Sunday 28th April
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks Game 1 Pick: This looks like being the Eastern Conference Second Round Series which is most likely to produce the team that will compete for the NBA Finals out of this Conference. The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers will feel they can have something to say about that, but the Milwaukee Bucks finished with the best record in the East and the Boston Celtics were the pre-season Eastern Conference favourites.
Both teams looked very strong in the First Round as they swept past the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers respectively and both look to be peaking for this time of the Play Offs.
Right now it feels like the Milwaukee Bucks are still the stronger team, but the way the Boston Celtics have built their chemistry in the final few weeks of the regular season as well as their performances in the First Round of the Play Offs bodes well for them. It certainly makes Game 1 much more intriguing despite the fact that the Bucks are pretty big favourites to win.
Revenge will also be on the mind of the Bucks who were beaten in the First Round of the PlayOffs by the Boston Celtics in 2018. That Series needed all seven games to separate the teams and the home team won all of those games so the feeling is that home court is going to be very important in this Second Round Series too.
In the regular season the Milwaukee Bucks edged out the Boston Celtics 2-1 in the head to head and the only game played between these teams in Milwaukee ended with a single point win for the home team.
The rest is going to make this an interesting Game 1 with both teams admitting they have had enough time to take a break between the First and Second Round Series. It does make you wonder if the Offensive chemistry may just be affected without the rhythm of games that teams are used to in the NBA, especially as both teams have some of the better Defensive players in the League.
Marcus Smart's continuous absence is a concern for the Celtics, but I do think the total points line could be a touch on the high side for this Game 1. The 'under' has gone 7-1 in the last eight games Boston have played against a team who have won at least 60% of their games, while it is also 6-2 in their last eight games when playing on three or more days rest between games.
The 'under' has also covered in the last four games Milwaukee have played when playing on three or more days rest and I think the two teams will have something of a feeling out process against each other in Game 1. They are two talented teams capable of scoring plenty of points when they find their rhythm, but I am looking for the rest to have just cooled down the Offenses and both teams being challenged by much teams than they played in the First Round.
I am looking for a slow first half that may be enough to make sure the total line is not breached in Game 1.
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors Game 1 Pick: The Houston Rockets have been well rested and have been preparing in the Bay Area for a couple of days in anticipation of the Western Conference Second Round Series beginning on Sunday. It turned out to be the correct decision when the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday to earn their spot in the next Round.
It was a more difficult Series for the Golden State Warriors than most would have imagined as they needed six games to see off the Clippers. A bigger worry has to be the knocks suffered by the key players of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry which makes them a doubt for Game 1.
The task to beat the Houston Rockets would be that much tougher for the Warriors if both are sitting out and it would be something of a measure of revenge for the Rockets who feel they lost the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors last year because of a key injury to Chris Paul when 3-2 up in the Series.
Any sympathy for any injury concerns for the Golden State Warriors would have been lost in that moment and this is a Houston team who have been preparing for twelve months for revenge. They will feel they are the team best equipped in preventing the Warriors from making it to five straight NBA Finals out of the Western Conference and I do think this has the makings of a classic Series.
Games between these teams in the regular season have shown how close this Series could be as Houston have really played well against Golden State. With Game 1 coming just two days after the Warriors completed their First Round Series I do think we are going to see a situation where Houston have every chance of stealing away Home Court from their hosts.
The hosts do have a strong record in the Second Round of the NBA PlayOffs, but teams coming off big wins have struggled against the spread. Th Rockets are also 3-0 against the spread when set as the underdog of 5 or more points this season and I do think they are going to be mentally ready to make a statement against the Warriors on Sunday.
Houston have not performed off a rest as they would have liked, but Golden State are 19-40-2 against the spread off a double digit win. I will look for the Rockets to cover with the start on the handicap in this one.
