Western Conference Finals – Game 1

Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets, 11:05 am
Lakers -7

After an epic comeback against Utah in round 1, the Nuggets had a real letdown spot in game 1 of the Conference Semis and were blown out by the Clippers.

I can see something similar happening here, which is why I’ll take the Lakers -7 points.

The Lakers match up quite well with this Denver side, who doesn’t appear to have anyone who can guard LeBron James.

In terms of defenders who can contain Jokic, there may not be a better fit in the entire NBA than Anthony Davis.

Davis has the speed and length to give Jokic some trouble and shouldn’t have any difficulty scoring on him on the other end.

Denver showed great resiliency to fight back against the Clippers, but let’s remember they were down 3-1 and double digits in almost each game to begin with.

That alone suggests that this is a flawed team and I think the comeback was more so due to a capitulation by the Clippers.

The Lakers have looked locked in since the playoffs started and I don’t see them making the same mental mistakes.

I’d like to be wrong here, but I’m expecting a Lakers win to open what should be a relatively uncompetitive Western Conference Finals.

Eastern Conference Finals – Game 2

Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat, 9:05 am
Crowder Over 11.5 Points

I’m opting for a prop play in this one, going with Jae Crowder over 11.5 points.

Crowder has comfortably gone over this number in each of his last 5 games and I expect that trend to continue here.

He has proven his value over the past two series, averaging around 35 minutes per game.

He is also getting considerably more shooting opportunities than the regular season, averaging 11 shots a game since the conference semis started.

A lot of these are open looks from 3, a shot that Crowder has proven to be relatively capable of hitting.

He shot over 43% on over 10 3’s a game in the conference semis, and made 5/9 against Boston last time out.

Given the other threats on the Heat offence, I expect more open looks for Crowder here.

At this rather low number, even a few field goal makes gets us the over.

Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat, 9:05 am
Kemba Over 5.5 Assists $2.15

I’m opting for another prop for my second play, this time taking Kemba Walker over 5.5 assists at $2.15

I think this is an accurate line, but we’re getting an extra 28 cents of value compared to the typical $1.87 prop price point.

Kemba should have the ball in his hands a lot here and I expect Boston’s defence to force him to pass.

He had 6 assists in game 1 and probably would’ve had more if not for some shaky finishing by his team mates.

Minutes should also be in his favour here, as I’d expect him to play somewhere between 38-42.

His outside shooting just hasn’t been there in recent games and I can see him being more pass-happy as a result.

Throw in the fact that he’s surrounded by good shooters and has gone over in 4 of his last 5 games and I like that trend continuing here.

Wednesday, September 16

Series Betting: Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat
Celtics to Win $1.80

I’m opting for a series play here in the Eastern Conference Finals, taking the Celtics outright at $1.80 here.

This is largely a line value play, based on how much the odds have shifted after Miami’s win over Milwaukee.

Miami were very impressive in an uncompetitive 5-game series, but Milwaukee just weren’t the same team that they were in the regular season.

The Celtics looked equally as impressive in their win over Toronto and I think they were largely unlucky to have to play 7 games.

I rate them as the better of these two sides and give their starting lineup a definite edge.

Kemba Walker is the exact type of guard that gives the Heat defence problems and I can see him being a focal point here.

The Celtics looked also looked locked in on defence against Toronto and I can see the Heat really struggling to score during this series.

Overall, I’ll take the better side to win the series on a neutral court at $1.80.

LA Clippers vs Denver Nuggets, 11 am
Over 207.5

The total in this series started at 224 points and we’ve gradually seen it dip throughout the series.

It is now 17 points lower than it was in game 1 and I’m inclined to take the line value on the over.

Game 7’s typically open with a lower total, but I think this adjustment is far too much in this case.

For starters, this game is likely to be relatively close down the stretch.

Given that it’s a game 7, it’s fairly likely that we see the free throw game late, which could artificially add 10 points or so.

The Clippers have also not been shooting well from the field lately, including shooting a pedestrian 41% last time out.

Denver lack any real top-end wing defenders, which should create some nice looks for Kawhi and PG.

Montrezl Harrell has also been an absolute sieve defensively, providing a really favourable matchup for Jokic.

I’m not expecting a super high scoring game, but the over looks like a +EV play here.

 

Monday, September 14

Denver Nuggets vs LA Clippers, 3:10 am
Clippers -8.5

I liked this line better at the 7.5 opener, but I think the Clippers are still the right side at -8.5.

Denver have done an excellent job this series, playing hard and generally keeping things competitive.

I think they’ve been playing at their absolute peak lately, while there is plenty of room for the Clippers to improve.

Doc Rivers is the better of these two coaches and I’d back him to make the right adjustments coming off a loss.

I’d expect a tighter rotation from the Clippers here, with defensive sieves in Harrell and Williams likely to get less minutes.

This should make life harder for Denver on the offensive end, where they shot a comfortable 44% from 3 last time out.

