The first round is winding down for some teams, while another series today is just getting started. Both Miami and Milwaukee can close out their respective series with a big win. We look at the Thunder with revived hopes, and just how cooked are the Blazers vs. LA. Lot to dive into with four huge games on the board!
LeBron James Top Scorer @ +275
Portland Trail Blazers vs. LA Lakers
BET: LeBron James Top Scorer @ +275
I love LBJ to take over for a second straight game. He edged out Damian Lillard last time for the game’s top scorer and has a newfound energy that was seriously lacking in the restart. Anthony Davis needed a big fourth quarter and still didn’t crack 30, while Lillard is once again doing most of it on his own. The difference here is the mentality the Lakers the come into tonight with, especially from a sense of urgency. If LA was up 3-0 this would be different, maybe LeBron would facilitate more to help get guys in rhythm for the next round, but tonight is different. The Lakers are far from in the clear with Portland still firing away. So, it’s now on James to continue to put the scoring pressure on the Blazers while still keeping Davis involved. This really comes down to three players; James, Lillard and Davis who can each go off for 40. Davis still has to deal with a little more up front than James does, and LeBron will control the facilitation as he will the scoring. James has a ton going on with social issues and trying to win another championship, and despite some critics saying it’s too much, James has handled everything with his typical sense of focus and effort.
Bucks -7.5 1st half spread @ -121
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic
BET: Bucks -7.5 1st half spread @ -121
It’s starting to look more evident by the minute how Orlando took advantage of a disinterested Bucks team back in Game 1. The series has looked drastically different since that Magic win, and it’s a typical 1-8 closeout scenario today. The Bucks are going to come out and try and get as big of a lead as possible, cruising to a fourth straight win against Orlando. The bigger issues for the Magic aren’t going to be fixed with Gary Clark covering Giannis, as Aaron Gordon is still out. Markelle Fultz was awful last game and they aren’t getting much at all to negate what Milwaukee does on either side of the floor. I expect a heavy hand from the Bucks as they set the tone with a double-digit lead by the half. I am a little concerned their starters get pulled late, leaving Orlando with a chance to backdoor the cover. I’ll lay the juice at UniBet and feel better about only covering the first half by 8+ points. Much easier task for a team that looks like they took that first loss to heart. Good game to look at overs for point totals with both Giannis and Khris Middleton.
Thunder ML @ +135
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
BET: Thunder ML @ +135
After getting on the board for the first time this series, the Thunder look to make it two in a row against Houston. OKC battled back in the final seconds of regulation and took full advantage of James Harden fouling out. The Thunder will once again be paced by their top 3 guys who lead the charge last time. Chris Paul has this team focused and the scoring abilities of Dennis Schroder and SGA should continue to put pressure on Houston. The momentum after last game clearly shifted in the series over to OKC, and I love the Thunder coming in focused and finding another way to win this game outright. Still up in the air about how this series ends, but even down 2-0 the Thunder were able to show a ton of composure, especially late in the game. Houston is still without Russ Westbrook, so it might be another easy day for the “big 3” in OKC.
Heat -6.5 @ +100
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat
BET: Heat -6.5 @ +100
Miami has controlled this series from the jump including a first half explosion in game 3. Malcom Brogdon seems to be playing alone out there, and I don’t know how all of a sudden that changes. Miami has been pounding Indy from all over, killing them with 3’s while also using Bam down low. The Pacers have nothing up front outside of Myles Turner and it shows. Miami has a great balance of young kids and two vets in Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Butler goes all out today to complete the sweep, just to send a final shot at his former team in Philadelphia. The Heat have too much to throw at the Pacers and this won’t be one of these last-ditch efforts to push the series. The Pacers are dead in the water and are already making off-season plans.