Monday 29th April
Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors Game 2 Pick: The Toronto Raptors may have had something more to prove than simply winning Game 1 as they didn't want to hear the same naysayers speaking about their team if they had dropped that game yet again in the NBA PlayOffs. After doing that in the First Round the likes of Kahwi Leonard made it clear the history of the franchise was not bothering him at all in first PlayOff run as a Raptor and it was Leonard who dominated Game 1 of this Second Round Series.
The Raptors comfortably saw off the Philadelphia 76ers and it is a big test for the road team to come out and show they can make this a much more competitive Series than it has looked at the outset. They can't match the bench that the Raptors can send out onto the court and if the starters are struggling it is very difficult to know how Philadelphia can extend Toronto.
You have to think the manner of the loss in Game 1 will have focused the 76ers to perform much better this time around, but they are going to need to make some serious adjustments. Defensively they had a hard time dealing with the Raptors who shot over 50% from the field and it is also up to Philadelphia to find a way to get the best out of their own star players.
Joel Embiid is not at 100% and it is clear from Game 1 that he is going to be tested much more than in the First Round Series. Marc Gasol was traded from the Memphis Grizzlies with the assignment to guard the likes of Embiid in mind and Gasol got the better of the battle in Game 1 and it looks to be a key part of this Series.
If Embiid is struggling again and the rest of the starters can't raise their level by a couple of notches it is going to very difficult for the 76ers. Historically it is tough for teams to cover the spread as the host in Game 2 of the Second Round, especially if they are off a big win like the Toronto Raptors, but the latter have covered a similar number in all three home wins over the 76ers this season.
The 76ers dropped to 3-10 against the spread as an underdog of 5 points or larger this season. They have failed to cover in their last five visits to Toronto and the favourite has improved to 21-7 against the spread in the last twenty-eight games between these teams.
Philadelphia have bounced back from double digit losses in recent spots, but Toronto are 6-2 against the spread off a double digit win and I will lay the points with the Raptors for a second time in this Series.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets Game 1 Pick: While most of the NBA PlayOff Second Round Series have already played Game 1 this weekend, the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers had to wait until Monday to get underway. That is down to the fact that the Denver Nuggets needed a Game 7 to see off the San Antonio Spurs and they will be hoping being in rhythm can overcome any potential fatigue against the well rested Trail Blazers who blew out the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to reach the Second Round.
This really is not a Second Round Series many would have predicted even a few months ago and it is a big opportunity for both Denver and Portland. The Nuggets had the better of the regular season which will give them confidence, especially as Portland look like they are going to struggle to have an answer to Nikola Jokic in Game 1.
It should have been a monumental battle with Jusuf Nurkic coming up for Jokic, but the Portland Center was lost for the season and replacement Enes Kanter is a doubt for Game 1. Regardless of whether he suits up or not, Kanter is not going to be at 100% for Game 1 and I think Jokic can pick up from where he left off.
The Nuggets have also been able to play enough good Defensive basketball which has seen them slow down Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. It is almost impossible to think those two players will not get their points, especially with the way Portland have been shooting the ball from the three point arc, but Denver will feel they can make them earn their points inefficiently and that should give them the edge.
Home Court advantage could be very strong for the Nuggets in this Second Round Series and I think they are a team I am happy to lay the points with. The Nuggets are 3-1-1 against the spread in the last five at home against the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver are now 6-1-1 against the spread in the last eight overall against them.
Portland have not played since last week thanks to an early wrap up of their First Round Series with the Thunder and with Denver's First Round Series being extended to go the distance. However they have played well when on three or more days rest so I am going to give them their respect, but I think the Nuggets have some momentum and being at home can inspire them to a win.
In recent years the host of Game 1 of the Second Round Series have covered more often than not and Denver's match up with Portland looks to be a good one. Barring any lingering fatigue from Saturday's Game 7 win over San Antonio, I think the Nuggets can edge out Portland in Game 1 here and I will lay the points with them.
