The 2023 NBA Playoffs have the potential to gift us one of the greatest second rounds we’ve ever seen. That starts today, with a heavyweight fight in the Western Conference. We’ll be keying in on an all-time great scorer as one of our favorite NBA Props for Saturday night.
The Phoenix Suns are headed to Denver to try and steal Game 1 from the Nuggets — tipoff is at 8:30 ET. Denver enters tonight’s contest as 3.5-point favorites, yet the Suns are favored to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Kevin Durant and Devin Booker each brought their A-Game in Round 1. And, to beat the 1-seed, the Suns will need excellent performances from each player yet again. On a roster that lacks help for their superstars, look for Durant to start strong and shoulder a giant scoring load in Game 1.
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NBA Props for Saturday (4/29)
Kevin Durant Over 27.5 Points (-115 @ BetMGM)
Kevin Durant is fourth in NBA history in points per game in the postseason. At 29.4 PPG, he trails only Michael Jordan, Luka Doncic, and Allen Iverson. He’s one of the greatest scorers ever to touch a basketball.
I’m expecting his scoring prowess to be on full display this evening. The Los Angeles Clippers threw everything at KD in Phoenix’s first-round series victory. They were physical. They sent double teams his way. That led to Durant scoring 28.4 PPG in five games despite taking 17.0 shots per game.
In his career, KD has attempted 20.8 shots per game in the postseason. And, the Suns lack depth so badly that the 34-year-old forward had to play 43.8 minutes per game in Round 1. In what should be an easier matchup, expect more volume for Durant this round.
44, 45, 42, 44, 45. Those were Durant’s minute totals in Phoenix’s five first-round games. We can safely expect him to play a minimum of 40 minutes tonight, as long as this one stays remotely close.
The 2014 league MVP has played at least 38 minutes in 21 games this season. He’s reached this over in 17 of those 21 games, averaging 32.9 PPG. Since joining the Suns, he’s posted some incredible scoring numbers, as long as he’s seen enough playing time.
Durant has scored at least 28 points in 6 of 8 games seeing at least 35 minutes of action since the trade. He’s averaged 30.4 PPG in these games. And, his only two misses came at 25 and 27 points.
The Texas product returned from his torn Achilles in December 2020. Since then, he’s played in 21 playoff games. He’s scored at least 28 points in 14 of these games, averaging 31.3 PPG. I’m expecting plenty of single coverage today, so don’t be surprised to see an excellent performance from number 35.
Durant has faced the Nuggets just four times over the last three seasons. As expected, Denver has had no answer for him. In these games, KD scored at least 29 points all four times. And, he posted a staggering 31.5 PPG in these contests.
Overall, the Denver Nuggets usually prefer to defend opposing superstars in single coverage. So, I’m expecting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to be Devin Booker‘s primary defender. Meanwhile, that leaves Aaron Gordon as Durant’s likely matchup.
As a one-on-one defender, Gordon is just good enough that the Nuggets won’t feel the need to jeopardize their defense by always showing two bodies in Durant’s driving lanes. However, it would be unrealistic to expect Gordon to hold KD under 27.5 points with the usage and playing time he’s expected to see.
Denver just gave up 31.6 PPG (on 22.8 FGA per game) to Anthony Edwards in Round 1. Coach Malone decided not to send two at Ant all series despite Minnesota’s lack of additional superstar talent. With Booker playing alongside Durant, look for each player to attack one-on-one all series long.
Durant has scored 31.6 points per 40 minutes over the last two seasons, and he’ll likely be relied upon for a minimum of 42-44 minutes in competitive games. He’s cashed this over in four straight games against the Nuggets, and he’ll look to make it five tonight.
Have fun playing our favorite NBA Props for Saturday night and Join us for the rest of the NBA playoffs!