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NBA Postseason Best Bets (5/13)

NBA Bets

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Alex Christenson

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Welcome to Hoops with Noops! Game 4 of a playoff series is often key in determining which team will advance to the next round. A team up two games to one has a chance to win a third game, putting itself just one victory away from moving forward. A team down one game to two has a chance to even the series and effectively start over with three games left.

Monday’s Game 4s each offer teams a chance to change their futures dramatically. Let’s go through each matchup, review the series so far, see what might happen and try to find some value in the betting markets.

Of course, since it’s Monday, you can watch a video version of Hoops with Noops on the FTN Network YouTube channel. If you have any questions about something I missed or bets of your own, leave them in the comments section of that video and I’ll reply there.

NBA Best Bets for Monday

Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers

Current Line – Celtics -8.5, 207
My Projection – Celtics 109, Cavaliers 99
Key Injuries – Kristaps Porzingis is out. Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen are questionable.

Game 3 of this series was very similar to Game 1. The Cavaliers failed to score more than 95 points, the Celtics shot over 38% from three, and Boston won the game comfortably. Donovan Mitchell played well, and Evan Mobley again played some of the best basketball we’ve ever seen from him. Unfortunately, the rest of the Cleveland roster went 17-of-51 (33.3%) from the field. The Cavaliers’ secondary players need to be much better to win games. Coming into the series, the Celtics were overwhelming favorites to win, and we’ve seen why that’s the case. They have four of the six best players in this series. Donovan Mitchell has the potential to be the player in a few games, like we saw in Game 2, but unless Mitchell can play at an elite level and the Boston has a bad night shooting the Celtics are going to keep winning by margin.

Boston closed as 7.5-point favorites in Game 3 and the total was 211. The spread has moved a point. which isn’t much of a move at all.  The total is four points lower than the last game and about five points lower than Game 1 and Game 2 closed. The pace in Game 3 was about five possessions per 48 minutes slower. Maybe that regress upward, but the Cavaliers have played slow at home all season, and the Celtics have slowed games down in the second half when they have a big lead. The adjustment downward looks fair to me and I’m just a point away from the market on that and the spread.

The only other things to consider are the status of Mitchell and Jarrett Allen. Mitchell wasn’t on the injury report that last few games and is listed questionable tonight with calf tightness. His absence would be a crushing blow for Cleveland. Allen has missed the last week or so of games with a cracked rib and seems likely to miss another game tonight. The market is close to the Game 3 line, which tells me books and sharp bettors expect Mitchell to play and Allen to not play.

I don’t like anything in the full game markets but will be making a bet I’ve made in the first three games and have won twice. The Celtics are a great team in the first half of games. They attack early and carry a big lead into halftime. They averaged over 60 points in the first half during the regular season, averaged 61 points in the first half in Round 1 and are averaging 56.3 with below-average shooting. The pace for the last game was very slow, but not in the first half, which had a pace of 96. I see no reason to expect Boston to slow down in the first two quarters and think their team total in the first half should be close to 58 points, which is higher than the current odds. Give me the Celtics team total over 55.5 points.

Bet

Boston Celtics 1H Team Total Over 55.5 (-110, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks

Current Line – Mavericks -1, 215.5
My Projection – Thunder 108, Mavericks 107
Key Injuries – Maxi Kleber is out. Luka Doncic is questionable.

The Dallas defense was the key to winning Game 3 for the Mavericks. For the second consecutive game, the Thunder shot 33% from beyond the arc, about 6% below their season average. It was also the second game in a row in which Dallas won the possession battle on the strength of their offensive rebounding. That has allowed the Mavericks to win two of the first three games despite their best player, Luka Doncic, scoring 10 less points per game than he did during the season thanks to some very poor shooting. Kyrie Irving and support players like P.J. Washington have carried the load offensively. Oklahoma City’s youth has started to show at the end of games. The Thunder’s offensive tightens up. and it’s been hard for them to generate good looks late. They need to find a way to keep the ball moving late and keep Dallas off the offensive glass.

The last game closed with Dallas as 1.5-point favorites and the total set at 217.5. The spread for Monday is effectively the same as it was for Game 3. The total is a few points lower despite the pace rising slowly over the first three games. The move is reflective of the poor shooting from both teams which are below their season averages in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. There may be upward regression in that area but both teams are good defensively and I think the drop in shooting rates is due to that defensive prowess and not just bad luck shooting. My projections are basically right on the total and have the Thunder favored although that is just a two-point difference from the current spread. I continue to believe Luka is far from 100% physically and that the Thunder will learn to score late in games, which means I like OKC. That said, I don’t see any value in betting them right now. I’ve got nothing in this game.

Bet

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