Tuesday 30th April
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks Game 2 Pick: In Game 1 of this Second Round Series I favoured the two teams to use their Defensive prowess to just get the better of two Offenses that had not played a game of basketball for a few days. It turned out to be a comfortable winner, but I was just as surprised as anyone else out there that the Boston Celtics were able to blow out the Milwaukee Bucks in the way they did on the road.
Game 2 comes from the same venue and you have to expect a real reaction from the Bucks who finished with the Number 1 record in the NBA. They will be looking to make the adjustments to free up Giannis Antetokounmpo who struggled in the opening game of the Series thanks to the stellar work Al Horford was doing at both ends of the court.
Pressure is on Antetokounmpo who needs to get more support from his team-mates who had struggled in Game 1. Players like Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez have huge PlayOff experience to think they are going to be able to bounce back from sub-par efforts in Game 1 and Milwaukee have shown through the course of the season that they don't allow themselves to dwell on losses.
Boston will be looking to get more of the same out of their roster which has entered the PlayOffs believing they have finally all turned to the same page. The returns of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injuries that kept them out of the Celtics run to the Eastern Conference Finals twelve months ago were supposed to give Boston a strong regular season, but those players are beginning to rally together and Boston are the only team in the post-season who have won all of their PlayOff games.
Last season these two teams needed all seven games in the First Round Series to separate them and all of those games were won by the home team. Winning on the road will give Boston huge belief, but they would love to secure a second win here before heading home although I think that may be beyond them with the feeling the Bucks have a big bounce back performance in them.
Milwaukee are an incredible 18-4 against the spread off a loss this season and they have covered in their last five following a defeat of double digits. The Celtics are in very good form and they have some strong recent trends overall and in their visits to Milwaukee, but they did suffer a couple of big losses here in the PlayOffs last season and I think the Bucks can cover what is a big number.
The money is heavily slanted to the Celtics on the spread, but I don't mind opposing the public in this one.
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors Game 2 Pick: Both teams bemoaned some of the refereeing in Game 1 of what is going to be a tense Series between the two best teams in the Western Conference. The Houston Rockets were particularly upset with some of the calls that went against them including James Harden being fouled on what was a game tying three pointer inside the final minutes of Game 1.
The NBA have made it clear it was a blown call and Harden and the Rockets have urged the referees to be 'fairer' to them in Game 2.
In most cases when capping the NBA PlayOffs you would want to think about the kind of adjustments teams are likely going to make between games, but for the first time I think you have to think about the Officials. With all the talk out of Game 1, there is a feeling they may err on the side of caution whenever there is contact and we could see a long Game 2 which has both teams going to the Free Throw line at a much more frequent rate than usual.
That is part of the reason I am expecting more scoring in this one after a relatively low-scoring Game 1 which saw the Houston Rockets lose, but cover. The public are very much behind the Rockets again in Game 2, but I think they are going to have be much stronger at both ends of the court after failing to take advantage of the 20 turnovers Golden State gave up.
Both Klay Thompson and Steph Curry looked fairly healthy after ankle injuries in the Series win over the Los Angeles Clippers and I think they are going to be two players who could find themselves up at the Free Throw line. With James Harden likely to keep attacking and Defenders perhaps also easing off challenging those three point shooters if the referees call some early fouls then it could also be a chance for both teams to have a strong Offensive showing.
The total points line has come down a few points from Game 1 and the 'under' is trending 5-1 in the last six between these teams in Golden State. However the two regular season games here produced at least 230 points in each one and with the extra scrutiny on the foul calls being made in Game 2 I think the teams can surpass the line where it is at the moment.
Wednesday 1st May
Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets Game 2 Pick: The followers of the old zig-zag theory will be feeling very happy with the way the NBA PlayOffs Second Round Series have begun. All three of the Game 2s played have seen the opposite team cover from Game 1 and that is a major reason I have been put off from backing the Denver Nuggets to win and cover the spread for a second game with the Portland Trail Blazers.
