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NBA ♦ Playoffs ♦ Friday 4/22/16

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    NBA Odds: Friday, April 22, 2016 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
    by Alan Matthews

    The Minnesota Timberwolves hired former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau as their coach and team president on Wednesday, and now I fully believe this team can get into the playoffs in 2016-17 as a No. 7 or No. 8 seed with all that young talent and another lottery pick on the way. When Thibodeau took over the Bulls for his first NBA head coaching job, he led an immediate 21-win leap in the standings. Minnesota has plenty of offensive talent but played terrible defense this season. That will be the biggest change. The next coaching domino to fall likely will be in Washington, with the Wizards closing on a deal with ex-Thunder coach Scott Brooks. The importance of that being Brooks is still tight with free-agent-to-be Kevin Durant. Sorry Wizards fans, that’s not happening.

    Game 3: No. 1 Cavaliers at No. 8 Pistons (+4.5, 200.5)

    Detroit played a bit over its head, especially from long range, in keeping Game 1 close. And it was competitive for a while in Wednesday’s Game 2 before the Cavs pulled away and covered (as I projected) in a 107-90 victory. Cleveland pulled away by winning the third quarter by a score of 27-15 and hit a franchise playoff record 20 3-pointers in the game (on 38 attempts). LeBron James had 27 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. The Cavs were plus-10 with him on the court but actually were outscored by one point when Kryie Irving (22 points, four assists) was on the court and when Kevin Love (16 points, 10 rebounds) was.

    Detroit had all five starters score in double figures but hit just 4-for-17 from 3-point range this time. Rookie Stanley Johnson led the Pistons with nine points off the bench and after the game stuck his foot in his mouth. Apparently Johnson believes he’s playing some good defense on LeBron as Johnson said: “I’m definitely in his head, that’s for sure.” Ah, rookies! James has scored 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting against Johnson as his primary defender in the series. James was 6-for-6 against Johnson for 13 points in Game 2. So other than that…

    Series line: None

    Key trends:
    The Cavs are 1-5 against the spread in their past six following a win of at least 10 points. The Pistons are 11-5 ATS in their past 16 home games vs. teams with a winning road record. The over is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.

    Early lean:
    Pistons and over.

    Game 3: No. 4 Hawks at No. 5 Celtics (-3, 200.5)

    Think the Celtics missed Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk in Game 2 of their series with the Hawks on Tuesday? Atlanta won 89-72 thanks to holding Boston to just seven first-quarter points, a franchise playoff low for the C’s, who have played a few postseason games in their history. It was also the lowest-scoring first quarter in a playoff game in the shot-clock era. The previous record for fewest points in an opening quarter was eight. It also tied the fewest points allowed in any quarter in Hawks playoff history. Boston was just 3-for-23 from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point range in that quarter. It was 24-7 after one and that was it. The Hawks blocked a franchise playoff-record 15 shots in Game 2, including 10 in the first quarter.

    Bradley and Olynyk are two of the team’s top 3-point shooters. Boston was just 5-for-28 overall from there in Game 2. Marcus Smart started in Bradley’s place and was awful, going 1-for-11 from the field and 1-for-6 from 3-point range for three points. The Celtics were minus-20 when Smart was on the court. Bradley’s out for this series, but Olynyk might return for Game 3. Smart suffered some bruised ribs in Game 2 but should play.

    Series line: Hawks -725, Celtics +560

    Key trends:
    The Hawks are 0-4 ATS in their past four road games. Boston is 15-7 ATS in its past 22 at home. The under is 9-4 in the Celtics’ past 13 at home.

    Early lean:
    Boston is a very good home team and the Hawks aren’t that trustworthy on the road Celtics and under.

