The Celtics and Miami Heat meet in the crucial Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals and the Celtics are favored by 3 and the total is 210.5. The Celtics and the over are getting the majority of the wagers.
We’ve looked at turnovers a bit and free throws and how they affect the outcome, so it was no surprise to see last game easily land over the total, as both teams attempted 30 or more foul shots, which has seen the over go 101-36-1 over the years. Not sure we’ll see that again tonight, but we do have three games to look at now to try and get a better read on the number of possessions each team will have.
In Game 3 each team had roughly 112 possessions, and much of that had to do with the foul shots, while it was closer to 102 in Game 2 and 110 in Game 1, although the first game went to overtime, so it would also be closer to 98 in regulation, which is still several possessions more than the efficiency ratings are projecting. Using 98 possessions as our projection for tonight’s game would yield a 108-102 Boston win compared to the 106-100 Celtics win that the updated efficiency ratings were predicting.
The standard efficiency ratings are still calling for games in the low 200s due to a lower number of possessions, but as was mentioned a few days ago, both teams were being penalized there due to eliminated teams who used a faster style of play. The six teams who all averaged more than 100 possessions in the playoffs have all been eliminated, so once they were taken out of the picture, the 106-100 projection came up and we’ve seen through the first few games of the series that we’re still slightly under the actual number of possessions.
The other thing I did here was look at the first quarter and first half using the method I do for college basketball and that’s probably where the best value is for this game.
The Celtics are -1.5 for the first quarter with a total of 52.5 and I have Boston leading 29-24 after the first 12 minutes. The Celtics outscore teams 28.3-25.1 in the first quarter and the Heat are being outscored 28.2-26.5, so will take the Celtics in the first quarter and lay the 1.5 points.
Boston is -2 for the first half after leading the last two games by 13 points at the break and I have the Celtics leading 54-47 at halftime, so will take a shot on Boston -2 for the half.
Will stay clear of the full-game wager and let the first quarter and first half wagers go and hope to see the Celtics come out with the same intensity they have the past few games.
Last game was painful to watch, as the teams combined for 42 turnovers, so basically one-sixth of the game was running up-and-down the court only to turn the ball over. Playoff games this season have averaged 27 turnovers, so there were 15 more than usual, resulting in fewer shot attempts. It was no surprise the Lakers didn’t cover, as teams who make 23 or more turnovers in a playoff game are now 5-20 ATS.
Personally, still stinking the place up and right in the middle of a pathetic 4-13-1 ATS run, having not been able to get a read on the games without the home court advantage that comes into play. Teams will typically play different at home or away after a win or loss and there hasn’t been that to fall back on. What we’ve seen so far is teams going 29-36-1 after a loss, so zig-zag players are having a rough go of things, as well. Totals have just been 41.6% over, so there could be a little defense coming into it.
The Lakers are favored by 6.5 in this one and the total is 214, although the first half line shows Los Angeles -3 and the total is 109.5, which is partially based on last game and also due to Denver’s style, which has seen the Nuggets average 111.4 points in the first half and 102.9 in the second half. For the entire playoffs, we’ve seen an average of 111.8 points in the first half and 105 in the second.
The Lakers have played to 116.3 first half points and 103.7 in the second half. While part of that has something to do with LA playing the bench a little more in the second half, it’s also the way the playoffs have panned out so far.
Will take a stab on the first half over 109.5 even though it’s a high number compared to the game total, as that appears to be the way teams are playing in the postseason.
Stuck right in the middle of my worst NBA slump since the 2016-17 season when my totals took a nosedive, so will try to lessen the damage a little bit, and get a few games back before the Finals end. No point thinking about anything other than today’s game, since that’s all that’s out there.
One thing I did do was look over the playoff numbers and see where we were getting shorted a few possessions per game due to teams who were already knocked out of the playoffs. Even though the Magic were eliminated after five games, their league-leading 104.6 possessions were being considered, along with other teams who were knocked out in the first round, such as Brooklyn, Dallas and Portland. The faster-paced style those teams played hurt the teams who were playing more of a traditional playoff style, which is a little more deliberate, in terms of the number of expected possessions.
There are two ways of dealing with this – the first is to multiple the number of games each team played by their possessions and total up all 16 teams and then divide by the number of playoff games played. That may be the most accurate, but also the most time-consuming. The second is to discount the teams who have been eliminated and use the averages of the four remaining teams, which is what I did. Technically, there is a third, which is just averaging the two teams playing and using that number. I used the second, which is looking at the ratings and pace of the teams remaining in the playoffs.
As far as today’s game goes, all of the numbers are calling for at least 220 points to be scored here. As far as the side goes, the numbers are a bit more all over the place, with projections of the Lakers by 6, 7, 14 and 16 points, so they’d lean to Los Angeles but are split 2-2 in the overall scheme. The Lakers are favored by 7.5 with a total of 213.5, so will just take a shot on the over 213.5 and staying away from the side, although I’d have to lean to the favorite.
Another loss yesterday in what was basically a tough game to call, but should have just stuck with the original ratings instead of trying to get too cute and reading too much into Denver’s dismal numbers, which were justified, at least based on what we saw last night. Tonight, the Heat will look to go up 3-0 against the Celtics, although Boston is favored once again, this time by 3 points at the total is 207.5 at William Hill, having climbed from 207 when I started writing this article.
As usual, the efficiency ratings like the Heat and the under no matter how it’s broken down, whether it’s looking at all playoff games or the most recent five or seven games. The totals projection is again calling for the game to land under the number, although I’m not entirely sold on that. The Heat only attempted 14 free throws last game and we were still pretty much right at the total we have today. The first game went into overtime, so the final score is a little distorted, as it was 106-106 at the end of regulation and we had 207 points scored last game.
At a bit of a loss in this one, as it’s hard to deny that the Heat aren’t playing better than the Celtics right now. It’s just a matter of how hard the Celtics come out in this one, as Miami has shown the ability to come back in games these last couple of playoff series. This is a tough one from a betting perspective, but will have to follow the numbers and take the Heat +3, as teams who attempted fewer than 15 free throws in the playoffs are 135-89-4 in their next game. Will also tag along with the under, as the same situation that shows the Heat covering 60.3% of the time also sees the under come through 60.2% of the time, with an over record of 88-133-7.
A rare win in the NBA last night and now it’s time for the Western Conference Finals to begin, as the Denver Nuggets face-off with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are favored by 7 and the total here is 211.
The Lakers have dropped the opening game of both series and then stormed back to win the next four games both times, while the Nuggets needed overtime in Game 1 against the Jazz and then were waxed in the opening game of the Clippers series. Obviously the key here is how drained the Nuggets after two seven-game battles, while the Lakers have had plenty of time to rest up and relax a little bit.
Looking at the efficiency ratings, your projected score will vary greatly depending on how many games you want to look at. If you look at the last seven games, the Lakers would be predicted to come away with a 114-105 victory, which makes sense, as the Lakers were 6-1 and the Nuggets were 4-3 in that span. If you use the last five games things look quite a bit different, as the Lakers would be projected to win just 102-99, while the last three games would yield a projection of 102-100 for Los Angeles.
The one thing the efficiency ratings don’t factor in are strength of schedule and there’s no question that Utah and the Clippers are stronger foes than Portland and Houston, especially with the Blazers being hurt by injuries in the late going of that series. Jeff Sagarin has the Clippers two points better than the Rockets and the Jazz 1.75 points better than Portland, so if you factor that in, you’d have the Lakers closer to seven-point than nine-point favorites in the seven-game look and have it a bit closer to even in the five or three game projections.
The ratings haven’t been kind to Denver in the playoffs, as they’re getting outscored by an average of 16.4 points in their losses and winning by an average of 9.7 points in their victories, so overall, the Nuggets are still a minus team with a -1.5 efficiency rating, while the Lakers lead the NBA with a +9.
This one is essentially a toss-up between the Nuggets or the under based on the most recent efficiency numbers. The side action is pretty much split down the middle, while two-thirds of the total wagers are coming in on the over. I’ll probably have token plays on Denver and under, but nothing too serious, as this is a tough one to call. Will go ahead and use the under 211 here although it isn’t really stronger than the side.
Completely lost in the NBA right now, as everything I touch turns to crap. We’re either getting 3-pointers in the final minute when we don’t want them and not getting them when we do. But bad luck is only making up about 10% of the problem. It’s bad picks that accounts for the other 90%.
In the first game, the Celtics attempted far too many 3-pointers and it cost them in the end. Boston was 22 of 46 on 2-point attempts and 15 for 42 on 3-pointers. Boston was just 3-7 straight-up during the year when attempting at least 42 3s and 10-5 when attempting fewer than 30. The Celtics need to stick with what they do best and that’s get the inside game going first, which can then open things up from the outside for a better percentage shot.
The officials let them play for the most part in Game 1, with 51 foul shots with an extra five minutes played. Still, as we’ve looked at previously over the past four seasons when both teams attempt 20 or more foul shots in the playoffs the game goes over the total 58.4% of the time and if both attempt at least 23, which was the case in the opener, games go over the number 63.4% of the time.
This game opened Boston -2 and is now up to 2.5 and the total opened at 209.5 and dropped a little bit and is now back up to 209.5 as close to two-thirds of the wagers are on the over. The betting on the side is seeing Boston get a little fewer than 60% of the wagers, but the public is doing pretty well this postseason, so making strictly anti-public wagers isn’t working out all that well.
I ran efficiency rating projections for the past seven games and the past four games and they have the Heat 98-95 and have the Celtics 96-94, so going to take another shot on the under and hope to see a couple of less trips to the foul line.
Thankfully they decided to start the Boston vs. Miami series today, giving me something else to write about other than the Clippers vs. Denver, which has just nailed me the past two games, with the Clippers falling apart in the second half of both, costing us the side and any chance of the over.
Boston vs. Miami: The Celtics are favored by 1.5 and the total on this one is 209.5. Both teams looked good in the Eastern semifinals, so this one should be a good series and it’s reflected in the line. Both teams got here on the strength of their defense, so it’s not really a surprise to see the total as low as it is. The biggest question is if both teams will come out and play with defensive intensity from the get-go, seeing there isn’t much pressure on either team in Game 1. That will pick up a little bit for Game 2, where one of the teams will be trying to avoid falling into a 2-0 hole. My ratings are calling for the Celtics to win 99-98, so I’ll go ahead and take the under in this one, as playoff games with a total less than 210 have gone 21-29-1 (42%) in totals dating back to the 2016-17 season.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver: The Clippers are favored by 7.5 after opening as 7-point favorites and the total on this one just jumped to 208.5 at William Hill. Have absolutely no interest in touching this one after what the Clippers have done the past few games, although I’ll probably end up doing something for a token wager to watch the game. A little surprised the efficiency numbers are still calling for the Clippers to win 114-106. A lot of people on the Nuggets because “there’s no pressure on them and it’s all on LA,” but somebody like Leonard should thrive on the pressure and knew there would be plenty once he signed with the Clippers.
This is getting embarrassing. Granted these playoffs are completely different than anything we’ve seen before, but it’s up to me to factor in those changes and so far I’ve done a poor job of it. Some handicappers have been able to make the proper adjustments for bubble games, while others haven’t. I’m definitely in that second group.
