All odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.
What you need to know for Friday's playoff games
Holiday's high ceiling: The Bucks lost Khris Middleton to a knee injury in Game 2's loss to the Bulls. With Milwaukee missing this key playmaker for at least the next few weeks, it's important to note Jrue Holiday has seen his usage rate -- an estimate of team plays consumed by a player -- spike by a team-high 4.8% with Middleton off the floor this season. In regards to Holiday's traditional splits regarding his teammate, he's slashed for 17.3 points, 6.9 assists, and five rebounds while sharing the floor with Middleton this season, while he's leaped to superstar levels with 23.6/8.4/4/9 with his teammate off the court this season. With this in mind, Holiday is a DFS building block and savvy target for player props and single-game parlays.
Fading Jimmy Buckets: "Oh my god, Jimmy Butler is amazing. Did you see him Tuesday night? I'm hammering all of his overs tonight, Atlanta can't guard him." Maybe it's not that direct, but that seems to be the public perception after the Heat star went off for 45 points in the Game 2 win... but be careful. Remember that Las Vegas prop markets are built, at least in part, on where the action pushes it, so that general train of thought is going to be folded into all of his props tonight. This regular season, Butler scored at least 30 points nine times and in the game following, he scored north of 21 points just three times. In those near 300 minutes played after a big game, he made a total of two triples. Two. He made four Tuesday night alone and that helped open up everything else. He's a great player and a tough cover, but tread lightly in assuming the Game 2 production is something that will sustain into tonight's contest.
Depth behind Devin: The Suns have turned to Cameron Payne several times this season to deliver as a starting guard whenever Chris Paul or Devin Booker have missed action. With Booker ailing and likely sidelined the rest of this opening series with the Pelicans, it's valuable to consider Payne has enjoyed team-high leaps in usage and fantasy production with Booker off the court this season. Paying down for Payne in order to roster the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Trae Young in DFS tournaments could prove rewarding, as could focusing on Payne's assist props given his stellar assist percentage while on the court this season.
-- Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe
Game of the night
Line: Bucks (-2.5)
Money line: Bucks (-140), Bulls (+120)
Total: 222.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 227.3 points
BPI Win%: Bucks (52.6%)
Key players ruled out: Khris Middleton
Notable: The Bulls have covered three straight games dating back to their regular season finale, this coming on the heels of an ugly 4-10 ATS run prior.
Best bet: Jrue Holiday over 30.5 points+assists. In addition to his defense, Holiday also has the ability to score at will, and with Khris Middleton out the Bucks will have to rely on him even more. In 12 games without Middleton this season, Holiday has averaged 18.7 PPG and 7.0 APG. In a crucial playoff game, these numbers could be exceeded. -- Eric Moody
Best bet: Over 222.5 points. The Bucks and Bulls have combined to score more than 222.5 points in four of their last five matchups, including the 224 points they scored in Game 2. Game 1 was the outlier in this respect, with such a low-scoring game, but these teams are typically able to score against one another. With the series returning to Chicago, presumably the Bulls' role players will perform better than they did on the road while the championship-tested Bucks will be motivated to try to reclaim control of the series. According to ESPN BPI, the projected point total for this game should be 227.3 points, almost five points over the line. -- André Snellings
Breaking down the rest of the slate
Line: Heat (-1)
Money line: Heat (-120), Hawks (+100)
Total: 221.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 216.4 points
BPI Win%: Hawks (60.1%)
Notable: Who says home court only plays into ATS results? Miami has seen three straight home games go under the total and three straight road games (and six of their past eight away from South Beach) go over the proposed total.
Best bet: Heat -1.0. In Game 1, the Heat defeated the Hawks 115-91, taking advantage of a poor night by Trae Young. Jimmy Butler scored 45 points in Miami's 115-105 victory over Atlanta on April 19. The Hawks play at home desperately trying to avoid a 3-0 hole. In NBA history no team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven game series. The Hawks' defense, which ranked 26th in points allowed per 100 possessions, is still an issue the Heat will take advantage of. -- Moody
Best bet: Trae Young over 36.5 points+assists. Young bounced back nicely in Game 2 with 25 points and seven assists. However, he had 10 turnovers. The Hawks will continue to rely on Young in order to win. Young will give his best effort on Friday night in order to turn the tide. Young is going to have his work cut out for him, but he doesn't crack under pressure. -- Moody
Best bet: Jimmy Butler over 35.5 points+assists+rebounds. In Game 2, Butler joined LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as the only Heat players in franchise history to have 45 points, five rebounds and five assists in a playoff game. All season long, the Hawks haven't played great defense, and Butler and his teammates have been able to get open looks because they are playing with quality spacing and movement. History could repeat itself in Game 3. -- Moody
Best bet: Under 221.5 points. The Hawks have struggled on offense in the first two games of the playoffs, with an offensive rating of only 98.9 points per 100 possessions. One obvious reason for the difficulties is the absence of Clint Capela, one of the key factors in the on-ball-pick/pick-and-roll offense that the Hawks love to run with Trae Young. Capela's absence deprives them of the direct Young-to-Capela connection, but also frees up Bam Adebayo to act as a defensive rover since he doesn't have to focus on Capela. All bodes for more low-scoring action in Game 3. Also, according to BPI, the projected score for this game should be 216.4 points, five points below the line. -- Snellings
Line: Suns (-1.5)
Money line: Suns (-125), Pelicans (+105)
Total: 216 points
BPI Projected Total: 216.9 points
BPI Win%: Suns (51.5%)
Key players ruled out: Devin Booker
Notable: This spread has cratered with the Booker (hamstring) news and that may be creating a buying window: the Suns are 13-3 ATS this season when the spread is that of a one possession game (no higher than 3 points in either direction).
Best bet: Suns -125 Money Line. Even after a startling loss in Game 2 for the Suns it's important to remember that Phoenix is the better team. Without Booker, the Suns can still be productive. Phoenix outscored opponents by 7.6 points per 100 possessions without Booker when Paul was on the court. And when Booker and Paul were off the court? The Suns actually outscored their opponents by 2.1 points per 100 possessions. -- Moody
Best bet: Chris Paul over 33.5 points+assists. Paul has averaged 17.2 points and 9.4 assists in 12 games without Booker since 2020-21. Paul is skilled enough to accumulate points, but given the Suns' personnel, he will most likely be a facilitator. Phoenix has had ample time to plan and strategize for Booker's absence. -- Moody
Best bet: Suns -1.5. The misplaced focus for Game 3 will be on the Booker injury. Where it should be is on that ridiculous shooting performance submitted by the Pelicans in Game 2. New Orleans went nuclear in tying this series on Tuesday night, knocking down a bonkers 54.8% of its shots from the field and 56.7% of its attempts from long range (17-of-30). To put that into perspective, 17 made 3-pointers and 56.7% from deep both rank first among the 86 games New Orleans has played this season. First! Regression is coming and it's coming in the form of a Suns Game 3 win and cover. Remember, Phoenix ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating when playing on the road this season. -- Joe Fortenbaugh