Editor’s Note: Updated on Tuesday, 6/1/21, at 6:31 p.m. Eastern.
Things happen during the course of the NBA’s postseason. Several things happened this past weekend that could impact whether the Lakers get out of the first round and whether the 76ers are legitimate candidates to make it out of the Eastern Conference.
Let’s start with the Lakers, who appeared to be in command of their opening-round series versus second-seeded Phoenix after taking a 2-1 advantage with Thursday’s 109-95 home win as 6.5-point home ‘chalk.’
However, in Sunday’s Game 4 at Staples Center, Anthony Davis was forced out of the game with a groin injury and he did not return. On the flip side, the ailing shoulder of Chris Paul appeared to be much better after limiting his playing time and effectiveness since Game 1.
The result was a complete reversal of fortunes, as the Suns captured a 100-92 win as 6.5-point road underdogs, hooking up money-line supporters with a +230 payout. They took a four-point lead to halftime, quickly extended that advantage to double digits and coasted to victory to even the series.
Paul led six double-figure scorers with 18 points, three steals, three rebounds and nine assists without a turnover. Devon Booker and Jae Crowder finished with 17 points and seven rebounds apiece, while DeAndre Ayton added 14 points, 17 boards, two steals and one block.
LeBron James scored a team-high 25 points, but he hit only 1-of-7 attempts from 3-point land and had the same amount of turnovers (six) and assists (six). James pulled down 12 rebounds, but he made made only 4-of-7 free-throw attempts.
For tonight’s Game 5 back in Phoenix, the Suns are installed as five-point home favorites at most shops. The total is 207.5 or 208 points, while the Lakers are +175 on the money line.
L.A.’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (knee) missed Game 4 but has been upgraded from ‘questionable’ to ‘probable’ tonight. Davis is ‘doubtful,’ while Paul is ‘probable.’
DraftKings has Phoenix as a -180 favorite for the adjusted series price, with the Lakers listed as +145 underdogs. The Lakers’ odds to repeat as NBA champions are now +600, while the Suns have a +1500 price.
DraftKings has Brooklyn as the +180 ‘chalk’ to win their first NBA championship in franchise history. Utah (+400) has the next-shortest odds, followed by the Bucks (+550), Clippers (+700), 76ers (+900), Nuggets (40/1), Trail Blazers (40/1), Hawks (50/1), Mavericks (90/1), Knicks (300/1), Wizards (300/1), Celtics (500/1) and Grizzlies (500/1).
Brooklyn will try to deliver the kill shot to Boston tonight at Barclays Arena. As of early this morning, most books had the Nets listed as 12.5-point home favorites over the Celtics, who are +650 on the money line.
Boston won’t have guard Kemba Walker (knee) or center Robert Williams (ankle), who have both been ruled ‘out.’ Both players missed Game 4, too. Williams had nine blocked shots in Game 1.
After dropping Game 3 at Boston, Brooklyn won easily in Sunday’s Game 4 by a 141-126 count. The Nets took the cash as 8.5-point road favorites, while the 267 combined points catapulted ‘over’ the 228.5-point total.
Kevin Durant scored 42 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the field. He made all 11 of his FTAs and all three of his launches from 3-point land. The perennial All-Star forward added four rebounds, two blocked shots, one steal and five assists compared to just one turnover.
Kyrie Irving contributed 39 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals, while James Harden finished with 23 points, 18 assists, five rebounds, three blocked shots and a pair of steals.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum had 40 points in the losing effort. He dropped 50 points on Brooklyn in the Celtics’ Game 3 victory. However, with Jaylen Brown sidelined and Walker unable to go in Game 4, Tatum simply hasn’t had enough help.
The ‘over’ has cashed in the last three games of this series, with combined scores of 238, 244 and 267 points. Tonight’s total was 231.5 or 232 points as of early this morning. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
As of early this morning, most spots had Denver listed as a two-point home favorite for tonight’s crucial Game 5 back in The Mile High City. The series is knotted at 2-2 after Portland won Saturday’s Game 4 in blowout fashion (115-95) as a 4.5-point home favorite. The 210 combined points dropped ‘under’ 227.5 points after the ‘over’ had hit in the first three games of this best-of-seven showdown.
The Trail Blazers are available for a short money-line return of +114 at FanDuel or +110 at PointsBet tonight. The total is down to 226 points.
DraftKings has Portland as a -122 favorite to win the series, while the Nuggets are the even-money underdogs (+100) to advance to the West semifinals. Denver’s Will Barton remains ‘out’ for tonight’s Game 5.
Atlanta will look to insert the dagger to the Knicks at MSG in NYC on Wednesday night. As of early this morning, most books had New York installed as a 1.5-point home favorite with a total of 208.
Nate McMillan’s club took a 3-1 series lead by winning back-to-back home games by double-digit margins on Friday and Sunday. With Sunday’s 113-96 win as a 4.5-point home favorite, Atlanta extended its home winning streak to 13 games.
The Hawks haven’t tasted defeat at home since an April 15 loss to Milwaukee. They’ve compiled a 21-2 straight-up record and a 19-4 against-the-spread mark in 23 home games since Feb. 21.
