NBA playoffs betting: Picks for Tuesday and Wednesday
Brandon Anderson makes his picks for Tuesday and Wednesday as the first round of the playoffs continues.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies (-6.5)
The Timberwolves won Game 1 on the road, and what a huge win! It was just the second Game 1 victory ever for the franchise, and this is only the fourth time Minnesota has led a playoff series at any point.
The Wolves came to Memphis to steal a game and accomplished their goal — and might play like that in Game 2. Memphis won the second most games in the NBA. The fans will be rocking, and this is nearly a must-win game since the Grizzlies dare not go down 0–2 in the series.
Besides, Game 1 was much closer than it looked. The Timberwolves lucked into significant shot variance but played sloppy ball with big turnovers and a ton of fouls. The Grizzlies’ bench units were terrific too.
Minnesota has a real shot at this series, but Memphis has to play with more urgency here. They’ll fire any number of counter punches, and you have to wonder if Minnesota doesn’t just let up a bit and head back home with its mission already accomplished. This shapes up as a classic zigzag game, with the Grizzlies bouncing back to tie the series up.
THE PICK: Grizzlies -6.5
New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns (-9.5)
The Suns were the best team in the NBA all season and looked the part in their playoff opener. Phoenix never even had to get out of second gear. The Suns took a 12-point lead in the first quarter, led by 19 at the half, and coasted to victory.
The Pelicans are no match, and they may be drawing dead in a particularly bad matchup. New Orleans does two things especially well: the Pelicans dominate the offensive glass, and they lead the NBA in turnovers forced since the start of February.
The Suns don’t turn it over much with Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Phoenix is also a good rebounding team, though the Pelicans did rack up 25 offensive rebounds in Game 1. That’s good news for New Orleans, but it’s bad news that they did that, hit nearly 40 per cent of their 3s, and still couldn’t even score 100 points.
Don’t play a high line and stress over a back door cover, like we nearly saw in Game 1. The Pels are a second-half team. Trust Phoenix to take care of business early and put this away by halftime again.
THE PICK: Suns -5.5 (1st half)
Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics (-3.5)
If Game 1 is any indication, this marquee first-round series could live up to the hype. The Celtics pulled out to a big lead before the Nets came storming back, and it was back-and-forth late until a wild finish saw Jayson Tatum’s spinning layup beat the buzzer for the one-point victory.
It was Game 1, but these teams played like it was already Game 5 or 6. The rotations are already very short, with each team playing really just seven guys and the stars playing big minutes.
That means the rotations are predictable — and it means Kevin Durant should sit the first few minutes of the second and fourth quarters. The Nets won both of those stints in Game 1 but don’t, and won’t, usually. Brooklyn ranked 23rd in 2nd Quarter Net Rating for the season, while the Celtics were top-three, a difference of 15 points per 100 possessions.
This game and series could be close all the way, so don’t try to predict who makes the plays late. Stick with what’s more predictable, with the Celtics’ defense and depth giving them a real advantage in the second quarter, especially those few minutes without Durant.
THE PICK: Celtics money line (2nd quarter)
Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks (-9.5)
On the one hand, the Bucks did not play well in Game 1. The defending champs turned the ball over 21 times. They shot 26 per cent on 3s and made just 65 per cent of their free throws, and it was downright ugly at times.
On the other hand, the Bucks won anyway, and relatively comfortably in the end. The defense forced Chicago into an even worse shooting day, an awful 19 per cent on 3s and 41 per cent on 2s. The Bulls offense is not built for the playoffs, and the defense flew the coop months ago.
Stick with the same play we profited on in Game 1. Don’t mess around with a late back door cover, especially since the Bulls have been so good in the fourth quarter. Play the better team to get the first-half lead and just enjoy the game late.
THE PICK: Bucks -6.5 (1st half)