Last Updated: 2019-06-07
Been off the mark the last two games in the NBA Finals after going 2-0 in the opener, so will look to get back on track today, as we have the crucial Game 4, where the Warriors are now favored by 4.5 after opening there and seeing the Raptors get close to 60% of the wagers.
I expected Golden State to start strong last game and they came out and laid an egg defensively, finding themselves in a catch-up situation throughout the entire game and that’s not the situation you want to be in when you’re short-handed. Thompson is expected to go here, but Kevin Durant is still out, so the Warriors are going to have to compensate once again.
The Warriors can’t give up 36 points in a quarter twice and expect to win and for a team that’s capable of playing good defense, that’s a huge disappointment, with all five starter for Toronto shooting 50% from the field and 44.7% from 3-point range. In fact, all seven players who attempted a field goal for the Raptors were 50% or better from the field, which is a definite rarity.
DeMarcus Cousins was expected to pick up some of the scoring for the Warriors and he turned around and went 1 for 7 from the field and was as ineffective as a player can be, finishing with just 4 points and the Warriors were less than 40% from the field.
While you expect Leonard to get his share of points, you can’t be letting Lowry go off for 23 points and it was a team effort for the Raptors, with the starters each scoring at least 17. So there’s plenty of blame to go around for Golden State.
Home favorites in the playoffs who lost last game as a home favorite by double-digits have been pretty much a 50-50 proposition, going 18-17-1 ATS, but think Golden State is being sold a little bit short in this one. The line is identical to Game 3 when Thompson was out and have to think he’s worth a little bit in the spread, but fans have been quick to jump on the hot team so far these playoffs.
Will go ahead and take the Warriors in this one, as I think they rebound and send the series back to Toronto all evened up.
END JUNE 7 PICKS
The opening game of the NBA Finals is an interesting one from a handicapping perspective, as it has a number of the things handicappers look for, with the reverse line movement probably the biggest, as the Raptors have moved from +1 to -1 even though close to 70% of the wagers have been coming in on the Warriors.
The Raptors do get a slight nod based on location, having a batter home record than the Warriors do on the road, but we also see two distinctive trends in this one regarding the Warriors and the number of days they have had off since they eliminated the Trail Blazers.
Overall, teams playing with more than six days rest in the playoffs are 20-8 straight-up and 18-10 against the spread, but if they’re underdogs, the record is just 1-4 straight-up and ATS. Teams playing as favorites of 3 or more points have posted an amazing 19-4 straight-up and 17-6 ATS record with at least six days to rest, but it’s the exact opposite when they’re dogs. There were no cases of the team being a small favorite, to account for the change from the opening number, as 4 points is the smallest chalk they’ve been.
That’s probably a slight advantage to the Raptors, although we’re dealing with such a small sample size it really doesn’t mean a whole lot.
It’s also not as though the Raptors are coming into this one on an empty tank, as they haven’t played since May 25 and home teams playing with at least four days rest are 34-11 and 28-17 against the number. The home team has been favored in all 45 games and just twice has the spread been 3 points or less, so not a whole lot to go on from the spread perspective.
I’d have this one rated even on the strength of my numbers, although the loss of Durant is probably worth a point or two, although he was No. 13 in the league in Player Impact Estimate, so that may be selling him a bit short, but the Warriors do have enough talent to make up for his loss and can rely on others to pick it up a bit.
The sportsbooks could have left the Warriors -1 and it likely wouldn’t have affected the wagering one bit, so the line move is a bit significant, especially for those who are going to tease the side and the total. Will go ahead and take the Raptors in this one and see how it plays out.
END OF MAY 30 PICKS
A split for us last time out in the NBA, winning the first-half bet and dropping the full-game wager. Now we move to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Bucks and the Raptors, where Toronto is favored by 2.5 after opening as 1-point favorites and climbing up on the strength of 61% of the early wagers.
The Bucks got off to a fast start last game, but faltered down the stretch and now find themselves down 3-2 after winning the first two games in Milwaukee. The Bucks shot 45% from the field, compared to just 37% for the Raptors, but Toronto attempted 13 more foul shots, which you wouldn’t expect since Milwaukee had 53 2-point attempts compared to 41 for Toronto. Typically, the team shooting inside is going to get the majority of calls, but not this time.
Milwaukee scored 32 points in the first quarter, but just 67 in the next three and part of that falls on Antetokounmpo, who was dismal from the line going 4 of 9 and is just 12 of 26 over the last three games. Obviously it’s a mental thing, but now isn’t the time to not have your head screwed on straight.
The Raptors are looking for a trip to their first-ever Finals and are doing the little things right and doing enough to get victories, which is all they’re concerned about. Leonard has been the difference in the series and he’s outplayed Antetokounmpo, which is a win in the Raptors’ book.
Obviously, the Bucks need to get off to a decent start in this one, as it’s more difficult to try and fight your back into a game on the road, especially when they may be feeling a little pressure of falling apart the past few games. They have the players to do it, but they have to play the way they’re capable of and stop worrying about other things, such as if Drake is on the court or not.
The Raptors have a bit of confidence that they can come back if they find themselves down early, and that could go a long way in the second half, but still think the Bucks are the better team, it’s simply a matter of them going out and executing.
Milwaukee hasn’t really been challenged yet, other than perhaps dropping the first game of the Boston series, but will take a shot on them here and take Milwaukee +2.5.
