NBA Playoff Game Predictions
NBA Playoff Games Betting Lines & Analysis
Detroit Pistons (+4.5) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (-4.5)
The Detroit Pistons have jumped out to a pair of quick starts through the first two games of this series. It has given the appearance that they will eventually steal a contest from the Cleveland Cavaliers, perhaps even two.
But the Cavaliers start slow. That’s what they do. And while they’re wholly reliant on LeBron James, they’re the better team from top to bottom. They have found a way to defend Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond pick-and-rolls down the stretch, and they have two role players, in J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova, who can go off to supplement the Big Three’s production. Those are weapons the Pistons do not have right now.
Of course, if the Pistons steal a game, it is going to be this one. They are at home, and once teams go down 3-0, they don’t typically win Game 4. They are too browbeaten by the odds stacked against them to compete.
Nevertheless, it’s a big risk to roll with the Pistons in this one. If you were going to invest in them at any point this series, now is the time to do it. Investing in them at all just isn’t recommended.
The Pick: Cavaliers (-4.5)
Boston Celtics (-3) vs. Atlanta Hawks (+3)
That the Boston Celtics are favored over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 is a testament to their incredible depth. They don’t have Avery Bradley, and there’s no guarantee they’ll have Kelly Olynyk. Both of those guys are key contributors; Boston just isn’t the same team without them.
Still, the Game 2 disaster is not emblematic of what the Celtics can accomplished shorthanded. Yes, Bradley and Olynyk matter. And no, Jae Crowder doesn’t look the same since his ankle injury. Those problems won’t present sudden solutions. Same goes for the Celtics’ spacing. They won’t be able to drain threes without both Bradley and Olynyk.
But the defense is going to be better. And the offense cannot get any worse. Head coach Brad Stevens is a master tactician and will make the necessary adjustments to ensure the Celtics are in a position to win games.
This isn’t meant to diminish the Hawks’ body of work. Their offense still isn’t scary, but the defense has been phenomenal and they must be considered favorites to win the entire series so long as Boston is running at half strength.
It’s just that this series doesn’t have the word “sweep” scrawled across it. The Celtics are too good, too deep, to lose four straight contests to a relative equal. Bank on them scraping out a victory in Game 3.
The Pick: Celtics (-3)
Memphis Grizzlies (+12) vs. San Antonio Spurs (-12)
Might the injury bitten Memphis Grizzlies put up more of a fight at home than they have on the road? Maybe.
Will that matter? Heck no.
Even if the San Antonio Spurs start slow, they have shown they will pick it up and obliterate the Grizzlies at some point. Coach Gregg Popovich hasn’t been inclined to sit his key players for long stretches, drumming up the value of this spread considerably, since he’s not a risk to start handing out rest now. He understands the real rest will come with an expedited series.
If the Spurs, for example, dispatch the Grizzlies in four games, they’ll maximize their between-round break before the Western Conference semifinals. There’s a chance it may not matter much, as their next projected opponent, the Los Angeles Clippers, could sweep their opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, as well. But the possibility of some extra recovery time matters, so don’t expect the Spurs to take their foot off the gas anytime soon.
The Pick: Spurs (-12)
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