    Game 3: No. 2 Spurs at No. 7 Grizzlies (+11.5, 181.5)

    This series simply needs to go away. I love NBA playoff basketball but I’m not watching this series. It’s like watching Kentucky play my high school JV team. Reggie Miller said a group of TNT analysts (him, Charles Barkley, Shaq, Kenny Smith, Chris Webber to name five) could beat the Grizzlies right now. I tend to agree. Memphis managed all of 74 points in a Game 1 32-point loss and then scored just 68 in a 26-point Game 2 loss. The Spurs closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run for a 22-11 lead and it was over. It was the fewest points for the Grizzlies in team playoff history. The Grizzlies’ Matt Barnes said that his team is “coming to a gunfight with spoons.” That’s pretty good. Pretty accurate.

    That No. 1 San Antonio defense held Memphis to 32.6 percent shooting. It tied for the third-lowest field-goal percentage ever allowed by a Spurs team during the Gregg Popovich era of playoff games. It was the lowest by a Spurs postseason opponent since April 2000. San Antonio wasn’t perfect in Game 2. The Spurs turned it over 19 times, their most in about six weeks. You have to give some credit to the Grizzlies in that they are still playing hard, especially on defense. But other than Zach Randolph, and he’s done little in this series, it’s a bunch of scrubs.

    Series line: None

    Key trends:
    The Spurs are 2-5 ATS in their past seven road games. The Grizzlies are 1-6 ATS in their past seven following a loss of at least 10. The under is 6-2 in the past eight meetings.

    Early lean:
    Spurs and under.


    NEWSLETTER NBA Basketball Prediction From Indian Cowboy

    Take ‘Under’ Boston vs. Atlanta (7 p.m., Friday, April 22)
    On Friday, Atlanta and Boston meet for Game 3 of this series. Currently as we write this, Atlanta is up 1-0 in this series with the contest on Tuesday Night pending. Note, that we will be on the Under in this selection once the line is released as Boston according to the metrics and our models plays considerably better defense at home and in particular with motivation in hand (meaning, when they come off a loss or their backs against the wall). This is a Boston team that played to the Under on November 13, 2015 when they hooked up against Atlanta and won 106-93. Then, to the Under on February 11 of 2015 when they beat Atlanta 89-88. Note, that Atlanta is also better on defense on the road as well as their most recent contests of 203 points at Cleveland, 202 at Toronto, 202 at Chicago and 207 at Detroit speaks to this. Hence, with Boston being motivated to the Under and the metrics showing Boston’s defense much stronger to the Under at home when they play above-.500 teams and Atlanta to the Under on the road as well, our comp selection on Friday is on the Under upon the line release as we have the game in the mid-190’s.


    NEWSLETTER NBA Basketball Prediction From Jason Sharpe

    Take #540 Detroit (+6.5) over Cleveland (7 p.m., Friday, April 22)
    The Cleveland Cavaliers have some issues that most aren’t talking about right now, but the bottom line is this team doesn’t look like it’s a #1 seed with NBA title hopes. The Cavaliers had their hands full in Game 1 against Detroit, trailing for a lot of that contest before coming through late to grab the win. The Pistons beat the Cavs in two of the three meaningful head-to-head battles these teams played during the regular season. Detroit gives Cleveland a ton of match-up problems in this series and that’s huge when handicapping the NBA playoffs. The Pistons are a young and inexperienced team with nothing to lose and are looking for some positives to come out of what is the first playoff series ever for most of these Detroit players. Realistically they all know they won’t win this series over LeBron and company but a strong showing in it would make everyone inside this organization a lot more excited about the future of this team. That means they need to get a win here in Game 3 at home. Look for the Pistons to bring maximum intensity to this contest and play this game like it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Take Detroit plus the points here.


    “NBA Playoffs betting preview and odds”

    Friday night in the NBA features three matchups where teams are coming home with 2-0 series deficits. The Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, and Memphis Grizzlies will all be trying to avoid going down 3-0.

    Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons (+4.5, 200.5)

    Cavaliers lead series 2-0

    The Cleveland Cavaliers put on a spectacular shooting exhibition in Game 2 and attempt to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Cleveland drained 20 3-pointers in Wednesday’s 107-90 victory over the Pistons to tie the NBA playoff record shared by the Seattle SuperSonics (1996), Dallas Mavericks (2011) and Golden State Warriors (2015).

