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NBA Play-off Games Preview 28.04.2019

All First round play-off series are over, excluding Denver – San Antonio, which have played their Game 7 at the early hours today. The winner of this game will meet Portland, who proved too tough a challenge for Oklahoma. Let’s leave that series alone for now, and look at the other 3 match-ups. Game 1 of the other East series, Toronto – Philadelphia, had also been played early last night. The other two series start tonight, and both games are early.

 

Milwaukee Bucks - Boston Celtics (Game 1 starts at 18.00 UK Time tonight)

Both teams finished their opponents in the first round quickly, with a clean sweep. It’s time to settle the matter about the best team in the East between themselves now, and then Toronto (or Philly) will be able to object this claim in the Conference Finals. Milwaukee’s 4-0 over Detroit was the most dominant one in the whole first round, as predicted. Pistons just weren’t even close to winning a single game, moreover their best player Blake Griffin had issues with a nagging injury. Boston had a bit steeper task with Indiana, as Pacers never give up. Yet Celtics didn’t let themselves to lose a game. Kyrie was at the top of his game and made all the important buckets when needed. Gordon Hayward also continued his revival from the end of the regular season. The young guns, Brown and Tatum, played with confidence, and veteran Al Horford also recorded a superb performance against Pacers.

Prediction: The teams played 3 regular season games in this campaign. Celtics won the first one at home by 4 points in the beginning of the season. Bucks took the next 2 games though, one away and one at home. The road win was a good one, by 13 points. The last game was very contested though – Milwaukee snatched the win by a single point, and Celtics were without Kyrie that night. Bucks are bookmakers’ favs to win the series and that’s normal, as they had the best record in NBA. It’s near impossible for any NBA team to stop Giannis from scoring in the paint, as Bucks have good 3-point shooting too with Middleton, Bledsoe, etc. The way to beat Bucks is just to outscore them and limit your own turnovers. Easier said than done though, even more so for Boston. Celtics’ troubles this regular season came from the lack of creativity on offensive end, especially with Irving on the bench. They’ll have to address this matter and fast, if they are to stand a chance in the series. Coming to Game 1 now. Deserved favs or not, but 8 points on the spread seem a bit too much for the first game and quite disrespectful for Boston. The road team has its best chance to surprise the upper seed in Game 1, as the old NBA saying goes. Celtics should play near perfect to take this, but keeping the game close seems way more likely than the spread suggests. Boston +8 points for me.

 

Golden State Warriors – Houston Rockets (Games starts at 20.30 UK Time)

This is the series which will likely attracts the most of the fans’ interest over the globe. These teams don’t like each other. Rockets feel they will something more to prove after the hard exit from Warriors last year, when Chris Paul got injured. There will be many hard fouls and jabbing here and there through the series for sure.

Warriors took the whole first round series vs. Clippers lightly. They weren’t focused and allowed their opponent to take 2 games, thus missing on a few additional days of rest. It could be for the best though, providing Steve Ker stress some tactical points in the locker-room, and they enter in tonight’s game as hot, as they were in Game 6 vs, Clippers.

Rockets slipped only one game vs. Utah Jazz. Utah played well and kept most of the games close, but Donovan Mitchell disappointed at the offensive end – which is excusable for a young star. Harden also had a few terrible games statistically and Rockets will need way better percentage from him against the ruling champions.

Prediction: Houston won the regular season series 3-1. Golden State won the last game in Houston though and we know they don’t take the regular season too seriously in the last years. Houston get +6.5 – 7.00 points on the spread in Game 1, which is about right. They might win it or stay close if Harden and the other perimeter shooters are hot; or they might get blown out by 15 points, if not. Warriors also had some shooting woes, most notably in Game 5 against Clippers though. Both coaches will likely stress on the importance of the defensive effort in tonight’s game. That’s why I prefer to take a shot on the UNDER 225 – 226 points total. They passed this total twice in the regular season series, but one of these game went in overtime. The other two games were very comfortable UNDERS though. There’s a good chance for another contested game, with some turnovers and nerves from both sides.

 

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