Avery-less Celtics Could be in Trouble

Marcus Smart Jeff Teague

The Boston Celtics feature a plethora of solid role players, but the loss of Avery Bradley in Game 1 of their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks is a painful one. Down 1-0 in the series, the C’s will have to find other ways to slow down the Hawks when Game 2 gets underway Tuesday night. Home sides continue to cash in this matchup, as visiting clubs are a measly 1-5 SU in the last six meetings between the Eastern Conference foes.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in 17 of the Celtics' last 24 games as an underdog of 6.5 or more.
  • The Hawks are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in their last four games with two days off between games.
  • The Celtics are 1-8 SU and 2-7 ATS in their last nine games as road underdogs.

Bradley is widely regarded as Boston’s best perimeter defender and its second-leading scorer, as the guard averaged 15.2 points this season. He hasn’t been officially ruled out for the remainder of the series, but his return is unlikely at this point. Boston went 3-3 SU without Bradley in the fold this season.

Watch out for Hawks’ power forward Paul Millsap tonight. Millsap was limited to 14 points and seven rebounds in Game 1, however he managed to average 25.3 points, 11 boards and 2 blocks in the final three games between the Hawks and Celtics in the regular season.

Atlanta has won 11 of 13 at home, while the Celtics have lost five straight at Philips Arena.

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Spurs Aim to Continue Dominance of Grizz

Zach Randolph Tim Duncan

The Walking Dead’s season may have ended for fans of the highly regarded TV show, but the Memphis Grizzlies have epitomized that meaning on the hardwood. The banged up Grizz fell flat on their faces in a Game 1 106-74 rout to the San Antonio Spurs and will be seeking a better effort tonight when Game 2 gets underway in the Lone Star State.

Shark Bites
  • The Spurs are 1-5 ATS in their last six games as home favorites.
  • The Grizzlies are 0-7 SU in their last seven games on the road.
  • The total has gone OVER in five of the Grizzlies' last seven games on the road.

In light of the loss, Memphis is now 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings between the squads. The UNDER is also 5-2 in their previous seven matchups.

Newly-crowned Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard paved the way for the Spurs on Sunday, finishing with four of San Antonio’s 13 steals and three of its nine blocks. The All-Star forward held Matt Barnes to two points on 1-of-7 shooting.

Vince Carter (16 points) and Lance Stephenson (14 points) did their part for the Grizzlies, but no other player scored more than seven. The setback was Memphis’ worst-ever playoff defeat.

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Can the Rockets Bounce Back in Game 2?

It was the men against the boys in Game 1 of Golden State’s first-round series against Houston, and barring a miracle, things will likely continue to trend that way. The Warriors manhandled the Rockets 104-78 while easily covering the spread as 13-point favorites. Game 2 gets underway at Oracle Arena tonight, but the Dubs may have a different look to them.

Shark Bites
  • The Warriors are 21-2 SU in their last 23 games with one day off between games.
  • The Rockets are 2-6 SU in their last eight games on the road.
  • The Rockets are 1-13 SU in their last 14 games against the Warriors.

Sharpshooter Stephen Curry is listed as questionable for the affair with an ankle injury he suffered in Game 1. Curry didn’t practice on Sunday and was undergoing treatment instead. Curry sat three times in the regular season, and the Warriors went 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS during that span. One of those games was against the Rockets, but the Warriors still managed to win by a score of 114-110.

If Curry can’t go, Shaun Livingston will start in his place. How bad was Houston’s performance on Saturday? The Rockets trailed 33-15 after one quarter and were down 27 after 24 minutes. Houston is now 1-4 in its previous five versus Golden State.

When labeled as road underdogs, the Rockets have been going below totals with ease. The UNDER is 5-0 in the Rockets’ last five as road dogs. Sportsbooks opened the total in the 218 ballpark tonight.

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Mavs Coming Off Worst Playoff Game Ever

Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder NBA

The Oklahoma City Thunder absolutely owned the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series, but the Mavs will be out for revenge tonight when Game 2 tips off in OKC. The Thunder routed Dallas 108-70, marking their most lopsided postseason victory since the franchise moved from Seattle in 2008-09.

Shark Bites
  • The Mavericks are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games as an underdog of 14.0 or more.
  • The Thunder are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games after a win.
  • The Mavericks are 5-1 SU and ATS in their last six games after an ATS loss.

All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the way before taking a seat in the fourth quarter. Westbrook finished with 24 points, 11 assists and five rebounds, while Durant complied 23 points, five assists and five boards. Dallas’ problems with the Thunder date back much further, evidenced by the Mavs allowing an average of 111.6 points on 48.4 percent shooting in the last five meetings between the squads.

When the Thunder are tabbed as big favorites, they have a habit of cashing in. Oklahoma City is 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS in their previous 11 when favored by 14 points or less. Books opened OKC as 13-point faves for the affair.

Dallas could not get anything going on the offensive end in Game 1, a trend that will have to reverse itself if they want to have a chance of winning this game. The Mavs shot just 29.8 percent from the field in the contest – the fewest points they’ve ever scored in the playoffs.