    The top-seeded Cavaliers received seven 3-pointers by shooting guard J.R. Smith and four from point guard Kyrie Irving in the 20-of-38 shooting effort. “I don’t care if you’re left by yourself, 20 of 38 is pretty good shooting,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters of the Cleveland shooting. Eighth-seeded Detroit has its back against the wall after the two road losses and faces a must-win situation in Game 3. The Pistons let a fourth-quarter lead get away in Game 1 and saw its hopes in Game 2 fade away with a 15-point third quarter.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cleveland), FSN Detroit

    Cleveland opened as 4-point road favorites and after only a few hours of betting action the books moved the line up to 4.5. The total opened at 200.5 and hasn’t moved since its release. View complete line history here.

    ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (59-25, 38-43-3 ATS, 42-42 O/U):
    Smith scored 21 points in Game 2 after struggling to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting in the opener. Consistent shooting from Smith would complement the trio of small forward LeBron James, power forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving. “We have shooters and they are designated snipers and I’m not one of them,” James told reporters. “I’m more like a tank or something like that.”

    ABOUT THE PISTONS (44-40, 43-39-2 ATS, 43-41 O/U):
    Detroit is playing a physical series with no interest in backing down and rookie forward Stanley Johnson mixed it up with James during Game 2. “Their whole team talks,” Johnson told reporters. “All those guys on the bench, they’re like cheerleaders. Only seven, eight guys are playing, but they’re all talking. They might as well be in the stands.” Starting forward Tobias Harris is struggling and averaging 11 points on 7-of-22 shooting in the series while forward Marcus Morris had just 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting in Game 2 after scoring 20 points in the series opener.


    * Cavaliers are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 vs. NBA Central.
    * Pistons are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Conference Quarterfinals games.
    * Over is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
    * Over is 8-2 in Pistons last 10 Friday games.
    * Road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.


    Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics (-3, 200.5)

    Hawks lead series 2-0

    If the Boston Celtics hope to stay in their first-round series for more than two more games, they are going to need to solve the Atlanta Hawks’ stifling defense. The Hawks will try to build a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series behind that defense when they visit Boston on Friday.

    The Celtics shot 23 percent from the field in the first half of Game 1 before overcoming a 19-point deficit and falling just short 102-101. Atlanta put together the same early effort defensively in Game 2 and this time did not let up, jumping out to a 24-3 lead and stifling Boston the rest of the way in an 89-72 triumph. “I think that (Game 2) had a different feel than even the other night,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “The other night it was one of those nights where we didn’t shoot it (well at first), like we had done some really good things and then once we started making shots we felt really good about our chances. Here, it never felt like we were at their level.” Boston is also dealing with a series of injuries and does not expect Avery Bradley (hamstring) back for Game 3 while Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) is questionable.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), CSN New England (Boston)

    The Celtics opened as three-point favorites at home and the total opened at 200.5 – neither line has moved since hitting the betting board. View complete line history here.

    ABOUT THE HAWKS (50-34, 43-40-1 ATS, 38-46 O/U):
    Atlanta recorded a franchise playoff-record 15 blocked shots in Game 2 and set an NBA playoff record by limiting the Celtics to seven first-quarter points. The Hawks weren’t as strong offensively – shooting 39 percent from the floor – but guard Kyle Korver bounced back from a 1-of-10 performance (0-of-7 from 3-point range) with 17 points in Game 2 on 6-of-9 shooting (5-of-7 from beyond the arc). Al Horford matched Korver with 17 points to go along with five blocks in Game 2 and is averaging 20.5 points in the series while helping Korver out beyond the arc, knocking down 4-of-6.