The Clippers are favored by 8.5 in this one and the total is at 214.5, which is up slightly from its opening of 213.5. The wagers are pretty well split on the side and we’re seeing a few more wagers on the under of this game.
The question here is how the Clippers will respond to their fourth-quarter meltdown and if history is any indication, they’ll do quite well in this spot, as Los Angeles has covered its last 14 games after blowing a double-digit lead in a game and losing outright. It’s true things are different in the playoffs, but you like to see a team that can put the past behind them and go out there and take care of business.
The game was played at a little higher pace, which the Nuggets have fared better in against the Clippers so far, but LA was just 42% from the field and is a better shooting team than that. The efficiency ratings didn’t change a whole lot from last game and still projects the Clippers to win 116-105 after being 117-105 last game, so once again, will just follow the numbers and take the Clippers and the over in this one.
A bit lucky to get the 1-1-1 last night, with a little scoring burst at the end of the Clippers’ game after LA completely fell apart for about six minutes. Today we have just the one game between the Rockets and the Lakers and the Lakers are favored by 6.5 with a total of 215.
My efficiency ratings have this one 108-104 for the Lakers, so we’ll tag along with the Rockets and the under here, but again, these are the games you’d probably pass in the regular season and are really only playing it because it’s the playoffs.
The Rockets really haven’t given a full-game effort for most of the series and dropped Games 2 and 3 after getting outscored by 10 points in the fourth quarter of games that were pretty much tied, while Houston fell behind early in Game 4 and rallied to within 5, but then game up a 3-pointer to Alex Caruso, who then blocked a shot at the other end of the court, to seal the win and the cover for the Lakers. As one who had Houston in the game, I can live with that. If Caruso is the one to beat you in the end, good for him, but I’d rather take my chances with him shooting than LeBron or Anthony Davis.
Harden stunk it up from the field last game but did get to the foul line 20 times, as Houston shot 39 free throws in the game, something I don’t see happening again. The officials will usually swallow the whistles a bit more than that as we saw in last night’s two games, both of which featured 42 free throws. It’s somewhat impressive the game still landed under the total considering there were 55 combined foul shots. When one team attempts 35 or more free throws in the playoffs, the games go over the total 66.9% of the time and are 6-2 to the over these playoffs.
Not big plays by any stretch of the imagination, but will follow the numbers and see what transpires at the end of this one.
Still laboring in the NBA, as the proficiency ratings were 1-1 last night on the side and the total and I tagged along with the loser. We have two games today, so I’ll tag along with the three plays where there are differences and keep personal opinion out of the equation.
Boston vs. Toronto: Game 7 has the Celtics favored by 2.5 and a total of 204.5, which is far lower than we’ve seen so far and the majority of the wagers are coming in on the over, which has pushed the number up from its opening of 203.5. The last game was tied at 98-98 at the end of regulation and the officials let them play for the most part, with just 43 foul shots attempted despite the extra 10 minutes of playing time. I have this one 102-99 for the Celtics, so nothing on the side, with just a half-point difference and it could very well hit 3 by tip-off, with two-thirds of the wagers coming in on the Celtics. There is a 3.5-point difference on the total, which is less than ideal, but most of us will have something going on this one and will tag along with the under.
Denver vs. LA Clippers: The Clippers are favored by 8 and the total dropped to 216 after the defensive battle we saw last game. These teams have been playing at a slow pace, but wouldn’t be surprised to see it open up a little bit. The Nuggets’ lone victory came when they attempted 91 field goals. They had 68 in last game for comparison. They had 94 in the 113-107 loss, which was also one of their better games. My numbers are calling this one 117-105 for the Clippers and with their fellow LA team also holding a 3-1 advantage over Houston, have to think the Clippers will approach this one a little focused they may be otherwise. Will tag along with the Clippers -8 and the over 216 in this one.
A split last night on the Clippers game and now we’re down to just one game in the NBA, with the Lakers and Rockets doing battle. The Lakers are favored by 5 and the total is 219, with the Lakers and the under getting the majority of the wagers on a day where the NFL will take center stage, even above the NBA playoffs. We had the Rockets and the under last time out and it didn’t look good at the half for the total, with Houston leading 64-61, but the Rockets were held to 38 points in the second half, as LA pulled away in the fourth quarter. The Rockets had a brutal span of three turnovers in four possessions when the outcome was in doubt, but still had just nine turnovers for the entire game.
So now, how to handle this one? The efficiency ratings have the Lakers winning 109-106, as the projected score is creeping up a little bit. The number of possessions was down last game, but the Lakers were 55.1% from the field after shooting 56.6% in Game 2. The Lakers were 42.2% in Game 1. If this was a regular season game, it would be a quick pass, since the numbers are pretty close to projections. Will go ahead and take the Rockets +5 in this one in what is essentially a coin flip and a tough game to call.
Didn’t stink it up quite as bad Tuesday, going 1-2 in the NBA and 2-0 in MLB, but still need a bit of a run, especially in the NBA, where I fell to 26-30 since the restart in a dismal showing so far.
Toronto vs. Boston: The Celtics are getting quite a bit of public action in this one, as the line opened Celtics -2.5 and the number is now up to 3.5 with two-thirds of the wagers on the Celtics. The total just moved to 209 after being 210 most of the morning, which is where it opened. The Raptors were out of it early last time, falling behind 25-11 after the first quarter and never finding themselves in the game from that point onward. The Celtics shot 49.4% from the field and were 24 for 27 at the foul line, while the Raptors were just 11 for 13. Neither team was particularly effective from 3-point range. The efficiency ratings are calling for a 102-98 Boston victory, while another method is calling for the Raptors to win 107-104, so conflicting numbers here and I’ll stay away.
Denver vs. LA Clippers: The Clippers opened -7.5 and the number is now at 8 even though the Nuggets are getting a good percentage of the wagers and the total has moved to 220.5. The Nuggets attempted 19 more field goals than the Clippers did last time, while Los Angeles outshot Denver 26 to 10 from the foul line. The Clippers had 17 turnovers compared to 12 for the Nuggets, which cut down the number of possessions the Clippers had to a small extent. Los Angeles did pick it up down the stretch when they needed to in order to get the win, but the Nuggets covered the number. The efficiency ratings are calling for the Clippers to win 121-108, while another set of numbers has LA taking a 118-105 victory. The Clippers need to play with a little more intensity than they did last game, especially the early going when they let the Nuggets get in front. I’m going to just follow the numbers in this one, something I’ve been guilty of not doing at times and it’s cost me these playoffs, so will take the Clippers and the over in this one.
Horrible stretch here, dropping the last three plays and now have a couple of games on tonight’s slate.
Milwaukee vs. Miami: The Heat are now favored by 4 in this one with a total that has climbed all the way to 218.5. Giannis is expected to be a game-time decision, but the Bucks should really rest their big guy in case they’re able to advance to a Game 6. Yes, it will make tonight’s game that much more of a tough task, but they won’t be able to win three more without him. That said, the Heat let Milwaukee get themselves back into the series and it’s never a good idea to give second life to a solid team. The Heat simply have to do what they’ve been doing and do it for a full 48 minutes, while Milwaukee needs somebody to step up big, such as Eric Bledsoe or George Hill. Both are capable of big games and the Bucks can’t rely on Middleton coming up huge all the time. Dragic had an off-shooting night for the Heat in Game 4 and will give the team a big boost with a better effort. That said, the line is now high enough where the Bucks can cover even if they go down in defeat, so will have to take a shot on the Bucks +4 as a bit of an anti-public play.
Houston vs. LA Lakers: The Lakers are favored by 5 and the total is 222.5, while the efficiency ratings are calling for the Lakers to win a low-scoring game at 106-104. The Rockets still have the best defensive marks in the playoffs, while the Lakers are right up there. Westbrook stunk it up for the Rockets last game and Houston needs more of him if they’re going to have a chance in this one. While you know James and David are going to get their share of points for the Lakers, it was Morris and Kuzma, who put the nail in the Houston coffin last game, shooting a combined 12 for 15 from the field and they were 5 for 7 from 3-point range. Don’t really see that happening again in this one, which should be a close game and could see a little more defense, so will follow the numbers and take the Rockets +5 and the under.
Was painful to watch yesterday’s games, which both went down the drain. Had our chances, particularly in the Milwaukee game when anything but OT would have been a win, but it didn’t work out that way for us.
Boston vs. Toronto: The Celtics are now up to -1.5 at William Hill and Boston is getting bet pretty good, currently garnering more than 60% of the wagers. The Raptors have done what they needed to do in order to get the series even and a little surprised to see the Celtics being such a public team considering the “what have you done for me lately” mentality so many sports bettors have. The total is down to 212 for this one, which takes away a bit from the value, as we were on the under in the first two games of the series, but the number was slightly higher. Still, the efficiency ratings like this one to land under the total and also likes Toronto to pull out the victory, so will take a shot on the Raptors +1.5 in this one.
Denver vs. Clippers: The Clippers are favored by 9 and the total is 220 in this one after Denver came out and played solid defense last game in order to get themselves back into the series. The Nuggets have played pretty good defense after a good defensive effort, however, as they are 11-18-1 in totals after allowing fewer than 105 points. But the Clippers have been a beast after scoring fewer than 105 points, going 11-4 ATS and averaging 122 points per game. LA was also 11-4 ATS after losing by 8 or more points, so hard to play this one. Just going to stay away from this one even though I wanted to play the over after the first two games went under the total. The Clippers are 14-6 in totals after two or more straight unders, but the Nuggets are 7-11-2, although most of those occurred early in the season when Denver played solid defense.
Lost some value here by not posting earlier this morning, as the numbers have been moving back and forth a little bit. We managed to get there last night, but are still just .500 since the restart.
Milwaukee vs. Miami: The Heat are favored by 2 with a total of 219 at William Hill and the big question here is how the Bucks will respond mentally after the past two games. Two games ago we saw a furious Milwaukee rally to tie it up near the end, only for the Heat to make a pair of free throws with no time remaining and there was the infamous fourth-quarter meltdown last game. Wouldn’t be totally shocked to see the Bucks pack it in and get out of the bubble and back home. Still, if the team has any pride, they’ll put forth a good effort and look to avoid the sweep. The Bucks can’t win Game 5 or Game 6 today and if they take the approach of one game at a time, will fare a little better. My efficiency ratings have the Heat winning 111-103, which isn’t a surprise as Miami came into the series with a better rating than Milwaukee and has only expanded on it through the first three games. Will go ahead and play the under in this one.
Houston vs. Lakers: The Lakers are favored by 5.5 and the total has plummeted all the way down to 221.5 after being at 224 earlier this morning. The number is now heading back up and is 222.5, with plenty of 223s out there, and I do like the under in this one, as well. It may come as a surprise, but the top defensive team in my efficiency ratings in the playoffs have been the Rockets and the Lakers are in the top five. Houston’s offensive rating is actually slightly below the league average, which isn’t what you really expect out of Houston, but they’ve been getting the job done on that side of the court. Of course, the Lakers are no strangers to trailing in a series, having dropped the opener to Portland before storming back to win the next four. My ratings have Houston winning 104-103, so I’d lean to the dog in this one, but will just have the under play for this article.