Trae Young has enjoyed a spectacular debut to his postseason career. In four games, he’s averaging 27.5 points and 10.0 assists per game and has a 40/11 assist-to-turnover ratio. Oh, and he also had the game winner in the final second of Game 1 on a floater in the paint to silence the raucous crowd at MSG.
New York owns a 26-12 SU record and a 23-14-1 ATS mark in 38 home games this year. However, the Knicks desperately need improved play from star Julius Randle, who has been absolutely abysmal through four games of this series.
The winner of the NBA’s Most Improved Player award has made only 20-of-73 FGAs (27.4%), averaging 16.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Randle has missed 53 shots and committed 15 turnovers.
Young had 27 points and nine assists in Game 4, while John Collins produced 22 points and eight rebounds in his best performance of the series. Danilo Gallinari dropped a series-best 21 points on the Knicks in Game 4, hitting 6-of-9 FGAs and all eight of his FTAs.
Washington avoided elimination Monday night by beating Philadelphia 122-114 as an 8.5-point home underdog. Philadelphia All-Star center Joel Embiid left the game in the first quarter after an awkward fall on the baseline caused soreness in his right knee.
Embiid had an MRI today and is listed as ‘doubtful’ for Wednesday’s Game 5 back in Philadelphia. Embiid’s injury wasn’t the only disconcerting news coming out of Game 4 for the 76ers.
Washington head coach Scott Brooks decided to foul Ben Simmons on purpose three times on consecutive possessions outside of the two-minute mark during a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. Simmons made only three of those free throws.
Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers was defiant at his postgame presser, stating unequivocally that he won’t take Simmons out of the game to avoid such tactics moving forward. Unlike Hack-a-Shaq strategies in the 1990s and 2000s, Simmons’s struggles at the charity stripe are more of an issue because he has the ball in his hands so much.
Simmons did make a career-best 61.3 percent of his FTAs during the regular season, but he had missed all nine of his FTAs in this series going into Game 4. He made 5-of-11 last night but is still 5-of-20 (25.0%) vs. Washington.
The Wizards hooked up money-line supporters with a +310 return in Monday’s upset win. Russell Westbrook produced his 12th career postseason triple-double to pass Jason Kidd and move into third place in NBA history behind only James and Magic Johnson. Westbrook, who was a game-time decision due to an ankle injury sustained in Game 2, struggled with his shot (3-of-19 FGAs) but was still a major factor with 19 points, 21 rebounds, two steals and 14 assists compared to only four turnovers.
Bradley Beal scored 27 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out four assists and blocked a pair of shots. Davis Bertans scored 15 points before straining his calf in the third quarter. The results of today’s MRI revealed a grade 2 strain for Bertans that will require 4-6 weeks of recovery time.
Robin Lopez had his hook shot flowing in Game 4, making 8-of-11 FGAs while contributing 16 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots in only 18:59 of playing time.
For Wednesday’s Game 5, DraftKings has the 76ers listed as 6.5-point home favorites with a total of 230.5. The Wizards are +205 on the money line. The ‘over’ has cashed at a 3-1 clip in this series to date.
Washington has compiled a 22-8 spread record in its last 30 games.
Utah has covered the number in three straight games since Donovan Mitchell’s return in Game 2. The Jazz won a 120-113 decision at Memphis last night as a 5.5-point road favorite. The 233 combined points elevated ‘over’ the 225-point total to improve to 4-0 in this series.
With a 3-1 series lead, most books have installed Utah as a 10.5-point home favorite for Wednesday’s Game 5 back in Salt Lake City. The total is 226.5 points and the Grizzlies are +400 on the money line.
Mitchell scored 30 points and handed out eight assists in Monday’s Game 4 at FedEx Forum. Rudy Gobert added 17 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, while Jordan Clarkson had 24 points and six boards in just 21:30 of playing time. Mike Conley had 11 points and seven assists, knocking down 3-of-4 attempts from downtown.
Ja Morant finished with 23 points, 12 assists and six rebounds in the losing effort. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks scored 21 points apiece for the Grizzlies, who are mired in a 6-13 ATS slump.
Finally, as of early this morning, most spots had the Clippers listed as seven-point home favorites for Wednesday’s crucial Game 5 back at Staples Center. The total was 217.5 points, while the Mavericks were +240 on the money line.
After losing Games 1 and 2 at home and falling behind by 19 points in the first quarter of Game 3 at Dallas, the Clippers have dominated the last seven quarters to knot the series at 2-2. L.A. won 118-108 as a 2.5-point road ‘chalk’ in Game 3 before winning 106-81 in Sunday’s Game 4.
DraftKings has the Clippers as -360 favorites for the updated series price, while the Mavs are +270 underdogs.
My picks went 3-0 yesterday as I cashed winners with the ‘over’ for Washington-Philadelphia, Utah and the Utah-Memphis ‘over.’ I’m on a 7-1 run since Friday to improve to 133-108-3 (55.2%, +$1,460 on $100 plays or +14.6 Units) for the season. My top play of the weekend was Atlanta’s never-a-doubt winner in Game 4 vs. New York that we featured here at MajorWager.
If you want to hear more of my NBA opinions, check out today’s podcast that I co-host for AtoZSports from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. Central.
I hope that gets everybody up to date on the NBA Playoffs. Best of luck with all of your wagers!