Best NBA Player Prop Bets (Jan. 24): Recapping our Prop-A-Shot live betting blog from Wednesday

Thanks for coming to check out the sixth edition of our Sporting News NBA Prop-A-Shot series, where we provide betting advice before and during the marquee games of the Wednesday night NBA slate. We had another successful night, helping to boost the bankrolls of countless readers/bettors who followed along. 

Here’s how Prop-A-Shot works: we dish out up to a dozen traditional and player prop bets on Wednesday morning and throughout the afternoon. Then, when the games we’re featuring begin, we turn the column into a live betting blog. From the opening tip of the first game we cover to the final whistle of our late-window game, we offer live betting advice, strategy, and recommendations.

Basically, you get to wager like a betting analyst — and see how our crazy minds work as we’re watching games. And, oftentimes, you’ll see that we fare better during the live window than we do on our pregame picks and props. That’s the whole point of this Prop-A-Shot thing: we want to illuminate your mind to the endless wagering possibilities on the live betting market. 

Coming into this week, we were 43-30 on Prop-A-Shot bets. That record is even better now. Take a look at how our live updates and betting recommendations went, with our full Prop-A-Shot scorecard and updated season-long record at the end of the column. Thanks again for stopping by, and please check in with us early and often throughout next Wednesday’s live blog!

Updates, live betting advice and picks

  • Bucks vs. Cavaliers (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass)

  • Mavericks vs. Suns (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

  • Spurs vs. Thunder (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

All times are ET. All odds courtesy of BetMGM, an authorized gaming operator of the NBA.

7:40 p.m.: A half an hour ahead of the Bucks-Cavaliers game, Milwaukee has jumped up to -6.5 home favorites. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and the Bucks also have the third-shortest odds to win the 2024 NBA Finals. As much as we believe in teams — and especially stars — being extra motivated after their franchises make coaching changes, this sure seems like a lot of points. Cleveland has won eight of its past 10 games and Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen won’t be down with getting punked on national television by the most widely-discussed NBA team over the past 24 hours. Take the Cavs to cover the +6.5. 

7:46: About 50 minutes before the Suns and Mavericks tip off in Dallas, Phoenix has bumped up to -2.5 favorites. We like the Suns here, as Kevin Durant has been playing some of the best overall basketball in the Association over the past month. Dallas has nobody to guard KD, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal — never mind corral Jusuf Nurkic down low and contain Grayson Allen outside the three-point arc. The Suns -2.5 or -135 both seem like solid value

7:50: We’re a little under two hours away from the jump in San Antonio, and Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs are now getting a whopping 8.5 points against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Western Conference-leading OKC Thunder. That’s a ton of points to give a scrappy home squad coached by Gregg Popovich. Remember that Wemby just dropped 33 points against the 76ers, a performance largely overshadowed by Joel Embiid and his incredible 70-spot on Monday. Buy San Antonio two more points and bet the Spurs +10.5 at -140. 

8:23: Well after the halfway point of the first quarter, the Bucks lead the Cavaliers 17-14. We told you these Cavs would be scrappy! And Milwaukee looks as lost as usual on defense — for example, they just left Donovan Mitchell wide open for an easy three. Jarrett Allen missed five straight shots and Cleveland is still right in this thing. 

8:35: The Cavs just finished the first quarter strong, closing the game to 32-28 in a high-scoring battle. Cleveland is taking it to Milwaukee, exposing the Bucks’ poor ability to switch and help on D. Cleveland also seems confident down low, punching home a couple strong dunks down low. Giannis finished the first frame with just six points, and his scoring over/under has now dipped to 29.5 with some juice (-130). We would jump all over that, especially in a game that looks like it will be close and high-scoring. 

8:39: With the Mavs about to tip against the Suns, Luka is a go despite back soreness but Kyrie Irving can’t suit up. Doncic’s scoring over/under have skyrocketed in both odds and juice. If Phoenix races out to a big second-half lead — or doubles Luka early and often, forcing him to create for others — or if Luka re-aggravates the ankle injury he has been battling all season — the millions of Doncic OVER 35.5 bettors could be heartbroken. 