A split in the NBA after Milwaukee’s fourth-quarter meltdown, which was painful to watch, and now a couple of interesting games from a betting perspective. Still limping along since the restart, now sitting at 24-25 against the number.
Toronto vs. Boston: The Raptors pulled out a bit of miracle last time to make it a 2-1 series, but the betting public is on the Celtics pretty good in this one. The Raptors opened as 1-point favorite and now the Celtics are favored by 1.5 after getting roughly two-thirds of the wagers in the game. The total has stayed fairly steady at 214 and the betting has pretty much been split down the middle on this one. My efficiency ratings are calling for the Celtics to win 104-102, so not a whole lot of value on the side, but the number definitely likes the under. We’ve looked at free throws the past few articles and for good reason. In these playoffs when one team attempts at least 30 free throws, totals are 16-6-1 and 14-4-1 if the opposing team attempts at least 20. Last night’s Bucks game broke a run of seven straight overs after a push. Will follow the numbers in this one hope the officials let them play, so will be on the under 214.
Denver vs. Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers waxed the Nuggets in the first game, but think Denver gives a better accounting of themselves in this one. When the Nuggets lost to the Jazz they looked really bad, which hurt their efficiency ratings, so no real surprise those numbers are all over the Clippers, calling for a 125-108 Los Angeles victory. Denver came into the series with some ugly numbers and didn’t do themselves any favors in that area in Game 1. I’ve talked several times how the Nuggets are a much better team when they play defense, as opposed to playing soft D and trying to outscore the opposition. The Nuggets don’t have the offensive players to get into a shootout with a team like the Clippers. I’m pretty much torn on this one, so will just stay away. Teams who lost their last game by double digits are just 8-14-1 ATS this postseason, which doesn’t give a lot of confidence on the Nuggets.
Two games in the NBA tonight after we settled for a split last night, with one low-scoring quarter doing us in for the total, while the Clippers weren’t in doubt in the second half, as they came out and took care of business.
Milwaukee vs. Miami: Even though the Bucks lost the first two games, they’re still favored by 5.5 in this one and the betting public is backing the underdog. Still, the line opened at 5.5 and has remained there, so the Bucks are getting a little play for somebody. As much as I hate to, going to go ahead and take Milwaukee in this one, as it’s basically they’re season on the line and they know it. They played with some desperation at the end of Game 2 and gave themselves a chance to win it, and think they’ll come out stronger in this one. Milwaukee’s defense has been putrid at times, but if you can’t bring your intensity on both sides of the ball, you deserve to be sent home.
Houston vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers opened 6.5 in this one and the line is down to 6 even though Los Angeles has received more than 60% of the early wagers in the game. My efficiency ratings are calling for the Lakers to win 108-104, which would lean to the dog and the under, as the total is at 224.5, which is down from the opening number of 226. Right now, 58% of the wagers have been on the over, which is a little bit of a surprise, as Houston has the top defensive efficiency rating in the playoffs and the Lakers aren’t behind too terribly much behind at No. 3. The Rockets have the lowest efficiency rating on offense of any team still playing, but they’re still playing, which is more than can be said for Utah and Dallas, who ended with higher offensive ratings. After last night and seeing how easy the Clippers had it with Denver, the Lakers seem like the obvious play, but I think the Rockets can give them a game in this one, so will take a shot on Houston +6 in this one.
Completely blew it on Wednesday, dropping both games, which happens from time to time. Thought Milwaukee would come out and try and play defense, which didn’t happen until it was too late. Both teams getting more than 30 foul shots kind of sealed the deal, as those games have gone over the total 76.6% of the time the past five seasons, while the opposite occurred in the Houston game, with neither team shooting more than 21 foul shots. When that happens, the game goes over the total 34.9% of the time.
Toronto vs. Boston: The Raptors are favored by 1.5 in this one and the total is now up to 216.5. The Raptors have received close to 65% of the wagers and the spread has moved a half point, while close to 60% of the wagers on the total have come in on the over so the number has climbed from its opening of 215. Since we were talking about free throws just above, I’ll mention that neither team that has attempted 30 foul shots yet, which has helped the first two games land under the total. When both teams shoot fewer than 30 foul shots, the games go under 56.8% of the time and when both shoot fewer than 26 free throws, which we saw in Game 1, the game lands under 60.1% of the time. My efficiency ratings have the Celtics winning by a pair with a total of 204, with both teams being slightly better than average offensively, but much better defensively. Will stay away from this one, but lean to Toronto if I really had to play it.
Denver vs. Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers are favored by 8.5 and the total has dropped all the way down to 224 after opening at 226. My efficiency ratings have the Clippers winning 120-109 and I agree, so will take the Clippers and the over in this one. The Nuggets played at an extremely slow pace against the Jazz, but made up for it with strong shooting, with the exception of Game 7, when both teams stunk it up, but we also saw a little more defensive effort. The Clippers led the league in free throw attempts during the regular season, so can see them taking advantage of a tired, emotionally drained Denver team in this one.
A pair of games on the schedule for Wednesday, with the Bucks and the Heat meeting for the second time and the Rockets and the Thunder meeting for Game 7.
Miami vs. Milwaukee: The Bucks opened as 4-point favorites after dropping the first game of the series and the line has climbed to 5 even though the betting has pretty much been split down the middle on this one. The total opened at 221 and is now at 220.5 at William Hill and the betting there is also practically right down the middle. The Bucks closed as 5.5-point favorites with a total of 223 in the first game and a low-scoring fourth quarter helped the game sneak under the total. The question here is if that quarter is something of an anomaly or was the first quarter that saw 69 points more of freak occurrence. After scoring 40 points in the first 12 minutes the Bucks were held to 64 points. It would have been more if Milwaukee wasn’t 14 for 26 at the foul line, which is bad for a high school team, let alone somebody who is supposed to be one of the best teams in the NBA. The Heat entered this one with a better playoff efficiency rating that the Bucks and that only improved after the first game, so the ratings would have the Heat winning 106-103, but not entirely sold on that projection. The Bucks shot one fewer foul shot that Miami but were outscored by 11 points at the line, which also was the final margin. Going to take a shot on the under once again in this spot and look to see a better defensive effort from Milwaukee.
Houston vs. Oklahoma City: The Rockets opened as 5-point favorites and they have now hit 5.5, while the total has dropped quite a bit and is now down all the way to 216.5 after being 221.5. Efficiency ratings aren’t really worth a whole lot here, as one team’s offense is going to equal the opposition’s defense and vice-versa. Based on the pace of the games previously played and the numbers, Houston is called for two win by 8, 110-102, but I don’t place much emphasis on those since they are made up of games solely between those two teams. I think the total has been bet down so much that there’s a little value on the over, so will take a shot there for this one.
Another two-game slate of games for Tuesday, as we climbed back to .500 at an ugly 22-22, although the last few times we’ve hit .500 we’ve dropped a few, got back there, only to fall a few games under once again.
Boston vs. Toronto: The Celtics came out and took care of business last time, holding the Raptors to 94 points and taking the lead early in the first quarter and never looking back. The fourth quarter was essentially garbage time, so we can probably expect to see more than 45 points scored. Although it was a strange game, with two quarters of more than 60 points and two with 45 or fewer, which was good to see as we had the under. Looking at the efficiency ratings and pace of the team’s playoff games so far would call for the Raptors to win the game 106-105, but we may see a few more possessions in this one than the numbers indicate. Don’t really have an opinion in this one, so will just stay clear, as the Raptors are favored by 1.5 and the total on the game is 218.
Denver vs. Utah: The Jazz opened as a 1-point favorite, then the Nuggets became the favorites and now William Hill has Utah favored by 1 once again. The total has consistently dropped in this one despite more than 70% of the wagers coming in on the over, so the sharps definitely like the under in this one.
These two have played at an extremely slow pace, but have been putting up amazing offensive efficiency numbers, which by contrast has led to some horrible efficiency ratings, as both teams are scoring and allowing more than 120 points per 100 possessions. These two are by far the top two offensive teams in the post-season, so it stands to reason they’re also the worst two rated when it comes to defense. At the current offensive and defensive numbers, these two teams should see 230 points in this one, but don’t think that’s going to happen, as I expect both teams to step up the defense, but the pace should continue to be a little bit on the slower side. Going to take the under in this one, not because I think it’s a great play, but probably the one thing I like the most on a fairly tough card. If I had to play the side might lean to Denver, as I think a low-scoring game should favor Denver, who I’ve already talked about their record when they limit the scoring of the opposition.
Just two games on the NBA slate for Monday, but they look like they could both be decent games.
Miami vs. Milwaukee: The Bucks are favored by 5.5 in this one and the total just went to 224 at William Hill. A fair number of people are liking the Heat in this one on the basis of Miami winning two of the three games this season, with Milwaukee’s win coming in a meaningless game in the bubble. The Bucks weren’t in the greatest of situations in the first two games, however, as they were coming off a big win at Houston for the first game and playing their third game in four nights and a second game of a back-to-back situation in the game at Miami. So I probably don’t put as much stock into those games as others. While Indiana had a better record than Orlando, they were missing arguably their best player in Sabonis, so I’m not as impressed with the Heat’s sweep as some.
Looking at the team’s playoff games, the Bucks played the fastest-paced series of them all, while Miami was down the list a little bit, which has something to do with the Pacers. Both teams are pretty close to the league average in offensive efficiency, but well above average when it comes to defense, with both teams being in the top five. The Bucks showed flashes of playing great defenses at times during the season and will take a shot on the under in this one.
Houston vs. Oklahoma City: The Rockets will try to close this one tonight and the Thunder will probably look to make an adjustment with Luguentz Dort, who somehow thought he was playing for his offense and stunk it up from both sides of the ball. Dort was 3 of 16 shooting and 0 for 9 on 3-pointers, with a lot of those coming early on, when the Rockets took control of the game. The Rockets are favored by 5 and the total just climbed to 226.5 and it’s almost a certain bet Oklahoma City will shoot better than they did last game, but that’s setting the bar pretty low. This is a tough one to get a read on, although a few people like the underdog, as this one opened 5.5 and dropped a half-point despite the Rockets getting a large majority of the bets in this one.
Like many people this morning, having problems with internet, so rushing to get this out. Will essentially use the write-ups from a few days ago before games were postponed, making a few little tweaks for updated odds, etc.
Utah vs. Denver: The Jazz are favored by 2 and the total on this one is 219.5, which is up a bit from what we saw earlier in the series. Remember, the Nuggets were favored in the first game of the series, so really can’t say there’s much value there with either team. The Jazz opened -2.5 point favorites and the line and the line dropped a little even though Utah is getting the majority of the wagers. Would probably lean to the dog if I absolutely had to make a play.
Dallas vs. LA Clippers: The Clippers have climbed to 10.5-point favorites in this one due to the injury situation of Dallas. I stayed away from the Mavs in Game 4, with Doncic listed as questionable, and we saw what he did in that one, and once again he’s questionable, with Porzingis out. The total is at 238, but it’s really hard to play this one with the uncertainty surrounding the Mavs.
