NBA betting tips: Picks for Thursday's playoff games
Jack Green makes his NBA predictions for Thursday's action as the Milwaukee Bucks face the Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz host the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Bucks have had no answer for the Nets so far in this series as Brooklyn has cruised to a 2-0 lead thanks largely to the dominance of Kevin Durant.
The two-time Finals MVP scored 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting in a Game 2 rout that finished 125-86, despite the Nets being without the injured James Harden.
Game 3 looks like a great opportunity for the Bucks to bounce back, however. They went 26-10 at home in the regular season and won back-to-back games against the Nets in Milwaukee in May, when Brooklyn was also missing Harden.
As badly as they’ve started this series, it’s worth remembering that the Bucks swept the Miami Heat – who won the East last year – in the opening round.
Milwaukee has shot the ball poorly in the first two games but should expect some improvement in that area at home, having ranked inside the top five in the NBA in field goal percentage and three-point percentage during the regular season.
That will in turn create room in the paint for two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has struggled so far.
There’s no doubt who has been the better team in this series, but the Bucks are too good to be swept by Brooklyn and a much-improved performance would be no surprise here.
A last-second block from Rudy Gobert sealed victory for the Jazz in Game 1 of this series as they fought back from a 13-point half-time deficit to win 112-109.
The Clippers went down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round and are in real danger of being in a hole again in this series, given that the Jazz’s 31-5 home record in the regular season was the best in the NBA.
Donovan Mitchell poured in 45 points in Game 1 and now looks back to his best after returning from an ankle injury in the first round, and he looks a great bet to score over 30.5 points in Game 2, particularly with Mike Conley listed as questionable.
Mitchell was fantastic in last year’s playoffs and has now proven himself repeatedly as a player who dominates in clutch situations.
The same can be said of the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, but he had a plus-minus of -12 in Game 1 while going 9-19 from the field and his team-mates – particularly Paul George – failed to bail him out.
Los Angeles needs to find a way to win when Leonard isn’t the best player on the court. Luke Kennard scored 18 points off the bench in Game 1, but the Clippers’ other role players shot poorly, and this team has a history of freezing in pressure situations.
They may respond later in this series, as they did against Dallas in the first round, but it’s hard to feel good about their chances in Utah on Thursday night.