Clips Keeping Blazers in Check Out West

Chris Paul Los Angeles Clippers NBA Playoffs

Some pundits around the Association predicted a potential upset in Portland’s first-round playoff series with Los Angeles, but the Clippers are making them eat their words through two games. Owning a 2-0 series lead heading into Saturday’s contest, L.A. has limited the Blazers to 88 points per game – well below their season average of 105.1. Portland has shot a mere 36.8 percent from the field in two games at Staples Center.

Shark Bites
  • The Clippers are 9-21 SU in their last 30 games on the road against the Blazers.
  • The Trail Blazers are 5-1 SU in their last six games after a loss.
  • The Clippers are 3-0 SU in their last three games with two days off between games.

Favored teams in this series continue to cash tickets, as they have gone 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in its last five matchups between the Western Conference foes.

The total, which opened at 207.5, will appeal to UNDER bettors in this one. L.A. has gone UNDER in eight of the Clippers’ last nine with a number of 207.5 or less. The battle of the point guards has been extremely one sided so far.

Chris Paul’s veteran experience has shown, as the 30-year-old is shutting down Damian Lillard with ease. Paul has notched 43 points and 16 assists in two games, and he’s limited Lillard to 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting.

Portland has fared considerably better at home, however. The Trail Blazers are a sizzling 18-3 since January 23, tied for the third-best mark in the league behind powerhouses San Antonio and Golden State.

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OKC Struggling to Win Two-Straight Games

Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder NBA Playoffs

Kevin Durant made people quickly forget about his 7-for-33 shooting performance in the Thunder’s Game 2 loss with a 34-point explosion in OKC’s 131-102 drubbing of the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 Thursday night. The Mavs will look to pull even with a win at home in Game 4 Saturday.

Shark Bites
  • OVER has gone 6-0 in OKC’s last six games in Dallas.
  • The Mavericks are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as home underdogs.
  • The total has gone OVER in five of OKC’s last six games on the road.

Winning back-to-back games has not come easy to the Thunder of late, however, as they’ve gone 0-5 straight up in their last five contests following a victory in the previous game. That said, OKC couldn’t have asked for a better performance after such a dismal showing in Game 2 in front of their home fans.

The Thunder have scored the third-most points per game (107.7) and have given up the second-fewest (85.7) as of Friday afternoon so it took a freak-Durant performance in Game 2 for the Thunder to drop a game.

They’ve been a safe bet though as they’ve covered the number convincingly in games one and three. OKC hammered Dallas by 38 in Game 1 (108-70) and by 29 in Game 3 covering the spread by 26 and 19.5 points respectively.

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Hornets Getting Burned by Heat in Charlotte

Dwyane Wade Miami Heat NBA Playoffs

The Hornets are likely very happy to return to Charlotte after suffering two double-digit defeats in South Beach in their first round series against the Heat. The funny thing is, the Miami Heat probably don’t mind the series shifting to North Carolina either as they’re 10-3 SU in their last 13 road games against the Hornets.

Shark Bites
  • The Hornets are 1-5 ATS in their last six games with two days off between games.
  • Miami is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games in Charlotte.
  • Charlotte is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games.

Buzz City opened as a favorite, but they’ve had a tough time covering as a home fave lately, going just 1-5 ATS in that spot. Despite the poor ATS record at home, Charlotte is 24-6 SU in their last 30 games as a home favorite.

As a road dog, the Heat have been a team to stay away from as they’re 0-5 SU and ATS in their last five. Another thing working against the Heat is their recent inability to string together three straight wins, as they’re 0-5 SU in their last five games after consecutive wins.

Perhaps this is the game that trend starts to reverse though, as Miami has owned Charlotte this decade, winning 26 of 30 games against them SU while going 18-10-2 ATS.

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Raps Finding Their Groove Versus Indy

DeMar DeRozan Toronto Raptors NBA Playoffs

After suffering through an underwhelming opening game in their Eastern Conference first-round series with the Indiana Pacers, the Toronto Raptors looked like their normal selves in Games 2 and 3 and currently hold a 2-1 series lead. Toronto, which opened as a 1.5-point favorite, is traditionally an extremely solid play versus the Pacers, going 12-2 ATS in the last 14 meetings between the squads.