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Raps Have Lost 7 Straight Playoff Games

Paul George DeMar DeRozan

With Game 2 of the Toronto Raptors-Indiana Pacers series set to get underway on Monday, one team will be looking for a much better effort while the other will be attempting to keep the train rolling. The No. 7 seeded Pacers, who took Game 1 by a score of 100-90, completely dominated the second seeded Raptors in nearly every facet of the game.

Shark Bites
  • The Raptors are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 games as a favorite of 7.0 or more.
  • 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 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS in their last five games after an ATS loss.

A big reason for the Pacers’ triumph was the play of Paul George. Tasked with guarding Raps’ All-Star DeMar DeRozan, George embarrassed DeRozan to the tune of 33 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals. DeRozan could not get anything going on the offensive end either, finishing five-for-19 from the field in his team’s underwhelming performance.

If Toronto is going to even up the series tonight, they’ll need a considerably better performance from their star players. Kyle Lowry also had an off game, going three-for-13 from the field and four-for-nine from the free throw line. It’s going to be interesting to see if Raptors head coach Dwane Casey will lift the minutes restriction of small forward DeMarre Carroll, who’s recovering from a knee injury. If he does, expect the Dinos’ defense to improve tenfold.

The Pacers have traditionally been solid in this spot. In their last nine, Indiana is 8-1 SU after winning as an underdog.

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Pistons Enjoying Success In Cleveland

Though it is easy to ride off the eighth seeded Detroit Pistons in their opening round series against the powerhouse Cleveland Cavaliers, their success at Quicken Loans Arena should not be overlooked. The Pistons have won in seven of their past nine trips to Cleveland, including both this season.

Detroit offers a difficult challenge for any team in the NBA to limit offensively, as their starting five all scored double-digit points a league leading 27 this season. The issue for the Pistons will be stopping LeBron James, but they have managed to contain the best player on the planet somewhat, allowing James to average 20.7 points in the three games they faced him.

Though the Cavs are not just a one-man unit, there is no denying LeBron’s ability to step up in the playoffs. James has averaged 28.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists in his postseason career. In addition, a LeBron-led team has never lost a first round series in his entire career.

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The Heat are a Hot Bet at Home

The Miami Heat enter their first round series with Charlotte on a 6-0 SU and ATS roll at American Airlines Arena. They’re likely pleased with the way things shook out in Eastern Conference seeding as they’ve dominated the Hornets over the last few seasons, going 24-4 in the last 28 games between the teams.

The teams split their four games this season, with each covering in their SU wins. Those games saw an average total of 196.5, with only one of the games seeing both teams reach triple digits.

In their last meeting a month ago, Charlotte won by three points and are currently riding a trend that’s seen them go 6-1 SU in their last seven games after winning the previous game in a matchup. Kemba Walker filled the stat sheet when the teams last met, scoring 21 points with seven boards and seven assists.

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Clippers Winning and Covering At Home

The Los Angeles Clippers happily have themselves homecourt advantage in Round 1 after the Clip Show ended their season winning seven straight (5-2 ATS) games at the Staples Center. The Clippers will start their postseason by hosting the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday, a team they went 2-0 SU against at home this season.

The Clippers had people worried throughout March, but the team picked themselves up and won 10 of their final 12 games in the regular season. Those 12 games have seen the Clippers hold their opponents to just 87 points per game, which is more than 13 points fewer than their season average.

L.A.’s defense has a tough task in front of them in the explosive Blazers team. Portland has averaged 105.1 points per game this season, the sixth highest in the NBA. Damian Lillard has struggled to put up ridiculous numbers against the Clippers, as the point guard has averaged 18.0 ppg against L.A., his worst mark against any team he has faced at least four times this season.

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Spurs Swept Season Series vs Grizzlies

The San Antonio Spurs have made relatively easy work of the Memphis Grizzlies this season, with the Spurs going a perfect 4-0 SU (3-1 ATS) with an average scoring margin of +12.5-points in those contests. The two teams will renew acquaintances when they start their first round NBA Playoff series Sunday.

As is the Gregg Popovich way, very few of the Spurs traditional starters took to floor for more than two games against the Grizzlies this year. One of the key exceptions was LaMarcus Aldridge, who averaged 27 points and 11.3 rebounds with two double-doubles in three games against Memphis this season.

The Grizzlies did their best to completely implode to end the season by winning just one of their final 11 games. Those 11 games saw the Grizz allow a spectacular 106.8 points per game, more than five points higher than their season average.

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NBA Playoffs: Sleeper Picks

Nicolas Batum Kent Bazemore

The NBA has long been labeled as a league with minimal parity, and there’s definitely a case to support that argument. Dominant teams like the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs have rightfully earned the distinction of dynasties over the last few decades, leaving hopeful contenders in the dust time and time again.

But while some out of the loop pundits will say the commissioner may as well hand the Golden State Warriors the Larry O’Brien Trophy before the playoffs even start, the 2016 postseason is shaping up to be much closer than most people think.



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