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NBA Play-off Games Preview 20.04.2019

The first round of the post-season is in full swing already and we have 4 games on Sunday. Even better, two of them are early ones! Let’s take a look at all 4 Sunday clashes:

 

Indiana Pacers - Boston Celtics (Games starts at 18.00 UK Time)

Pacers fought hard as expected, not letting a blow-out in every one of the 3 games so far….and yet they find themselves on the verge of elimination, trailing 0-3. The old saying confirms itself once again, the team with the best star player usually dominates the play-off series. It’s not only about Kyrie though, Celtics are way more deep and balanced team than Pacers, and it shows.

Indiana won’t go down without a fight though, that’s for granted. Tyreke Evans filled the slack in the offense in Game 3 and the game was in the balance late in the 4th quarter. It was again Kyrie Irving who took the responsibility and scored a few key baskets down the stretch. Pacers will play the same way tonight and they are not without a chance to pull one win from Boston in the series. It will be a kind of moral victory boost for a team, missing their best player in Victor Oladipo, and a promise for the future, providing Larry Bird do some miracle and convince another star to come to the small Indy market this summer.

Prediction: It’s the play-offs and the games are priced up early. Pacers are around 2.10-2.15 to win the game and get some 2 points spread on the default line. It’s too little to justify the loss of some 20-25 clicks in the odds though, so I’ll put some beer money on the money-line. Current odds just seem a touch high, 2.00-2.05 Indy ML would be more in line.

 

Los Angeles Clippers - Golden State Warriors (Games starts at 20.30 UK Time)

Golden State will find it way harder to dominate this year’s play-offs than they are used to. Not in this series, as they quickly erased the blip in Game 2 with a road win. Clippers could be dangerous to an elite team only when they are shooting the lights out on a given night, and this happens once or maximum twice in a 7-game series. The Warriors’ bench is not as effective, as it used to be though, that’s the main problem for Steve Kerr. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston get older and gather a lot of mileage in their legs (and knees mostly). In addition, DeMarcus Cousins will miss significant time in these play-offs, if not all of it. It’s true the center is not overly important in Warriors’ gameplan, yet Cousins’ scoring ability in the paint was helpful for the team.

Prediction: Clippers will try hard to pull another surprising win and even the series to two wins apiece. They’ll hardly get it tonight though, after GSW self-establishing blow-out win in Game 3. The spread is 8 points in Clipps’ favour, but this is not enough to warrant a bet on them. When Golden State plays their A game, 8 points are rarely enough an insurance. So we better leave this game alone from betting-point of view.

 

Orlando Magic - Toronto Raptors

It’s the same situation like in Warriors- Clippers series here. Toronto wasted no time in erasing the home-floor blip loss and lead 2-1 now. Raptors’ defense got the numbers of Vucinic and Gordon. Both players were limited successfully in Game 3 and should play way better for Magic to stand a chance tonight.

Kyle Lowry re-emerged as one of the team’s leading players in the last game and Siakam continues to gather play-off experience, being the leading scorer. Leonard scored only 16 points in Game 3 but was Raptors’ leader on the floor, without a doubt.

Prediction: The default spread is set at 4.50 – 5.00 points in favour of Orlando. It’s about the right line and I wouldn’t put a dime on it. If you watch/follow the game live though, there’s a chance Orlando gets ahead by a few points before half-time. In that case, I’d take Toronto to cover (– 2.00) spread or better.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder - Portland Trail Blazers

This is the most interesting clash of the night, the late night one unfortunately. Oklahoma pulled one win in their first home game and Blazers lead only 2-1 now. Game 3 was a fiery one, with Westbrook and Lillard constantly teasing each other. Thunder won deservedly in the end, but even the usually cool-headed Paul George put some oil in the fire. He slammed down a meaningless dunk in the last seconds of the game, with Portland not guarding him. That basket put an exclamation point in the win, but Lillard and his troops will be even more fiery tonight.

Prediction: It’s really hard to predict the single games in this series, as both teams relies so heavily on their leading scorers (Lillard & McCollum vs. Westbrook & George). Even one of these players having a bad shooting night could mean the end for his team in that game. The default spread is around 6.00 – 7.00 points in favour of Blazers. It’s a good proposition, but even better path would be to wait for in-play opportunity and back Portland with a bigger handicap, as Thunder will likely start hot and lead by some points at some point before half-time.

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