Tough game to get a read on tonight, due to the status of several players, as the Warriors host the Toronto Raptors for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The Warriors have dropped from 5.5-point favorites to 4.5-point favorites after the Raptors received 63% of the early wagers in the game, while the total has reluctantly climbed to 213.5 after opening at 213 and holding there for quite a while despite close to three-quarters of the wagers coming in on the over.
For the first half, Golden State is favored by 2 and the total is 105. The Raptors held the lead at halftime in the two games played North of the Border, but no sure they’re able to get off to another fast start in this one. With the Warriors being short-handed, it would make a little more sense for Golden State to falter in the stretch if fatigue wears in a bit, so going to go ahead and take Golden State in the first half, thinking they’ll look to come out strong being at home.
The Raptors outscored foes in the first half by 2.1 on the road during the season, while Golden State had a first half scoring margin of 3.4 points at home, getting off to a 3-point margin in the first quarter and then letting up some in the second quarter, where they outscored teams by .4 and then turning it up a notch in the third quarter. But that was the regular season and this is the time of year that really matters for Golden State, so not really expecting to see a letdown in the second quarter here. In the playoffs, the Warriors are outscoring teams by 5.4 points in the first half at home, while the Raptors are at -3.2 in the first half, so Toronto was rolling up some scores against weaker foes during the regular season.
Again, this is a tough game and nothing to really get too excited about, but believe Golden State will put forth a decent effort in this one and come out trying to make a statement. Going to split my bets on this one and take the Warriors -1.5 in the first quarter and also -2 for the first half. Not going to go overboard, however, and will wager half of a typical play on both plays instead of two full-unit plays.
END OF JUNE 5 PICKS
We’re back in Toronto for Game 2 of the NBA Finals, where the Raptors are favored by 1 with a first-half total of 109.5. Toronto is favored by 2 for the full game and the total is 213.5, both of which have seen reverse line movement, with the total dropping and the line moving in favor of the Raptors despite the over and Golden State getting the majority of the wagers in the game.
The Raptors led 59-49 at halftime in Game 1, as Golden State left its defense back in the Bay Area, allowing Toronto to shoot better than 50% from the field for the game, with Siakam going 14 of 17 from the field in a poor job by the Warriors’ defensively.
Golden State typically played better defense after a loss during the season, posting a 10-17-2 totals record, so have to think they do a little better in that department today.
The other thing that stands out a little bit was the number of free throws attempted, with each team shooting more than 30 foul shots and as we’ve touched on several times in the past, games where both teams are shooting that many foul shots are going over the total 75.1% of the time and if it’s a playoff game the record moves to 80-27-1 (74.8%).
I’m inclined to think we’re not going to see the same number of free throws and the officials should lets the players decide the game a little bit more.
The side is a bit tough in this one, as Golden State seems like the obvious play and two-thirds of the bettors agree, but the line moving towards the Raptors is fairly significant, but not enough for me to make a play in what could easily be considered a toss-up.
The other move with the total is also noteworthy, with the number dropping a bit after a high-scoring opening game and a good-sized advantge in the number of over wagers.
Think Golden State comes out to play a little better defense in this one and will take a shot on the first half under 109.5.
END OF JUNE 2 PICKS
The NBA Finals begin tonight and the Raptors are favored by one in the first half with a total of 109.
The Warriors are decent-sized favorites to win the series, currently checking in around -280, so the Raptors will have to take care of business at home.
The Warriors opened as small favorites and the line has moved the other way in a bit of a reverse movement, while the full-game total has dropped slightly, making the 109 a bit more than half of the 213.5 that we see for the full-game.
The teams met twice during the regular season, but haven’t faced-off in over five months, so there’s probably not a whole lot of familiarity between the two, although Golden State has seen a bit more of Leonard due to his days of playing in the Western Conference.
The Warriors will again be without Durant, which could be responsible for a bit of the line move, although it was pretty much common knowledge that he was going to be out at least the third game of the series, so not sure that has much to do with anything.
Playing the Warriors can be a bit of an intimidation, but the Raptors have a bit of confidence knowing they can beat Golden State, which could be beneficial here and both teams have been impressive in the postseason, although Golden State’s sweep of Portland isn’t quite as impressive as the Raptors coming back to defeat Milwaukee, who is simply a better team than the Blazers.
Getting off to a good start is going to be key in this one and have to believe it’s more important for the Raptors, so will go ahead and take Toronto -1 in the first half. Both teams were strong in the first half during the season, which you do have to expect, as we’re in the finals, with the Raptors being a little better at home than the Warriors were on the road.
Toronto led at the half in both games played during the regular season, leading by 9 points in the game played in Toronto and leading by 16 in the game at Golden State.
Counting the playoffs, Toronto is 40-11 at home, while the Warriors are 33-16 on the road, both impressive numbers, but will have to give the nod to the home team in this one.