Boston vs. Toronto: The Raptors are favored by 2 and the total in this one is 217. Toronto opened as 2.5-point favorites and the Raptors received 55% of the wagers, although not so sure they’re the better team. Even though the 76ers looked like crap, they’re still a better team than a depleted Brooklyn squad and the Celtics should get a little more credit for their series win than Toronto. Both teams are capable of playing tough defense, although they don’t always want to show it. The Celtics did show a little bit of their defense in the playoffs, while the Raptors didn’t have to worry quite so much about it, as Brooklyn wanted to play a faster-paced game and the Nets paid for it in the end, but you really can’t blame them for wanting to do something different other than let the Raptors have their way. This one opened at 216.5 and the line has inched up slightly with a huge majority of over wagers coming in. Will take a shot on the under 217 in this one and also played the first half under 108 but won’t count the first-half play in the record, just the full-game wager.
Back to the hardwood today after a couple of false starts Wednesday and Thursday. At least we knew there were going to be no games Friday, so not a whole lot of wasted time.
We’re basically right back to where we were Wednesday, but we lost a couple of points on the Houston total.
Milwaukee vs. Orlando: When the Bucks refused to play the Magic on Wednesday, they expected to forfeit the game, not see a three-day shutdown, at least that’s what they say. Not sure how the Magic will react to that, as it’s letting Orlando know Milwaukee doesn’t think they have too much of a chance. Still, the Bucks are perfectly capable of backing that up if they decide to. No real opinion on this one on either the side or the total, which looks to be getting a little bit of action on the under.
Houston vs. Oklahoma City: The Rockets are favored by 5, which is a little on the high side, but the spread hasn’t come into play so far this series. The total is 227.5 now at William Hill, which is 3.5 points higher than it was on Wednesday, which pretty much takes care of the value, so going to sit this one out. As mentioned Wednesday, this has been the slowest-paced series of the three games today, but both squads are capable of heating up from long range, particularly the Rockets and think they’ll have a little more success from the outside than they’ve had the past few games. After a fast start in Game 4, the Rockets were still below 40% for the game and couldn’t get anything going when they needed it most.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland: We’ll jump to Wednesday’s write up for this one. The Lakers are favored by 13 against the Blazers and the total on this one is at 223.5. Obviously, Lillard not playing is the big story of this one and it’s hard to imagine Portland doing much without him in the line-up. After stunning the Lakers to open the series, the Blazers quickly came back down to earth and Los Angeles should take care of business tonight. The Lakers can play defense and think they’ll look to wrap things up early, so going to take a shot on the under 223 in this one, as well. Playing under in a Portland game is always a bit nerve-wracking because of their lack of defense at times, but think it’s probably the best way to go in this one.
Not expecting any games to be played tonight, but figured I had better come out with this just in case they do decide to play. What will happen is anybody’s guess right now.
Utah vs. Denver: The Jazz are favored by 2 and the total on this one is 220.5, which is up a bit from what we saw earlier in the series. Remember, the Nuggets were favored in the first game of the series, so really can’t say there’s much value there with either team. The Jazz opened -1.5 point favorites and the line has climbed after Utah received a huge majority of wagers and the over has also received a lot of play. No interest in playing this one. Would probably lean to the dog if I absolutely had to make a play.
Dallas vs. LA Clippers: The Clippers have climbed to 10-point favorites in this one due to the injury situation of Dallas. I stayed away from the Mavs in Game 4, with Doncic listed as questionable, and we saw what he did in that one, and once again he’s questionable, with Porzingis expected to be a game-time decision. Really hard to play this one with the uncertainty surrounding the Mavs.
Boston vs. Toronto: The Raptors are favored by a pair and the total in this one is 216. Toronto opened as 1.5-point favorites and the Raptors received 55% of the wagers, although not so sure they’re the better team. Even though the 76ers looked like crap, they’re still a better team than a depleted Brooklyn squad and the Celtics should get a little more credit for their series win than Toronto. Both teams are capable of playing tough defense, although they don’t always want to show it. The Celtics did show a little bit of their defense in the playoffs, while the Raptors didn’t have to worry quite so much about it, as Brooklyn wanted to play a faster-paced game and the Nets paid for it in the end, but you really can’t blame them for wanting to do something different other than let the Raptors have their way. This one opened at 217 and the line dropped despite the number of over wagers being more than under plays. Will follow the slight reverse move and take a shot on the under 216 in this one.
The Nuggets got the job done for us last night, but still a disappointing 20-21 since the NBA restart and we have a trio of games to look at today.
Orlando vs. Milwaukee: The Bucks have a little incentive to take care of business in this one, as the other three Eastern Conference winners have been resting up, with the Raptors and the Celtics ready to start the second round tomorrow. After pulling the upset in Game 1, the Magic have put up a bit of a fight in the other games, and had their opportunities to cover the spread in two or three of the games. Hard not to like Milwaukee in this spot, but no interest in laying the number, as these last three games have been decided by a possession – at least against the number. Will stay clear of this one.
Houston vs. Oklahoma City: This series has been pretty entertaining for the most part and now it’s the crucial Game 5 and the Rockets are favored by 3.5 at William Hill and the total is 224. This has been the slowest-paced series of the three games today, but both squads are capable of heating up from long range, particularly the Rockets and think they’ll have a little more success from the outside than they’ve had the past few games. After a fast start in Game 4, the Rockets were still below 40% for the game and couldn’t get anything going when they needed it most. A bit of a public play here, but going to take a shot on the over 224 in this one.
Portland vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are favored by 13 against the Blazers and the total on this one is at 223. Obviously, Lillard not playing is the big story of this one and it’s hard to imagine Portland doing much without him in the line-up. After stunning the Lakers to open the series, the Blazers quickly came back down to earth and Los Angeles should take care of business tonight. The Lakers can play defense and think they’ll look to wrap things up early, so going to take a shot on the under 223 in this one, as well. Playing under in a Portland game is always a bit nerve-wracking because of their lack of defense at times, but think it’s probably the best way to go in this one.
No sooner than we claw our way back to .500, we turn around and go 0-2 on the day, to fall back to 19-21 since the restart. Two games today, both interesting ones from a betting perspective.
Utah vs. Denver: The Jazz are favored by 3 in this one and the total has held at 220 despite more than 80% of the wagers coming in on the over. The Nuggets played some crappy defense last game and seem more concerned with scoring points than they do winning games. Denver was 2-13 straight-up when they allowed 120 or more points in regulation this season, as they simply don’t have the offense to play that type of game. They tried last time and kept it close enough to get the cover, but that’s about it. They’ve had a day to study matchups and should get back to making some sort of effort defensively. Jamal Murray was 9 of 15 in 3-points last game, while the rest of the team was just 8 for 29 and you’re not going to win many games with type of shooting, especially when allowing the opposition to shoot 57.5%. Think the Nuggets make a game of this one and will take a stab on Denver in what is anything but a strong play.
Dallas vs. LA Clippers: The Clippers have moved to -7 and the total has come down to 234.5, which is two full points lower than the opening number. The line move occurred even though more than 60% of the wagers have come in on the over. All we’ve heard the past two days is Luka Doncic, but the Clippers are getting a little sharp action, which has helped push the number to 7 after opening at 6 and seeing the betting pretty much split down the middle. I’ve gone back and forth a little bit in this one, but will probably sit out, as we have most of the other games in the series. If I had to play it, would probably lean to the under here, as Game 5s when a series is all even tend to be played a little more closely to the vest, as teams don’t want to fall behind 3-2. Of course, there’s no home court advantage to be worried about, which might take a little bit away from that premise. Will just sit this one out and watch.
We caught a break at the end of the Denver game to move us to 19-19 since the restart and have four games today, although it could well be the last time, we have four on the slate in the same day.
Milwaukee vs. Orlando: The Bucks are favored by 13.5 at William Hill in this one after opening as 14-point favorites and getting the majority of the wagers in the game, so a few people obviously on the Magic. The total has held steady at 225 with good two-way action. The Bucks shot 56.1% from the field last game to get the game over the total and don’t see that happening again, although we should see more than 31 free throws attempted in the game. The Magic shot 31 themselves in Game 2, although it didn’t help them much and there were 47 taken in each of the first two games, making the total a bit of a toss-up. Would lean under but don’t like it enough to play.
Houston vs. Oklahoma City: The Rockets are favored by 2.5 and the total has jumped to 223 this morning after being 219.5 earlier in the day. Sunday, the big moves on the totals came through for the most part, with those who waited until tip-off on the Boston game coming up a half-point shy, but don’t really agree with this one. The Thunder aren’t likely to win a shoot-out and should be looking to keep the score down and the Rockets play defense when they need to. Will go against the grain in this one and take the under 223.
Indiana vs. Miami: The Heat are favored by 6 with a total of 216.5 and Miami will look to close out the series today. The Heat have been just a little better than the Pacers each game, although they had a bit of help from the officials last time, shooting 52 free throws. It was the first time a team has attempted 50 or more foul shots in a playoff game since the 2014-15 season. Think the Pacers might get a few calls their way in this one and will take a stab on Indiana +6.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland: The Lakers are now favored by 7 with a total of 225.5 and the total is a little on the high side, although the Blazers can not play defense with the best of them at times. Would like to go that way, but can’t bring myself to pull the trigger.
Another split in the NBA on Saturday, although we did manage to win one that came down to the wire for a change, as the Thunder got the win in overtime. A couple of tough ones today, with Boston and Toronto having a chance to wrap things up.
Philadelphia vs. Boston: The 76ers let me down in the stretch a couple of times so far in this series and have no real desire to take them in this spot, where the Celtics are favored by 7.15 at William Hill with a total of 214. Will Philadelphia put up a fight or will they pack it in if they get down early? That’s the question in this one and I really have no clue what could happen in this one.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas: The Mavs could be within Doncic for this one, as he’s expected to be a game-time decision and the Clippers are favored by 8 with a total of 231.5. Even if he goes you have to wonder how effective he’ll be, which is enough to keep me off of this one in a spot where I’d really like to take the Mavs.
Toronto vs. Brooklyn: The Raptors have a chance to close out this series and they should be able to do so. The only question is if they’re able to cover the spread in this one. The mindset of the Nets is much like Philadelphia’s, where the Nets could be packed and ready to get out of the bubble or they could put up a fight. Even if the Nets decide to battle, they can’t match the Raptors in terms of talent, especially without a couple of their best players. Going to have to take the Raptors -13 in this one even though they’re a big public play today.
Denver vs. Utah: The Jazz are favored by 3 with a total of 216.5 and they’ve won the last two with some decent outside shooting. The Nuggets, who were hitting in the opener, went cold from long range the last game and paid for it. But have to believe the Nuggets come out and play a better game in this spot and play better defensively, which was their trademark early in the season when they were looking like a possible contender. Somehow, the Nuggets got away from doing what they were doing best. Denver was 10-2 in November, allowing less than 100 points per game, and followed that up with a 10-6 mark in December, when they allowed 106 points per game. Will give Denver +3 a stab in this one.
Tough loss with the 76ers last night, as we settle for another split in the NBA. Have had several games that have come down to the last few minutes that have gone against us, so hopefully we can get a few back in the next couple of days, as we stand an unsightly 16-18 since the restart.