    ABOUT THE CELTICS (48-36, 43-40-1 ATS, 39-45 O/U):
    Boston went 3-of-23 in that disastrous first quarter and was not much better the rest of the way. The absence of Bradley forced Marcus Smart into the starting lineup, and he went 1-of-11 from the floor while All-Star Isaiah Thomas regularly faced a swarm of defenders and seemed to have his shot swatted away every time he went into the paint. “There’s always two guys on me, at least, when I don’t have the ball,” Thomas told reporters. “They’re looking in my eyes, they’re face-guarding me. The best players figure it out. That’s just a sign of respect from (the Hawks), and I just gotta figure it out.”


    * Hawks are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
    * Celtics are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games playing on 2 days rest.
    * Under is 8-2 in Hawks last 10 Conference Quarterfinals games.
    * Under is 4-1 in Celtics last 5 games playing on 2 days rest.
    * Hawks are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.


    San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies (+6, 217.5)

    Spurs lead series 2-0

    The San Antonio Spurs mauled Memphis in each of the first two games and look to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series when they visit the Grizzlies on Friday. Second-seeded San Antonio won the first two games by an average of 29 points and limited injury ravaged Memphis to an average of 71 points.

    The Spurs were expected to roll over the seventh-seeded Grizzlies but All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard made it clear the series momentum can still change hands. “Yeah, but that’s the thing you’ve got to fight,” Leonard told reporters. “We’ve still got to execute. We turned over the ball a lot (17 in Game 2). They’re physical, and they have great hands. But this is still an opportunity for us to improve. They’re still an NBA team.” Memphis hasn’t always resembled an NBA team since season-ending injuries to center Marc Gasol (foot) and point guard Mike Conley (Achilles) and small forward Matt Barnes isn’t putting a lot of stock into getting the next two games at home. “It doesn’t matter where we play, we’ve just got to play better,” Barnes told reporters. “We can play (in San Antonio), we can play at the YMCA, we can play in Memphis; it doesn’t matter where we play at if we play the way we’ve been playing. The court doesn’t matter. It’s on the players – we’ve got to do a better job executing.”

    TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Southwest (San Antonio), FSN Southeast (Memphis)

    The Spurs opened as 10.5-point road favorites and the public dictated that wasn’t enough – the books adjusted their line to San Antonio -11.5 fairly quickly. The total opened at 181 and was bumped up slightly to 181.5. View complete line history here.

    ABOUT THE SPURS (69-15, 46-38 ATS, 35-47-2 O/U):
    Fast starts on the defensive end have fueled the two blowout victories as San Antonio held Memphis to 13 points in the first quarter of the opener and just 11 in Game 2. All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is playing with a dislocated right pinky finger and has been a big factor in why Memphis power forward Zach Randolph has been unable to get on track. “I just think LaMarcus played excellent defense tonight,” Popovich told reporters. “We didn’t double-team him or anything like that. If he got in the lane, we tried to make a play I guess, but mostly L.A. gets the credit for doing a fine job on a great player.”

    ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (42-42, 42-41-1 ATS, 45-37-2 O/U):
    Randolph is just 8-of-30 shooting while averaging 8.5 points in the series and Barnes is averaging only 5.5 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Barnes wasn’t pleased to play only 30 minutes in the Game 2 loss and publicly expressed his frustration. “I don’t want to play 20 minutes getting beat so bad,” Barnes told reporters. “I want to play 40-45 minutes and swing every second we can. I don’t want to save nothing, nothing should be in the tank. I’m not even tired right now, it’s frustrating.”


    * Spurs are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win of more than 10 points.
    * Grizzlies are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games following a road trip of 7 or more days.
    * Under is 12-1 in Spurs last 13 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
    * Under is 6-1 in Grizzlies last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
    * Favorite is 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
    * Warriors are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Houston.


    Detroit-Cleveland (C 2-0)
    Pistons lost Game 1 despite shooting 15-29 from arc; they were 4-17 in Game 2 and lost by 17 (Drummond’s 4-16 on foul line didn’t help any). Five of last seven series games went over total. Cavaliers won three of last four visits here, but lost last two road games overall; Detroit lost two of its last three at home. Six of last nine Cleveland games went over the total. Cleveland had only 16 turnovers total in Games 1-2.

