The 2023-24 NBA regular season is over and we have turned the page to the NBA Playoffs. Throughout the postseason, Jonathan Von Tobel will continue to provide you with his exceptional coverage of the greatest league in the world. Just click here for all of his content. However, all of my picks will be featured in this daily column, which will combine my NBA best bets and NBA player props. So, keep reading to find out how I’m playing the Western Conference Finals game on Wednesday, May 22nd. Also, check out our NBA Playoffs Betting Hub for all of our series previews and additional postseason content.

MORE: Check out our Pro Picks page for everything our experts have on May 22

 

NBA Best Bets Today – May 22

Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves – 8:30 pm ET

While I like the Eastern Conference Finals to be a high-scoring series, I think the Western Conference Finals will be the opposite. And I even think the number set on Game 1 is too high. It’s just hard to overlook the fact that both of these teams have defensive identities. I know the Mavericks have Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, but Dallas reached another gear by leaning into the defense. The Mavericks were first in the league in defensive rating in the final 15 games of the regular season, and they have continued to guard at a high level in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves were first in the NBA in adjusted defensive rating all year, and their defensive rating in the playoffs is a little better than it was during the regular season.

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I also don’t see this being a series that is played at a fast tempo. The Mavericks were eighth in the league in pace during the regular season, but they have been a middle-of-the-pack bunch in that regard in the postseason. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves were 22nd in the NBA in pace of play in the regular season.

The Under was also 4-2 in the six games the Mavericks played against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and it also hit in the final two games of the series between the Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets. And if that’s not enough, it was also 3-1 in the four games these two teams played in the regular season.

Bet: Under 208 (-105)

NBA Player Props Today – May 22

Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves – 8:30 pm ET

At some point in this series, I think Dallas is going to lean heavily into Maxi Kleber at the center position to try and pull Rudy Gobert away from the basket. But the big man is still out with an injured shoulder, so the Mavericks are forced to continue playing Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford. Both of them are traditional pick-and-roll bigs, so they will do all of their damage at the rim. Well, that could mean a big series for Gobert as a shot blocker. Gobert, who was just named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, only averaged 1.3 blocks per game in the Nuggets series. But I think he’ll have more success here and I think it starts with him setting the tone in Game 1. However, I’m taking Gobert to go Over 2.5 combined blocks and steals, as the odds are a little more favorable. And Gobert did have four steals over the final three games against Denver.

Bet: Gobert Over 2.5 Blocks + Steals (-150)

Mavericks vs. Timberwolves Series Pick

The Timberwolves are going to be a tough matchup for this Mavericks team. Minnesota has multiple bodies to throw at Luka Doncic, with Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels both being capable of disrupting the Dallas superstar. This will also be a difficult series for the Mavericks bigs, at least until Kleber is back. Lively was a monster on the glass against an undersized Thunder team last series, but the Timberwolves have a massive frontcourt. So, Minnesota should be able to keep Dallas from getting second chances.

It’s also hard to imagine a scenario in which PJ Washington and Derrick Jones Jr. play as well as they did against Oklahoma City. Both guys couldn’t miss in that series, but neither one of them is capable of keeping it up. Also, the Timberwolves won’t have to utilize many double teams, so they won’t leave those two open as often.

Overall, Minnesota is just a much better defensive team than Dallas, which is crazy considering how good the Mavericks are on that end of the floor. Also, it’s going to be hard for the Mavericks to overcome the Timberwolves having home-court advantage here. On top of that, Dallas has been historically bad in Game 1 under Jason Kidd. And if the Mavs do throw the series opener away, I don’t see them responding with three wins in the next six games. Minnesota is too well-coached and talented.

Bet: Timberwolves -1.5 Games (+128)

2023-24 Record: 378-405-3 (+18.72 units)