Shark Bites
  • UNDER is 3-0 in the opening three games in this series.
  • The Raptors are 4-0 SU in their last four games as road favorites.
  • The Pacers are 12-5 SU in their last 17 games after a loss.

The emergence of DeMar DeRozan is bad news for Indy. DeRozan was a non-factor in Games 1 and 2 but broke out in Game 3 for 21 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Fellow backcourt All-Star Kyle Lowry added 14 in the fourth quarter to thwart any comeback attempt by Paul George and company, finishing with 21 points and seven assists.

Perhaps the biggest reason for Toronto’s series lead is the big man in middle. Jonas Valanciunas has completed dominated the Pacers, as the Lithuanian is averaging a playoff-best 16 rebounds after grabbing 14 on Thursday.

The Raps have outrebounded the Pacers by an average of 10.7 in the series while outscoring them in the paint by 13.3 per game. Some bad news for Dinos backers: Toronto is just 1-7 ATS in its last eight after recording consecutive ATS wins.

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Pistons Face Must-Win Game vs Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a 2-0 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference series with the Detroit Pistons, but the Pistons aren’t dead in the water just yet. The Palace of Auburn Hills is the scene for Game 3 Friday night, which is great news for Pistons backers. LeBron James-led teams are 20-0 in opening round playoff games since 2007.

Shark Bites
  • The Cavaliers are 10-1 SU in their last 11 games with one day off between games.
  • The total has gone OVER in five of the Pistons' last six games with a closing total of 200.5 or less.
  • The visiting team is 4-1 ATS in its last five games in this matchup.

The Pistons, who opened as 4-point underdogs, haven’t been very reliable in this spot. Detroit is 1-4 SU and ATS in its last five as home dogs. They have been great at bouncing back after a loss, however, as Stan Van Gundy’s crew are 5-1 SU in their previous six coming off a loss.

Detroit has outscored Cleveland by three in the first half, but the Cavs have turned it on when it really matters. Thanks to a record-tying 20 3-pointers, Cleveland ran away with Game 2 in a 107-90 victory.

Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving has been especially strong in this matchup. Irving has averaged 27.8 points in four games versus Detroit this season.

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Are the Celtics Primed for a Comeback?

Down 2-0 in their first-round series to the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics have their backs to the wall as actions moves to Beantown. If the C’s are going to make a charge, they’ll need to jumpstart a dormant offense that turned in the lowest scoring quarter in NBA history (seven points) in Game 2. Home court advantage has been massive in this series, as visiting clubs are 2-9 SU in the last 11 meetings between the Eastern Conference foes.

Shark Bites
  • The Hawks are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in their last five games with two days off between games.
  • The Celtics are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games with two days off between games.
  • The Hawks are 3-1 SU and ATS in their last four games as an underdog of 3.0 or less.

The Hawks have owned the second-best defense in the Association since the calendar flipped to 2016, and it’s been on display once again in the postseason. Atlanta has limited the Celtics to 34.2 percent shooting and 24.5 from beyond the arc in the first two games after recording a playoff-record 15 blocks on Tuesday.

Boston is playing without one of its key players in Avery Bradley after the guard suffered a hamstring injury in Game 1. Atlanta has injury issues of its own, as backup point guard Dennis Schroder suffered an ankle injury in the dying minutes of Game 2 and is questionable for the tilt.

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Grizzlies Looking for a Miracle in Memphis

Zach Randolph Memphis Grizzlies

The most lopsided first-round series of the NBA playoffs is without a doubt San Antonio-Memphis. With Games 1 and 2 in their back pocket, the Spurs will be looking to keep that dominance going against a beleaguered Memphis club on Friday.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in the Spurs' last five games.
  • The total has gone OVER in 10 of the Grizzlies' last 14 games with a closing total of 181.0 or less.
  • The Spurs are 42-8 SU in their last 50 games after a win.

The first two games of the series have been decided by an average of 29 points. The seventh-seeded Grizzlies had their worst offensieve output ever in Tuesday’s 94-68 setback just days after Game 1’s 106-74 loss was the franchise’s worst ever playoff defeat.