    Boston-Atlanta (A 2-0)
    Hawks led 23-7, 43-28 at first two quarter breaks in Game 2, taking charge of game early after blowing 17-point halftime lead in close Game 1 win. Celtics lost last five games with Atlanta, with three of five going over total- Hawks split last four visits here, lost their last three road games overall. Six of last eight Atlanta games stayed under the total, as did last three Celtic games.

    Memphis-San Antonio (SAS 2-0)
    Grizzlies lost 11 of last 12 games, losing by 32-26 in first two games of series. Memphis lost its last seven games with Spurs (1-6 vs spread), six by 10+ points. Grizzlies lost three of last four series games played here. Six of last eight series games stayed under the total. Every Memphis guy was at least -7 in Game 2; seven of them were -11 or worse. Spurs split their last four road games with wins by 5 at Dallas, 2 at Utah.

    Playoff tally: Favorites vs spread: 13-6, Over: 5-14


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play Under – All teams where the total is 200 to 209.5 a good team (60% to 75%) playing a team with a winning record, on Friday nights
    118-64 since 1997. ( 64.8% | 47.6 units )
    11-5 this year. ( 68.8% | 5.5 units )

    Play On – Any team vs the money line (SAN ANTONIO) an explosive offensive team (>=102 PPG) against a good offensive team (98-102 PPG), after leading their last 2 games by 10+ points at the half
    93-39 since 1997. ( 70.5% | 41.4 units )
    13-5 this year. ( 72.2% | 5.2 units )

    Play Over – All teams where the first half total is between 90.5 and 95.5 points attempting 18 or more 3 point shots/game on the season, in April games
    109-58 over the last 5 seasons. ( 65.3% | 45.2 units )
    4-8 this year. ( 33.3% | -4.8 units )


    Friday’s Tip Sheet
    By Brian Edwards

    **Cleveland at Detroit**

    — As of late Thursday afternoon, most books had Cleveland (59-25 straight up, 38-43-1 against the spread) listed as a 4.5-point road favorite for Game 3. The total was 200.5 points, while the Pistons were +165 on the money line (risk $100 to win $165). For first-half bets, the Cavaliers are favored by two with a total of 102.5 points.

    — Tyronn Lue’s squad took a 2-0 series advantage by winning a 107-90 decision over Detroit on Thursday night at Quicken Loans Center. The Cavaliers took the cash as 10.5-point home favorites, while the 197 combined slithered ‘under’ the 202-point total. The Pistons led nearly the entire first half but trailed 55-53 at intermission, only to start the third quarter with a 7-0 run to take a five-point advantage. However, the Cavs outscored them 27-8 the rest of the stanza and coasted through the fourth quarter. LeBron James scored a game-high 27 points, but J.R. Smith’s long-range shooting was the difference in Game 2. Smith buried 7-of-11 from 3-point range in a 21-point effort. Kyrie Irvin finished with 22 points and four assists compared to one turnover. Kevin Love added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

    — Detroit (44-40 SU, 43-39-2 ATS) had all five of its starters in double figures in the Game 2 setback. Andre Drummond scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but he was limited to five points in the second half and was an atrocious 4-of-16 from the free-throw line. Reggie Jackson finished with 14 points, four rebounds and six assists compared to only one turnover. Tobias Harris contributed 13 points, eight boards and four assists, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 13 points, eight boards, two assists and one rejection.

    — Detroit is 26-15 SU and 24-15 ATS at home this year, while Cleveland is 24-17 SU and 17-21 ATS on the road this year.

    — Cleveland reserve guard Mo Williams is listed as ‘questionable’ for Game 3 with a sore knee. The University of Alabama product hasn’t played since April 6. Williams averaged 8.2 points, 2.4 assists and 1.8 rebounds during 41 regular-season games.

