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Yesterday we made our first selections of the NBA playoff season. We picked two games and ended up going 1-0-1 against the spread on account of the Raptors and Wizards pushing their 8 point spread. I took a gamble and staked the moneyline for a small play. Whoops!
On a very positive note, the Sixers and Heat over hit big time. We told you about the irregular line movement in that game. The line fluxed from 211 to 215 and teetered back and forth depending on sportsbook. We ended up grabbing 213 at Bovada. We’re glad we did. The 76ers practically carried the over/under by themselves scoring 130 in their return to the playoffs.
It really looks like The Process is something to be feared in the Eastern Conference. Somewhere Sam Hinkie looks on proudly. Philadelphia +333 to win the East is tasty via Bovada. I’m tempted to take it here and may today after the Game 1 performance of Simmons and company.
Day two of the NBA playoffs offers just as much action as day 1 and we’ve got more quality free sports picks. Let’s dive in.
#7 Milwaukee Bucks @ #2 Boston Celtics
Spread: Boston Celtics -4
Moneyline: Milwaukee Bucks +145
Total: Under 202 (-110)
The Celtics and Bucks are one of my favorite matchups in the Eastern Conference. My co-writer predicted a Bucks 7 game upset here. I like the Moxy of a first round upset like that. I know the Celtics are injured, but I’m not sure it’s the right decision with how consistent they have been as a team despite all the different lineups they’ve had to utilize.
Brad Stevens deserves to be coach of the year in 2018 above Dwayne Casey. Kyrie Irving is out for the playoffs. Gordon Hayward barely showed up for a cup of coffee in 2017. Brad Stevens did all of this with backups and newly drafted pieces.
If you had told me in the preseason that the Celtics were going to lose all they have in 2018, I might have shorted the Celtics all the way to missing the playoffs. That’s the type of team they are. Everyone is sleeping on the Celtics right now. Bovada even has them at +2500 to win the East which I find to be disrespectful.
They say defense wins championships. That’s why I have the Celtics winning this series in six. The Celtics are the #1 defensive team in basketball. It deserves to be respected. Teams shot an NBA worst field goal percentage from three against the C’s.
The Celtics are up against a formattable offensive opponent in the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks finished this season ranked 9th overall in offensive efficiency. They’re also one of the more athletic teams in the NBA featuring physical freaks like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, and Jabari Parker.
Despite having a physical advantage in nearly every game they play, the Bucks are more of a turnover forcing fast break team than they are a defensive stalwart. Their strategy is based strictly on gambling, utilizing traps and pressure throughout all four quarters of play. They are only the 19th best team in overall defensive rating this season.
Even with the high turnover rate, the Bucks are exploitable on the defensive end. It’s why I have the Celtics edging them in this series.
The Celtics lost to the Bucks in Milwaukee 106-102 in their most recent meeting on April 3rd. They split their series overall.
The Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games. The Celtics are 5-1 in their last six home games against the spread. The over is 9-1 in the Bucks last 10 against Eastern Conference opponents. The over is 4-0 in the Celtics last four overall.
The over is 8-1-1 in the last 10 meetings between the Bucks and Celtics… Everyone in the world wants you to take the over it seems. I disagree with it vehemently.
Go against the trend here. Vegas is grossly underestimating Brad Stevens. This game grinds to a stop largely because the Celtics need it to and they’ve had time to prepare with several off days before this series.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Houston Rockets
Spread: Houston Rockets -11.5 (-105)
It’s true, the Timberwolves barely scraped into the playoffs. Their final game against the Denver Nuggets came down to the wire, but Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jamal Crawford carried the team down the stretch. As a result, the Timberwolves find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since the KD era. It’s their first appearance since 2004.
They’ve drawn a tough matchup in Chris Paul, James Harden, and the Houston Rockets.
As we covered in our Western Conference NBA Playoff Preview, Houston has been virtually unstoppable while James Harden is on the court. They finished 1st in offensive rating when Harden was on the floor and the ball movement when he is on the floor is a thing of beauty.
Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon see very little defensive pressure because of how well oiled the Rockets are as an offense. It’s tough to account for everyone when you have the pick and roll trio of Capella, Harden, and Paul forcing the defense to collapse.
One of the thing that makes the Rockets scary too is the increase of fouls in the postseason. On average, 1.6 more fouls are called per team, per game, in the playoffs vs. the regular season in the NBA. That’s scary when you think about Houston and the way James Harden can get to the free throw line.
The Rockets were 7th in the NBA in fouls drawn per game in 2018. They draw 20.75 fouls per game and are 3rd in shooting fouls drawn with 13.16 per. That’s going to go up here. Harden didn’t play every game in 2018 and he draws most of the Rockets shooting fouls with his crafty Euro step.
11.5 is a lot of points to be laying here. The line opened at 9.5 but quickly moved up to 11.5 with volume. 63% of public money is on the Houston Rockets to cover the spread.
This is really a gut call game for me. I’m going to give you some statistics below that show you this could be a good bet, but my tummy is just telling me to go a certain way on this one. The Timberwolves are build with guys who have been there all the way from college to the pros. They have a great leader in Jamal Crawford who has been there and done that. This is their first appearance in 14 years.
They’re not about to get their asses kicked by double digits in the playoffs. I don’t care how good the Rockets are, the playoffs are a different breed of basketball. We see teams raise their game all the time when April hits. It will be no different here.
Youthful exuberance should have the Rockets worried. This Timberwolves team is taking its first steps into what many experts have charted them to be: A future NBA powerhouse (and potential super team).
The Rockets are 0-6 ATS against their last 6 Western conference opponents. The Timberwolves ar 4-0 ATS in their last four games. The UNDER is 8-2 in the Rockets last 10 home games.
That all spells a good equation for points. Take the Timberwolves +11.5 and cross your fingers for no Harden bullshit!
Enjoy the playoffs y’all! Back at you tomorrow! Don’t forget about our MLB picks!