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NBA Play-off Games Preview 19.05.2019

Both Conference Finals series are in full swing now. The upper seeded teams lead 2-0 in each but that doesn’t mean the drama is over. No early game tonight for us unfortunately, which is to be expected at this deep play-off stage. Let’s look closer to the situations in both series.

 

Portland Trail Blazers - Golden State Warriors

 

Warriors continue to play without Kevin Durant for third straight game, but first things first. They won both home games, quite expectedly. Game 1 was a blow-out, 116-94. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were shooting well from the great beyond and Lillard wasn’t too effective for Portland. Much different Game 2, same result though.

Blazers looked way more dangerous and aggressive on the offensive end for the best part of the first 3 quarters. Lillard and McCollum led a balanced effort and their team led by no less than 15 points at one point through the third period. Warriors looked in trouble, as a lost home court advantage could be really dangerous in a series where they might not be able to use their second most important player. Than Steve Kerr finally got the response he wanted from his players. The ruling champions turned to their classic style from the first two seasons of their dynasty – efficient ball movement with many extra passes to search for the bets shot. This led to many easy baskets around the rim, with Draymond and Andre Iguodala being the main men on the passing and receiving end, in changing order. The Splash brothers rained down some threes too and Golden State won 114-111 in the end.

What is more worrying for Oakland fans though is Durant’s condition. Rumours swirl that his injury might prove way more severe than the initial forecasts. The word goes that it’s not only a muscle strain and an Achilles tendon problem. That would probably mean the end of the season for KD, if true. Anyway he will be re-evaluated this Thursday, which means Golden State will be without him again in both Games 3 and 4 in Oregon. Even DeMarcus Cousins may return on the court faster than KD according to these same rumours.

Prediction: Portland showed their usual fighting spirit in Game 2 and will probably take one of their two home games. The history stats in NBA shows it’s likelier Blazers respond tonight in Game 3. They are small favs to cover 2.00-2.50 points spread. Still I feel the value in on the Warriors money-line at around 2.20 odds, or even slightly higher with a few bookmakers. Curry has proved he is more than able to carry his teammates all alone, let alone if Klay, Draymond and Andre help him effectively. If they replicate their 4th quarter performance from Game 2, Portland will find themselves in a 0-3 hole. The game will probably go over the projected limit of around 220 points too, but ML on Warriors seems the better option here.

 

Toronto Raptors - Milwaukee Bucks (Games starts at 01.00 UK Time)

 

Surprising or not, Bucks continue to travel smoothly through the post-season, just as they did in the regular season. Game 1 was a contested one. Milwaukee won in by 8 points only, 108-100, prevailing in the decisive moments of the 4th quarter. Completely different story in Game 2 on Friday night. It was an easy blow-out for the best regular season team, 125-103. The Greak Freak Giannis was above all players once again with 30 points and 17 rebounds. He was actively helped by Bucks’ balanced attack too, with contributions from Middleton, Mirotic, Illyasova and Brogdon.

Kahwi Leonard tried to bring Raptors on his back in the game and recorded another great game with 31 points on 10 of 18 shots. Only two other players scored in double figures for the Canadians though, and Kyle Lowry was ineffective with 4-13 shooting (2 of 9 from 3 point) for his 15 points. All in all, Toronto couldn’t prevent Giannis from penetrating in the paint and scoring easy baskets. Even Leonard, who is a top 3 defender in the league (if not the best one), seemed embarrassed by Giannis in a few situations under the baskets. Raptors’ chances don’t seem great in the series, but let’s not write them off just yet.

Prediction: Milwaukee won 3 of 4 regular season games against Toronto and now continue to dominate over them. Yet Toronto always play better on their own floor, boosted by their fans fanatic support in and outside the arena. They are set as small favs to win Game 3 again, like Portland – Golden State situation. The default spread is  - 3.00 points for Raptors to cover and their chances seem higher than Portland’s one. It all depends on how well Toronto will defend their paint against Giannis though. If he has the same freedom as in the last game, it will be a lost cause from the beginning for the home team. That is why I’m reluctant to play a full stake on Raptors (-3.00). A half point will do, and the option to just watch the game for fun is always there.

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