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NBA Postseason Best Bets (5/14)

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Alex Christenson

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Welcome to Hoops with Noops! Tuesday features two Round 2 series tied at two games apiece. That means one team has to win twice in three games to advance to the next round.

Home teams enjoy the advantage of having Game 5 and Game 7 in their own arena, but if the underdog can win Game 5 then things flip quickly in their favor as they head home for Game 6. Although both series are tied, it feels like one team in each series has the momentum coming into Tuesday having won the last two games.

There is a lot to unpack, so let’s go through each game, review what’s happened so far, see how Tuesday’s odds compare to the past, and try to find some value in the betting markets.

NBA Best Bets for Tuesday

Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks

Current Line – Knicks -1.5, 217
My Projection – Knicks 110, Pacers 109
Key Injuries – OG Anunoby and Mithcell Robinson are out. Tyrese Haliburton is questionable.

The Pacers held serve at home to tie this series at two games apiece. Maybe it was homecourt advantage that allowed the Pacers to win, but I think it’s more about a serious problem for the Knicks. New York lost OG Anunoby to a hamstring strain during Game 2. In response, the Knicks have been playing four players 40-plus minutes, with just two or three other players getting minutes. That puts an incredible burden on the players, and we have seen the impact of that fatigue in New York’s declining performance as the series has progressed. Not only are the Knicks forced to overwork their players, their short roster allows the Pacers to simplify their schemes because there are less threats. Anunoby is a good shooter and spaced the floor on the offense while also playing great defense allowing the Knicks to put him on any player. Maybe a return to New York gives the Knicks the energy they need to win. If they lose, it might be the last game in Madison Square Garden this season.

Game 4 in Indiana closed with the Pacers as six-point favorites and the total at 219. The market has adjusted the spread by 7.5 points for the change in venue, which seems fair to me. Tyrese Haliburton continues to be listed questionable but has played in every game the past few weeks. Barring a surprising change in player availability, I agree with the current spread. My projections are a little over the current total but it’s a small edge and the pace has changed from game-to-game by quite a bit throughout the series. It seems like the Pacers have all the momentum and the Knicks haven’t had enough time to rest. That said, anything can happen in the playoffs and the Knicks have shown all season that they can win at home. I don’t have any bets now, but I’m likely going to have a wager on the 2nd half when those lines open at halftime. Make sure you’re in the FTN Bets Discord, because I’ll post those bets if/when I make then in the #nba-plays channel.

Bets

None

Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets

Current Line – Nuggets -4, 206
My Projection – Nuggets 107, Timberwolves 101
Key Injuries – Jamal Murray and Mike Conley are questionable.

So, which two games of this series do you believe is reality? In Games 1 and 2, the Timberwolves overwhelmed the Nuggets with aggressive defense. The Timberwolves turned turnovers into easy points and rarely had to attack a defense with time to get set after a made shot. Anthony Edwards provided scoring in every big moment. Nikola Jokic struggled to create shots for himself or others. Jamal Murray had trouble even getting the ball over half-court. Then the series shifted locations to Minnesota where, naturally, the Nuggets thrived in Games 3 and 4. MVP Jokic returned, and the Nuggets looked great again. Denver found ways to attack Minnesota’s defense, shot well, and generally kept the Timberwolves from getting the easy points they enjoyed the first two games. Anthony Edwards continued to be great, but the rest of the team played much worse. So, will the Nuggets of Games 3 and 4 continue to steamroll the Timberwolves or can Minnesota find it’s form from Games 1 and 2 and win again in Denver? I tend to believe the Nuggets will keep rolling, but I also think anything is possible in this matchup.

The Timberwolves were 3.5-point favorites for Game 4 and the total closed at 205. Both of those numbers were withing half a point from the closing odds for Game 3. We see that the total hasn’t really moved and the spread has been adjusted by seven points. That change makes sense given that tonight’s game is being played in Denver. The Nuggets closed as 4.5-point favorites in Game 1, the last game in Denver that featured Rudy Gobert. Mike Conley might was added to the injury report this afternoon which is usually a bad sign. If he misses the game, I could see the spread moving another point towards the Nuggets. My projections show a little value on Denver and the over, but not quite enough to make a bet on those markets.

Luckily, there’s a wager further down the odds board that I like. If you are a regular reader of Hoops with Noops, this next part should be very familiar. The Denver Nuggets were the best team in the NBA against the spread in the first quarter in total and at home. Nikola Jokic plays almost all of the first 12 minutes of the game which gives the Nuggets a big advantage in the few minutes their opponents have the second unit on the floor. The Timberwolves were one of the worst teams against the spread in the first quarter this season, and outside of Game 2, they have continued to struggle in the first frame in this series. I make Denver almost 2.5-point favorites in the first quarter, and we get a chance to bet them at just -1.5 points for better than -110. Let’s do it.

Bet

Denver Nuggets First Quarter -1.5 (-105, DraftKings Sportsbook)

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