Milwaukee vs. Orlando: The Bucks are favored by 13 in this one and the total has dropped to 222.5, as the public is hitting Milwaukee hard, in part due to favorites covering and games going under the total. The total is a bit of an overreaction to last game, while the spread is pretty much what you would expect in this spot. Tough one to call, so will just stay away.
Indiana vs. Miami: The Heat have pulled away in the second half of each of the first two games and are favored by 5 in this spot, but going to give the Pacers +5 another try. The Heat were better than 50% from 3-point range last game and still won by just nine, so have to expect them to come down to earth a little and Indiana to do a better job defensively around the arc. T.J. Warren was 0 for 5 on 3-pointers and you expect better out of a guy who has shot over 40% from long-range in each of the last two seasons.
Oklahoma City vs. Houston: The Rockets are favored by 2.5 in this one with a total of 222.5 and I’ve been on the wrong side in each of the first two games. Going to give the Thunder one more chance to get the best of me in this one, as I still think they’re better than they’ve looked. The number just dropped down from Rockets -3, which not thrilled about, but will stick with Oklahoma City in this one.
Portland vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The betting public has quickly changed allegiances in this series, as the Lakers are now getting more than 60% of the wagers and the line has climbed to Los Angeles -8. The total is 224.5, as both of the first two games failed to reach 200 points. Lillard has a injured finger but will be in there for this one but not sure how it’s going to impact his shooting and will just stay away from this one.
Another split on Thursday, which I’ll gladly take after dropping the first two games of the day and then coming back to win the last two. That shows how your perspective changes a bit depending on how you fare in the early games. Wednesday we split the two games, winning the first and losing the late game and it felt like a losing day, while last night felt like a win even though the results were still the same.
Toronto vs. Brooklyn: The Raptors are favored by 11 and the total is 220 here. The Raptors piddled around last game against the Nets, but have to think the effort by Milwaukee may have got their attention. With the players the Nets are missing this one shouldn’t be close, but give the Nets props for putting up a fight last time. They may be a little demoralized after last game and wouldn’t be a surprise to see them get blown out in this one, so will take a shot on the Raptors and lay the heavy lumber.
Utah vs. Denver: The Nuggets are favored by 1 and the total is 218 in this one and I’ve been wrong on both games, with 3-point shooting getting the best of me each time. I expected both teams to play better 3-point defense last game and it didn’t pan out. Would lean to the Jazz in this one but no real interest in playing it, so will just stay clear.
Boston vs. Philadelphia: The Celtics have thumped the 76ers both games, getting the close cover in the opener and then completely waxing Philadelphia last time out. The 76ers have to be embarrassed by their effort. Now, Boston is getting hammered by the betting public and the line has climbed to Celtics -5.5, with some 6s out there. Believe the 76ers will give it their all in this one and make a better showing than they have so far this series, but it remains to be seen if that’s good enough to get the job done, but will go ahead take the points in this spot.
Dallas vs. Clippers: Another tough one to figure out, the Clippers are favored by 5 and the total has come down to 231.5. No real interest in playing this one, although I’d lean to the Clippers if I absolutely had to play, but will just stick to the two plays today on Toronto and Philadelphia.
A split on Wednesday, as we head to the four games for Thursday. Still below .500 after Monday’s dismal effort, at 13-15 since the restart.
Indiana vs. Miami: The Heat are favored by 4 and the total on this one is 215 at William Hill. The Heat had their hands full in the first game of the series but were able to put the Pacers away in the fourth quarter, using a 32-21 final-quarter scoring advantage to turn a nail-biter into a comfortable win. The Pacers had four more turnovers and were whistled for six more fouls than Miami, which helped the Heat attempt five more field goals and three more foul shots. Think the Pacers can fix a few things and take this one right down to the wire, so will take Indiana +4 in this one.
Oklahoma City vs. Houston: Was on the Thunder in the first game of the series and they were taken out of it early on, having no chance to keep the game close and they were blown out. Now the Rockets are favored by 2.5, so we’ve seen a 4-point swing on the line, while the total here is 226. The Thunder simply have to do a better job of playing defense, especially from 3-point range. While the Rockets are getting betting pretty good by the public, will go the other way in this one and take the Thunder +2.5.
Milwaukee vs. Orlando: The Bucks are favored by 12.5 and the total here is down to 226.5 and it’s no secret the Bucks have to play better defense, as the Magic shot 49.4% from the field against a Milwaukee team that prides itself on defense. The Bucks scored 110 points and are 50-9 straight-up and 36-23 ATS when scoring at least 110. The Bucks were 5-9 in totals after allowing 120 or more points, allowing 106.6 points and think they’ll bring the defense today, which might come at the expense of a little offense. Will have to take the under in this one.
Portland vs. Los Angeles: The Lakers stunk it up in the first game, shooting 35.1% from the field and 15.6% from 3-point range. Los Angeles missed at least 14 shots in the key and if they make just three or four of those we could have a different outcome in Game 1. The Blazers are getting nearly two-thirds of the wagers in the game, so will go against the public once again and take the Lakers -6.5, making it all four plays against public sentiment today.
A little better last night, which isn’t saying much, but disappointed in the Oklahoma City effort, as the Thunder were out of it early. Will be playing catch-up for a little bit after the 0-4 Monday, as we’re now 12-14 since the restart after going 2-1 on Tuesday.
Brooklyn vs. Toronto: The Raptors are favored by 11.5 at William Hill and the total here is 226. Lost with the under on Monday, but will come back with the under in this one, as the Nets realize they have to play better defensively. The Raptors were 22 of 44 on 3-pointers in the game, with VanFleet going 8 for 10 and don’t see that repeating itself in this one. Brooklyn allowed 130 points six times this season and in the rematch went 0-5 in totals, so they’ve shown the ability to make adjustments. The Raptors were 1-3 when facing a team they previously scored 130 or more against this season.
Utah vs. Denver: The Jazz let us down last time and not sure how they’ll react in this spot after letting the game slip away late, which sent it to the overtime session. Much like the game above, the Nuggets were on fire from 3-point range, hitting 22 of 41, and shot better from long range than they did 2-point range. Rudy Gobert also has to share some of the blame, as his 1 for 6 at the foul line didn’t help, and he allowed Jokic to score 29. The public is hammering the over in this one, so will give the under one more shot here.
Philadelphia vs. Boston: The Celtics have come down to 4.5 over the 76ers and the total has moved to 216. The 76ers had their chances in the first game, at least to get the cover, but couldn’t hit a key shot down the stretch and the Celtics were able to hang on and get the cash. Philadelphia shot itself in the foot with 18 turnovers in the game, compared to just 7 for the Celtics, and as a result the 76ers attempted 10 fewer field goals and three fewer free throws than Boston. If the 76ers can take care of the ball, they can keep it close.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Clippers: This one came right down to the wire for both the spread and the total last time and is another tough one here, as the Clippers are -6 and the total is 229.5. A 34-point third quarter helped the game stay under, but it came down to the last shot. Going to stay clear of this one once again.
A couple of bad totals picks and a little bad luck led to a crappy night on the hardwood, dropping all four games, as all four favorites covered the number. Utah not covering hurt, while the 76ers had their chances, but both totals were well off the mark, as both Denver and Toronto were draining their 3-pointers.
Milwaukee vs. Orlando: The Bucks have been bet up to -13 in this one and this is a tough one to call. Milwaukee started coasting a bit shortly before the shutdown, so their numbers for the end of February and March aren’t really indicative of what the team can do. The Magic did start their uptempo style before the shutdown, so I have this one at 227 and 229.5. Will go ahead and take a stab on the over, hoping to see the Magic revert back to their higher-scoring ways.
Portland at Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers have moved from -5.5 to -6.5 and the total has shot up from 228.5 to 232 and the Lakers will have to avoid a running game to give themselves the best chance of winning. Los Angeles needs to be methodical and get the ball down low to the big guys, while the Blazers look to do their damage from the outside. A good game to watch, but no opinion on this one.
Miami vs. Indiana: The Heat have moved from -3.5 to -4.5 and the total has dropped slightly down to 215. The Pacers appear to be built a little better for the playoffs, but will miss Sabonis and Warren is listed as questionable here, but have to believe he goes for Indiana. The total here opened at 216.5 and has dropped despite there being more wagers on the over, so will take a shot on the under 215.
Houston vs. Oklahoma City: The Thunder opened -1.5 and the line has stayed there for the most part even though the Rockets are getting more than 55% of the wagers. You would expect the line to have dropped and it may do so closer to tip-off, but hasn’t so far. The Thunder are the better defensive team and the Rockets get the edge on offense, but this is another game where it seems like OKC gets the edge for its style of play. Will take a shot on the small favorite in this one.
The NBA playoffs begin today with four games on the slate, so we’ll throw caution to the wind a little bit and have more plays than normal since I realize most people will be betting more games than normal, as well. We managed to get through the seeding games and the play-in game with a 10-9 record, which is essentially break-even. Considering it was a guessing game most of the time down the stretch, I won’t complain too much.
Trying to decide which stats to use was a little bit of a challenge, so I went back to the beginning of this month and am using the season stats from that point, as well as the most recent 10 games at that point, which consists of roughly the last 8 games before the shutdown and one or two of the bubble games, which is when it seemed like teams took the restart a bit more serious for a game or two before things went downhill in a hurry from a handicapping perspective.
Utah vs. Denver: The Nuggets are favored by 4.5 in this one and the total is 215.5 at William Hill. I ran three different numbers and have this one coming down to the wire, with the Nuggets winning by a point. I have a total projection of 215 and two of 212, so will take the Jazz +4.5 and the under 215.5 in this one and hope both teams get back to playing defense.
Brooklyn vs. Toronto: Have to respect what the Nets did after the restart with so many players missing. Granted, several of Brooklyn’s wins came against teams who weren’t concerned with the outcome, but it would have been easy for them to pack it in. Things are about to get a lot tougher, however, as the Raptors are favored by 9.5 and the total is 222. I have Toronto winning by 7, 8 and 11.5 here, but do have this one landing under the total, as well, so will take the under 222 in this spot.
Philadelphia vs. Boston: The Celtics are favored by 5.5 and the total is 218.5. Two of my three numbers have this one going over the total, with one calling for an under. I do have the Celtics winning by 4 and typically would pass on the game, but since it’s the playoffs, will go ahead and grab the 76ers +5.5.
Dallas vs. LA Clippers: The Clippers are favored by 6 and the total is 230 and I’m on both sides of this one, with both the side and the total. The Clippers did go 4-2 in totals against Golden State in the playoffs last season when the totals were above 230. LA was 9-10 during the regular season with a total of 230 or higher not counting the bubble games, while the Mavs were 7-7. No opinion on this one.
Things in the NBA are about to become more serious when the Portland Trailblazers and Memphis Grizzlies face off in a play-in game for the NBA playoffs. As the No. 9 seed, the Grizzlies have to win two games, while the Blazers will move forward with a win today or tomorrow. Portland is favored by 6 and the total is 232.5.