A couple of days ago the Nuggets were deserved winners of Game 1, although the Portland Trail Blazers were not happy with some of the decisions that seemed to be going their way in that one. Now it is up to the visitors to make the adjustments, although I can't really back them with confidence considering their poor recent record in Denver.
The Trail Blazers did not allow a poor record to dictate the way their First Round Series was going to be approached though and that saw them beat the Oklahoma City Thunder comfortably. They will feel they need to play slightly more careful basketball if they are going to steal Home Court from the Denver Nuggets.
Fatiguing the home team might be difficult considering this is a roster used to playing in the altitude of Denver, although the fact they were pushed to Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs and are playing this game as the third one in a six day period can't be easily set aside.
The Trail Blazers will be looking to be more efficient from three point range while they are looking to cut down on the turnovers that effectively cost them Game 1. It won't be easy, but neither team played a lot of quality Defense in Game 1 and I think Game 2 could follow suit which means backing the 'over' to come through for a second game in a row.
Both teams have recently struggled to pick up the intensity on that side of the court when they are being asked to play on one day rest like they are for this one. Both have strong trends favouring the 'over' in that situation, while that has been the play when Portland have travelled to Denver as seven of the last nine have ended with more points than the layers have anticipated.
The 'over' is also 9-3 in the last twelve games following a Portland loss, while it is 5-2 in the last seven following a Denver win. There is no doubt that it is a very big number and will need some heavy three point shooting and continued porous Defensive work to surpass it, but I will look for that to be the case in Game 2.
Thursday 2nd May
Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers Game 3 Pick: We are going to learn a lot about the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers over the next few days as they complete their Game 3 and Game 4 of this Second Round Series. The 76ers managed to tie up the Series by stealing Home Court in Game 2 in Canada, but the Toronto Raptors may feel they have more room for improvement of the two teams.
The Raptors really did not shoot the ball as well as they can in Game 2 and while some of the credit can be given to Philadelphia, the Raptors will be more than aware that their role players just did not perform as they did in Game 1. It was a poor start that left the Raptors chasing their tails throughout Game 2, but I am expecting a positive reaction from the road team.
A huge effort from Jimmy Butler helped the 76ers secure the upset in Game 2 and they are going to need more of the same from the player that was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves during the season. The problem for Philadelphia is that they can't really rely on Joel Embiid to bail them out with his issues piling up and the Raptors having the kind of players who will thrive when it comes to battling Embiid.
Toronto have to be better when it comes to securing the ball off the glass having been out-rebounded by a wide margin in Game 2. The 76ers look like they will have the better of the boards anyway, but the margin is the key and Toronto have to challenge them better if they are going to recover Home Court.
It does feel this Series is going to be in Toronto's hands having held Philadelphia under 100 points for a second game in a row and I do think they are going to bounce back despite going 1-4 in their last five Game 3s in the NBA PlayOffs.
Toronto are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games following a loss and a road team coming off a Game 2 defeat have been very strong historically in this Round of the PlayOffs. The Raptors are 27-12-2 against the spread in their last forty-one games in Philadelphia and won here in February, while it seems like the public might be moving behind the 76ers despite some of the bigger money coming down on the Raptors.
I want to be with the sharps in this one as I think Toronto are the better team and I believe they have the bigger scope to make the adjustments from Game 2 to Game 3 compared with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Friday 3rd May
Milwaukee Bucks @ Boston Celtics Game 3 Pick: These two teams have split blow out wins over the other already in this Second Round Series and Game 3 is played on Friday evening. Game 4 will have to wait until Monday evening so there is a real chance for one of these teams to make the other have a really good think about what they need to change by taking a 2-1 lead in the Series.
It is a very close Series and I do think it is very difficult to split them in Game 3 with the amount of adjustments we have seen between the two games. I have to admit I am tempted to back the Milwaukee Bucks as the underdog which has been a situation in which they have thrived throughout this season, but this is a very difficult Arena in which to perform.