    — Detroit has no fear of Cleveland with three outright wins in four regular-season meetings. The Pistons are 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS against the Cavs this year after dropping Games 1 and 2 (but covering in the series opener). They won 104-99 in the first encounter at The Palace in Auburn Hills back on Nov. 17, earning the upset scalp as 4.5-point home underdogs. Cleveland won the second meeting on the road by a 114-106 score.

    — I’m not a believer in the whole ‘bulletin-board material’ thing, especially in the NCAA Tournament and the NBA Playoffs. In other words, if an individual isn’t playing at the highest intensity level one can produce, then that individual doesn’t have any business competing this time of year. Therefore, I don’t think Detroit rookie Stanley Johnson committed some sort of cardinal sin with his postgame comments Thursday night. In fact, if the stats didn’t tell a different story, I would like it – a lot! However, according to ESPNStatsInfo’s twitter account, James went 13-of-15 from the field with 28 points in the possessions in which Johnson was his primary defender in Games 1 and 2. So Johnson’s comments are far from accurate, but they are bold and audacious nonetheless. Here’s what Johnson said after Game 2 when asked about a bump delivered by James as both teams were walking to their respective benches for a timeout. “That was fugazi (a slang term for fake). He didn’t bump me. I just didn’t move out of his direction. I don’t know what ya’ll take from that. I don’t take anything from it. But a cheap-ass shot, a cheap-ass bump. I’m definitely in his head, that’s for sure. He jabbers. I wish he would just talk when the game is 0-0, not when he’s up 16. He moves his mouth sometimes. Their whole team does, kind of like their little cheerleaders on the bench.”

    — Chris David has these thoughts on Game 3: “Outside of the second half of Game 2, Detroit has gone toe to toe with Cleveland all year, and you have a club that can be very competitive at the Palace on Friday, especially since the locals haven’t had a playoff game in over six years. However, I can’t ignore the track record for the Pistons as home ‘dogs this season and this was one of the few teams to beat Golden State, too. Overall, the club has gone 4-7 SU and 4-6-1 ATS when catching points at home and that includes a split against Cleveland.”

    — The ‘over’ is 4-2 in the six head-to-head meetings between these Eastern Conference rivals this season, going 2-0 in the pair of contests at Detroit.

    — Totals have been an overall wash for the Cavs (42-42), but they have seen the ‘under’ go 22-19 in their road contests.

    — The ‘over’ is 43-41 overall for Detroit, 24-17 in its home games.

    — Tip-off is slated for 7:05 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

    **Atlanta at Boston**

    — Atlanta (50-34 SU, 43-40-1 ATS) took a 2-0 series advantage by winning Game 1 by an 89-72 count as a 6.5-point home favorite. The 161 combined fell points ‘under’ the 205.5-point total. Mike Budenholzer’s squad raced out to a 24-3 lead to start the game and had a 24-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter. It was the lowest-scoring quarter for the Celtics in their franchise’s storied postseason history. The Hawks easily covered the number for first-quarter and first-half wagers.

    — Kyle Korver missed all seven of his 3-point attempts in Game 1, but he drained 4-of-5 from beyond the arc in the first quarter of Game 2. He and Al Horford shared team-high scoring honors with 17 points apiece Tuesday night at Philips Arena. Horford had five rebounds, five blocked shots, two assists and one steal, while Korver had seven boards and two assists without a turnover. The Creighton product went 6-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from downtown. Jeff Teague added 13 points, six assists and a pair of steals, while Thabo Sefolosha had 12 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.

    — Atlanta won easily in Game 2 despite getting meager production out of leading scorer Paul Millsap. Millsap went 1-of-12 from the field and missed all five of his launches from 3-point range. He did have seven rebounds and four blocked shots, but he committed five turnovers compared to just one assist. In the series opener, Millsap was much better with 14 points, seven boards and three blocked shots, but that was still below his season averages of 17.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.