One of the biggest challenge for handicappers is going to be what to do with the stats from the previous games in the bubble, and depending on how much weight you’re going to give them, that will likely determine which side you’ll be on this game.
These two teams met back in the first game in the bubble and I was on the wrong side, as the Grizzlies dropped a 140-135 overtime contest in which they let a nine-point lead evaporate in the last five minutes. The Blazers were favored by 3 in that one and not so sure they should be favored by 6 in this spot.
The Grizzlies were just 2-6 since starting back up, but they did win the one game they needed to against a disinterested Milwaukee team team to claim a spot in the play-in, while Portland held off Brooklyn to earn the No. 8 seed.
One thing we’ve seen out of the Blazers is a tendency to play close games, which might not be the best thing for a 6-point favorite. But the last four Portland games have all been decided by 5 or fewer points and just two out of their eight games since the restart have been decided by more than 6 points.
Portland’s last seven games came against teams who were already locked into the playoffs, so it’s hard to read too much into those results, while the Grizzlies were only 2-6 since the restart, although they did have a few games against teams fighting for a playoff spot.
The total when the teams met last month was 225.5, but it easily soared over the total even without the overtime, so while there’s a little value with the under, have to believe the Grizzlies +6 are a better wager in this one.
The Grizzlies appear to be better suited to the playoffs, as they are capable of playing defense when they need to, but they had trouble with Portland’s guards last month and could do so again.
Will go ahead and take Memphis +6 in this one.
The final four games of the NBA regular season take place today and none of them mean a thing, so you have to decide if you really want to get involved with the four games. Plenty of players will be resting or playing limited minutes, much like you see in the final preseason football game of the year, as that’s probably a fair comparison.
We’re 9-9 since the restart and it’s been somewhat of a guessing game this past week, so no official plays today, as we’ll devote some time to getting ready for the playoffs to start when we know we’ll get a legitimate effort from each of the teams.
Philadelphia vs. Houston: The Rockets are 4.5 and the total is 230.5 at William Hill and I’ll give William Hill credit for getting totals out there before the majority of other sportsbooks. The Rockets have been going under this month, with a 1-5 record, while the 76ers are 5-2, not really playing defense at all and not sure they’ll make an effort to do so in this one. But the Rockets just want to get this one in the books and look ahead to next week.
Denver vs. Toronto: The Raptors are 2.5 in this one and the total is 223.5. Another game where you see difference in the two teams, with Denver going over the total in seven straight and the Raptors being more of an under team. The Nuggets have allowed more than 120 points in five straight games and that’s not going to cut it in the playoffs, so they may put forth a little more effort in this one, but no rush to make a stand.
Oklahoma City vs. Clippers: The Clippers are 6.5 and the total is 225.5 and Los Angeles is going to be without a few bodies and can’t see Leonard getting much playing time. Chris Paul is going to sit this one out for the Thunder, while the Clippers have gone over in five straight.
Miami vs. Indiana: A strange setup here, as these two meet in the playoffs but have to get through this meaningless game first. Plenty of players will be sitting for both teams in this one and if I had to do something in this one would probably take the under, as Miami’s lineup will resemble what we saw from Boston on Thursday and the Pacers’ won’t be much better.
The next-to-last day of the NBA regular season is upon us and we’re faced with seven games. There are three teams who have something riding on the outcomes today, although the sportsbooks know that and you’re going to pay for the privilege of backing them.
We fell to 8-9 when the Raptors came up a few points shy of getting the cover against the 76ers on Wednesday, when the Sixers were expected to rest a few guys, who ended up playing anyway, which is how things have gone lately. Just trying to get through the next couple of days until the playoffs, and we can expect to see teams play a little harder and fewer players sitting for pretty mundane reasons.
New Orleans vs. Orlando: The Magic are favored by 3.5 at BetMGM and the Pelicans could very well have their things packed and be looking forward to heading home more than they are putting up much of a fight in this one. Both teams are going to be missing key players.
Milwaukee vs. Memphis: The Grizzlies are falling fast but have a chance to make the play-in game with a win. The Bucks will be without their big man and the Grizzlies play an early game. The Blazers play the late game, so the other teams will be looking to take care of business early.
San Antonio vs. Utah: The Spurs are favored by 7.5 but will know if Memphis and Phoenix won early. If both the Grizzlies and the Suns win at 4 p.m., the Spurs are done for the year and might tank this one.
Sacramento vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are -5 in this one and who knows how the Kings will respond to their final game of the year. The Lakers did get a win over Denver last time out, so may not be too worried about the outcome here.
Washington vs. Boston: The Celtics are just 1.5 in this one, which let’s you know Boston isn’t expected to put forth much effort in this one. The Wizards have had their bags packed for a while and are 0-7 straight-up and 1-6 ATS since the restart. This line is definitely out of whack, so will take a shot on the Wizards in this one, with the Celts resting five starters and Marcus Smart.
Dallas vs. Phoenix: The Suns are favored by 6.5 over the Mavs and have covered all seven games they’ve played to get themselves into the playoff hunt. It might be too little, too late, however, as the Grizzlies and Blazers hold the edge.
Portland vs. Brooklyn: The Blazers are favored by 9.5 and the total is 236.5 in this one, as the Blazers could finish No. 8 with a win or miss the playoffs if they lose and two of the Suns, Spurs and Grizzlies win. The Nets have played better than expected.
Evened our mark at 8-8 since the restart and it’s been tough sledding, as the majority of the methods you use for handicapping the NBA have been made worthless due to some teams just going through the motions until the playoffs start.
The biggest challenge for handicappers is going to be how much emphasis to place on these games once the playoffs start. My methods that look at the most recent numbers will be completely distorted and really can’t be counted on, so it may be best go go back to the stats when the shutdown first occurred and use them as a starting point for the playoffs, although that doesn’t give enough credit to a team like Phoenix or even the Spurs, who have come alive a little bit as of late.
Having to get an early start today due to a road trip, so we’ll look at the numbers from DraftKings and see what we come up with for the day.
Indiana vs. Houston: The Rockets are favored by 7 in this one and both teams would appear to have a little something on the line, but it’s not a situation like we saw yesterday, where there were four teams fighting for the playoffs and three of them covered the spread. The Pacers need a win to stay in the top five in the East and avoid the Celtics in the first round, although the 76ers haven’t been doing much to win, so Indiana could be safe with a loss. For the Rockets, it’s a matter of which team they’d rather face in the first round, as there’s a logjam in the No. 3 through No. 6 spots.
Toronto vs. Philadelphia: The Raptors are favored by 6.5 and Toronto is locked into the No. 2 spot, so they’ll get the Nets in the first round regardless of what happens here. The 76ers could move up in the standings and get the Heat or the Pacers in the first round, as opposed to the Celtics, but they look to be more interested in resting up guys and getting them healthy than taking a chance in this one, so will go ahead and take the Raptors and lay the points in this one in what is far from a strong play.
Miami vs. Oklahoma City: The Thunder are favored by 2 and the Heat have a showdown with the Pacers on Friday in what could well decide the No. 4 and No. 5 spot, so not sure how interested they’ll be in this one. The Thunder will know what the Rockets did earlier and that could determine how much effort they put forth in this one, as you have to think teams would rather take their chances with Denver than Houston in the first round of the playoffs.
Denver vs. Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers can clinch the No. 2 spot with a victory and they’re favored by 4.5 in this one. It’s also in Denver’s best interest to win and keep the No. 3 spot, which would at least mean avoiding the Lakers in the second round, but it would mean a series against the Clippers.
All in all, another tough day, so will just take it easy with the one play and see what happens.
Completely botched last night’s NBA plays and had a feeling it was going to be one of those nights after the Bucks announced Giannis was going to miss the Milwaukee game due to a tooth. Have lost three straight in the guessing game known as the NBA to fall to 7-8 since the restart.
Brooklyn vs. Orlando: The Magic are down to -4.5 over the Nets with a total of 222.5. with the way the Bucks have been playing lately, you can’t blame either team if they’d rather take their chances with Milwaukee rather than Toronto. My numbers have the Nets winning 116-111, but a tough game to call without knowing the mindset of the teams.
Houston vs. San Antonio: The Spurs are right in the hunt for the No. 8 or No. 9 spot, but can’t afford a loss in this one. The Rockets are sitting a few guys, including James Harden and San Antonio is favored by 4.5. Going to go ahead and take the Spurs for no other reason that they need this game and Houston has a game on tap against the Pacers tomorrow.
Phoenix vs. Philadelphia: The red-hot Suns are favored by 9.5 over the 76ers, who will be without a number of players. Can’t bring myself to lay that many points but wouldn’t want any part of the 76ers here.
Portland vs. Dallas: It’s the same situation here, as the Blazers are favored by 5 in a must-win game and the Mavs are likely to be without a few bodies, who also missed yesterday’s game. If you have to play, at least you know you’ll get an honest effort from Portland, which is more than you can say for the majority of teams in the bubble.
Boston vs. Memphis: The Celtics are down to 3 and the number has dropped even more at a few places and it’s no different than some of the other games. Boston is locked into the No. 3 spot and Memphis is fighting to stay in the top nine.
New Orleans vs. Sacramento: The Kings are now favored by 2.5, with New Orleans being a little short-handed in this one. Zion Williamson is among those who will miss the game. Would love to take Sacramento here, but the Kings haven’t shown much fight since the restart, making this a game that neither team appears to care about.
Milwaukee vs. Washington: The Bucks are favored by 7.5 and the Wizards are one of the few teams to have looked worse than Milwaukee through much of the restart. No interest in making a stand in this one.
It’s become pretty apparent that stats don’t mean a whole lot right now, as you have to basically guess which teams are trying and which are not, as well as which teams will go through the motions on defense and just run up-and-down the court. We’ll see if we can’t figure it out today, as we fell to 7-6 on the restart when Memphis came up a little short down the stretch after getting themselves back into the game after a big deficit.
Oklahoma City vs. Phoenix: The Suns are favored by 5 at William Hill and the total here is down slightly to 224.5. The Suns are obviously trying to win and are playing well, but the Thunder are the better team. Oklahoma City has no incentive to win this game, as they’re No. 5 and looking at a first-round matchup with Houston. Have to believe a team would rather face Denver than the Rockets to open the playoffs, so lean to the Suns but no interest in laying that many points to a better team.
Dallas vs. Utah: Dallas is sitting a number of players for this one and the Jazz are favored by 7.5 with a total of 223.5. Utah would also be better served losing this game in order to keep them at No. 6 and the matchup against Denver intact, although things could change quickly if the Nuggets lose to the Lakers tonight. Would like to take Dallas, but too many unknowns in this one.
Toronto vs. Milwaukee: The Bucks are favored by 6 and the total here is 228. The numbers obviously favor the Raptors as Milwaukee has been going through the motions lately, but think this is a game they actually try to make a statement. Will go ahead and take Milwaukee in this one.
Indiana vs. Miami: The Heat are favored by 3.5 and the total here is 220.5. Right now Miami and Indiana are tied at No. 4 and No. 5, although the 76ers are just one game behind. The loser of this one could be looking at a first-round matchup with the Celtics, so have to think both teams will put forth some effort.