The Boston Celtics have been a little inconsistent at home this season, so I would be surprised if they win both Game 3 and Game 4, although the PlayOff record under Brad Stevens deserves to see the home team well respected. The Celtics are 16-3 against the spread in nineteen home games that does not involve facing LeBron James and it is enough for me to take a watching brief as far as picking a side is concerned.
There are too many unknowns to determine a side in Game 3 when you think the first two games have changed on the way one or two players have performed. The Celtics certainly have the players who can slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Eric Bledsoe stepped up where he failed in Game 1 and that was a big factor in the Milwaukee win.
Instead of picking a side I am going to back these teams to combine for fewer than the total points line that has been set for Game 3. Game 1 finished with an 'under' and Game 2 barely went 'over' and I do think the two teams have shown enough Defensively to think one of them will fail to score the points to aid the 'over' in this one.
It took some late scoring to make sure Game 2 went 'over' the mark and I am not surprised the layers have adjusted by dropping the number for a third game in a row. However I think they may still not have gone as low as they should have and I am looking at these teams to step up their Defensive play and not see a franchise record number of three pointers like Milwaukee had in Game 2 which was the main reason the mark was surpassed.
To be fair, the 'over' has a strong trend in both Milwaukee and Boston games in recent weeks, while it is also a favourable option when these teams have met one another. However the majority of the numbers on the total points line have been much lower than the one we are seeing in Game 3 and I am going to back the adjustments to have been made Defensively which will mean the selection is going 'under' the total point line.
Denver Nuggets @ Portland Trail Blazers Game 3 Pick: One of the factors that has to be considered going into Game 3 of this tied Second Round Series is the health of Jamal Murray. He didn't finish Game 2 once it became clear that the Denver Nuggets were going to be dropping it to the Portland Trail Blazers, but he hasn't had a lot of time to recover from the issues picked up when trying to fight through screens.
The Nuggets have to be pretty disappointed with the way they played in Game 2 as they continue to miss open three after open three in the second quarter. Instead of adjusting and making plays towards the basket, which was not being that well guarded by the Trail Blazers, Denver persisted with a shot that wasn't falling and the total 12 points scored in that quarter is the reason they went down to a 7 point defeat.
They were improved in the second half and the Nuggets will be asked to make the adjustments to try and regain Home Court advantage which has been lost in Game 2. For the most part they are playing well, but Denver will know they can't be as poor from the field as they were last time out if they are going to beat this Portland Trail Blazers team.
Portland have to be much happier as Enes Kanter continues to not only fight through the pain, but also the traffic on the court which is leading to plenty of action around the glass. He has been a key figure in the first two games for the Trail Blazers and Portland will need his energy to keep Nikola Jurkic having to work very hard and making sure he is needed to have a big impact at both ends of the court to tire him out.
They have yet to have a really big game from Damian Lillard despite heading back home at 1-1 in this Second Round Series, and Portland will need one if they are going to hold serve twice over this weekend. It is a difficult spot for the Trail Blazers considering how closely matched these two teams are and coming off a win as an underdog and then being favoured by this many points is not easy in these close Series.
Toronto did not cover on Thursday, but historically road teams off a Game 2 loss at home have been very strong when it comes to covering the number. Teams coming off a loss as a favourite and then being set as the underdog also have a strong cover rate in the Second Round Series of the NBA PlayOffs and both of those trends favour the Denver Nuggets.
You can't ignore the fact that Denver have not been as strong on the road as they have been at home, but they are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven visits to Portland. The Nuggets also have a very strong 8-4 record against the spread when looking for revenge against an opponent who beat them as the underdog.
With Portland going 6-6-1 against the spread in their last thirteen as the home favourite I am going to take the points on offer here and that despite the concerns about the availability of Jamal Murray.
Saturday 4th May
Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets Game 3 Pick: This was supposed to be the Series that the Houston Rockets had been preparing for in anticipation of revenge for what happened twelve months ago. Instead they find themselves 2-0 down in the Second Round Series to defending Champions Golden State Warriors, although the mindset has to be that the Warriors have only been holding serve by winning two games at home.