8:47: The Mavs are taking it to the Suns, and Grant Williams is already starting some stuff with Kevin Durant and Jusuf Nurkic. The former Celtics “agitator” knows how to get under stars’ skin, and so far tonight he has backed it up with strong offensive play. It’s 12-5 Dallas — we see some value in the Suns’ updated +115 moneyline and, whenever KD’s scoring over/under goes back up, we might bet his OVER. He has 0 points through four minutes — that won’t last much longer now that G-Dub has poked the Bear. KD scored 40-plus in each of Phoenix’s past two games. 

8:55: The scrappy Cavs have put together an 8-2 run on the Bucks, who play just about the worst transition defense in the NBA (that’s why Indiana has given them problems this season). It’s 54-49 Milwaukee.

9:05: It’s 61-51 Bucks at the half. I guess we have to pump the brakes on backing Cleveland with the points, even though the +9.5 at -110 is pretty tempting right now. Giannis has 15 at intermission, so we’re glad we jumped on his live OVER of 29.5 points. Dude doesn’t stay down.

9:12: Dallas just shot 7-of-10 from three-point land in the first quarter, and the Mavs lead 34-25. Phoenix has shot just 8-of-22 (36.4%) from the floor and 2-of-10 from three (20%). Bradley Beal has been atrocious. You can get the Suns +5.5 at -150 right now, something we would jump on.

9:30: With 4:38 left in the third quarter, the Bucks lead the Cavs 83-64. They’re running away with this one. Donovan Mitchell shooting 3-of-13 hasn’t helped matters for the cover crowd, nor has Cleveland getting out-rebounded 35-24. We’re also pretty disgusted by the Suns’ performance against Dallas — KD, Book, and Beal are a combined 7-of-19 from the field, and they’re not even running back on defense after making buckets. When Maxi Kleber’s rim-running on you with your whole team’s back turned, you have failed your fans and bettors. 

9:37: The Spurs-Thunder game is about to start (thank god!). Our favorite live UNDER is OKC’s team total of 126.5 at -135. San Antonio has allowed an average of 115.3 points per game over its past three home games, and that three-game stretch included Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. 

9:47: It’s a game of runs! The Suns have trimmed the Mavericks’ lead to 56-52, in large part because Josh Okogie and others have started clamping down on defense. Dallas has missed seven of its past eight three-pointers. We knew that ish wasn’t going to last. Glad we were bullish on Phoenix! 

9:52: Wow — the Suns just won the second quarter 32-24, trimming the Mavs’ lead to 58-57 at halftime. Even worse for Dallas, Luka Doncic hobbled off the floor holding his right foot/ankle, the same injury that has given him so many issues in the recent past. Massive developments. That’s why, regardless of how many threes an underdog hits in the first quarter, we buy into the favorites when they’re getting a ton of points from sportsbooks. Never fall for a hot start and back the undies heavy. 

9:55: Approaching the halfway point of the first quarter in San Antonio, the Thunder have a narrow 15-14 lead over the Spurs. Wemby leads Chet 7-5 in their personal scoring battle.

9:59: Never say die! The Cavs have cut the Bucks’ lead to 11 (108-97) with some hot shooting and improved defense. Cleveland just drew an offensive foul on Giannis. Only 7:21 remains in this one, but maybe Donovan Mitchell and company can continue this surge and at least get us the cover. Antetokounmpo is two assists shy of his fifth triple-double in January. 

10:04: Sure enough, Spida Mitchell has kicked things into overdrive and the Cavs are down 110-102. Cleveland is now +8.5 with 5:00 left in the game. The Cavs just need to put together some more stops and keep their foot on the gas. 

10:08: Mitchell is pushing the pace, gathering the attention of the Bucks’ D, and making great decisions with the ball. He just had a sweet dime to Jarrett Allen, who now has 20. It’s 114-108 Milwaukee now. Cavs are now down to +6.5 (don’t touch that). 

10:15: The Suns are coasting on the Mavs right now, threatening to blow the game open. They finished the first half with momentum, and they’re smoldering to start the second half. Buy into them regardless of the cost. 

10:17: The Bucks are running away 126-111, after Cleveland inexplicably left Khris Middleton open for three three-pointers in a row. This one’s just about over. 

10:18: The Thunder lead 35-28 at the start of the second quarter, with SGA scoring or assisting on 20 of OKC’s 35 points. San Antonio still had plenty to be optimistic about, including assertive play from Devin Vassell and Wemby. 

10:20: Final score in Milwaukee: Bucks 126, Cavs 116. Annoying one because Cleveland kept suckering us back in, but we did hit on multiple player props throughout this game. Giannis keeps doing his damn thing — the Freak finished with 35 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.