END OF MAY 25 PICKS
Stunk it up last game, as the Bucks gave another crappy effort and now look to be too worried about Drake and what he’s doing than the Raptors themselves. The Bucks opened as 7-point favorites for Game 5 and are still there at the majority of sportsbooks.
Both teams shot the ball a little better last game, although the Bucks once again struggled from the foul line, and the Raptors were able to hold their own on the boards and ended up with seven more field goal attempts than Milwaukee. Turnovers were pretty even in the game, so the Bucks probably should have had a few more attempts.
One thing the Raptors did better at home was launch 3-pointers, having 86 in the two plays played in Toronto compared to 74 in the games played at Milwaukee, which is a direct result from not being soundly beaten on the glass, as the Bucks averaged 14.5 more rebounds than Toronto at home and 2.5 more rebounds in the last two games.
The betting public is pretty much split on this one, as the Bucks are currently holding a 55% advantage in the number of bets received, which is up slightly from earlier this morning.
Both teams showed the typical home and away tendencies you expect to see from NBA teams, as the Raptors scored slightly less and allowed slightly more points, while the Bucks scored more and allowed fewer points, so the line is probably pretty close to where it should be. The Bucks were favored by 6 and 6.5 in the first two games and were lucky to cover in the opener and cruised to victory in Game 2.
What to think of this one is a bit tricky, but have to believe the Bucks are still the best team, but the line is also now high enough where you can’t simply choose the winner, as you do when you’re looking at a line of a couple of points. The Raptors lost 17 games this season by seven or more points (playoffs included) while the Bucks won 61 games by that same margin.
So far this series, the winning team is 63-10-1 against the spread, although that does include the 21 games underdogs won straight-up.
Not thrilled with the number, but have to believe the Bucks get the win here, so will reluctantly go ahead and lay the points in this one.
END OF MAY 23 PICKS
Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals takes place tonight and the Portland Trail Blazers have to be kicking themselves after letting Game 2 get away after they led much of the contest but faltered down the stretch and let the Warriors steal a victory.
The Blazers are favored in this one by 2 with the betting being pretty well split down the middle. A couple of outlets have it at 2.5, while several others had it at 2.5 earlier this morning, but have knocked it back to Blazers -2, which is where it opened at the majority of sportsbooks.
The Warriors weren’t an underdog very often this season, and they have gone 3-5 straight-up and 4-4 against the number, although three of the games they found themselves not favored were against the Rockets last round of the playoffs. The Warriors were also an underdog in the two regular season games at Houston, which now takes care of five of the eight.
The Blazers were 2-2 ATS as a home favorite or two points or less this season and 3-2 ATS as a home underdog, so once again not a real familiar situation for Portland, who was a home dog the last time Golden State visited the Rose Garden and the Blazers put a beatdown on Golden State, winning by 22.
Looking at the first two games of the series makes it pretty clear what’s gone wrong for the Blazers and that’s simply defense, as you can’t let a team shoot 50% from the field and expect to win. Golden State has been at least 50% in each of the first two games and also 50% or better in their two regular season wins, so they’ve had some success against the Portland defense.
The Blazers were 7-1 straight-up at home after a pair of losses and 10-6 ATS against teams they’ve lost the last two games against, so the Blazers have shown a bit of ability to bounce back.
A little worried about Portland’s mental state in this one, but they should be professional enough to know that it’s a completely different series if they can get a win tonight and believe they’ll get the job done at home. The Warriors did what they needed to do, which was to defend their home floor, and now it’s Portland’s chance to show they can do the same, so will grab the Blazers – 2 in this spot.
END OF MAY 18 PICKS
We split on Thursday’s game and now we’re back for the other Game 2, as the Raptors visit Milwaukee once again and the Bucks are favored by 6.5 in a game that has seen pretty good two-way action. The Bucks did open as 7-point favorites and the line has dropped slightly with the Raptors currently getting 52% of the wagers, which may climb slightly as the days goes on.
The Bucks didn’t play a very good game in the opener, but still managed to win and cover the spread. Milwaukee has shown the ability to rebound after a poor-shooting game, going 18-9 ATS after making 11 3-pointers or less, although that percentage drops to 12-8 ATS if they won that game. The Bucks were 18-2 straight-up and 13-6-1 ATS after scoring fewer than 110 points, but just 8-2 and 4-5-1 ATS following a win where they scored fewer than 110 points.
The Raptors were 8-14 when seeking to avenge a previous loss to an opponent and 3-4 ATS as an underdog, although one of those did come at Milwaukee earlier in the season and the Raptors are 5-3 ATS after losing two straight games to an opponent.
The Raptors didn’t shoot that well in the opening game themselves, especially in the second half where they could just muster 41 points and saw a 59-51 halftime lead turn into a 108-100 loss. The Raptors did make 35.7% of their 3-point attempts, which helped them get out in front early, but they didn’t hit those same shots down the stretch, which was the ultimate deciding factor in the outcome of the game.
Game 1 was just the fifth time all season the Raptors had a lead of greater than 12 points and went on to lose and they were just 1-3 ATS in their next game. They were just 2-7 ATS after blowing a double-digit lead in their last game, but the majority of those came as a favorite, as they were 6-3 straight-up. Just once were they underdogs, so probably can’t put a lot of stock into that.
The Raptors have the ability to bounce back, but not so sure this is a great spot for them, as the Bucks did show a bit of killer instinct against the Celtics last series. Tough game to get a handle on, but more of a hunch that the Bucks play a better game than they did in the opener and will take a shot on Milwaukee in this one and lay the points.
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