Matt Barnes told the media his team is “coming to a gunfight with some spoons,” which may actually be an understatement at this point. As of Friday morning, San Antonio was listed as 12-point road favorites – the largest an NBA team has ever been favored away from home in the postseason.

San Antonio is far from a safe bet as huge favorites as of late, evidenced by Tim Duncan and company going 2-9 ATS in their last 11 when favored as 11.5 points or more.

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Raptors are a Fantastic Bet in Indiana

Jonas Valanciunas Monta Ellis

The Toronto Raptors exorcised some postseason demons by topping the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series, but there’s still plenty of work to be done as action shifts to Indianapolis. The Raptors snapped an ugly seven-game losing streak in the 98-87 victory to even things up at one game apiece.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone OVER in four of the Raptors' last five games with a closing total of 193.0 or less.
  • The total has gone OVER in eight of the Pacers' last 10 games with a closing total of 193.0 or less.
  • The Raptors are 5-1 SU in their last six games.

More good news for Raps backers: Canada’s lone NBA club is excellent at cashing tickets in Indiana. The Dinos are 8-1 ATS in their past nine meetings with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indy is great at bouncing back, however, as the Pacers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 coming off a loss.

It’s quite clear which two players have been the MVPs for their respective squads so far. Paul George has combined for 61 points in both contests, while Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas has been an absolute beast, notching a playoff career-high 23 points and 15 rebounds in Game 2 after pulling down a franchise-best 19 boards in the opener. The Raps are 14-2 this year when Valanciunas has at least 17 points.

Toronto’s All-Stars need to follow JV’s example. Kyle Lowry has shot 7-for-26, with backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan going 10-for-37 from the field. Reserve guard Terrence Ross is uncertain to play tonight after missing most of the second half of Game 2 due to concussion-like symptoms.

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Warriors Have Won 14 of 15 vs Rockets

Draymond Green James Harden

No Stephen Curry? No problem. The Golden State Warriors emerged triumphant in Game 2 of their first-round series with the Houston Rockets without Curry, topping the Rockets 115-106 to grab a 2-0 lead. As of Thursday morning, Curry was listed as questionable for Game 3 with an ankle injury he suffered in the series opener.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in seven of the Warriors' last 10 games with a closing total of 215.5 or more.
  • The Rockets are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games with two days off between games.
  • The Warriors are 5-1 SU and ATS in their last six games on the road against the Rockets.

The Rockets have bigger problems than the potential return of Curry, however. Houston limped into the playoffs after suffering an extremely inconsistent season, and the pairing of James Harden and Dwight Howard is clearly not going to thrive if it hasn’t by now.

In light of Monday’s win, the Dubs have now won 14 of their last 15 versus Houston. Golden State is also 9-1 SU in its last 10 with two days off between games.

Howard committed five fouls in Game 1 and fouled out in Game 2, as Golden State’s rotation of Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights have dominated the 30-year-old.

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Which Thunder Team Will Show Up?

Kevin Durant Zaza Pachulia

There’s no shortage of NBA clubs up 2-0 in their respective first-round series, however the Oklahoma City Thunder are surprisingly not in that group. That’s because, after hammering Dallas 108-70 in Game 1, the Thunder fared terribly in a 85-84 loss in Game 2. Game 3 takes place tonight in the Lone Star State.

Shark Bites
  • The Thunder are 3-1 ATS in their last four games as a favorite of 9.0 or more.
  • The total has gone UNDER in the Mavericks' last seven games with a closing total of 196.5 or more.
  • The Thunder are 5-2 SU in their last seven games with two days off between games.

Despite the win, Dallas’s scoring woes could get much worse if sharpshooter Dirk Nowitzki is not at his best. Nowtizki is expected to play through a knee injury, as the German’s knee swelled up considerably in Game 2. Nowitzki is technically listed as day-to-day. The Mavs have no shortage of injuries, with David Lee, Deron Williams, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris are also banged up.

Entering the last matchup, Dallas had allowed an average of 111.6 points while dropping their first five meetings with the Thunder this year.

Extra rest has not led to covers for Mavericks bettors, as the squad is just 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven with two days off between games. The UNDER has been a hot bet, however, evidenced by the Mavs going below the closing total in nine of their previous 11 affairs.

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