NBA 8/19 betting preview. Another day of upsets?

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Well that didn’t go as expected. After a pretty chalky first day in the playoffs, all hell broke loose yesterday. The Lakers and Bucks both lost as No. 1 seeds, and the Thunder lost as small favorites to the Rockets.

What does Wednesday have in store for us? We’ve got another four games on the slate, starting with the Raptors vs. the Nets at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Let’s break down each contest and try to identify some potential betting value.

Toronto Raptors (-11) vs. Brooklyn Nets — 226.5 total

The Nets were absolutely run out of the gym in Game 1 of this series. The Raptors ultimately led by 33 in the second quarter, and they ultimately won the game by 24. They took their foot off the gas in the third quarter, which allowed the Nets to get back in the game, but they thoroughly dominated from start to finish.

The crazy thing is that they didn’t even get great production from their two “star” players. Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam combined to shoot just 7-27 from the field (25.9%), so they should get better shooting performances from those guys in Game 2.

This series looked like a potential sweep before Game 1, and there’s no reason to change course now.

The bigger question is if they can cover the spread in Game 2. That definitely seems feasible, but history is actually not on their side. Teams coming off a win of 20+ points in the playoffs have historically posted a losing record against the spread in the following game. It’s definitely natural for a team to become slightly overrated when coming off a blowout win, so I’m always skeptical of targeting teams in that situation.

That said, there’s no way I’m actually targeting the Nets.

The Pick: Pass

Betting preview show with Dieter and Matt!

Denver Nuggets (-4) vs. Utah Jazz — 217.5 total

I had two major takeaways following Game 1 of this series:

  1. The Jazz probably should have won

They owned a four-point lead with just 1:46 left on the clock and had possession of the ball, which gave them a 91.8% win probability according to Inpredictable.

At that point, Donovan Mitchell got called for an eight-second violation, and Jamal Murray followed that up with a 3-pointer. Murray got super-hot from that point on, which allowed them to pull away in overtime.

  1. Donovan Mitchell played what could be the best game of his career

I’m not talking about his career to this point, I’m talking about his career when all is said and done. That’s how awesome he was.

He scored 57 points while shooting 57.6% from the field and 40.0% from 3-point range. Mitchell is not an efficient scorer — he shot just 44.9% this season — so that is pretty unusual for him. He also found the time to chip in nine rebounds and seven assists, so he absolutely stuffed the stat sheet.

With both of those things in mind, how in the world can the Jazz compete in this series?

They are still going to be without Mike Conley, which leaves the team pretty shorthanded. They’ve been outscored by -6.9 points per 100 possessions with Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic off the court this season.

That has forced guys like Jordan Clarkson, Juwan Morgan, and Georges Niang into bigger roles, which isn’t ideal. Clarkson put up decent counting stats in Game 1, but the Jazz were ultimately outscored by 15 points while he was on the court. That’s pretty typical for Clarkson, which is why he’s playing for his third team in three years.

With that in mind, I’m not expecting Game 2 to be nearly as competitive as Game 1. I love the Nuggets as small favorites, and I think you could definitely still look at some futures for them as well. You can grab the Nuggets to win this series 4-0 at +280 and 4-1 at +240, and I like the idea of pairing those two bets together. That way, you’re locking in a profit if the Nuggets win in five games or fewer, which I think is the most likely scenario.

The Pick(s): Nuggets -3.5, Nuggets to win series 4-0 (+280), Nuggets to win series 4-1 (+240)

Boston Celtics (-5) vs. Philadelphia 76ers — 215.0 total

The Celtics managed to escape Game 1 of this series with a win, but their overall chances of making a deep playoff run took a hit. They lost Gordon Hayward to an ankle injury, and he’s expected to miss approximately four weeks.

The Celtics are a deep team, but Hayward is one of their most important players. He posted a Net Rating differential of +4.9, which is the second-highest mark on the team.

That said, the Hayward injury doesn’t have to be a death-blow. Marcus Smart can slide into the starting lineup, and the five-man combination of Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Daniel Theis has posted a Net Rating of +7.5. That’s not as good as the starting unit with Hayward (+8.1), but it’s pretty darn close.

On the 76ers side, Joel Embiid was not involved enough in their last game. He started hot — he scored 11 points on 5-5 shooting in the first quarter — but he finished with just 26 points on 15 shot attempts. He needs to be more involved in the offense moving forward.

That said, there are some positives that they can take away from that contest. The biggest was the play of rookie Matisse Thybulle. He brings very little on the offensive end of the court, but he is an absolute menace defensively. He logged two steals and one block in Game 1 and did an amazing job defending Jayson Tatum. Tatum shot just 2-9 with Thybulle as his primary defender, and it seemed like those were the only shots that Tatum missed. He finished with 32 points, so don’t be surprised to see Thybulle see a bigger workload in Game 2 to try to slow him down.

I absolutely love the under on 215 points today. These two teams have played five teams this season, and they’ve combined for 210 points or fewer in three of them. That includes the first game of this series.

Game 2 should be even more defensive minded just by replacing Smart with Hayward. If Thybulle sees a few additional minutes, that would be the cherry on top.

I also think this is an interesting opportunity to buy the 76ers in the futures market. They’ve jumped all the way to +600 after losing Game 1 despite the Celtics losing one of their best players. I thought the 76ers had a chance to win this series with the Celtics at full strength, and Game 1 did nothing to change my mind. 

The Pick(s): Under 215.0, 76ers to win the series (+600)

Los Angeles Clippers (-6.5) vs. Dallas Mavericks — 229.5 total

Game 1 of this series ended up being very close despite the fact that the Mavericks lost Kristaps Porzingis after just 19.8 minutes. He picked up two soft technical fouls and ended up getting tossed.

Luka Doncic was more than capable of picking up the slack, scoring 42 points in his playoff debut. That was the most ever by a player in his first career postseason contest, which is just another accolade for one of the most accomplished young players in league history.

With that in mind, should you back the Mavs in Game 2 with Porzingis back in the lineup? I don’t think so.

The Clippers’ last starting lineup is arguably the most talented in the league, and they showed that in Game 1. Each of their starters was at least +13 when on the court, led by Marcus Morris’ mark of +25. They have been phenomenal in general with Morris, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George on the court, posting a Net Rating of +21.3 points per 100 possessions. That is absolutely absurd, and it’s over a decent sample size of 341 minutes.

That trio should only see more time on the court together in the playoffs, which spells trouble for their opponents.

The biggest problem for the Clippers in Game 1 was their bench production. Patrick Beverley was limited to just 20.4 minutes due to foul trouble, and Montrezl Harrell played less than 15 minutes in his first game in Orlando.

Those two players being limited forced guys like Landry Shamet and JaMychal Green into larger workloads than usual, and the Clippers were crushed when those two players were on the court. The Clippers were outscored by -19 points during the 8.3 minutes Shamet was on the court in particular, which is so bad that it’s actually impressive.

Beverley and Harrell should see larger workloads on today’s slate, which will have a domino effect on the rest of their rotation. If the Clippers can just keep the bench battle relatively even, they are not going to lose a lot of games. That’s how good their starting lineup is.

I’m buying the Clippers in Game 2 at -6.5 points, and I think this might be your last chance to buy the Clippers to win the title if you haven’t already done so. You can grab them at +260 on FanDuel, which is tied with the Bucks for the shortest odds to win the title. I can only imagine those odds getting shorter in the future, particularly if they look impressive vs. the Mavericks again today.

The Picks: Clippers -6.5, Clippers to win the title (+260)

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