 points
BPI projected total: 211.7 points
BPI win%: Heat (59.6%)
Questionable: Joel Embiid (Face), Tyler Herro (Knee), Max Strus (Hamstring)
Ruled Out: None.
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play.
Notable: Think defense is the story of this game? The 76ers have failed to cover three of the past four games that have come in under the total.
Best bet: Jimmy Butler over 25.5 points. Butler has been scoring at will in this series. He’s averaged 28.3 points per game in the postseason, but his larger scoring efforts have all come in “must-win” games. Butler has shot 58% from the field over the past four games of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and his former team can’t seem to handle him. I expect Butler to show up again in a potential elimination game on the road. — Andre Snellings
Best bet: Gabe Vincent over 14.5 points + assists + rebounds. Vincent was at his best when filling in for Kyle Lowry during the regular season. His performance in Game 5 was no different. Miami is 5-0 when Vincent has started this postseason. He averaged 10.4 points, 3.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds in those games. — Eric Moody
Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks
9:30 p.m ET, American Airlines Center, Dallas
Line: Suns (-2)
Money line: Suns (-130), Mavericks (+110)
Total: 214 points
BPI projected total: 211.8 points
BPI win%: Suns (66.4%)
Ruled Out: None.
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assumes questionable players will play
Notable: The Mavericks have covered four straight home games, with each of the past three going under the total.
Best bet: Devin Booker over 27.5 points. The Mavericks’ defense seems more geared to stop Chris Paul than Booker, and Booker has taken advantage. He has been able to attack downhill off the dribble or move off the ball and get good spot-up shots, which he hits at a high clip. Booker also is healthy, and over the past few months that has meant huge scoring performances. Booker has scored over 27.5 points in three of the four games he’s played after returning from a hamstring injury. — Snellings
Best bet: Deandre Ayton over 29.5 points + assists + rebounds. Game 5 was Ayton’s 13th career playoff game with at least 20 points on at least 65% shooting. The Suns are 9-3 in those games. Ayton has averaged 18.8 PPG, 1.7 APG and 9.2 RPG during the postseason. As the Suns try to close out the series on Thursday night, he’s well positioned to meet or exceed these numbers. — Moody
Best bet: Suns -2.0. The Mavericks won the two previous home games in this series, but I have faith in Phoenix to close things out. First off, coach Monty Williams made the proper adjustment in Game 5 by bringing in Landry Shamet off the bench instead of Cameron Payne. That prevented Dallas from isolating Payne on defense. Also, Luka Doncic seems to be slowing down, as he has been the focal point of the entire offense for most of the series. With just one day off and travel between games, he seemed to be wearing down in Game 5. Finally, when a team is favored on the road in Game 6 and can close out a series, that higher seed is 15-0 against the spread since 2015 and 21-3 ATS since 2010. The Suns can see the light at the end of the tunnel. — Doug Kezirian
Best bet: Chris Paul over 8.5 assists. Booker and Ayton are playing well, so Paul should continue to rely on them heavily. He’s averaged 9.1 APG during the postseason and has averaged 7.5 APG during playoff wins over the past six seasons.