10:24: The Suns have enjoyed a whopping 33-point turnaround, waging a 28-5 run. You could hear a pin drop in American Airlines Center right now. We told you to bet Phoenix!

10:27: The Suns trailed by 16 in the first. They now lead by 20 with 4:22 left in the third. Devin Booker has 38 points and he has outscored the Mavs 22-12 in the third quarter. What a time to be alive.

10:40: All said, the Suns outscored the Mavs 43-20 in the third quarter. It’s a 41-point turnaround. Advice: don’t live bet anything on a game like this in the fourth quarter. Don’t get burned by garbage time and/or complacency. 

10:39: Big props to the Spurs, who keep playing hard and drawing fouls. They’re down 57-48 with a little over 3:00 left in the first half. 

10:44: The Thunder go into halftime with a 63-52 lead, and SGA has a casual 16 points. This is why we bet San Antonio +10.5, SGA OVER 33.5 points, and Wemby to double-double (Wemby has 13 points, 4 rebounds). We’re close to hitting on all three bets. We’ve also already hit on Wemby OVER 2.5 blocks and we’re halfway to Chet’s 7.5 rebound OVER.

11:03: Suns win 132-109. They shot just over 60 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from three-point land. They outscored Phoenix 92-55 from the 4:55 point of the second quarter. Devin Booker’s line: 17-23 FG, 6-10 3PT, 46 points, 7 rebounds, 35 minutes. DOMINATION.

11:08: The Spurs play such sloppy basketball sometimes. They’re undisciplined on defense and careless with the ball on offense. How could we ever back these guys, even +10.5, against the Thunder!? San Antonio trails by 18 four minutes into the third quarter, and OKC is friggin’ one drawn foul away from being in the bonus. I’m not doubling down on the Spurs at this point — if they catch up, fantastic. If not, we’ll cut our losses.

11:30: Wemby has been swatting shots like 90s Mutombo out there, including this ridiculously soul-taking envelopment on a weak Josh Giddey hook-shot attempt. Still, OKC has all the momentum, cruising out to a game-high 20-point lead. Peaks and valleys, these games. 

12:00 a.m.: Final score: Thunder 140, Spurs 114. OKC smashed San Antonio around so bad that SGA sat for the vast majority of the fourth. He ended up with 32 points, 1.5 shy of the OVER. Figures! 

Traditional Props, ATS and over/under bets

These are the bets we recommended on Wednesday morning and afternoon, well before the live betting windows opened up. 

  • Bucks vs. Cavaliers — 8:00 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

Who knows why Milwaukee fired Adrian Griffin when the Bucks sit second in the East with a 30-13 record? Giannis probably knows. The two-time MVP apparently played a crucial role in Griffin’s initial offseason hiring, largely because Antetokounmpo didn’t like Nick Nurse as a candidate. Does anybody truly think Griffin would have been canned if Giannis didn’t want him gone?

So, Giannis probably got his way — again — meaning the big man should be even more motivated than usual this evening. He has dropped 31 points in two straight games, bringing his per-game average in January to 31.9. That’s small potatoes compared to the 32.5 PPG he averaged in December, never mind the 44.2 PPG that reigning MVP Joel Embiid has averaged over his past five games.

MORE: Why the Bucks hired Doc Rivers as Adrian Griffin’s replacement

Giannis has always been intrinsically aware of what he needs to do to boost his legacy. Right now, he knows he must continue scoring in bunches to keep up with JoJo, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Nikola Jokic. This might be one of the more wide-open MVP races we have ever seen at the halfway point of the season.

Expect the Greek Freak to be full throttle from the jump to the final whistle this evening against a red-hot Cavs team that has won eight of its past 10. Without injured big man Evan Mobley, Cleveland can’t contain a hungry Giannis.

Other Bucks-Cavs bets we like: Damian Lillard OVER 33.5 points + assists (-110); Donovan Mitchell UNDER 39.5 points + assists (-120); Brook Lopez OVER 2.5 blocks (-115); Malik Beasley OVER 2.5 three-pointers (-135); Isaac Okoro OVER 0.5 steals (-120)

  • Mavericks vs. Suns — 8:30 p.m., ABC

Another game, another legit MVP candidate, and another guy who knows the heat of the MVP race has risen over the past week. Luka Legend continues to defy the odds of reason, averaging 33.6 PPG while shooting 48.2 percent from the floor and 37.4 from three-point land. Now he plays on national television against arch-rival Devin Booker and the Suns? Oh yeah — as the kids say, ‘Luka’s finna go off.’

