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Celtics Desperate to Pull Even With ATL

After just missing in Game 1 and then being thoroughly outplayed in Game 2 in the opening two games of their Eastern Conference playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics put together a solid performance in Game 3 with a 111-103 victory on their own floor. The C’s will look to keep the momentum going and even things up in Game 4 at the TD Garden Sunday.

Shark Bites
  • The Hawks are 0-5 ATS in their last five road games.
  • The home team is 6-2 ATS in the previous eight meetings.
  • UNDER is 10-1 in the Celtics last 11 games following an ATS win.

The Celtics are currently pegged as 2-point home favorites at online shop Bovada. The total is presently set at 204 with OVER -105 and UNDER -115.

Isaiah Thomas came out possessed and looked assured that the Celtics would not fall to 3-0. The diminutive point guard was 12-24 from the field and 13-15 from the charity stripe as he finished with an electric 42 points in the win.

The former Washington Husky is actually lucky to be playing in Game 4 after an altercation with Dennis Schroder, however. The two were slapped with double techs with Thomas having to be restrained. Thomas actually delivered a forearm to Schroder that was reviewed after the game and decided that further punishment was not warranted. If anything the heated battle between the two guards does add a spicy layer to an already-competitive series.

The C’s have covered the number in two of the three games thus far but it was the Hawks who dominated in the regular season. Atlanta had gone 3-1 straight up and against the spread in the four regular season meetings.

Curry Expected to Return for Game 4

James Harden and the Houston Rockets did what many assumed impossible: defeat the Golden State Warriors in an opening round playoff game. Sure, Stephen Curry did not play due to that ankle injury, but let’s not take anything away from the completely dysfunctional Rockets. While there is no doubt that they hope Curry misses Game 4, that does not look likely as the probable MVP looks set to return Sunday.

Shark Bites
  • UNDER is 11-5 in the previous 16 meetings in Houston.
  • The Rockets are 7-1 ATS in their last eight Sunday games.
  • UNDER is 6-0 in the Warriors’ last six road games.

Online book Bovada currently has the Warriors tabbed as 9.5-point road favorites for their Game 4 showdown. As far as the total is concerned, the shop is offering OVER 217 at -115 and UNDER 217 at -105.

Curry tweaked his ankle in Game 1 and missed games two and three but the Warriors bring a 2-1 series lead into Sunday’s showdown. Reports have emerged that Steph will indeed be back on the floor Sunday after he had stated that he was feeling game-ready after practice.

"I think I can play through a little bit of discomfort and whatnot, especially in a playoff situation," Curry said.

The Warriors had gone 5-0 straight up and 4-1 against the spread in the first five meetings (three regular season, two playoff) between the two teams entering Game 3.

It took a late James Harden winner for the Rockets to prevail 97-96 in Thursday’s Game 3, but that should give the team some optimism and renewed confidence ahead of Game 4.

Spurs Go for Sweep Versus Grizz Sunday

Due to an injury list as long as it is depressing, the Memphis Grizzlies have been a patchwork squad that hobbled their way into the postseason riding minutes from the likes of Jordan Farmar and Matt Barnes. Mercifully, the Grizz can be put out of the misery when the San Antonio Spurs look to complete the sweep in Game 4 of their opening round playoff series Sunday.

Shark Bites
  • The favorite is 7-2 ATS in the previous nine meetings.
  • UNDER is 5-1 in the Grizzlies’ last six games overall.
  • The Spurs are just 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.

Online book Bovada is presently offering the Spurs as 13-point road favorites for Sunday’s contest. The total is pegged at 183 with both OVER and UNDER priced at -110.

All three games of this series have finished UNDER the closing total with that number decreasing with each outing. The two teams have combined to average a paltry 175 points per game in the opening three contests of the series.

The Grizzlies’ injuries have been glaring this series as the team just can’t get points with the likes of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol sidelined. Through three games, Memphis has averaged just 76.3 points per outing, but were much better at home in Game 3 as they put up 87 points.

Healthy or not, the Grizzlies have always had a hard time with the Spurs. Memphis had lost five straight meetings with San Antonio entering this series and now that that has been extended to eight, it will take nothing short of a miracle to end it Sunday.

Clips Keeping Blazers in Check Out West

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.

OKC Struggling to Win Two-Straight Games

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.

Hornets Getting Burned by Heat in Charlotte

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.

Raps Finding Their Groove Versus Indy

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.

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.

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.

Grizzlies Looking for a Miracle in Memphis

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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