2023 NBA playoffs: Odds, picks, betting tips for Friday

ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data, featuring ESPN’s proprietary Basketball Power Index (BPI) to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for Friday are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.

What you need to know for Friday’s games

A three-game Friday schedule presents several paths to building lineups. There are several chalk options for both DFS picks and prop plays, such as Nikola Jokic with a reasonable path to 60 fantasy points or Jayson Tatum’s continued dominance of the Atlanta Hawks.

While Donovan Mitchell is another obvious name on the board, I find his PRA prop (points + rebounds + assists) of 40.5 especially appealing given it’s a number he’s topped in five of his past eight direct matchups with the New York Knicks and in five of his past six games overall. New York will likely focus its point-of-attack defense on Mitchell, but an expectation for 40 minutes of play with a usage rate above 30% signals real value at this current PRA prop.

Past the superstar tier of players, my model digs some glue guys as real values, such as Bruce Brown being projected for nearly six fantasy points per $1,000 spent in DFS markets, which has long been a measure for elite efficiency. Atlanta’s Onyeka Okongwu also qualifies, as he’s the lone player of the slate I’m projecting above this threshold.

On a slate rife with star power, identifying productive complementary players could prove key. Immanuel Quickley, for instance, is one of Steve Alexander’s top targets this evening just after being passed over for Sixth Man of the Year honors. Let our crew of analysts help decipher this fun Friday night of hoops.

— Jim McCormick

Breaking down the slate

Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
Game 3: 7 p.m. ET, Celtics lead series 2-0

Records (against the spread)
Celtics: 57-25 (45-36-1)
Hawks: 41-41 (36-44-2)

Line: Celtics (-5) Total: 229
BPI Projection: Celtics by 7.4
Money Line: Celtics (-210), Hawks (+175)

Injury Report:
Celtics: Danilo Gallinari, (OUT – Knee)
Hawks: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Jayson Tatum over 29.5 points. Tatum scored 25 and 29 in the first two games of this series, which were very comfortable Celtics wins. Now that the series has shifted down to Atlanta — with the Hawks trailing 2-0 — we have an increased expectation for a tighter game. This feels like the explosion game for Tatum where he carries the offense trying to help his team to a 3-0 lead. He should play 38-42 minutes and get up 20-plus FGAs. So far this series he has attempted just two free throws. I think some positive regression is coming there to help him get to 30-plus points. — Tyler Fulghum

Best bet: Trae Young over 24.5 points, to get a double-double (+159). Young is a great player having a rough go of it against the smart, defensive-minded Celtics, and while Young shot better in road games this regular season, he averaged 2.6 more points per game at home. Most players are more comfortable at home. The Hawks will split the home games this weekend and Young will remind observers he’s a better player than he has shown. — Eric Karabell

Best bet: Marcus Smart over 1.5 steals. Smart had three steals in each of the first two games of this series and played 32 minutes in each of them. The Celtics smell blood in the water against these Hawks and Smart will be going for swipes against both Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, who have combined for 14 turnovers in the first two games. The Hawks will be at home and the crowd should be wild, but Atlanta’s guards are going to turn the ball over and Smart should be good for at least a couple of swipes in Friday’s game. And the Celtics are counting on him to leave his mark. — Alexander

Best bet: Dejounte Murray over 1.5 steals. Murray has seven steals in this series already and has at least one steal in eight straight games. Jaylen Brown has committed 10 turnovers in his two games against the Hawks in this series and Murray plans on being a disruptive force again on Friday at home. Two steals should not be a problem for a guy who is going to see at least 36 minutes tonight. — Alexander

Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks
Game 3: 8:30 p.m. ET, Series tied 1-1

Records (against the spread)
Cavaliers: 51-31 (42-37-3)
Knicks: 47-35 (45-35-2)

Line: Knicks (-1.5) Total: 211.5
BPI Projection: Knicks by 1.5
Money Line: Cavaliers (+100), Knicks (-120)

Injury Report:
Cavaliers: Cedi Osman, (GTD – Ankle); Dylan Windler, (OUT – Foot)
Knicks: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Under 211. We have yet to see a game in this series crack 200 points. Game 1 landed 101-97. Game 2 landed 107-90. Regardless of who wins Game 3 (I lean to the Cavs side), I think we see another low-scoring game, driven by the Cavs’ methodical pace and dominant defense. Despite the Knicks owning one of the more efficient offenses in the league, I just don’t think there will be enough possessions in this game to feel comfortable betting the total to go over. I’m going to keep riding under in this series until it gets closer to 205. — Fulghum

Best bet: Jalen Brunson over 23.5 points. Brunson did not shoot well in Game 2 at Cleveland, missing seven of eight 3-point attempts, which was about the only reason he was held to 20 points. He scored 27 points in Game 1, getting 24 field goal attempts. Julius Randle still doesn’t look quite like himself offensively, so expect Brunson to get as many shots he wants as the series heads to New York. — Eric Karabell

Best bet: Immanuel Quickley over 11.5 points. Quickley had scored at least 14 points in eight straight games before this series started and he scored 12 in Tuesday’s Game 2. He missed all five of his shots in Saturday’s Game 1 and scored just three points in that one, but he’s been instrumental for the Knicks all season. He feels like he was snubbed in the Sixth Man of the Year voting, as he finished second to Malcolm Brogdon, and should be looking to prove a point against the Hawks in Friday’s Game 3. My guess is Quickley will have a nice game tonight. — Alexander

Denver Nuggets at Minnesota Timberwolves
Game 3: 9:30 p.m. ET, Nuggets lead series 2-0

Records (against the spread)
Nuggets: 53-29 (44-37-1)
Timberwolves: 42-40 (40-42-0)

Line: Nuggets (-2.5) Total: 223
BPI Projection: Nuggets by 6.7
Money Line: Nuggets (-135), Timberwolves (+115)

Injury Report:
Nuggets: Nikola Jokic, (GTD – Wrist)
Timberwolves: Jaylen Nowell, (GTD – Knee); Rudy Gobert, (GTD – Back); Jaden McDaniels, (OUT – Hand); Naz Reid, (OUT – Wrist)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Nuggets (-2.5). The T-Wolves tried to make Game 2 interesting but still ended up losing — and failing to cover. So far the Nuggets have proved to be the vastly superior team in this series. In Game 1, they led by as many as 32 points. In Game 2, their largest lead was 21. I fully expect Minnesota to play inspired basketball on Friday night, I just don’t think it will matter. I like the Nuggets to go up 3-0 and do so with a cover. — Fulghum

Best bet: Jamal Murray over 23.5 points. Murray scored 24 points in Game 1 and blew up for 40 points as he battled Anthony Edwards toe-to-toe in Game 2. He also scored 28 points against the Wolves on Jan. 18. He has been running circles around Mike Conley and will likely do so again on Friday night. He’s averaging 32 points and five 3-pointers on 50% shooting in the two games of this series, and the Nuggets are banking on him being an offensive force again on Friday. The Nuggets are healthy and rolling early in the playoffs and having Murray as a healthy weapon is paying big dividends. The Wolves give up 26.12 points to opposing point guards this season (eighth worst in the league) and Murray is on a heater. Look for him to keep it going tonight. — Alexander

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