NBA betting: Playoff picks for this weekend
Chris Sheridan picks out his best value bets for Mavericks-Warriors Game 2 and Heat-Celtics Game 3.
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OK, that is three days of the NBA Conference Finals, and we have not had a single good game from a competitiveness standpoint. Will tonight or Saturday be different? Let’s hope so.
Very impressive performance last night by the Boston Celtics, who showed exactly how important Marcus Smart and Al Horford are to their fortunes.
We have now had an 11-point win for the Heat and a 25-point win for the Celtics sandwiched around a 25-point win for the Warriors, and that noise you are hearing is Adam Silver screaming into the phone at his referees: “I need a close game, or else everyone will spend the weekend talking about the PGA championship.” That is a joke, of course.
This should be an epic weekend for the NBA playoffs, if we use the term “epic” loosely. What the league really needs is some drama on the court in one of these games, not another non-competitive game. We have Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night to see if that happens, and today we are going to focus on giving you an edge heading into the next two games: Mavericks-Warriors tonight and Heat-Celtics on Saturday as that series moves to Boston for Games 3 and 4.
We also have the NBA draft combine happening in Chicago, and out of that we could see some clarity on who the Orlando Magic will take with the overall No. 1 pick.
Jabari Smith, whose dad played in the NBA and whose cousin, Kwame Brown, was the overall No. 1 pick when Michael Jordan was playing for the Washington Wizards, is the -125 favorite. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren is at +150, and may or may not go to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2. Houston general manager Rafael Stone has said he is open to trading the No. 3 pick, so we are looking at a whole lot of basketball conjecture over the month of June after we get through May.
But back to the playoffs.
On Thursday morning, Betway had the Heat and Celtics with the same odds to emerge from the East, which was telling because the Heat were the much better team in Game 1 but the books believed in the Celtics and were proven correct. The odds on winning the east are now Boston -255 and Miami +200, which is an even stronger indication of how highly regarded the sportsbooks view the Celtics.
If that is not enough for you, consider this: Boston is now +180 to win the championship, while Miami is +500. And that series is 1-1.
Golden State remains the favorite at +105 and Dallas is +950, and we shall see how that holds up through tonight’s Game 2 in the West.
So let’s break down tonight’s game and then look ahead at tomorrow’s game with a few gambling angles to consider playing.
Mavericks (+6) at Warriors, 9 p.m. EDT, TNT: Luka Doncic had more turnovers than field goals in Game 1, which rarely happens but is not entirely unprecedented. Let’s just say that Jason Kidd needs to do whatever it takes from a game-planning standpoint to make sure that does not happen again. But for those who believe the Warriors are too crafty defensively, the line on Doncic’s turnovers is 4.5, which is about as high of a turnover line as you will ever see. But because the payoffs on those turnover bets are both measly (over is -125; under is -105), we counsel finding other wagers with decent payoffs, and we will have you covered on that shortly.
In terms of the spread, Dallas is an NBA-best 26-9-0 against the spread after a loss, a testament to their resilience. So you may want to start a two-day parlay (yes, we have to do those now from time to time) by taking the points (-110).
Dallas has gone over only 14 times in 45 games after a loss, the second-worst percentage in the NBA behind Phoenix, but we still do not like going with the under (214) because it is one of the lower ones we have seen involving the Warriors all season, and there are just too many 3-point shooters in this series. Golden State is 27-32-2 on overs following a win, so the percentage trend is favorable there on the under, but again, it is one of the lowest we have seen all season with Golden State. Stay away from that one.
The trick tonight for Dallas is two-fold: Not looking like they are out of their element from an experience standpoint as they did in Game 1, and coming out of the gate very strong in the first quarter the same way that Boston did Thursday night in the first quarter with a 24-3 run after they had fallen behind 18-8 in the first four-and-a-half minutes.
Somebody has to be Dallas’ Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart, and picking that guy is tricky because so many players on the Mavs have been running so hot and cold in the postseason.
The one guy we know is not going to have two horrible games in a row is Doncic, because that almost never happens to him. He is going to have to carry the team while playing off the ball more than he did in Game 1 in order to reduce his turnovers, but look for him to be a prolific scorer the way he was in the second round against Phoenix when he had 30 or more points four times. Betway has a bunch of nice Doncic props including +450 for 40 or more points, +875 for 45 or more points, and +1300 for 40 points and 12 rebounds, something he last did Feb. 17 against New Orleans. That last one is a very worthy flyer bet given how much they are going to need him to score and hit the boards, especially if Spencer Dinwiddie or Jalen Brunson or even Trey Burke takes on a bigger playmaking role.
Overlooked in the Warriors’ Game 1 victory was their relatively poor 3-point shooting, which we are not used to seeing very often. Steph Curry made three 3s and Andrew Wiggins did the same, but Klay Thomson and Jordan Poole were only 1-for-4 the team had more turnovers (15) than 3s. Poole’s dropoff is more alarming because he is only 4-for-21 in the past four games after going 13-for-22 in the first three games of the postseason against Denver when “Poole Party” was trending the same way that “Get Me Some Baby Formula” is trending now. Thompson went 11-for-20 in the final two games against Memphis but 0-for-7 in Game 5.
So what else to bet? Bullock is due for a 15-point game. He had one against Utah and three against Phoenix and finished with 12 points in Game 1, and his +450 line on scoring 15 or more is a good payoff, so put it in your parlay along with Finney-Smith going over 2.5 3-pointers at +150 and Maxi Kleber to go over 0.5 steals at +180. That will make for a nifty parlay payoff that would not require adding anything additional from Saturday’s game. For which we also say…
Miami (+6) at Boston, 8:30 p.m. EDT, ABC: The Grant Williams show had a sequel, and we all saw last night how important Marcus Smart is to the Celtics collective energy and offensive efficiency.
But a six-point spread? Miami has gone 20-11-1 against the spread coming off of a loss, and this trend of blowouts simply cannot continue. That line seems too high, even given what happened Thursday night. If any coach can get his team to shake something like that off, it is Erik Spoelstra. So take the points (-110).
Look, the Heat finished No. 1 in the conference, and although they look much too dependent on Jimmy Butler, there is a resiliency and an experience factor there that cannot be denied. This team went to the NBA Finals two seasons ago when nobody though all that much of them, and they will consider Game 2 a toilet game: Just flush it.
The guy to watch for on the player prop line when those come out is Victor Oladipo, because the Heat are getting so little offensively from Bam Adebayo and Max Strus that they are going to have to turn to someone, and Oladipo logged 26 minutes in Game 2 and got to the free throw line 10 times. Spoelstra has been sitting on him, and it would not be a surprise to see him actually replace Strus or P.J. Tucker, who now has an injury, in the starting five before this series is over. The guy was projected to be a superstar before a pair of quad injuries derailed his career, so the talent is there with Oladipo. His point total over/under will likely be too low.
Stay away from anything involving Adebayo aside from a blocked shots prop. He is better than what he has been showing, but there have been too many duds to risk that hard-earned baby formula money.
It says here that Celtics-Heat has seven games written all over it, and it’ll come down to either Butler or Tatum playing better in Game 7. More on that next week, y’all. Win big this weekend!