Having seen the Lakers demolition of the Rockets yesterday, I think we see a motivated Clippers side that wants to end the series here.

If they’re able to lift their game while Denver just stays at the same level, I like their ability to win and cover here.

Sunday, September 13

LA Lakers vs Houston Rockets, 10:10 am
Rockets +7

I’m going to take Houston here in an underdog spot, currently getting 7 points against the Lakers.

The Rockets have been atrocious for large stretches over the past 3 games and I’m primarily backing on them getting better play from their top players here.

They shot just 43% from the field in game 4, including a terrible 2/11 performance from James Harden.

Especially if they stick to the super small lineup they tried in game 4, I’d expect both of these numbers to increase here.

I’d also expect a much better effort on the boards, were they were outrebounded by a whopping 52-26.

Much like we saw in the Clippers/Nuggets game yesterday, the underdog has everything to play for here.

A loss for Houston in this one and the futures of D’Antoni, Westbrook, and even Harden are all in question.

I think we see a more motivated and locked-in performance from the Rockets here, while the Lakers may let up just a touch.

They may not win the game straight up, but 7 points provides us with enough of a cushion if they can keep it close.

Saturday, September 12

LA Clippers vs Denver Nuggets, 8:35 am
Murray Under 23.5 Points

This series looks to be pretty much over from a competitive standpoint, but there’s a player prop that I see some value in.

The Clippers have been selling out to contain Jamal Murray all series and I’m expecting him to go under his point total of 23.5.

Murray must be running on fumes by this point, playing 6 of the last 11 days and averaging over 40 minutes a game.

He has struggled mightily offensively this series, shooting a paltry 37.6% from the field.

This is because the Clippers are putting a lot of their best defenders on him and forcing him to become a distributor.

Murray has only come close to going over this total in 1 of his last 5 games and I’m expecting another difficult night at the office for him here.

I can’t see him playing more minutes than the 44 he got last time out and I don’t see the quality of his looks increasing either.

Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics, 11:05 am
Celtics $1.75

I think Boston have been the better team in 5 of the 6 games this series and are only in this predicament because of some questionable refereeing decisions.

They appear to have figured out Toronto’s half-court offence, making life very difficult for the likes of VanVleet and Siakam.

Their starting five appears to be very well-balanced and has essentially played Toronto’s bigs off the floor.

They had a bit of a down night offensively in game 6, with Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown really struggling from the field.

Odds are that this won’t happen again and a better offensive night from this duo would definitely make the Celtics favourites in this one.

Fatigue could be somewhat of an issue here, but a lot of the Raptors top guys also played a ton of minutes and are also older.

The stats suggest that Boston has been the better side in this series and I think $1.75 is enough to pull the trigger on them advancing here.

Friday, September 11

Houston Rockets vs LA Lakers, 9:15 am
3-Pointers H2H: Gordon>Green

I’m going heavy on the exotics in this one, taking Eric Gordon to make more 3’s than Danny Green at $1.80.

Green has been on a marked decline over the past two seasons, largely due to his reduced ability to make the 3-point shot.

He’s shooting just 34% from 3 in these playoffs, slightly up from an even worse mark during the seeding games.

He also isn’t getting that many minutes, only averaging 27 per game for the post-season.

Eric Gordon is not only attempting more 3’s than Green, he’s also making them at a better rate and playing more minutes.

He’s averaged 35 minutes per game during this series, a number which could increase given Houston’s thin rotation.

He is taking 8.7 3’s per game this series, making an average of 3.7 for 40% from deep.

I think he plays more minutes than Green here and gets at least a few more attempts, making him odds on to hit more 3’s.

Houston Rockets vs LA Lakers, 9:15 am
H2H Assists: Harden>Rondo

I’m opting for another head to head bet here, taking James Harden to have more assists than Rondo at $2.

Rondo has his first good game over the last two years and all of a sudden people think he’s Steph Curry.

He’s still working his way back into shape after injury and is yet to eclipse 30 minutes in this series.

Compare that to Harden, who should play around 40 minutes here in what is a critical must-win game for Houston.

He has the ball in his hands on almost every possession and is averaging over 7.5 assists for both the regular and postseason.

I think he’s on course for around 7-9 assists here, which would be tough for Rondo to beat in ~25 minutes.

 

Thursday, September 10

Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors, 8:35 am
Under 210.5 Points

The line has shifted dramatically in Toronto’s favour here, but I’m not confident they’ll be able to pull this one out.

Instead, I’ll stick with what has been a relatively consistent total market thus far and take under 210.5 points.

Both of these sides have been heavily reliant on their starters this series, with the top guys regularly playing over 40 minutes.

This has led to a slower-paced series overall, with less possessions and less scoring as a result.

Especially with Toronto only 1 loss from elimination, I’m expecting a very thin rotation from Nick Nurse here.

Both sides have excellent half-court defences and have also done an effective job at reducing typically easy transition buckets.