    — In the Game 2 setback, Boston (48-36 SU, 43-40 ATS) made only 28-of-88 shots from the field (31.8%) and was 5-of-28 from long distance (17.9%). Isaiah Thomas scored a team-high 16 points, but he went 4-of-15 from the field and 1-of-6 from 3-point range. Thomas had more turnovers (three) than assists (two). Amir Johnson had a solid game with 14 points and eight rebounds in just 20 minutes of playing time. Evan Turner and Terry Rozier also scored in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

    — As of late Thursday afternoon, most betting shops had Boston installed as a three-point home favorite for Game 3. The total was 200.5 points, while the Hawks were +140 on the money line (risk $100 to win $140). For first-half wagers, the Celtics were listed as 1.5-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 97.

    — Sportsbooks has Atlanta as a -700 favorite for the updated series price, leaving the Celtics at +500 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $500).

    — Atlanta has won five in a row over Boston this year, going 4-1 ATS. The Celtics won the first game these clubs played, but it’s been all Hawks since then. The ‘over’ went 3-1 in the four regular-season meetings, but the ‘under’ has cashed in the last two encounters here in the postseason.

    — Boston will be without Avery Bradley again in Game 3. He remains unlikely to return at all in the series due to a significant hamstring strain sustained in the second half of Game 1. Bradley, who was the Celtics’ second-leading scorer (15.5 PPG) during the regular season, had scored 18 points in the series opener before sustaining the injury. Center Kelly Olynyk didn’t play in Game 2 due to a shoulder injury and is ‘questionable’ for Game 3. Olynyk averaged 10.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during the regular season.

    — Atlanta back-up point guard Dennis Schroder is ‘questionable’ for Game 3 after spraining his ankle in Game 2. Schroder averaged 11.0 points, 4.4 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game in 80 regular-season contests.

    — Boston owns a 28-13 SU record and a 23-17 ATS mark at home this year. Meanwhile, the Hawks are 21-20 SU and 20-20-1 ATS on the road.

    — Atlanta owns a 9-8 spread record with eight outright victories in 17 games as a road underdog this year.

    — The ‘under’ is 45-39 overall for the Celtics, 21-20 in their home games.

    — The ‘under’ is 46-38 overall for Atlanta, going 22-19 in its road assignments. The ‘under’ has cashed in four consecutive games and six of the last seven for the Hawks (regardless of the venue).

    — VI’s David is bullish on the Celtics going ‘over’ their team total. He said, “Since Mike Budenholzer took over the Hawks, the ‘under’ in home playoff games has produced some great results (11-2). Unfortunately for ‘Budz’ and Atlanta, those great defensive efforts at Philips Arena haven’t carried over to the road and that was evident last season when the club allowed an average of 103 PPG in the postseason, which helped produce a 5-3 ‘over’ record. Plus, you have to believe Boston rebounds after being held to a season-low 72 points in Game 2. Including that dreadful offensive performance, the C’s have been held under 90 points three times this season and they’ve rebounded with 98, 111 and 116 points in the following games. Even though Boston is short-handed, I’m going to buy its team total ‘over’ (101 ½) on Friday.”

    — Tip-off is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

    **San Antonio at Memphis**

    — San Antonio (69-15 SU, 46-38 ATS) took a 2-0 series advantage with a pair of blowout wins (and covers) against a depleted Memphis squad. Gregg Popovich’s team captured a 94-68 win in Game 1 as a 17.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The 162 combined points easily stayed ‘under’ the 186-point tally. The Spurs cruised to a 106-74 triumph as 17-point home favorites in Game 1, with the 180 combined points dipping ‘under’ the 188.5-point total.

    — As of late Thursday afternoon, most spots had San Antonio installed as an 11.5-point favorite with a total of 181.5 points. The Grizzlies were +600 on the money line (risk $100 to win $600). For first-half wagers, the Spurs were favored by 6.5 points with a total of 84.5.

    — In Tuesday’s Game 2 victory, all 13 San Antonio players scored and four were in double figures. Patty Mills had a team-high 16 points thanks to 4-of-6 shooting from downtown. Kawhi Leonard scored 13 points, while Kevin Martin and LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 10 points apiece. Aldridge had eight rebounds and four blocked shots.

