Best NBA playoff bets and spreads tonight: Mavs, Cavs, Derrick White prop headline picks for Wednesday, May 15

Source: The Sporting News

The 2024 NBA Playoffs have started to heat up and Wednesday’s doubleheader should draw plenty of fan and betting interest.

The Celtics can close things up at home against the Cavaliers tonight (7:00 p.m. ET, TNT) after Donovan Mitchell missed Game 4 with a calf injury. Cleveland has already missed All-Star center Jarrett Allen, but the loss of top scorer Mitchell might have served as a death knell against the NBA’s No. 1 seed.

Things are much more interesting out West. The Thunder managed to come from behind in Game 4 and tie their series with the Mavericks at two games apiece, bringing momentum with them back to Oklahoma City for Game 5 (9:30, TNT).

Updated championship odds, best bets:

Let’s get to the top values of the Wednesday evening BetMGM offerings, including the best moneyline, spread, over/under, and player prop bets.

Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top moneyline bet

Mavericks (1Q) at Thunder (+115)

An interesting trend has taken shape in the Mavericks-Thunder series, now notched at 2-2: OKC hasn’t won a single first quarter. The score was tied at the end of the first frame in Game 1, and the Mavs proceeded to win the first quarter in each of the following three games by an average of 5.6 points.

Two different factors could go into this four-game phenomenon:

  • Luka, Kyrie and the Mavs have fresher legs earlier in games, and look to get out to early leads
  • The Thunder are the youngest team in the league, with many players experiencing their first playoff run

It’s entirely possible that Dallas simply has a better motor earlier in the game, and its experience advantage allows for an easier time building a quick lead. The Mavs also have good size, so bigs like Daniel Gafford, P.J. Washington, and Dereck Lively II put in work from the early going to make things difficult on the lanky Chet Holmgren and OKC’s undersized forwards. 

Regardless of the real reason behind it, it’s a trend. And with OKC surprising the Mavs with a late come-from-behind victory in Game 4, expect the trend to continue as Jason Kidd and his squad will be itching to bounce back with some gusto. 

FIRST QUARTER PREDICTION: Mavericks 27, Thunder 25 — Dallas once again wins the first quarter (+115) and covers the +1.5 spread (-115), and the first-quarter total finishes UNDER the projected total of 54.5 (-110).

Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top ATS pick 

Cavaliers +15.5 vs. Celtics

Say what you will about Darius Garland and the Cavaliers — they have heart. Even without Mitchell and Allen in Game 4, Cleveland stayed in the game until the waning minutes and covered the +8.5 spread. Now the Cavs are getting almost double that in Boston for Game 5? Easy smash. 

J.B. Bickerstaff’s team won’t suddenly lay down and accept defeat, especially with multiple key rotation players looking for a raise or a new contract this offseason. And even if Boston storms out to a big lead, have the Celtics given us any reason to trust that they can keep one? Do Garland and Caris LeVert seem like guys who enjoy getting trounced in Boston?

There’s also the possibility of garbage time, which almost always rears its ugly head with lopsided spreads. If Boston maintains a double-digit lead going into the final half of the fourth frame, the benchwarmers will come in for Joe Mazzulla’s squad and Cleveland will have yet another opportunity to chip away at the cover. There are far too many reasons to back Cleveland and far too few to back Boston to win by 16.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTIONCeltics 108, Cavaliers 96 — Boston wins (-1600) but Cleveland covers the +15.5 spread (-110), while the final score goes just UNDER the projected total of 205.5 (-110).

Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top over/under bet

Thunder team total UNDER 110.5 vs. Mavericks (-155)

The Mavericks have been playing very physical defense, and it seems like they get a good contest on every single OKC shot near the hoop. Gafford and Derrick Jones Jr. in particular have been huge for Dallas, mounting block parties whether in half-court defensive sets or in transition.

The Thunder have scored 101 points or fewer in two straight games, and they have gone below 110.5 in six of their eight games this postseason. You take on a little juice with this alternate team total, sure, but it sure feels like a lock.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Thunder 107, Mavericks 104 — OKC wins (-175) but Dallas narrowly covers the +3.5 spread (-105). The Thunder finish UNDER their alternate team total of 110.5 (-155), while the final score finishes UNDER the combined total of 213.5 (-115).

Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top player prop bet

Derrick White points: UNDER 13.5 (-105)

It’s a best bet Sporting News has recommended a couple times now, so why move away from it? DWhite went off earlier in the series and late in Boston’s first-round win over Miami, but he has cooled down substantially since J.B. Bickerstaff and his squad made a concerted effort to contain him.

White has scored 12 points or fewer in three straight contests, and he shot just 1-of-6 for five points in Game 4. He’s far more useful to Boston as a facilitator and defender, especially when Cleveland isn’t sagging off him or allowing him to get open looks. Look for this trend to continue, and the UNDER to cash for a fourth straight game.

THE AUTHOR: Sloan Piva

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