This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
Friday night brings us Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a possible elimination game and perhaps the final game of the longest NBA season on record.
With Jimmy Butler and the Heat looking to stave off elimination while LeBron James seeks his fourth NBA championship, here are some of our favorite bets.
All odds via the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Spread: Lakers -7.0 points
Total: 216.0 points
Alex Barutha: Lakers -7 (-110); UNDER 216.0 points (-108)
I don't think the Lakers played a very good Game 4, but they still ended up with a six-point victory after claiming a lead in the middle of the third quarter and never giving it back. The Heat's lauded depth has been gradually thinning out over the course of the series, putting the focus back on the stars of both teams, where the Lakers obviously have the advantage.
Miami can trust its starting five, but Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynyk (when paired with Bam Adebayo) and Andre Iguodala have often been ineffective as bench options. That's especially the case in the scoring department, as the Heat have failed to crack 100 points in two games of this series. I expect the Lakers' swarming defense to continue to give Miami problems in Game 5, while I think the Lakers can break their offense open after struggling the past two games. Both games with Adebayo available finished under the 216.0 total presented for Game 5, so I'll lean toward the under as well as Lakers -7.
Nick Whalen: Lakers -7 (-110); OVER 216.0 points (-112)
Unfortunately for anyone with eyes, I could see Game 5 playing out similarly to Game 4. After letdowns in Games 1 and 2, Miami seems to have found a defensive strategy that works. The Heat shut down Anthony Davis in Game 3 and held him to a relatively modest output in Game 4, while nearly matching the Lakers in the rebounding column. Down 3-1, I don't expect Miami to wilt, but I do expect the Lakers to play a better game, offensively.
Turnovers were the story in Game 3, and the Lakers were just as sloppy to begin Game 4. If LA can clean up the turnovers and get a bit more from Davis, who took only four free throws in Game 4 (two of which came on a non-shooting bonus situation), I like the Lakers to win a close-yet-comfortable game. More can also be expected out of Rajon Rondo, who went 0-of-6 from the field before his blow-by layup late in the fourth quarter of Game 4.
Scoring wise, I'll take the over. Game 4 was played at a brutally slow pace – just 89.7 possessions per 48. That ranks as the third-slowest game of the entire season for the Lakers. For the most part, the pace has hovered around the mid-90s for the series, so I expect it to pick up at least slightly Friday night. Plus, with an extra day to rest and prepare, the Lakers should come out with a better offensive game plan after getting essentially the same shots in Games 3 and 4. All credit is due to Miami's defense, but the Lakers have settled for far too many late-shot-clock threes in this series.
At this point, I'm willing to take any bet involving one player outscoring Kyle Kuzma. Outside of Kuzma's 19-point eruption in Game 3, this strategy has fared well in the playoffs. Kuzma was fine in Game 4 (nine points), but he played just 19 minutes as the Lakers rolled with Markieff Morris for long stretches in the second half. Meanwhile, Robinson played 30-plus minutes – 33, to be exact – for the second straight game and finished with 17 points, his most since Game 5 against Boston. Even if you think their respective scoring abilities are somewhat of a wash, it's conceivable that Robinson could double up Kuzma's minutes Friday night. - Nick Whalen
I know Adebayo is probably still less than 100 percent healthy, but I just can't imagine betting the other way on this. Caldwell-Pope is averaging only 11.0 points per game in the series. And while Adebayo is at 11.5 PPG, he played just 21 minutes in Game 1 before suffering the neck strain that cost him Games 2 and 3. In Game 4, Adebayo played 33 minutes and scored 15 points on eight field-goal attempts. I expect him to see a similar workload in Game 5, and I'm going to bank on him continuing to be a better offensive player than Caldwell-Pope, even if Adebayo's matchup isn't good. Prior to the Finals, Adebayo was averaging 18.5 points on 11.8 shots in the playoffs. - Alex Barutha
Jimmy Butler OVER 0.5 made three-pointers (+110)
The Lakers were begging Butler to take open threes in Game 4, and for the most part he resisted taking the bait. Butler has two made three-pointers in his last nine games – both of which came in Game 1 of this series. He's only launched four total attempts in the series, but I think he'll have no choice but to be more aggressive from three if the Heat are to put pressure on the Lakers' defense. Los Angeles is willing to live with Butler – a 24.4% shooter during the regular season – beating them from beyond the arc, and I expect Butler to at least experiment with that part of his game Friday night. - Nick Whalen
Danny Green over 1.5 threes (+100)
Green's three-point percentage (23.1) hasn't been great, but he's launching 6.5 per game in the series. Prior to the Finals, he hit 1.9 threes per game, so I'm banking on him getting his groove back. It's also nice that we're getting this at plus money, which feels like a much better deal than getting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to hit the over on 1.5 threes at -177. - Alex Barutha
LeBron James OVER 27.5 points (-110)
It hasn't felt like James has played all that well in either of the last two games. But then you look up in the fourth quarter and he's closing in on yet another 25-plus-point near-triple-double. James eased his way into Games 3 and 4, but I think we see a better sense of urgency Friday. He appeared to gain some confidence in his jumpshot in the second half of Game 4, so I like him to come out more aggressively as a scorer, rather than an early-game facilitator. In games like these, James has an innate sense of when to exert his will. There's a reason his teams are 30-5 in potential closeout games over the last decade. - Nick Whalen