Denver vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers have moved to -5 in this one after opening as 3.5-point favorites and seeing the Nuggets get the majority of the wagers. Much like the Milwaukee game, believe the Lakers will quit diddling around on the court and look to come out and make a statement, so taking a shot on Los Angeles in this spot.
Numbers a little late to be posted for Sunday, as both opinions fell by the wayside Saturday, although it took overtime in the Denver/Utah game to send it over. One of those games where you had the right side, wrong result, but making no official plays was the right call on Saturday, so we still sit at 7-5.
Washington vs. Oklahoma City: The Thunder are 9.5 and the total here is all the way down to 222 at DraftKings even though the betting is pretty well split on the today. It opened at 227. The two numbers I ran have both teams covering and the total going both over and under. But would probably lean to the under here.
Memphis vs. Toronto: The Raptors are down to 6 and the total is 221 at DraftKings. My efficiency ratings have the Grizzlies winning the game, while the power ratings have Toronto covering. But with Milwaukee on tap tomorrow for the Raptors, going to take a shot on Memphis +6 in this spot for our lone play today.
San Antonio vs. New Orleans: The Pelicans are favored by 3 and the total is 238 and I have each team winning 121-120, so pretty close to both the side and the total in this one.
Orlando vs. Boston: The Celtics are favored by 10 and the total is 220 on this one, while I have it going over with both sets of numbers, but it’s hard to back Orlando over after the way they’ve played the last couple of games. Not really sure what to expect out of the Magic here and the Celtics are coming off a couple of blowout wins.
Philadelphia vs. Portland: The Blazers are favored by 3 and the total here is 229. I have each team winning by a pair, so the numbers would lead to the 76ers, although it’s practically a must-win game for Portland. How Memphis does earlier in the day could affect how much intensity the Blazers come out with. The efficiency ratings have this one going well over the total but the power ratings have it sneaking under the number.
Houston vs. Sacramento: The Rockets are favored 5.5 with a total of 232.5 and this is another one where I have each team covering and also one over and one under.
Brooklyn vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Not sure what type of effort we’ll see out of Los Angeles here, a day after they rallied to beat Portland. The Nets don’t have much of anything to play for in this one either, so probably a game to stay away from. I have an over call with the efficiency ratings but a call of 226 with the power ratings. The Clippers are favored by 14.5 and the total is 226.
We moved to 7-5 for the season with Memphis on Friday and once again, the stats don’t have a whole lot of meaning right now, as it’s more of a question of motivation and trying to get a read on each team and what their motivation is for the day. This is probably the toughest card so far during the restart, as you’re not really sure what to expect from a number of teams and the lone few who will be playing hard are both favored against superior teams. No official plays today, but a couple of opinion plays.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland: The Blazers are favored by 3.5 at William Hill and the total is 231, as Kawhi Leonard is sitting this one out. Still, it’s a bit of an overreaction to his absence. I have the total at 231 and 236, so not much to go on there either. Teams are just 4-8 ATS off a 15-point or more win in the bubble and the Clippers defeated the Mavs by 15 last time out.
Utah vs. Denver: Plenty of players questionable for this one between the Jazz and the Nuggets and Denver is favored by 1.5 with a total of 221. These two teams could very well meet in the first round of the playoffs, so there could be a little more intensity in this game than we’ve seen. Will lean to the under in this one.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana: The Lakers have climbed to a 7-point favorite and I have them winning 4 and also have it even. The team was dismal against Houston, even without LeBron James, and it’s possible they look to make a statement against Indiana. The Pacers are trying to hang on to the No. 5 seed, as you’d probably rather play Miami than Boston to start the playoffs.
Phoenix vs. Miami: The Suns are favored by 1.5 with a total of 225 and I have the Heat winning the game with the two numbers I ran. Phoenix has given itself a slim shot at getting in, but the Memphis win last night and a Portland win earlier today will make it that much tougher and they could have a bit of a letdown in this one. Would lean to the under here if I had to play the game.
Dallas vs. Milwaukee: The Bucks are favored by 5.5 with a total of 232.5 and I have each team winning with a slight lean to the under on the total. Which Milwaukee team shows up is anybody’s guess, so a good one to watch but probably not the best of games to play.
The Lakers announced LeBron James was sitting out last night a couple hours too late for our purposes and we were left with basically a worthless ticket, as we fell to 6-5 since the restart. As I mentioned yesterday, a lot of it now has to do with figuring out which teams are motivated and which are just going through the motions. There are still six teams alive for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference, as Memphis has allowed everybody else to get right back in it.
Utah vs. San Antonio: The Spurs are now favored by 8 after the Jazz announced four starters were going to miss this afternoon’s game, so the numbers become worthless in this one. The total is 224.5 and no opinion on this one, which I originally was looking towards San Antonio as a small underdog, before the line was corrected to reflect the Jazz absences.
Oklahoma City vs. Memphis: The Thunder are 4.5 and the total is 222 at William Hill and I have Memphis covering, while being split on the total, where I’d lean to the under. Memphis has let me down twice since the restart, including the overtime loss to Portland, but will go ahead and take the Grizzlies plus the points in this one.
Sacramento vs. Brooklyn: Another game where I’m split, this time both on the side and the total. You do know the Kings will be playing hard, while the Nets don’t have much to play for, as they’re either facing Milwaukee or Toronto in the first round of the playoffs. The Kings are 4.5 and the total is 232.5.
Orlando vs. Philadelphia: The 76ers are favored by 4.5 in this one and the total is holding at 222 despite a number of over wagers coming in on the game. The pace should be on the slow side, but I have this one going over with both sets of numbers.
Washington vs. New Orleans: The Pelicans are favored by 7.5 and the total has climbed to 235. I have the Wizards sneaking under the number with the two projections I ran, along with a split in the total.
Boston vs. Toronto: Solid game here, where the Raptors are favored by 2.5 and the total is 220.5. I have the Celtics getting the cover in both, with the game sneaking under the total, but not sure what type of effort we’ll see from each team.
A split with our two plays last night to move to 5-4 on the season and it’s looking more-and-more where you can throw away the stats right now and basically try to guess on motivation, which teams are looking to play hard and which ones are just going through the motions. We’ve seen lackluster efforts from some of the top teams over the past few days, so not sure what we’ll see from here on out.
New Orleans vs. Sacramento: The Pelicans are favored by 4.5 with a total of 233.5 at William Hill and the Kings are falling fast, while a slow start has New Orleans climbing an uphill battle. I have the Pelicans winning but not covering with the two numbers I used for today, with a slight lean towards the under.
Miami at Milwaukee: The Bucks are favored by 9.5 and there’s a good chance the Heat will hold several players out in this one. The Heat are No. 4 right now but with no home court advantage finishing fourth is no different than finishing fifth, so wouldn’t be surprised to see the Heat rest up here. The Bucks are also a question mark, having little to play for. Numbers lean to the Heat, while I’m split on the total.
Indiana vs. Phoenix: The Suns have given themselves a chance, with wins over the Clippers and Dallas and are once again small underdogs in this one, with the Pacers favored by 2.5 and a total of 229.5. I have the Pacers winning by 2 and by 4.5 but have this one at 222 and 224.5, so will take a shot on the under in this one.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas: The Clippers are -4.5 with a total of 229 and I have each team covering and the game squeaking under the total. The Clippers are trying to hang on to the No. 2 spot, while the Mavs really have nothing to play for.
Portland vs. Denver: The Blazers are favored by 4 and you know you’ll get a solid effort from Portland. I have each team covering and the game falling just shy of the 231.5 total.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets: The Lakers put forth a clunker last night against the Thunder and are just favored by 1 in this game. Have to think the Lakers were looking forward to this revenge game a little bit and LA is 5-3 in revenge games and 11-4 straight-up after a loss, so will take a shot on the Lakers -1.
We moved to 4-3 on Tuesday with the NBA plays and just as there was no reason to panic following the 1-3 start, there’s no reason to get overly excited after winning a few in a row. It’s still a matter of taking it slow until the playoffs begin and we saw yesterday that you can’t overlook the motivational factor, as some teams essentially went through the motions.
Memphis vs. Utah: The Jazz are favored by 5.5 with a total of 221.5 at William Hill in a game that really doesn’t mean a whole lot for Utah, while Memphis is fighting for a playoff spot. Sure, the league would probably rather see the Blazers get in there at No. 8, as Lillard and McCollum are a little more exciting than Memphis, especially now that Jaren Jackson is done for the season. The Grizzlies haven’t really played bad even though they haven’t won since the restart. I have the Jazz winning by 4 and 5, along with the Grizzlies winning in another set of numbers. Would lean to the underdog if I had to play.
Philadelphia vs. Washington: The 76ers are 10.5 and 229 in this one, while I have Philadelphia winning by 7-8 points, which doesn’t account for Beal’s absence, so the number is pretty close to where it should be. I have the total ranging from 229 to 238 and will go ahead and take the over 229 in this one.
Denver vs. San Antonio: The Nuggets are -3.5 with a total of 224.5 in this spot. I have the Spurs covering in two of the three numbers and the game landing under the number with two of the three sets of numbers, although the lone over calls for 230 points and the two under projects are by smaller amounts.
Oklahoma City vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are 6.5 with a total of 219 in this one and I have the Thunder covering with all three sets of numbers, although a few of them are pretty close. The big factor here is the motivation of Los Angeles, as grabbing the No. 1 overall seed against the Bucks no longer means anything and this is a meaningless game for the team. The Thunder will be missing Dennis Schroder, however, but still think the Thunder are the right side and will take a shot on Oklahoma City +6.5 in this one.
Toronto vs. Orlando: The Raptors have been bet up to 7 and the total here is 223. I have each team covering once, along with a seven-point Toronto win and the same for the total, with the season-to-date numbers liking the under, the most recent numbers siding with the over and one projection at 223.
Brooklyn vs. Boston: The Celtics are 8.5 with a total of 226.5 and all three numbers lean to the under, while the Nets get the lean with the side. A tough game to get a good read on.
The San Antonio Spurs made us sweat it out a little bit Monday, but got the job done in the end. Still, just 2-3 ATS since the restart and taking it slow a little bit until the playoffs. A couple of fairly early starts today, so we’ll get right to it.
Brooklyn vs. Milwaukee: The Bucks are -17.5 at DraftKings and it’s hard to take Milwaukee in what is essentially a meaningless game for them here. The Bucks are 8-4 ATS after a loss and could have a bit of a letdown after playing Boston and Houston. The Nets can catch Orlando for the No. 7 seed, although beating a team so you don’t have to face them in the playoffs doesn’t yield a lot of incentive. I have the Bucks winning but not covering.
Dallas vs. Sacramento: The Mavs are favored by 6.5 with a total of 235.5 and the price seems a little cheap, although the two numbers that have Dallas covering have them winning by 7 and 7.5. I have the Kings with the other. The numbers are leaning towards the under in this one and I’ll give the under a shot in this one.
Phoenix vs. Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers are favored by 8.5 with a total of 230.5 and I have them winning by 7 twice and by 13 on the other set of numbers I ran. I have totals ranging between 227 and 229 on the game.