The total has gone under this 210.5 number in every game this series and I think we’re in for another rock fight here.

Free throws could be a worry if Toronto is down close late, but I still lean to the under at current odds.

Denver Nuggets vs LA Clippers, 11:05 am
Murray Over 5.5 Assists

I think the Clippers are clearly the better team in this series, but they definitely haven’t given their best effort through 3 games.

I don’t feel confident backing them at the current 8-point line, instead opting for the prop play of Jamal Murray over 5.5 assists.

The Clippers are essentially selling out on defense to contain Murray, opting to try and let other Nuggets beat them.

They are regularly either doubling him or putting their best defenders on him, which is a major reason behind his lacklustre scoring efforts so far.

That said, I think this opens up a ton of passing opportunities for Murray, who regularly has the ball in his hands.

He has gone over 5.5 assists in all 3 games this series and appears to generate consistent open looks for his teammates.

Given Denver’s deficit in this series, I’d also expect him to play around 40 minutes here in what is a must-win game, further boosting his chances of hitting the over.

Wednesday, September 9

Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat, 8:30 am
Heat -2.5

This line appears to be predicated on Giannis not being available and that’ll be my assumption here.

With that in mind, I think this is the game where Miami closes out the series, covering the 2.5-point line in the process.

They match up very well with this Milwaukee team defensively and have consistently been the better side all series.

Khris Middleton had easily his best game of the series in game 4, going for 36 points, 8 boards, and 8 assists in a whopping 48 minutes of action.

The Bucks need similar production from him to win this one and I just don’t think he has it in him.

Miami have a bevy of defensive options to make life difficult for him, namely Butler, Crowder, and Iguodala.

On the other end of the floor, Dragic and Butler really struggled en route to a combined 11/32 from the field in game 4.

This is another stat I’d expect to turn around in game 5, with Milwaukee struggling to replicate their defence from the regular season.

I think the Heat are the better coached of these two teams and would trust Spoelstra to make the right adjustments after a loss.

This is a golden opportunity to earn a surprise trip to the Conference Finals and I just don’t see them blowing it here.

Houston Rockets vs LA Lakers, 11:05 am
Westbrook Under 22.5 Points

I think the line and total are relatively well set for this game, although I have a slight lean to Lakers -5 here.

That said, I believe there is better value on offer in the prop market, where I’ll take Russel Westbrick Westbrook under 22.5 points.

He hasn’t been nearly the same player since returning from injury and is actively hurting Houston in this series.

I’d expect less of the offense to run through him here, with more playmaking to come from Harden and Eric Gordon.

In 5 games since his return to action, Westbrook has only gone over 22.5 points once and he required 24 field goal attempts to get there.

His minutes have also been lower than usual, yet to go over 34 during that 5-game span.

He can’t make anything from 3, shooting 0%, 20%, and 14.3% over his last 3 games.

I’d expect to see more of Anthony Davis at the 5 going forward, which should mean even less easy points at the rim for Russ.

Overall, I’m not expecting him to reverse his fortunes here and like the look of under 22.5 at current odds.

Tuesday, September 8

Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics, 8:35 am
Celtics -1

While the scoreboard says this series is even, I think Boston have clearly been the better side in this series through 4 games.

I like them to bounce back after suffering consecutive defeats and cover the modest 1-point line here.

Absolutely nothing went Boston’s way in game 4, yet they were still in it until the very end.

They shot a miserable 7/35 from deep, with their starters combining to go 5/29 on what were some decent looks.

If they can be competitive with those types of numbers, I think they’ve got a great chance of winning when shooting at their usual efficiency.

Their bench has also looked better than expected this series, with Ojeleye, Wanamaker, and Robert Williams all providing solid reserve minutes.

Each of Siakam, Lowry, and Van Vleet has played an absolute ton of minutes this series and I can see them getting fatigued late.

If we see a better game from Boston’s starters, I think they win a pivotal game 5 here.

Denver Nuggets vs LA Clippers, 11 am
Clippers -8.5

The early bird definitely got the worm here, with this line moving from 7.5 to 8.5 and even 9 at some spots.

Much like my tip on the Lakers yesterday, I’m fancying the zig zag theory to help the Clippers win here.

Despite an awful showing in game 2, this line is still a full point lower than it was last time out.

This doesn’t make all that much sense to me, as I’d expect the Clippers to come out with much greater motivation here.

Much like Boston, the Clippers didn’t get much from their best players, with Kawhi and PG combining to go just 11/36 from the field.

This isn’t because of a bad matchup either, with Denver lacking any reliable options to put on the two.

I’d expect a resurgent performance from there here, with the role players also likely to shoot better than 28% from 3.

When they’re locked in and motivated, this Clippers team is comfortably the best in the NBA right now.

I think we’ll see a game similar to game 1 here, where the Clippers simply out-talent Denver and cover the 8.5 points in the process.