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NBA expert Eytan Shander brings us four picks for Thursday's playoff slate

Day two of the actual playoffs features a couple of big games, including some dogs to keep an eye on. Both the Pacers and Rockets come into today getting points, and the Magic are getting double digits. The playoffs have provided good action day one, and there’s little change coming with large numbers being covered today.

Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat

BET: Over 214 @ -108

The Pacers were lit up by the Heat in their last game, and Indy should be out with a little vengeance. Victor Oladipo is still up in the air as is Jae Crowder now for the Heat. Both teams will look to push the ball, be it the Pacers out of revenge or the Heat out of necessity. We know Miami will take a bunch of 3’s, and the Pacers have firepower to keep up with them. Oladipo played just 9 minutes last game and the Pacers were struggling, yet still got to 101 points. Coming off that double-digit loss and the expectations of TJ Warren playing a little better, I think this over comfortably hits. Pacers winning the 1st quarter might be a sneak play, but the real value is watching both teams put up some points in what should be a fun game to watch!

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets

BET: Thunder Moneyline @ +126

I actually like the Thunder to bounce back and win this game. It wasn’t pretty for OKC outside of Danillo Galinari and Chris Paul. Those two guys should continue to push Houston, but this time OKC gets more out of their other components. Houston got two great efforts from Eric Gordon and Jeff Green, with the constant of James Harden showing up, but the Thunder will play a little tougher defense today. Expect Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to play a bigger role on both sides of the floor. If they can make life difficult for everyone not named Harden, the Thunder have a legit shot at winning this game outright. A cold quarter or two from Houston and we know how that movie ends, a difficult loss in the playoffs. The Thunder were always going to be a tough out, and I’m not willing to jump off their chances of winning a game or two simply because of game 1. Harden will get his, probably go for 40+ today, but the lack of Russell Westbrook catches up to them in a defensive battle. Something that OKC is built to survive.

Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks

BET: Under 230 @ -150

It’s payback time! Milwaukee is going to come out with everything they have in the first half. This game will be a double-digit lead by halftime and might get worse as the game goes on. I do think Orlando earned that game 1 victory. Looking at a type of bounce back the Bucks are capable of, I can’t help to think how tough it will be to make shots on Orlando. You need two major events in that first game to duplicate for the Magic to even have a shot tonight. First, Khris Middleton needs to miss every shot again (he really went 4-12) and then the Magic need an all-world performance out of Nikola Vucevic. Both need to happen to even talk about another upset, the reality is that the Bucks will score more points than last time while doing an amazing job on defense. That’s the big push here. The number is a little high hence the juice laid on the bet, but I think it’s worth it here. Giannis is going to have a major game and you will see the focus of Milwaukee return. They are actually most dangerous on defense when they can create shots off misses and turnovers. I think the best move here is to take the under and watch Orlando struggle to hit the century mark. Could easily see a 115-90 final.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

BET: Trial Blazers +6.5 @ -110

The Lakers once again struggled to shoot the basketball in their opening game last time against Portland. The expectations continue to mount for LeBron James and his crew as they have their backs to the wall early on in the playoffs. Such is life for James after every post-season loss. This is where he makes his money, and the team bounces back and ties up the series. BUT… not covering that line. When you have the electricity of Damian Lillard pouring out and becoming infectious to his teammates, you take the points moving forward. At least until they get blown out, and even then, a bounce back game where they cover a big line is realistic. Tonight, the game is once again in the hands of its stars, and once again those stars will shine. James and Lillard will battle, and we see which secondary piece – be it CJ or AD – will step up and help the most. Portland is a deadly team in a backdoor cover, especially if that game is 9-10 points with 3 mins or so left. A couple of big 3’s or late Lakers fouls and that’s cut down to 4-5 points rather quickly. Too much firepower with the Blazers to ignore the 6.5 points!


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