Saturday NBA Tips
Game previews and tips for both of Saturday's NBA Playoff matchups.
As the Conference Semi-finals have all begun and eight teams remain, we take a look at the two Saturday games and give you our predictions:
Golden State Warriors At New Orleans Pelicans
The reigning champion-Warriors have unsurprisingly taken a 2-0 advantage as they were largely unthreatened at home in games 1 and 2. Now they travel to New Orleans as $1.55 favourites and look to all but cement their place in their fourth consecutive Western Conference Finals series.
Game 2 saw a much more competitive contest with the Pelicans keeping right in it until a few minutes left in the fourth quarter when the Warriors do what they do so often and pulled away to get the W. The real standout from this game was two-time MVP Steph Curry's performance after being sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury. He scored 28 points in just 27 minutes, including 5/10 from 3 and adds another dimension to a team who already have an elite-level roster without him.
The Pelicans defiantly held their own, behind star Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo who has reinvigorated his career at New Orleans; scoring 22 points, 7 rebounds and 12 asissts in Game 2. However, they were much too heavily reliant on their starters performing, with only 13 (!) bench points scored in Game 2.
Despite the Pelicans' strong showing in Game 2, they fell short in the crucial last few minutes and find themselves in a position where they simply can't lose these back-to-back home games. However, with Curry showing no signs of rust from his extended injury break and only set to see more minutes as the series goes on, it's very hard to see the Pelicans taking game 3 or 4.
Best Bet: Golden State Warriors -3.5
Value Bet: Steph Curry Top Scorer
Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz
The Jazz were paying an almighty price in Game 2 (roughly $7.50) and managed to get the job done even after blowing a 19-point lead. Most thought the Rockets would easily be able to defend their home court, where they had won 24 of their last 25, but shot a poor 40% from the field and just looked a bit stale on offense for most of the game. The Jazz, meanwhile, were outstanding; over 51% from the field and knocked down their three-pointers at a very high clip.
It's going to be very difficult for the Jazz to repeat their Game 2 performance, but they proved they do have the ability when many assumed they wouldn't win a game in the series, let alone an away game. Aussie Joe Ingles had a career night which will be very hard to match and no team in history can consistently shoot above 50%. The key for them will be minimising turnovers as they committed 17 turnovers in their win, compared to just 7 from Houston.
From the Rockets' perspective, there may not be too much to worry about just yet. While it obviously wasn't their best game, Houston know Utah will struggle to match their performance in Game 2 and will come out business as usual.
If the Jazz can come out in Game 3 and play as well as they did in Game 2 then we'll have a real series on our hands. However, don't fall for the trap of a good team having a one-off amazing performance. Those performances do happen frequently but rarely can teams back-up and do it again.
Best Bet: Houston Rockets to Win
Value Bet: Houston Rockets to lead at the end of every quarter