Wizards vs. Heat: The best NBA player prop bets for Dec. 28
This part of the NBA calendar, before the All-Star break but after Christmas, is sometimes considered the dog days of the season. But this year it’s much more than that. As teams around the league take turns being ravaged by health and safety protocol absences, one's spot in the standings has never felt less assured.
Instead, this time of year is all about survival. You do what you have to do to gut out a win and tread water until the cavalry comes. So it is in another matchup tonight between the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat, both teams are facing significant absences including Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry for the Heat, and possibly seven players on the Wizards including Bradley Beal and Montrezl Harrell. At 21-13 the Heat are looking to establish themselves as a top tier team in the East, while the now 17-16 Wizards are hoping to avoid slipping out of the playoffs and into obscurity.
Wizards vs. Heat tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV, and we have the three best player prop bets below.
Wed, December 29 2021, 12:30 AM
JIMMY BUTLER OVER/UNDER 21.5 POINTS
Jimmy Butler has become something of a forgotten man, as he’s missed 12 of the last 13 games due to a tailbone injury, and his new backcourt running mate, Kyle Lowry, managed to keep the Heat in the hunt for home-court advantage without him.
Now with both Lowry and Bam out, Butler will have to show why he’s still the most important player on the team in a game the Heat should absolutely win. Prior to Butler’s injury, he was having a fringe MVP type season, putting up 22.5 points on 60% true shooting on 28.3% usage.
And he’s doing it in the most typical Jimmy Butler fashion, by dominating at the rim and never, ever taking 3s. 44% of all Jimmy’s shot attempts come at the rim, where he’s scoring on a career-high 69% of those shots. 47% of his shots are from midrange, and he’s hitting a respectable enough mark from there (42%) to keep defenses honest, all in service of opening up his relentless attacks at the basket.
It takes more than just a single strong wing defender to slow Butler down. It takes trust and coordination between the rim protector and Butler’s man to funnel Jimmy away from his sweet spots on the right side of the court. The Wizards, as depleted as they are in the frontcourt, will struggle to do that.
JIMMY BUTLER OVER/UNDER 6.5 REBOUNDS
With Harrell out, Daniel Gafford will get the nod to start against the Heat, but that doesn’t mean he’s a plug-and-play solution in Harrell’s spot. Gafford has averaged just 21.6 minutes this season, and in fact, has never played 30 minutes or more in a single regular-season game in his entire NBA career. And it’s not because teams wouldn’t have wanted him to, as Gafford has had outstanding two-way performances in the past, he simply doesn’t have the conditioning required of a true starting center.
That means Washington is either going to be forced into a small ball lineup or playing rookie Isaiah Todd for significant stretches to fill the gap. Either way, it will severely diminish the Wizards' defensive rebounding capabilities.
Butler is in the 85th percentile of offensive rebounders for his position per Cleaning the Glass, and he should eat on the boards with Gafford likely to top out at 28 minutes played. The Wizards' best rebounders for their position are Spencer Dinwiddie and Deni Avdija, neither of whom have the strength or tenacity to compete with Butler in the box over a 48-minute game. Hammer the Over.
DUNCAN ROBINSON OVER/UNDER 2.5 3-POINTERS MADE
A short while ago this would have been an absurd line. In his first season as an NBA starter, Duncan Robinson took 8.3 3s per game and hit 44.6% of them, and followed that up with 40.8% on 8.5 attempts just last season. In terms of volume and efficiency, he was one of the purest shooters the league had ever seen.
Not so this season. Robinson is all the way down to 33.7% this year, and despite a handful of outbursts of late, is still below 36% in the month of December. He’s still firing away, but maybe his confidence is shaken, as he’s down to 7.3 attempts per game in his last 10 outings. Robinson has only hit three or more 3s in four of his last 10 games.
Shooting is all about rhythm, particularly for a player like Robinson for whom 96% of his attempts come off assists. Without Adebayo, one of Robinson’s primary dribble handoff partners isn’t there to help steady him during this slump. With no Lowry as well, it’s likely the Wizards are able to keep Robinson under wraps like he has been most of this season.