The last time these teams met, Doncic dropped a 50-piece on the Suns. He dropped 33, 35, and 34 on Phoenix last season. And with Kevin Durant playing MVP-level ball of his right now, we expect this one to be just as close as the 1.5-point spread (in Phoenix’s favor) suggests. Smash the OVER and root for the points.

MORE: Breaking down the rivalry between Luka Doncic and Devin Booker

The rookie has pulled down 31 boards in the three games since he came back from ankle injury, and he’s the Mavericks’ only chance to battle Jusuf Nurkic, Kevin Durant, and the Suns on the interior.

Lively also has a good rapport with Luka and Kyrie Irving, both as a pick-and-roll partner and a lob presence. Those vital roles almost guarantee him heavy minutes tonight in what should be a close game, so we’re confidently betting the high-value OVER here at -130. 

Other Mavericks-Suns props we like: Kevin Durant OVER 29.5 points (-110); Bradley Beal OVER 1.5 turnovers (-140); Total UNDER 241.5 (-110)

  • Spurs vs. Thunder — 9:30 p.m., ESPN

The Rookie of the Year race has never been tighter, with Wemby a slight favorite at -120 but Chet Holmgren right on his tail at +100. It’s a pick’em, so this game could go a long way to helping one of the giant first-year talents stand out over the other.

MORE: Stats to know in the Wemby vs. Chet Rookie of the Year race

Wembanyama would also like to make headlines of his own after his 33-point, seven-rebound, two-block effort on Monday night against the Sixers got completely overshadowed by Joel Embiid’s 70 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists. JoJo shot 24-of-41 on the night (and 21-of-23 from the line!), and Wemby was the one guarding him for much of the onslaught.

If you prefer just a single-player prop, not a combo or double-double prop, go for Wemby OVER 22.5 points (-115). We might see the 19-year-old French phenom at his most motivated — and if he can drop 33 on Embiid and the Sixers, he should be able to put 23 on Chet and OKC at home.

Other Spurs-Thunder props we like: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander OVER 33.5 points (-110); Wemby OVER 2.5 blocks (-150); Chet Holmgren OVER 7.5 rebounds (-110)

Final Prop-A-Shot Scorecard, Week 6

Pregame player props, ATS bets, over/under bets

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo OVER 32.5 points (-120) ✅
  • Damian Lillard OVER 33.5 points + assists (-110) ❌ (by 1.5 🙃)
  • Donovan Mitchell UNDER 39.5 points + assists (-120) ❌
  • Brook Lopez OVER 2.5 blocks (-115) ❌
  • Malik Beasley OVER 2.5 three-pointers (-135) ✅
  • Isaac Okoro OVER 0.5 steals (-120) ❌
  • Luka Doncic OVER 33.5 points (-120) ✅
  • Dereck Lively II OVER 7.5 rebounds (-130) ❌ (bro got 2 💩)
  • Kevin Durant OVER 29.5 points (-110) ❌
  • Bradley Beal OVER 1.5 turnovers (-140) ✅
  • Suns-Mavericks total UNDER 241.5 (-110) ✅
  • Victor Wembanyama double-double: Yes (-120) ✅
  • Victor Wembanyama OVER 22.5 points (-115) ✅
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander OVER 33.5 points (-110) ❌ (32 on 9-of-15 🙃)
  • Victor Wembanyama OVER 2.5 blocks (-150) ✅
  • Chet Holmgren OVER 7.5 rebounds (-110) ✅

Total score: 9-7

Live betting props, in-game spread and over/under bets

  • Cavaliers +6.5 at Bucks ❌
  • Suns -2.5 at Mavericks ✅
  • Suns -135 moneyline ✅
  • Spurs +10.5 vs. Thunder ❌
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo OVER 29.5 points (-130) ✅
  • Suns +115 ML at Mavs ✅
  • Suns +5.5 at Mavs 
  • Thunder team total UNDER 126.5 ❌

Total score: 5-3

Total Prop-A-Shot score for Week 6: 14-10

Prop-A-Shot record on the season: 57-40


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