NBA Playoffs Best Bets (May 15): Keep Cashing On Kyrie Irving’s Slow Starts

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Dallas Mavericks drives against Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first quarter in Game Four of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 13, 2024 in Dallas, Texas.

The NBA Playoffs are heating up with crucial Game 5 matchups that could significantly influence the outcomes of the ongoing series. The Boston Celtics have taken a commanding 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. This puts the Celtics in a strong position to close out the series with one more victory, placing immense pressure on the Cavaliers to stave off elimination and extend the series to a Game 6 back in Cleveland.

On the other hand, the series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks remains highly competitive, tied at 2-2. Each team has had its moments of dominance, and Game 5 will be critical for gaining the upper hand in what has proven to be a tightly contested series. With the series going back to Oklahoma City, the outcome of this game will be crucial as the winner will be just one win away from advancing to the conference finals.

Here are five NBA wagers you should consider Wednesday:

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics – 7 p.m. ET

Facing the challenge of Donovan Mitchell’s absence, the Cavaliers battled hard but ultimately fell short, losing 109-102 to the Boston Celtics in Game 4. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the Celtics’ effort, with Tatum recording an impressive stat line of 33 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists, and Brown contributing 27 points and eight rebounds.

In the absence of Mitchell, Darius Garland took on a larger role for the Cavaliers, delivering a standout performance with 30 points and seven assists, although it was not enough to secure a win. As the series moves back to Boston for Game 5, the Cavaliers are now on the brink of elimination.

Donovan Mitchell over 27.5 points: -115 (BetMGM)

Given Mitchell’s proven track record and his performance under pressure, it is reasonable to expect him to play a significant role in Game 5, especially with the Cavaliers facing elimination. Mitchell’s scoring ability has been consistently demonstrated against the Celtics, where he has surpassed 27.5 points in each encounter this season, including a 33-point effort in Game 3 of this series.

Furthermore, Mitchell’s clutch performance in the first round of the playoffs, where he scored 39 points in a do-or-die Game 7 against the Orlando Magic, underscores his ability to rise to the occasion when his team needs him the most. His readiness to play in critical games, combined with his scoring prowess, suggests that he could be expected to have a high-scoring night once again.

If Mitchell is healthy enough to play in Game 5 (he’s listed as questionable with a calf injury), his drive and proven track record in high-stakes situations make it likely that he will be a key offensive force for the Cavaliers. As such, projecting him to score over 27.5 points as the Cavaliers attempt to stave off elimination in Game 5 seems very reasonable.

Donovan Mitchell over 27.5 points


Jayson Tatum to record a double-double: -190 (bet365)

Tatum’s performances against the Cavaliers this season have indeed been impressive and impactful, making him a key figure in the Celtics’ playoff campaign. His consistent ability to log double-doubles against Cleveland — achieving this mark in six out of their seven encounters this season — speaks volumes about his effectiveness and importance on the court. Tatum’s capability to score and rebound effectively has been a major factor in Boston’s success. His performances in Game 3 and Game 4, when he scored 33 points each time while grabbing 13 and 11 rebounds, respectively, underscore his role as a dominant player who can influence the game in multiple areas.

As the series heads into a crucial Game 5, the expectation for Tatum to continue his trend of recording double-doubles is justifiable. His scoring and rebounding are vital for the Celtics, especially as they aim to secure a win that could potentially close out the series. Given his track record and the high stakes of the upcoming game, it’s reasonable to anticipate that Tatum will again achieve a double-double.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – 9:30 p.m. ET

The Thunder orchestrated a remarkable second-half comeback to clinch a narrow 100-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was instrumental in this turnaround, scoring 22 of his total 34 points in the second half, along with gathering eight rebounds and distributing five assists. His performance was crucial in shifting the momentum of the game in favour of the Thunder.

On the Mavericks’ side, P.J. Washington played a significant role, leading the team in points with 21 and 12 rebounds, securing a double-double. Luka Doncic struggled with his shooting, making only 6-of-20 attempts. Despite his shooting woes, Doncic managed to record a triple-double, demonstrating his ability to impact the game across multiple statistical categories with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving under 4.5 1st quarter points: -115 (bet365)

Irving’s scoring pattern during the first quarters of the playoffs has indeed shown a consistent trend towards starting games slowly, with his first-quarter scoring not exceeding 4.5 points in the last 10 consecutive games. This trend of lower productivity in the early stages of games has continued against the Thunder, when he has consistently scored under 4.5 points in the opening quarter across the first four games of the series.

Given this established pattern and Irving’s recent performances, it seems highly likely that he will maintain this scoring trend in the first quarter of Game 5. Anticipating that Irving will score under 4.5 points in the first quarter is a reasonable expectation based on his consistent performance throughout the playoffs.

Kyrie Irving under 4.5 1st quarter points


P.J. Washington over 2.5 threes: -143 (Betano)

Washington’s recent three-point shooting has indeed been a standout aspect of his game, significantly contributing to the Mavericks’ offensive efforts. His conversion of 17 out of 34 attempts from beyond the arc in the last three games not only showcases his ability as a shooter but also reflects his growing confidence in taking high-pressure, long-range shots.

The high volume of attempts, averaging over 11 three-point shots per game during this period, further underscores his important role within the Mavericks’ strategy, relying on his shooting to stretch defences and create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Given this trend and his effectiveness in converting these opportunities, expect Washington to make over 2.5 three-pointers in the upcoming game. His recent form suggests that he will continue to be a key perimeter threat, and as long as he maintains this level of involvement and shooting accuracy, he should be able to meet or exceed this mark.

Kyrie Irving over 5.5 assists: -110 (Betano)

Irving’s adaptation to the Thunder’s defensive adjustments has been evident in his recent playoff performances. After the Thunder started to double-team him more frequently starting from Game 2, Irving shifted his approach from scoring to facilitating, a change reflected in the significant increase in his assist numbers and potential assists.

In the first game of the series, Irving’s potential assists were relatively low at seven, but this number dramatically increased to 20, 16, and 13 in the subsequent games, corresponding with his elevated assist counts of 11, seven, and nine. This shift highlights his ability to adapt his game to exploit the defensive pressure he faces, turning the focus from scoring to setting up his teammates for better scoring opportunities. Given this strategic shift and the continued likelihood of the Thunder employing a double-teaming strategy against him in Game 5, it is rational to expect Irving to record over 5.5 assists in Game 5.