Shane McNichol makes his NBA playoff predictions for Wednesday night, with three teams facing elimination in Game 5.
New York Knicks moneyline vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Situationally, this is a good spot to eye a Cavs win. Cleveland has its back against the wall, facing a 3-1 deficit, while playing at home with a chance to save the season.
Over the first four games of this series, however, has there been any indication that the Knicks were not the better team? Including the regular season, these two teams have now met seven times this year, with New York winning five of seven.
Even for someone like myself, who liked the Knicks’ chances to win this series before it started, it would be a bit of a shock to see New York win in just five games, yet with that possibility now on the precipice of occurring, the odds here are too good to pass up.
Los Angeles Lakers moneyline vs. Memphis Grizzlies
This doesn’t feel too bold on its own, though picking both road teams to win the early evening games does feel like stepping out on a limb. That’s okay by me, given the pedigree of the teams involved here.
Memphis is a very talented team, but the Grizzlies have shown their flaws late in the season and simply didn’t have an answer for LeBron James in Game 4. That’s par for the course for James over his career. If the odds are going to give me King James as an underdog in a critical series-swinging game, I’m happy to be first in line to side with LeBron.
In fact, toss these two moneylines into a parlay for a 6 to 1 payout.
Miami Heat (+11.5) at Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks face the same scenario as Cleveland, with a must-win game in front of their home crowd. I have a lot more faith in Giannis and company to take care of business and send this series back to South Florida, yet I can’t help but think this spread leaves too much wiggle room for Miami.
Antetokounmpo will play after missing Games 2 and 3 with a back injury. In Game 4, the former MVP played and found some success, yet was unable to outduel Miami star Jimmy Butler. Antetokounmpo laboured for 26 points on 22 field goal attempts, but wasn’t quite himself. Only four free throw attempts and six turnovers were indications that the Greek Freak wasn’t playing at 100 per cent healthy.
Playing just two days later, travelling back to the Midwest, I think he’ll have enough in the tank to extend the series, but the door is wide open for a Miami cover.
Draymond Green under 8.5 points vs Sacramento Kings
This postseason has already been a rollercoaster for the Warriors’ glue guy. Green was suspending for Game 3 of this series, following a stomping of Kings’ center Domantas Sabonis, the latest in a long line of on-court violent outbursts by Green.
When he has played, Green has been ineffective as a scorer against Sacramento. In three games this postseason, Green is shooting just 28 per cent from the field and 1-5 from beyond the arc. In the two prior road games in this series, Green averaged just six points, staying below this prop number both games.
Every fan in the arena will have something to say to Draymond Green during Game 5 and he’s the type to feed off that energy, yet he knows as well as any expert that his game doesn’t speak with buckets in the box score. I’d be surprised to see him eclipse this mark, even if Green racks up rebounds, assists, and defensive metrics in a Warriors win.