    — Tony Allen scored a team-best 12 points for the Grizzlies in Game 2. Zach Randolph had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Allen and Randolph are being forced to play this series without their long-time starting teammates in Mike Conley (Achilles) and Marc Gasol, who both went down with season-ending injuries after the All-Star break. Without another post threat, Randolph is being greeted with double-teams galore. The Spurs held the Michigan St. product to six points in Game 1 on 3-of-13 shooting from the field. Randolph was 5-of-17 in Game 2, leaving him shooting at a 8-for-30 clip (26.6%) for the series.

    — Not only are the Grizzlies playing without Gasol (16.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG) and Conley (15.3 PPG, 6.1 APG), but they are also sans Mario Chalmers, who was waived after injuring his Achilles just seven games after being acquired from the Heat. Chalmers was averaging 10.8 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. Brandan Wright (6.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG) is also out with a knee injury that’s further depleted Memphis’s frontcourt.

    — San Antonio is 27-14 SU and 21-20 ATS on the road. The Spurs have been double-digit road ‘chalk’ eight times, producing an unbeaten SU record and a 5-3 ATS ledger.

    — Memphis (42-42 SU, 42-41-1 ATS) owns a 26-15 SU record and a 23-18 ATS mark at home in the Grind House. The Grizzlies have been home underdogs 15 times, compiling a 9-6 spread record with seven outright wins. They covered in the lone double-digit home ‘dog situation, a 100-99 loss to Golden St. while catching 13 points.

    — Memphis has lost 12 of its last 13 games dating back to March 22, going 4-9 ATS during this miserable stretch. However, we should note that the Grizzlies have covered the number in three straight and nine of their last 12 games as home ‘dogs.

    — San Antonio has won seven in a row over Memphis, including all six encounters this year. The Spurs are 6-1 ATS in those seven victories. Five of this year’s six wins have come by double-digit margins.

    — The ‘under’ has cashed in five consecutive San Antonio games to improve to 47-35-2 overall. The Spurs have watched the ‘under’ go 24-16-1 in their road assignments.

    — The ‘over’ is 45-37-2 overall for Memphis, cashing at a frenetic 25-14-2 clip in its home games.

    — The ‘under’ is 4-2 in the six meetings between these teams this season, 6-2 if we go back to last season.

    — ESPN will have the telecast at 9:35 p.m. Eastern.


    Basketball Crusher

    Boston Celtics -150 over Atlanta Hawks
    (System Record: 78-5, lost last 4 games)
    Overall Record: 78-91-3

    Detroit Pistons +4.5 over Cleveland Cavaliers



    100* Cavs -4

    100* Celtics -2.5


    Guaranteed picks today


    7:05pm Cavaliers vs. Pistons
    (3000 Stars) Detroit

    8:05pm Hawks vs. Celtics
    (1000 Stars) Atlanta

    9:35pm Spurs vs. Grizzlies Over/Under
    (700 Stars) OVER 181

    Playoffs 1-2 yest., overall 10-8


    MVP Lock Club

    Lock Of The Day
    Boston Celtics -3


    NBA Basketball Betting Trends – Fri – April, 22

    Cleveland at Detroit, 7:05 ET
    Cleveland: 5-13 ATS vs. division opponents
    Detroit: 12-3 ATS in home games after having lost 3 of their last 4 games

    Atlanta at Boston, 8:05 ET
    Atlanta: 29-17 ATS in a road game where the total is 200 to 209.5
    Boston: 4-15 ATS at home after playing 2 consecutive games as an underdog

    San Antonio at Memphis, 9:35 ET
    San Antonio: 31-17 ATS after 1 or more consecutive unders
    Memphis: 4-17 ATS after 2 games where opp was called for 18 or less fouls



    Detroit +4 (-110)
    2* 7:00 ET

    Boston Celtics -3 (-110)
    10* 8:00 ET
    {Diamond Selection}

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