NBA Finals Game 5 player props: Will Curry cool off after 43-point heater?
We struck out on our two player props in Game 4, as Jaylen Brown fell two assists shy of his mark, while Draymond Green had his second-best rebounding night in ages. Alas, but we love this next pair of player props heading into Monday's Game 5:
Stephen Curry under 31.5 points (-103)
I know what you must be thinking: You really want to fade that guy? After that performance? There's no doubt Curry was brilliant in Game 4 when he dropped 43 points on 26 shots and singlehandedly buried the Celtics down the stretch. But there are simply too many factors working against him for an encore performance Monday.
Firstly, it's hard to generate that sort of effort two games in a row, which has been the case for Curry his entire postseason career. Friday's effort marked the 20th time that the Warriors star has scored 35 points or more in a playoff game. He's averaging just 27.9 points in the following contest, and he's scored 30 or more in just five of his previous 18 tries (27.8%), with one game coming in an elimination loss.
Consider, too, that Curry did most of his damage against defenders not named Marcus Smart, who held him to just four points on 1-of-4 shooting in 4:37 of matchup time. He also shot an incredible 9-of-14 (64.3%) on contested looks - by comparison, the Celtics made just 11 contested buckets as a team - all while fighting through a nagging foot injury.
While Boston's best defensive look is an aggressive switching set, expect Smart to hunt more possessions as Curry's primary defender and for the Celtics to force the ball out of his hands. Curry's teammates will thus be relied on in a must-win road affair. Even if he does hoist another 25-plus shots, the odds of as many falling in Game 5 are slim.
Al Horford over 21.5 points + rebounds + assists (-103)
If there's ever a time for Horford to turn back the clock like he did in Game 1, it's now, as the Celtics desperately need to regain the advantage down low if they want to keep their season alive.
Horford is this team's best shot at winning the points-in-the-paint battle, which has dictated the winner in each of the first four contests. He was instrumental for Boston's offense in Game 1, scoring 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting while raining down six triples in a winning effort.
It's no coincidence that the Celtics' two worst games offensively were Horford's worst, too. He scored just eight points in Friday's loss, though he still chipped in six rebounds and four assists in only 28 minutes - tied for his third-fewest minutes in any game this postseason. Even with that quiet outing, he's still averaging a combined 24.5 points, rebounds, and assists in this postseason, and he's topped 21.5 in three of his last five contests.
Expect coach Ime Udoka to rely on his heady big man in Game 5 - if only to force Golden State to match with Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, who have both struggled to make an impact in this series. Horford has the size to handle those bigs or whomever the Warriors throw his way, and he should have the green light to attack inside and outside Monday.