The key for the Rockets is to find an answer to Kevin Durant who is showing the entire world why he is the best basketball player on the planet. It is quite a remarkable showing from someone who is rumoured to be taking his player option to end his contract with the Warriors in the next few weeks and possibly heading to new pastures.
Kevin Durant himself has refused to get involved in the speculation and is doing his best to put that to the back-burner with the kind of performances he is producing on the court. The Rockets have to find a way to slow him down, but they will also be hoping James Harden is able to recover from having his eyes raked in Game 2 which he admitted affected his vision.
I would expect Harden to play knowing the Series is almost certainly on the line in the next couple of days with Houston needing to win both games at home to have a chance of upsetting the defending Champions. The Warriors also have a couple of injury concerns with the most notable one being Steph Curry who hurt his fingers in Game 2, but again finished that one and is expected to suit up in Game 3.
The Warriors have been favoured in the first two games in the Series, although they are 1-1 against the spread despite winning both straight up. This time the Series has shifted favouritism to the Houston Rockets and I do think that is a difficult spot for them to be in.
One favoured trend of recent times of backing a team that is 0-2 down in a Series to cover the spread in the first half of a Game 3 is no longer a big option in my opinion. At one time you could get some deflated spreads on the Half Time Spread from the layers, but that has been worked out by the oddsmakers after a strong run of wins from those teams and so Houston are favoured to cover by the same number at half time as they are at the conclusion of this game.
It still may be the best avenue to approach if you want to back the Rockets who have to come out desperate to get back into this Series, but I also think the Warriors are looking to make a statement. In the Second Round of the NBA PlayOffs it has not been a winning play to oppose a Number 1 Seed as an underdog and that was the case again in Game 3 of the Boston-Milwaukee Series on Friday.
Golden State will be looking to keep that trend going as they are picking up quite a few points in this one in what feels like being another close game. Teams being given less than five points as the underdog and the Number 1 Seed have a very strong covering record in the Second Round of the PlayOffs and that is also a trend that was continued by the Bucks on Friday evening.
The road team is 4-1 against the spread in games between the Rockets and Warriors and it is Golden State who have tended to perform better with the kind of rest we are getting between Game 2 and Game 3.
You can't discount the Houston Rockets finding a way to get things done by a clear margin with their ability shooting the three pointer, but Golden State look in the mood to make a statement. I will take the points with the road underdog in Game 3 of this Series.
Sunday 5th May
Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers Game 4 Pick: The last two games have seen the Philadelphia 76ers take control of this Second Round Series and they could move to the hill by holding serve at home for a second time. Game 3 saw the Toronto Raptors go cold at the wrong time at the beginning of the fourth quarter in a tight game and that allowed the 76ers to pull clear and comfortably see off their visitors.
There are some problems for the Toronto Raptors to address with news that Pascal Siakam looks set to miss Game 4 and it is a big loss to lose someone who has scored at least 20 points in the first three games of this Series. It puts more pressure on Kyle Lowry to find a way to get out of his slump and offer some support to Kahwi Leonard who has been a one man wrecking ball for the Raptors.
Ultimately Toronto are not going to win this game with only Leonard contributing which has been the case in the last couple of games. Over the course of the regular season the Raptors depth has been very important for them, but the absence of Siakam will hurt their production and they are going to need to dig very deep if they are not going to be on the brink of yet another early NBA PlayOff exit in the coming days.
Philadelphia have fewer adjustments to make as they managed to pull away and crack 100 points for the first time in the Series in Game 3. The starting five are very important for the 76ers so it was good to see them all scoring in double figures, while the 76ers also broke down the Toronto Defensive unit which had performed well in the first two games north of the border.
Joel Embiid is the face of the franchise, but it is the play of Jimmy Butler which is sparking Philadelphia and it is up to the Raptors to find a way to get their feet back under them. Slowing down the 76ers won't be easy, but Toronto fans have to believe their team is still very much alive in the Series having been very close in Game 3 before finding their shooters going cold at the beginning of the fourth quarter which was the turning point of the game.