Orlando vs. Indiana: The Magic opened as 2-point favorites and the number is down to 1.5, while the total has moved from 223 to 225.5. I do have the Pacers winning by 1,2 and 3 points, although that isn’t factoring in the injury to Sabonis. The season-long numbers have become worthless when trying to measure the Magic from a totals standpoint, while the most recent numbers are calling for 223 and 231 points.
Boston vs. Miami: The Celtics opened as 3-point favorites and the number has climbed to 3.5, while I have the Heat covering with all three numbers. Two of the methods do pick the Celtics to win, by 3 and by 1 point, while the other has the Heat winning by a pair. Going to take a shot on the Heat +3.5 in this one.
Houston vs. Portland: The Rockets have come down a little bit in this one, having opened 5 and now sitting at 4.5. The Blazers catch Houston coming off a big win over Milwaukee and are fighting for a spot in the playoffs, while the Rockets are playing for seeding. But there’s no difference between finishing No. 4 or No. 5 this season, so not sure of the effort we’ll see from Houston here. I have Houston by 5 and by 6, along with one method that calls it even, while projected totals range from 239 to 242.
NBA numbers a little late coming out today, with several injuries up in the air, so we’ll switch and use the number from Draft Kings, as we try to get going in the right direction here. The overall projections haven’t been as bad as the 1-3 record, which has been a case of choosing the wrong game a couple of days. While that happens throughout the season, it’s a little more noticeable at the start when you don’t have many games to make up your record.
Toronto vs. Miami: An early start in this one, the Raptors have moved up to 3.5-point favorites and are getting more than two-thirds of the wagers in the game. I have the Raptors by 3, 4 and 5 points, so not much of a difference there. The total is now 220 after opening at 221 and the three numbers I ran are all on the under, although one of them is at 219 points. The Raptors could have a bit of a letdown after beating the Lakers, but Toronto is 4-3 after a straight-up win as a dog. They are 2-5 in totals in those games, so would probably lean to the under if I really had to play this one.
Indiana vs. Washington: The Pacers are 7.5 and the total is 227.5, which is pretty much right at the opening number, and I have the Pacers but not covering. I have this landing under the number with two of the three sets of numbers, but the Wizards are 6-3 in totals with no rest and the Pacers are 6-2 after scoring at least 120 points.
Denver vs. Oklahoma City: The Thunder are 5.5 with a total of 218 and I have Denver covering with two of the three numbers and the game landing on the under with two of the three methods.
Memphis vs. New Orleans: I have the Grizzlies covering this one, which is now up to 4.5 after opening at New Orleans -3. Memphis is getting 60% of the wagers in the game, so some sharp money on the Pelicans.
San Antonio vs. Philadelphia: The 76ers are favored by and the total is 226.5. I have the Spurs covering with all three numbers, so going to take a stab with the Spurs +7 here. San Antonio is just 10-18 ATS after a win, but after dropping their first nine in that spot to start the season, have covered seven of their last 11. The most recent numbers lean to the over.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz: The Lakers are 6 and the total is 216 and I have each team covering once, along with a 6-point projection. The total is the same, with one over, one under and one right at 216.
We had the worst of the line in the Lakers game, but it didn’t make a difference, as we picked up the first win since the restart to move to 1-2. Six games on the slate for Sunday.
Washington vs. Brooklyn: The Nets are -2.5 and the total on this one is 235.5 at William Hill. Both my season-to-date and last 10 game efficiency ratings are calling for 232 points, so not much of an edge with the total. I have Brooklyn winning by 3.5 with the season numbers and the Wizards by 1.5 with the most recent numbers. This one could climb, as three-quarters of the wagers are coming in on the favorite.
Portland vs. Boston: The Celtics are 4.5 and the total has climbed three points to 230.5 and both of my efficiency ratings are calling for this one to land under the total. The Celtics have been an over team after a loss, while Portland has had a tendency to go over after a win, but have to think the Celtics play better defense and will take a shot on the under 230.5 in this one.
San Antonio vs. Memphis: Memphis is favored by 4 and the total here is 234.5. I have Memphis winning by 1 and 1.5, so the numbers lean to the Spurs a little bit, but San Antonio is just 9-18 ATS after a win this year. The numbers lean to the under, with Memphis playing a little better defense over the last 10 games, although it didn’t show against Portland.
Sacramento vs. Orlando: The Magic are favored by 2.5 with a total of 227.5 and a huge disparity in this one based on the season numbers compared to the most recent. With the season numbers, the Magic are projected to win 106-105, while the numbers from the last 10 games show a 120-117 Orlando win.
Milwaukee vs. Houston: The Bucks are favored by 4.5 and the total here is up to 241.5, which has actually come down slightly from a high of 242. I have the Bucks winning by 8 with the season-to-date numbers but just by 3 with the most recent figures. Both numbers call for this one to land under the total. Good game to watch but a little tough from a betting standpoint.
Dallas vs. Phoenix: The Mavs are favored by 6 with a total of 236.5, while I have Dallas winning by 6.5 and by 3 with the most recent numbers. The Mavs are 19-8 ATS after a loss and Phoenix is 10-16 ATS after a win. Both sets of numbers have this one landing on the under.
The dreaded overtime underdog loss with Memphis yesterday, as we limp out of the gate with an 0-2 record since the NBA restart. Just one of those games where we probably had the right side, but wrong result. Today, we have a five-game slate and we’ll use the lines from William Hill sportsbook.
Miami vs. Denver: The Nuggets are favored by 1 and the total is 211 in this one. This one should be pretty close and it’s reflected in the line. In the four sets of numbers I ran, two of them are calling this one even, while the numbers from the last 10 games before the shutout have Miami winning by a point and by 2.4. The most recent numbers are leaning towards the over, while the season-long numbers are split on the total.
Utah vs. Oklahoma City: The Thunder are -1.5 and the total in this one is 216.5 and this is another game where the Jazz get the nod by a point in the season-to-date numbers, while the Thunder are projected to win by 2 and 3.5 in the most recent numbers. This is the first game for the Thunder since the restart, so the Jazz could have a slight advantage there. The numbers are pretty much split on the total.
New Orleans vs. LA Clippers: Both teams are coming off tough losses and the Clippers are favored by 5 with a total of 228.5. New Orleans has covered 11 of its last 14 games following a loss, while Los Angeles is 17-3 straight-up and 15-5 ATS after a setback, so definitely contrasting trends there. I have the Clippers winning between 6 and 7.5 points and three of the numbers are calling for an over, with the most recent 10 games leaning to the under.
Philadelphia vs. Indiana: The 76ers are favored by 5.5 and the total here is 216.5. The big story in this one is Victor Oladipo and if he will play for the Pacers. Indiana will already be without Sabonis so even though Oladipo isn’t haven’t his best season, he would be a welcome addition for the team. I have this one essentially even, so would have the 76ers -3 to account for the injury to the big man. The Saturday morning injury report is now showing Brogdon questionable with a sore neck, so going to stay away from this one in a spot I was looking at the Pacers.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors: Decent game here, where the Lakers are -3.5 and the total is now at 217. I have the Lakers winning, but the Raptors covering, although the Lakers are 28-21 ATS after a win. Toronto won in Los Angeles earlier this season and Los Angeles is 5-2 ATS playing a team it lost to earlier. Going to take a stab on the under 217 in this one, primarily due to the efficiency ratings of the last 10 games.
We had the best of the number in the Utah total on Thursday, but it didn’t make any difference, as we dropped our first NBA play on a night where the sportsbooks did pretty well, with the two favorites not covering. There are still a lot of unknown factors regarding the NBA and it’s too early to read too much into the first two games.
Brooklyn vs. Orlando: The Magic are favored by 7 with a total of 212 at William Hill and the Magic were an over machine before the shutdown, but it remains to be seen how they come out in this one. Everybody knows about the issues the Nets are having, with Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Kyrie Irving out. Season numbers have this total right at 212, although the most recent games have it at 230, but it’s hard to get involved with the Nets out of the gate.
Memphis vs. Portland: The Blazers are to 3-point favorites and the total is 224. Neither team is fully healthy, with Portland missing Trevor Hood and Rodney Ariza and the Grizzlies without Justice Winslow and a few players questionable for this one. I have Memphis covering this one with both sets of efficiency numbers and will go ahead and take the Grizzlies +3 in this one.
Phoenix vs. Washington: The Suns are favored by 7, which is a little too high, as too much is being made into Bradley Beal’s absence for the Wizards. He can score, but doesn’t do a whole lot of anything else. I have Phoenix by 5 with full-season numbers and 3.5 looking at the most recent numbers, so nothing really worthwhile here. Those projections do account for Beal not playing.
Boston vs. Milwaukee: The game of the day sees Milwaukee favored by 5 with a total of 218.5 and I have the Bucks winning by 5 and 3.5, with one over projection and one under. The most recent scores are calling for the under, as the Bucks turned up the defense before the shutdown.
Sacramento vs. San Antonio: The Kings are favored by 3.5 with a total of 220.5 in another game where I both teams covering the spread. Both efficiency ratings have this one sneaking over the total, but not by enough to make this one a play.
Houston vs. Dallas: Another solid game here, where the Mavs are favored by 1 and the total is 229. I have the Mavs winning by two, while total projections of 236 and 226 with the most recent numbers, as Dallas is another team that started playing better on the defensive side of things before the shutdown.
Ready or not, the NBA will kick-off with a pair of games on Thursday. What exactly is going to take place in these final eight games is a bit of an unknown, although from a scheduling standpoint it’s not necessarily bad for basketball bettors, with five to seven games staggered throughout the day on most days. There are a fair number of early games on the schedule.
The lines have been up for the first few days on the schedule for over a week now, so I’m not sure how much line movement we’ll see before tip-off.
Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans: The Jazz opened as 1.5-point favorites when this one came out and now the Pelicans are favored by 2.5 points at William Hill and the total has moved from 218.5 to 222. Zion Williamson’s status is still unknown but he has cleared quarantine and practiced with the team.
I have widely different projections on this one depending on the numbers that are used. If you use season-to-date numbers, I have the Jazz winning by 4 with a total of 229, while numbers from the last 10 games show the Pelicans winning by 5.5 and a total of 228. One reason for the disparity in numbers is the emergence of Williamson, but another reason is the decline of Utah defensively. For the season, the Jazz have a defensive efficiency rating that is 1.1 points better than the league average, but the Jazz are 3.3 worse than average in their last 10 games. While Zion is known as an offensive star, the Pelicans showed a bigger increase in defense over the last 10 games.
Not a big play by any means, but will take the over 222, as all four methods I look at are calling for this one to land on the over.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are now favored by 3.5 in this one and the total has dropped a couple of points to 216.5. The Clippers are likely going to be without Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, while Anthony Davis is questionable with an eye injury for this one. All four of my methods have the Clippers getting the cover, although three of them do predict the Lakers to get the outright win and three of the four are calling for this one to land on the over. The efficiency ratings for the past 10 games is the lone method that calls for the under, but is probably the one to pay the most attention to.
I know it’s opening day and everybody wants to get involved, but there are plenty of question marks to begin with, let alone wondering about the status of individual players. Will just stick with the one play, knowing that there are six games on the slate for Friday, when we can probably find something a little more enticing.