END OF MAY 30 PICKS
The Toronto Raptors are favored by 1.5 with a first-half total of 104, as they look to close out the Milwaukee Bucks. After dropping the first two games of the series, the Raptors have won three straight, and have a chance to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The first five games of the series have been a bit of a mixed bag, seeing halftime scores of 95 to 120 points. The team trailing at the half has won two of the five games, erasing three-point and eight-point deficits in the two comebacks.
While you would think that a fast-paced game would favor the Milwaukee Bucks, as the Raptors have won two of the three highest-scoring games and the teams have split the two lower-scoring contests.
The Bucks came out strong in Game 5, but that lasted the first quarter and that was about it. After scoring 32 points in the first 12 minutes, Milwaukee cooled off in a hurry and didn’t do much of anything over the final 36 minutes.
Milwaukee should try to force the pace early on and get out to a lead, something the Raptors may not object to all that much, as they led 65-55 at the break in Game 4 after leading 58-51 at halftime in Game 3.
The Bucks have scored 140 and 123 points the last two times they were held under 100 points, so they have shown a bit of ability to bounce back after a poor showing by their standards.
I’ve been on the first half under the past few games, but faced with a total of just 104 in this one, think the over is the way to go here. The full game total has dropped from 214 to 212 even though the majority of wagers are on the over, so a little hesitant in that regard, but in a win or go home type of game, have to think Milwaukee will at least come out and try to do what they do best. If they get into a half-court game with the Raptors, they deserve to lose, as you have to do what you do best.
This isn’t going to be a large wager by any means, but will take a shot on the first half over 104 in this one.
END OF MAY 25 PICKS
Was off the mark with this one two days ago and will try to regroup here, as we look at the first half of the Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are favored by 4.5 and the total is 106.
I expected the Bucks to come and play a little defense last game. Instead they allowed 65 points in the first half and were never able to recover. The team ahead at halftime has won three of the four games, with Milwaukee finding themselves down at the break in the first game, only to rally to the victory with a big fourth quarter.
Three of the four games played so far would have landed on the over, with Game 2 the lone exception where the Bucks led 64-39 at the half. For the season, the Bucks have been a higher-scoring team in the first halves of games, with part of that likely due to playing its bench players more in the fourth quarter of games. For the season, the Bucks score fewer points in the fourth quarter of games than any other. The Raptors show a similar pattern, where the fourth quarter is their lowest scoring.
Both teams score in the upper 50s in the half and limit the opposition to the lower 50s, but it will likely take both teams to reach the 50s and not entirely sure that happens. The Bucks have lost two games in a row just once this season back in March and responded with a 117-98 victory over Indiana, leading 54-50 at the half.
After dropping the last two games to the Raptors and allowing 58 and 65 points, have to think they’re going to do a better effort here, but the number is still pretty low, as we found out the hard way in Game 3 when the teams scored 9 points in the final 40 seconds to give us a 2-point loss.
Even though they haven’t shown it on the road the past two games, still think the Bucks are a solid defensive team and if there was a time for them to show it, it’s definitely going to be tonight.
The Raptors can play a little defense themselves and this is a huge game in regards to the outcome of the series, so wouldn’t be shocked if we see both teams a little more cautious, so will give another shot to the first half under in this one.
END OF MAY 23 PICKS
We’ve seen a pretty big move in the line for tonight’s Game 4 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors, as the Bucks are now favored by 3 after the Raptors were favored by a couple of points in Game 3. In the first half, the Bucks are favored by 1 and the total is 105.5.
We suffered a bit of a bad beat on the first half under last time, as we saw three 3-pointers in the final 30.4 seconds of the half to send us to a 2-point loss. But that’s how it goes at times.
The Raptors got off to a fast start last game, which you have to expect when one team has its back against the wall after dropping the first two games on the road. The Bucks don’t always play with a lot of intensity to begin with, but at this stage of the season you wouldn’t think that would be a problem, but bad habits can be hard to break sometimes.
The Bucks missed some foul shots in regulation and in overtime that would come back to haunt them, and it was probably also a pretty good lesson that can’t expect to play good basketball for one half and come away with victories as easily as they did in the regular season.
Toronto has to keep doing what they did last season and that’s playing decent defense and putting a little pressure on the Bucks, who made more turnovers than the Raptors for the first time all series. Toronto does need to do a little better job at keeping the Bucks off the offensive glass, although that’s not always an easy task when Milwaukee is crashing the boards a little bit.
Antetokounmpo had a poor game and he knows it, as does anybody else who watched the game, so you have to expect a better outing from him, but the Bucks probably can’t expect the same effort off the bench as they received last time.
The Raptors are listing Leonard as probable, but don’t believe for a second there isn’t a chance he can go, but think Milwaukee is going to come out a little better than they did last game. The price is pretty cheap, so will go ahead and take the Bucks in the first half and see what happens in this one.
END OF MAY 21 PICKS