Toronto do have a favourable trend of being in the position of underdog in Game 4 off a loss as favourite in Game 3. Teams in that spot have a very good covering rate in the NBA PlayOffs Second Round while the Raptors are also 17-4-1 against the spread in their last twenty-two visits to the 76ers when they are not being favoured by 4 points or more.
The 76ers are also going to have to find a different sort of motivation- it would have been easy to come out fired up in Game 3 after being set as the home underdog, but the 76ers are only 4-11 against the spread as the favourite of less than 4 points this season.
We have also seen the Raptors cover in their last five games coming off a straight up loss of double digits, while Philadelphia are 5-11 against the spread in their last sixteen following a double digit win. I have to respect the way the 76ers have performed in the last couple of games to move 2-1 ahead in this Series, but I think the Toronto Raptors can rally together and I will take the points in this one.
Denver Nuggets @ Portland Trail Blazers Game 4 Pick: The first NBA PlayOff game since 1953 that needed FOUR Overtimes to decide the winner is in the books and there is not a lot of time for the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers to rest between Game 3 and Game 4.
I don't imagine a lot of work was done on the court on Saturday after the late Friday finish and the early afternoon Sunday start in Portland. Both Head Coaches will know they need to extract another big effort from their wounded teams without rest and it is a big moment in this Second Round Series with the Portland Trail Blazers trying to take a 3-1 lead in the Series having won the last two games.
Rodney Hood was the hero for the Trail Blazers, but there were many players out there deserving praise on Friday. Now it is a big task for Michael Malone to extract something from his Nuggets players having been on the wrong side of the defeat and with the Portland Trail Blazers looking slightly healthier even if Enes Kanter is somehow battling through his own personal pain.
Both teams have admitted there are going to be some tired bodies going out onto the court on Sunday and it does make it a much harder game to predict. You have to imagine it is going to have an impact on the Defensive effort the teams are able to put together, but that might be an issue for the Denver Nuggets with the Trail Blazers players finding some rhythm shooting the ball.
It could also be tough to play the fast tempo that both teams like and I would not be surprised to see this game hit the 'under', although my preference is to pick the Portland Trail Blazers to make it 3-1 in the Series. I backed the Denver Nuggets to cover in Game 3, but they are off back to back straight up losses now and road teams have suffered in the Second Round of the NBA PlayOffs in that spot down the years.
Out of the two teams it is Portland who have the stronger record against the spread when playing with just one days rest and I think that could play a part in this one too considering the way Game 3 ended. The Trail Blazers are also 16-7 against the spread as a favourite of less than 4 points this season and I think they might have the energy of the crowd behind them which can help prop up the flagging players in this game.
Laying the points with the home team looks to be the play in Game 4 having also played through the First Round in five games compared with the seven Denver needed to get through. That may also add to the potential fatigue in play and I think Portland can move into a commanding position in this Second Round Series.
28/04 Milwaukee-Boston Under 223.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
28/04 Houston Rockets + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
29/04 Toronto Raptors - 6.5 Points @ 1.86 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
29/04 Denver Nuggets - 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
30/04 Milwaukee Bucks - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
30/04 Golden State Warriors-Houston Rockets Over 220.5 Points @ 1.91 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
01/05 Denver Nuggets-Portland Trail Blazers Over 219.5 Points @ 1.91 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
02/05 Toronto Raptors - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
03/05 Boston Celtics-Milwaukee Bucks Under 219 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
03/05 Denver Nuggets + 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
04/05 Golden State Warriors + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
05/05 Toronto Raptors + 2 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
05/05 Portland Trail Blazers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Second Round Update: 7-5, + 1.37 Units (12 Units Staked, + 14.16% Yield)
First Round PlayOff Final: 23-17, + 4.02 Units (40 Units Staked, + 10.05% Yield)