Handicapping the NBA: Friday Picks

Handicapping the NBA: Friday Picks

This article is part of our NBA Picks series.

Alex Barutha

Jrue Holiday over 21.5 points (-102) at BullsFanDuel, 12:30 PM CT

Khris Middleton is out for at least two weeks, so the Bucks will need to find a way to remain competitive despite a relatively thin bench. That means even more playmaking responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of Holiday. With Middleton off the court, Holiday takes 4.8 more shots per 36 minutes, vaulting him up to 18.3 shots per 36. He'll presumably see more than 36 minutes in this game, so I'm comfortable assuming he'll score 22 or more.

Brook Lopez over 16.5 points at Bulls (-106)FanDuel, 12:52 PM CT

Lopez is already averaging 15.0 shots per game in this series, and with Middleton's absence, I assume that will trend higher. I'm not sure how much you can trust Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen to truly step up, so I expect the Bucks to lean even more on Holiday and Lopez.

Cameron Johnson over 15.5 points at Pelicans (-106) – FanDuel, 12:38 PM CT

With Devin Booker out 2-3 weeks, the Suns will likely need to spread out the offensive responsibilities more, as it seems unlikely Chris Paul will score 25-30 PPG consistently. During the regular season, it was Johnson who stepped up the most. In his 16 starts, he averaged 16.3 points in 32.6 minutes, and he'll presumably see 35+ minutes, maybe 40+, in this playoff setting. He does most of his damage from three, so I'd also understand wagering on his three-point prop (2.5, -146), which is probably safer.

Ken Crites

I'm taking the OVER on Cam Johnson scoring 15.5 points

In games where Booker sits, it's Johnson, not Mikal Bridges, who shines for the Suns (per RW's average fantasy points without player chart).  For the season, Johnson averaged 16.3 points per game as a starter.  With Booker out, Johnson gets the start and I think he'll do well versus New Orleans' mediocre perimeter defense. CJ isn't out there for his D.  Johnson shot 42.5% percent from behind the arc this year – he'll only need a few deep attempts to get hot.

Kirien Sprecher

Cameron Johnson OVER 15.5 points (-106)FanDuel Sportsbooks 12:30 PM

Johnson has scored in double figures in each of the first two games of the series and figures to garner an increased role with Devin Booker out with a hamstring strain. When Booker missed a four-game stretch at the beginning of March, Johnson stepped up with a 20-point game and a career-high 38 points in back-to-back contests before suffering an injury of his own that caused him to be sidelined for the rest of the month. Chris Paul is still expected to be Phoenix's go-to player in Game 3, but without Booker, Johnson will likely get increased opportunities to showcase his scoring ability. Johnson has attempted 10-plus shots 29 times this season and scored in double figures in all but one of those contests. During those games, he's averaged 16.4 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the field and 43.4 percent from deep. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.
Ken
An early RotoWire contributor from the 90's, K-Train returns with the grace of Gheorghe Muresan and the wisdom of Joe Gibbs. Ken is a two-time FSWA award winner and a co-host on the RW NBA Podcast. Championships incude: 2016 RW Staff NBA Keeper, 2019 RW Staff NFL Ottoneu Keeper, 2022-23 SiriusXM NBA Experts, 2022-23 SiriusXM NBA Kamla Keeper and 2023-24 FSGA NBA Expert Champions. Ken still owns a RotoNews shirt.
Kirien Sprecher
Kirien Sprecher is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire since early 2021. In his free time, Kirien is probably arguing a foul call during a pickup basketball game at a local rec center.
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